One of the elements of the festive season that can cause the most stress is deciding where and how to spend Christmas Day.
It’s so easy to get caught up in what other people want and the idea that we should always make others happy.
But it’s also really important to be kind to ourselves and – at least occasionally – do what we want to do.
This isn’t being selfish, it’s looking after yourself. Neglecting your own needs can really take its toll and you can end up feeling burned out and resentful.
In the past I’ve spent the festive period dashing up and down the country, attempting to see as many people as possible.
It was a nightmare to organise, I was exhausted and didn’t enjoy myself – all of which was the opposite of what I was trying to achieve.
Eventually, I realised that what I really wanted to do was spend Christmas in my own home, or with immediate family in my home city – and not spend the whole time travelling.
You can’t please everyone
I needed to make a change, but the thought of talking to people about my new Christmas plan was daunting.
I was worried about how they’d react and hated the thought of upsetting them.
But I braced myself and spoke to everyone involved.
Luckily – although they were disappointed – they understood. Ultimately they wanted me to do whatever made me happiest, and I was so glad I’d spoken up.
If you feel your enjoyment of Christmas is reduced because you spend the whole time pleasing others, finally deciding to do something different can be a massive relief.
Of course this is a sensitive issue for many – and making a change to ‘what we’ve always done’ can be easier said than done.
So here are my tips for helping discussions about where you’ll spend Christmas this year go more smoothly:
- Remember you’re entitled to choose where and how you spend Christmas – you can’t please everyone all of the time
- Talk to everyone involved about the changes you want to make and why – and listen to what they have to say about it, ideally on neutral territory
- It’s helpful to discuss your new Christmas plans as early in the year as you can – it’ll give people time to get used to the idea and make their own alternative plans
- Take care not to put pressure on children by asking them to choose who they want to spend Christmas with. Try to come up with a fair solution so they can spend time with everyone, either before or after Christmas, or on alternate years
- If you know doing Christmas differently will be very difficult for some, try introducing changes gradually so it’s less of a shock. You’ll be making progress, and in a few years you’ll have created the Christmas routine you’ve always wanted
- If your new Christmas plan means there are people you won’t see on Christmas Day itself, you could arrange to meet up either before or after Christmas instead. Think carefully about when this is – especially if you’re getting together before Christmas – too many social events either side of the big day could end up being counterproductive
- If your decision means that a friend or relative will be left on their own, try to help them find someone else they’d like to spend the day with – or if you’ve chosen to spend Christmas at home, consider inviting them to join you.
If you’re making changes to how and where you spend Christmas this year, I hope this advice helps you tackle the issue with family and friends.
Clear, calm communication and talking to everyone involved sooner rather than later are key.
Good luck and let me know how you get on.