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How do you survive the Christmas holidays as a family?

A family reunion should be a pleasant moment of reunion between the generations... Yes, but a few grains of sand sometimes get in the way of conviviality. Follow our expert's advice to ensure that sharing and exchange between your loved ones is a success.

Christmas Eve is just around the corner, and you've probably already decided where you're going to spend the evening. Whether you're the person designated to host the whole family, or whether you prefer to meet at your parents' or grandparents' house, this time of sharing and happiness is sometimes associated with a lot of stress.

Strained family relationships, elderly people to look after, children to look after, teenagers to reason with... it is not always easy to bring together people of different generations, whose expectations for New Year's Eve dinner are not quite the same. How can we manage each age group and ensure a good evening for the whole family?

Smoothing out family tensions

Can't your uncle see your mother-in-law? Do old stories tend to resurface and reopen the debate whenever the family is together? There are solutions.

  1. "You can try to establish a Christmas truce, a sort of family pact where each person commits, in writing or verbally, not to give vent to nastiness during the holidays."
  2. Does your cousin have a tendency to shout whenever she talks about something that moves her? Put earplugs in your ears, hidden by your hair, to put some distance between them.
  3. If you're worried you won't be able to cope with comments made about you, "don't hesitate to take many breaks to isolate yourself in the kitchen or bathroom, then take a deep breath to relieve the pressure.
  4. If someone is talking to you about an unpleasant and sensitive subject, look away and take action by clearing your plate, for example. Finally, try to stay close, physically, to the people you like the most.

Managing children

Their eyes are full of stars, and their excitement is sometimes overwhelming. To help children have a good time, play with them in the first half of the evening. This is the time to get out the board games and play a game together. You can also ask them to help prepare a simple dessert in the kitchen, to keep them occupied and valued. You can then put them to bed at 9.30pm without forcing them to hold out, on edge, until midnight. In this way, tantrums and fatigue are avoided.

Giving teenagers space

Christmas Eve is supposed to be a fun time, but teenagers don't always see it that way. Think about talking to them before the party to understand what their expectations are. Depending on the situation, make sure there is something for everyone. In some cases, teenagers can have dinner at a separate table, and at a different time, and then come back to have dessert with the rest of the family. Give them space and don't force them. They have the right to isolate themselves if that's what they need to escape the tensions too.

Respecting family elders

Depending on their state of health, and the general situation, it is important to respect the elders of the family and give them the importance they deserve. Older people like to feel life around them, to be at the centre of everything. If they are healthy, they can play with the children, and help each other. Sometimes these people need special attention, a scrupulous respect for dinner and bedtimes... you have to adapt.

Creating the right atmosphere

To ensure the right atmosphere when you receive your family at home, show them that you have put your heart into it: a few decorative elements, some light, a little music... all these small details contribute to the success of the evening. A simple effort in clothing and decoration may not seem necessary, but it is. Paying attention to the food and drink tastes of each guest is also important.

The aim is also to have fun, you shouldn't put yourself through too much work, we're not here to suffer. With a little organisation, every member of the family can enjoy the magic of Christmas.

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