Christmas Day checklist for family get-togethers

It’s that time of year again and only 1-2 weeks away from Christmas. Whether you’re keenly looking forward to excited faces and squeals of delight by children on Christmas morning


Dreading every second of the day until the Christmas festivities and feasting is done and dusted, here’s a Christmas day checklist for family get-togethers that will have you savouring some part of it (or all of it) on the big day.

1. Divide time between families.

a) Aim to do this BEFORE the day and not DURING the day.
b) Sit down today, or the next couple of days, to consider all your options for you and/or on your partner’s side of the family.
c) Talk to your partner and/or children about what the day could involve and determine realistic travel timeframes and preferences.
d) It can be helpful to divide the day into 3 sections: morning, lunch and evening parts of the day and match your time and energy accordingly with families and/or friends who have invited you to be a part of the festivities.
e) You can respectfully inform people in advance and remember to thank them for the invitation to be a part of some of their day.

2. Accept family members may not always have socially appropriate behaviours ALL of the time on Christmas day.

a) It is unrealistic to expect every single one of the relatives to listen openly, communicate honestly and respectfully agree or disagree with us on significant family, life or global issues. Look for the times that appropriate interactions do happen, and try not to focus in and magnify the annoying parts of relationships with others.
b) Keep some perspective about the reason everyone is coming together on this particular day of the year.

3. Be mindful of alcohol use on Christmas day

a) Alcohol use is common on Christmas day. Keep track of alcohol intake yourself (or ask your partner to help as well) – avoid ‘top ups’ from friendly, generous relatives and use an assertive communication style to refuse alcoholic drinks if you were not planning to drink.
b) It can be helpful to designate who’s going to be driving before the day so you can plan to manage alcohol use appropriately and maintain attendance at each family event (if you have commitments with more than one).
c) Remember to drink water in between alcoholic drinks to help with hydration and reduce binge drinking effects.

4. Set secure boundaries

a) Given that family members will probably continue to go on being their same old selves on Christmas day, you may need to decide how much contact you have with them. One hour? Two hours? Or would three hours be too much?
b) Note in advance any topics that are off limits for discussion, such as your Uncle and Aunty’s recent divorce, or the recent job loss. Prepare a 1-2 sentence reply, ready for if one of the in-laws tries to lure you into offering their opinion about the situation.

5. Be kind to yourself and honour past family members (and pets)

a) Grief reactions can play a significant role at family celebrations, such as Christmas.
b) Be kind to yourself and allow difficult emotions related to loss of loved ones to be felt and expressed with others if needed.
c) Respect that each member of the family will have different emotional and behavioural reactions to grief and loss of a loved family member and/or pet at Christmas time i.e. some may cry openly, others may withdraw, some may want to reminisce while others may avoid talking about the person and/or pet.

6. Practise gratitude.

a) Take time for yourself and with others to acknowledge all the things you are grateful for on Christmas day.
b) Share gratitude with others – consider making a toast at the dinner table to acknowledge all the things to be grateful for on Christmas day.

Merry Christmas!

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