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People expect Christmas to be a fun time of year, with parties, celebrations, and social gatherings. But lots of people find Christmas a stressful time. This is often to do with expectations. We might worry about finding the right gifts, preparing the perfect meal, getting the house ready, spending concentrated time with family, and the costs.

To help you have a fun Christmas and to keep the pressure off, here are suggestions from Relate:

  • State expectations: talk with family and friends about everyone’s expectations of Christmas well in advance, including the cost of Christmas.  You could agree spending limits or give presents that don't need to be bought e.g. washing the car.
  • It’s OK to say no: be honest about what you want. If you want to turn something down, explain why and suggest an alternative e.g. instead of doing all the cooking suggest a ‘bring and share’ meal.
  • Practical prep: if you’re hosting Christmas, prepare beforehand e.g. make (or buy!) food early and wrap presents. Make a list of tasks and ask family and friends to put their name to something.
  • Delegate: don’t be afraid to ask for help! We all want to be the perfect host, but Christmas Day can be very demanding. Asking guests to help makes everyone feel involved.
  • Avoid conflict if your guests might not get on. A walk gives everyone the chance to chat to someone different [or to stay at home] if tension is building. Break up potential conflict by asking a guest to make drinks or help out with the children. Explain beforehand how important for you it is to have a harmonious day.
  • It’s your Christmas too: Christmas Day can go a blur because you’re busy trying to make everything perfect for everyone else. It’s your Christmas too and you should be able to enjoy it. Make a timetable showing when you will sit down and talk with everyone or play with the children.

Relate’s 6 tips for a stress-free Christmas  give more details, and their page includes the invitation to talk to one of their counsellors for free in a Live Chat, if you’re finding the pressure of the holiday season too much.