The festive season should be just that, families getting together, sharing meals, giving gifts and reconnecting. Unfortunately it can also be a season of family disagreements as relatives who would usually spend little time together are expected to attend family gatherings and get along for hours on end. Not to mention the effect of alcohol as a catalyst for being outspoken and taking things to extremes that might otherwise be avoided.
Try these top tips to keep festive gatherings full of harmony.
Top Tip 1
When family members don’t get on you may dread celebrations. You could try talking things over before the festivities or, if people really can’t agree, arrange celebrations separately so there is a chance to meet – but not all together. If there is a large family celebration and you fear there will be conflict don’t try to pretend you all get on but at least agree between yourselves not to bring up subjects which always cause a row.
Top Tip 2
Get them involved
If you’re busy getting things ready to celebrate do involve children as much as possible from baking to helping lay the table – they’ll love the time with you, sense of achievement and responsibility. Make it a home made festive season by working on art and craft projects with children to give as gifts. Home made pictures, and craft items often get a better reaction from friends and relatives than a shop bought present.
Top Tip 3
Children’s play can become too boisterous and even aggressive at party times when they’re over excited and over stimulated. Do set some clear ground rules about how you expect children to behave together, for example “In this family we treat each other gently and keep our hands and feet to ourselves”.
Load on the praise when children are behaving well. Give them plenty to do, helping you with simple tasks like handing round snacks can divert them for a while or set children up with a game or activity to ensure keep them busy. Do let them know clearly what will be happening and at what time. There is nothing so frustrating to a child than knowing they’ll have presents but not knowing when they can open them! Lastly keep an eye on what they are eating and drinking. Try to avoid giving large quantities of food and drink high in sugar or full of caffeine as these can be linked to poor behaviour.
Top Tip 4
Managing conflict over gifts
Present envy can be minimised but never really avoided – it is a child’s version of the grass is greener on other side of the fence! Have children make a list and be prepared to double up and give the same gift to both children if it is high on both lists. Stay calm and suggest solutions such as using Christmas or pocket money to buy the same or similar gift after Christmas. Often children won’t want to take you up on this as the first flush of jealousy will have gone off.
Top Tip 5
No matter how attentive you are children can get into mischief at family parties. Make sure someone is keeping an eye on the them, whether it’s an older sibling or grandparent who can supervise while you play the host. If you are having a party for all the generations and alcohol will be involved remind guests to keep their drinks out of reach of children.
Top Tip 6
Taking care of yourself
Do take time out for yourself as part of the festivities, you deserve to celebrate with friends too or have time one to one with your partner. Sort out some baby sitting and go out with friends or do some shopping alone – your batteries will be recharged and you’ll enjoy being with your family more.
Top Tip 7
Do get out and walk off some of that lovely food, take the heat out of any tensions and give children a chance to run around and let off steam after being cooped up in the house. You’ll feel refreshed and children will have had the exercise they need.