We need your advice about getting through the minefield that is families and Christmas!!

(96 Posts)
GeraldineMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 24-Sep-10 17:38:36

We're getting seriously ahead of ourselves this year and are starting to think about Christmas (we know, we know).

Do the festivities make mincemeat of your relationships with your other half, parents, in-laws, siblings, great-aunts et al?

We want your strategies for heading off the rows and resentment about how much you do (sending cards, buying presents, wrapping, cooking, washing up, more cooking, laundry etc etc) and whose turn it is to hold Christmas Eve/Christmas Day/Boxing Day at whose house - generally how you manage to get through the whole Yuletide hoo-ha without going crackers?

Thank you

HumphreyCobbler Fri 24-Sep-10 17:50:17

alcohol helps


HumphreyCobbler Fri 24-Sep-10 17:50:39

who is judy? DD helping

Faaamily Fri 24-Sep-10 17:52:06

Go to someone else's house, bring some token chocs and wine, drink a lot of their wine, eat the dinner they cook, go home.


JaxTellersOldLady Fri 24-Sep-10 17:54:33

for the 3rd year in a row we are going to be just our little family. 2DC and DH and I, dogs, cat and fish. No inlaws, no outlaws, no SIL's no BIL's nobody at all.

I 'hosted' christmas for approx 15 people for the past 10 years and now feel they can all --piss off-- do their own thing.

The first year it was just the 4 of us, was a bit weird, the second year we had lots of people on boxing day but on Christmas day was lovely, we opened pressies when we wanted, played games, walked the dogs, drank and ate when we felt like it. Absolute heaven.

longhaul Fri 24-Sep-10 18:04:24

I 'host' every year. Anyone can come who wants too (usually about 15-20 do) but they all have to bring their delegated completed item such as trifle or mashed potatoes. DH sorts out the table and gets extra chairs, I cook things which haven't been delegated (not much) other people wash up. I do a buffet on boxing day which is mostly shop bought stuff or things that can be made in advance and frozen. I'm not related to anyone I don't get on with which is what makes it ok.

Vanillacandle Fri 24-Sep-10 18:05:07

I'm really lucky - my FIL stays with us every other year, and is no trouble at all! My Mum stays the alternate years with us and goes to my sister for the others, but spends a few days with us before or after Christmas so we get to see her. As it's just the 4 of us plus a grandparent, there's not much extra cooking etc, so I don't mind doing it. Besides, Mum and I have got into a routine for working round each other doing Sunday lunches etc since I was a kid, so she helps where needed and keeps out of the way when not!
I usually do the present shopping (for my own things as well grin ) as it just makes life easier. My DH and I have a wrapping-up evening the weekend before Christmas when we put the fire on, have some suitably festive music playing, and get through the piles of gifts in a very companionable spirit. It's part of the build-up to the big day for us.
My advice to those who struggle is don't be a martyr - if the rellies are too much to cope with all at once, tell them, and try to negotiate some turn-taking (especially if there are some volatile combinations wink). Don't put yourself under too much pressure or you'll end up miserable and stressed-out. Just do what you feel comfortable with, and don't build up everyone's expectations by msking each Christmas bigger and better than the one before. Set some ground rules early on which will in time become the accepted family traditions. Most importantly, don't forget it's your Christmas too, and you deserve to enjoy it without doing all the work.

andiem Fri 24-Sep-10 18:11:21

we go on holiday grin

BeatrixRotter Fri 24-Sep-10 18:11:55

Book an internet shop well in advance. If you do decide to go food shopping on Xmas Eve go late morning not first thing as everyone goes first thing. Have a few bottles of wine/chocs as standby gifts. Do everything you can (food, wrapping, cards) well in advance.

And if you are prone to throwing a hissy fit just keep telling yourself that no matter what gets thrown at you you will remain calm, doesn't sound like much but it works for me.

jpg Fri 24-Sep-10 18:47:44

Have too many children so no one can accommodate you all and have a small enough house so no one can visit you - oh and live miles away from all rellies grin

amothersplaceisinthewrong Fri 24-Sep-10 18:57:56


All my family are miles away but this year for the first time in ages we are having them all. Accross the road from me is a B&B which is open over Xmas so they are all staying there!! I don't mind how many I cook lunch for, but playing musical beds to accomodate everyone and having to all cram in to a house that is too small for too long is horrible.

