Family Christmas survival guide

Discover our survival kit for a no-stress, tantrum-free Christmas with these tips for keeping the kids, cousins, siblings and grandparents happy.

Festive family get-togethers can be so much fun – but without a bit of tact and care, they can end in rows and bad behaviour too. Of course, every family is so different, but with a little planning, there are a few neat little ways you can juggle everyone’s needs and moods to create a happy, stress-free Christmas…

Let’s be realistic

Firstly, think about the kind of Christmas Day you really enjoy. A busy one? Or is this one of the few days in the year when you and the kids can forget chores and be together?

Be a little bit selfish: don’t be afraid to make December 25 immediate family only if that’s what you want and instead, arrange a pre-Christmas lunch or a Boxing Day party with everyone else.

Share the workload: with big family gatherings, if you can’t rotate who’s hosting the party each year, you can at least share the cooking and washing-up, offer to buy the drinks or send over your teenage son to help move furniture and get the lounge ready for extra guests. With Fairy Original Liquid you can help get through the dishes in no time – however burned-on the turkey is!

Be organized: check out our Christmas Preparation Planner and hopefully your relaxed vibes on the day will keep everyone else feeling good, too!

Your home, your rules

Stick to your routines: chaos is the last thing over-excited children need. You might relax your usual habits a little, but there’s no need to give up on the kids’ bedtime routine or let them eat sweets for breakfast just because it’s Christmas.

Set the boundaries: avoid potential disagreements by discussing your plans in advance. For example, if your brother’s kids love video games but you prefer to limit TV time, remind him you’ll be setting restrictions. Or if your mum thinks presents should be kept until after lunch, just let her know that at your house, the kids are allowed to open their Christmas gifts before breakfast.

Make the cooking easier: food can cause the biggest upsets. If you have lots of different eating habits to cater for, forget doing one big meal and instead put out a Christmas buffet, so young and old can have what they want.

Time with grandparents

Be considerate: if Granny and Grandad aren’t as fit as they where, why not offer to pick them up, rather than expecting them to drive? Ask in advance out if they want to stay over or go home at the end of the day – many older relatives prefer their own bed.

Make a quiet zone:if grandparents or older aunts and uncles find it hard to hear when there’s too much noise, try to set aside a quieter space or room for one-to-one chat, too.

Think about gran-friendly pastimes:older family members might not have the energy (or the knees) to get down on the carpet to help a five-year-old with their train set. Alternative ways to spend quality time together, like biscuit-making or boardgames, mean the grandparents can help keep the kids entertained.

Keeping the kids happy

Will they REALLY share? Brand new toys are the hardest to share, so if your child has a big exciting present to open, consider letting them open it before everyone arrives, or save it until everyone’s gone home.

Give older kids some freedom: set up a soft drinks ‘bar’ so they can help themselves. Give them a separate table for lunch, and perhaps even let them open presents when the tinies are napping – that way a brand new games console won’t be immediately destroyed by a jam-covered toddler!

Break the ice:just because cousins are related doesn’t mean they’re automatically going to be best friends. Get the grown-ups to help them play together – one adult to organise a kickabout in the garden, one to tell stories and have cuddle time with smaller children, another helping with crayons and drawing.

How do you keep everyone happy at Christmas? Share your tips with us in the comments box below!