Getting together with the family at Christmas should be full and fun and joy. In reality though the fun and joy rarely happens as spontaneously as it does on those Christmas TV ads. The secret to a successful Christmas with the family to think ahead and be prepared by considering who you’ve got coming with these three steps:
1) The mix of ages. Many generations come together over Christmas and it’s impossible to please everyone so can you plan for the different age related interests and needs. For example:
- Having a play area for the kids to play with their toys with glee and abandon. As a kid it’s a nightmare to get all these great gifts and not be able to play with them. If it’s not where the main party is then make sure people take it in turns to go in and engage with them
- Plan the TV so that everyone has a chance to watch what’s of interest to them
- If the kids will struggle to sit through a long dinner, can you make it party like for them in a separate space so that they can pick and play. Whilst it’s lovely to have everyone sit down together consider how realistic that is.
2) The mix of introverts and extroverts. Extroverts love being around people and are often the life and soul of the party – they get bored easily, introverts need more space and find lots of activity and noise exhausting. Christmas tends to favour an extroverted nature so introverts can find it very stressful. Consider who you’ve got coming and think about how you can accommodate everyone’s energetic needs:
- Think about having a busy room with lots of music and noise where the Extrovert can convene (and the introverts when they want to), people can then pop in and out as they wish
- Have a quiet room or a film room that has Christmas films playing where people can go to chill out or get some peace
- If you have introverts coming don’t force them to play games or get involved. They are very happy to watch and will not enjoy participating so don’t bully them into it.
- If introverts want to disappear for a few hours to their rooms or go for a walk, don’t make a big deal out of it or make comments to make them feel small. They just need to conserve their energy.
3) The mix of interests. People are interested in different things, so make sure that as much as you can, you’ve got something for everyone. People don’t mind doing something that’s not their interest as long as they don’t have to do it all of the time. If you have a real mix of interests you might want to consider:
- If you’re playing games, break them up with breaks where people can go do other things, chat, watch a bit of TV.
- Let people choose what they want to do, if they don’t want to play a game, they may want to sit and read. Don’t make it mean anything, it’s just different preferences.
- Plan some outside activity (weather permitting) like going for a walk that people can do if they wish. It helps to break the energy and get’s people moving.
The key to a successful Christmas with the family is to be considerate and flexible, don’t expect people to want to do everything, even if it is your favourite thing. Give people choice and don’t bully or make fun of people who don’t want to participate. If everyone feels accepted then they can relax and enjoy themselves. Under these conditions even the most diverse mix of people can get along well and have a lovely time.
Founder of Monkey Puzzle and an INLPTA NLP Master Trainer, Karen is also a UKCP registered Psychotherapist and author of the award winning book Real Leaders for the Real World. Her new book Time Mastery; Banish Time Management Forever is out now.