Family & Lifestyle

6 great ways to have a stress-free family Christmas

Christmas is that one time of year, where you can take a good break from work, reflect on the year that was and catch up with your loved ones. While it’s a great time to come together as a family, for some it can also be a stressful time of year. In fact, according to a survey by Relationships Australia, it’s actually considered as one of the six most stressful life events, along with divorce, moving house and changing jobs.

You can choose to spend Christmas in any way that suits you and the people you care about. It’s a time when many businesses close down, so you can relax and spend quality time with your family.

Here are four ideas for spending quality time-together, hopefully minus the stress!

Idea 1: Invite Secret Santa to the celebration

Relationships Australia report that financial worries at Christmas negatively affect family relationships for about one in three of us. Organising a Secret Santa can limit some of the financial pressure of Christmas and be a fun way to come together.

Here’s our recommendation: about a month before Christmas, agree a spending limit for each gift. Write everyone’s names on separate pieces of paper, put them into a hat and get each person to draw a name. Everyone has to buy a fun present for the person they picked, and they have to stick to a price limit. You’ll have fun as a family guessing who your Secret Santa is and also save on the cost of buying multiple gifts. It’s a win, win situation!

Idea 2: Swap gifts for experiences

We’re a nation of consumers. Many of us are getting weighed down by the clutter of too much stuff. Why not swap material gifts for experiences you can enjoy together? So instead of that plastic toy for your niece, organise to take her to the zoo and swap the socks you were going to give your dad for tickets to a sports match.

Idea 3: Give everyone a role

Hosting Christmas lunch or dinner can be tough. It can feel that as the host you’re expected to clean and decorate your house, buy and cook all the food and then play event planner, waiter and barkeep throughout the day. Remember that the people you’re spending the day with are your family. Many times people want to help, but they don’t know how. So send your uncle to the fish markets to buy the prawns, get your brother-in-law to play bartender, and challenge the kids to a competition to see who can clear the most plates and empty glasses. You absolutely do not have to do it all yourself. Giving everyone a role to play can make them feel included and valued.

Idea 4: Create your own traditions

Our nation’s colonial heritage often turns up on the Christmas table as a roasted turkey with all the trimmings. It would make sense if we lived in the northern hemisphere. But we don’t! Ignore the advertising and Christmas specials on TV and create a Christmas meal you’ll enjoy. Fresh seafood and salads, followed by a pavlova is a lovely way to celebrate the day. Leave old traditions in the past and serve whatever you and your loved ones will enjoy together.

Idea 5: Introduce a “phones off” policy

Mobile phones can often come in the way of quality family time. A study, by Dr Jenny S. Radesky of the Boston Medical Center looked at parent-child interactions at fast food restaurants and found more than 70 percent of adults used their phones during a meal.

It’s not possible to be addicted to a device, but smartphones certainly enable obsessive behaviours. Rather than banning phones altogether, you could make them more difficult to access by putting them in a box during the Christmas meal. And to make the reduced access to phones a bit easier to take, you could play some old, or new, board games that involve the whole family. Classics like Monopoly or Cluedo are fun competitive games whilst other games like Scattegories or Trivial Pursuit can bring the family together in teams to test each other’s knowledge.

Idea 6: Enjoy the great outdoors

If you really want some quality time together this Christmas, getting into the great outdoors is a good way to do just that. Whether it’s a day hike in your local national park, or packing the car for a week long camping trip, away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, you’ll truly be able to reconnect. The best part is, the great outdoors doesn’t charge admission. As a family you can try fishing or kayaking or go on a hunt for rare birds and animals.

Whatever you do this Christmas 2018, we hope it’s your best festive season yet!

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