TheDailyWail Fri 24-Sep-10 19:00:20

Humphrey Cobbler I thought you were going to complete that post

alcohol helps

judy doesn't

And I was going to reply -

wow, have you met my mil then? grin

domeafavour Fri 24-Sep-10 19:00:33

Our family Christmas was lovely until my DH arrived to fuck it all up!

piprabbit Fri 24-Sep-10 19:02:24

I would like to know the answer. Christmas venue negotiations began before the end of the summer holidays... no resolution yet.

HumphreyCobbler Fri 24-Sep-10 19:02:39


going Fri 24-Sep-10 19:29:14

Claim to have booked a holiday and then have a lovely small christmas at home - alwyas wanted to do that but never been brave enough!

tvaerialmagpiebin Fri 24-Sep-10 19:49:32

I said it last year and I'll say it again now -

1. Get on a plane

2. Get to the international date line

3. Stay there a second et voila - Christmas never happened!

FloraFinching Fri 24-Sep-10 19:53:26

remember, if you offer to do the cooking, and prepare well ahead, then you get to spend the best part of the day pottering around in the kitchen listening to the Christmas Oratio, drinking the decent wine, missing the squabbles, and hiding from the in-laws. Everyone will think you are a saint, and you will be rewarded with an afternoon nap. Well worth it.

mamatoldmenottocome Fri 24-Sep-10 19:58:07

just fell out with my sister and have always spent xmas eve shopping for my mum with my dad and sis....and was planning to all go out for xmas lunch. after all the awful things she said to me I just dont think I can act like the Bradey bunch and look at her over my stuffing and turkey without remembering the bruising to my face she gave me and really hurting my feelings........if I say I want to spend xmas with my DH and my DD then Im the one being awkward but if I go I have to look at my spoilt nasty brat of a sister..........ive always wanted to go to Lapland, that would be very tempting.......I think the booking a holiday would be the best bet, although I would just love to have a quiet one at home, and visit my parents in the morning and see my MIL and FIL on Boxing day hmm

mollyroger Fri 24-Sep-10 20:02:08

fake illness (something non-serious but antisocial like D&V), have small, happy family christmas.

DurhamDurham Fri 24-Sep-10 20:02:54

Keep quiet until you know everyone else's plans. You don't want to get the reputation for being the organised one! That way you will hopefully get invited out and not have to do any entertaining at all!
Works for me, sometimes. I think my sister-in-law has got wise and last year we had a silent battle waiting for the other to give in!

Quattrocento Fri 24-Sep-10 20:06:05

People fuss too much.

I have one basic rule.

We spend Christmas at home and anyone who wants to come is very welcome.

It's very no-nonsense in terms of approach, but it does have the downside upside of hving a minimum of 12 (last year 16) descending upon us like ravening hordes. But they all bring wine and good cheer, so what the hell ...

mamatoldmenottocome Fri 24-Sep-10 20:14:02

mollyroger - good idea, I think my dh can have the D and V tho, more realistic

the no-nonsense approach is more honest tho, you have given me some xmas food for thought, thank you

Make everyone come to dinner on christmas day - your folks, his folks, anyone else. Tell them to arrive at 2pm. Encourage present opening immediately to entertain kids. Eat a 4pm. Finished by 7pm. Walk in looking aghast saying 'there's been a bad accident just north of here on the motorway, you'd better get going before it gets all backed up'. Thank them all for coming. Tell your partner it's up to him to restore order in the kitchen. Go to bed. Get up next day. Job done.

Oh and if you have critical inlaws, learn to treat them like curiosities.

'Oh you think that do you? How fascinating.'
'How funny. I don't think I've ever heard that before'.
'Wow, you should write to the Daily Mail about that - I bet lots of people feel that way'.

All with a smile.

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