Christmas can be described in many ways – some say merry, some say cheerful, some even say ‘expensive.’ As well as being the most wonderful time of the year and a heartwarming opportunity to spend time with friends and family, no one ever really talks about the other side f this coin – that it’s also a time of year where we find ourselves having to reconnect with people we only see rarely, who are often from different generations and backgrounds which only complicates matters. This can get even more complicated if you aren’t just spending time with your own family but your spouse’s family too – everyone knows these relationships are often a hotbed of conflict to start with, and being thrown together over the stressful holiday season only adds to this.
But, there are ways to combat unpleasant reunions from springing up – the key is taking the time to ensure goodwill is created before any conflicts have the chance to arise. But what activities could these be? Well luckily for you. We’ve put together this list of ideas for how you can break the ice with your relatives and in-laws as they descend on you for Christmas.
- Friendly sports
This is more of a one on one activity, but can be a great idea if you have one particular relationship you’d like to be a little friendlier – for example, perhaps you aren’t on the closest terms with your father or mother in law. Playing a competitive but friendly game like badminton provides a great context to spend time together, while allowing any aggression to be let out via the game itself – and conversation always tends to flow more naturally when both parties are engaged in an absorbing activity!
- Going out for a meal
Everyone knows that trying to share cooking duties, especially around an important and food based holiday, is not a good idea – but when the in laws and relatives start trickling in a few days before Christmas, having a table booked at a relaxed local restaurant is a great way to get everyone to break the ice of that first catch up in a stress free, enjoyable environment before the big day.
- Sharing stories
Though this one depends on the family, often rifts between relatives on different sides of a married couple form simply through lack of knowledge about one another. If you think it would work for your family, initiating a conversation where each side shares funny stories about their family, then the two sides can start to get to know each other a little better and break the ice.
- Gift wrapping together
Often it’s easier to talk to someone if you are both occupied doing something at the same time. If you aren’t someone who likes to have full control over how giftwrapping is done, consider asking a relative or in law to help you wrap the children’s gifts – only if you’re confident they won’t spoil the surprise, that is!
- Assigning tasks
One of the biggest problems hosts of ten run into over the holidays is that they find their guests are getting under their feet – especially in-laws who are used to doing things a certain way and think everyone else should too. Instead of waiting for this problem to arise, why not create a mental list of holiday chores you are happy to assign to other people ahead of time – this way nobody feels like they aren’t lending a hand, but equally no one gets in the way of your meticulous planning!
Navigating family relationships is difficult for everyone, and the strain on such relationships to appear jolly is even heavier over the holiday period. This is why it’s so important to break the ice, and hopefully one of these suggestions will help you succeed – whether it’s over a friendly sporting activity or a hearty meal, hopefully some positive interactions can set the tone for a festive period full of goodwill and cheer.