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People expect Christmas to be fun, with parties, celebrations, and social gatherings. But lots of people find Christmas a stressful time. This is often to do with expectations - 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 keep the pressure off, here are Relate's suggestions:

Discuss expectations: talk in advance with family and friends about everyone’s expectations, including the cost.  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. 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. Ask family and friends each to take on a task.
  • Delegate: we all want to be the perfect host, but 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.
  • It’s your Christmas too: Christmas Day can go a blur because you’re busy trying to make it perfect for everyone else. Make sure you have some time to enjoy it.

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, if you’re finding the pressure of the holiday season too much.