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Has anyone managed to put an end to the tyranny of having entire family at Christmas?

(92 Posts)
idlingabout Sat 04-Oct-08 18:04:17

Just wondered if anyone has managed this and lived to tell the tale ?
Background is that both my and dp's family expect entire family to be present at every Christmas gathering. We do alternate years with the respective families.
Both my parents and DP's have always expected all siblings to be there and now that all the siblings have children, the numbers are getting unmanageable, especially as many of the children take up adult sized space (eg around the table). None of us live less than 1.5 hours drive from anyone else (2.5 in our case)so there is the added issue of people having to stay etc.
I would like to broach the subject but fear getting slapped down and people taking umbrage.
I get slightly peeved at both our sets of parents as neither of them ever entertained more than 2 or 3 extra people to their immediate family whereas they are expecting us to entertain an extra 11 and they never acknowledge this. Neither my parents nor DP's host anymore for various valid reasons - mainly space and age.
I am probably hankering after the impossible aren't I?

cuddlesrus Sat 04-Oct-08 18:12:56

I'd love to have more family round us at Xmas, haven't really anyone

Podrick Sat 04-Oct-08 18:15:00

WHAT SOLUTION are you looking for?

onepieceoflollipop Sat 04-Oct-08 18:20:53

If you know that people really will take umbrage then you either have to grin and bear it; or accept that some people will get sulky/angry but you and (presumedly) your dp want to change things. My ils are like this btw.

If your parents and ils are more reasonable, perhaps you could look at compromises, e.g. close family on Christmas Day, but big family gatherings Boxing Day/weekend before or whatever.

themoon66 Sat 04-Oct-08 18:21:40

If anyone so much as mentions Christmas I respond with 'don't even mention bloody Christmas to me'!!! I don't explain, obviously, so they all just think something terrible happened one Christmas that traumatised me and so they leave me alone out of embarrassment grin

LilRedWG Sat 04-Oct-08 18:27:21

My ILs would love us to spend every Christmas with them, but I love Christmas at home. Last year I capitulated as DH really wanted to go but said to ILs and DH, "Don't even ask next year, I want to spend it at home so that DD can fully enjoy her toys". So far, nothing has been mentioned.

We ALWAYS see both families on Boxing Day.

Maybe let it be known that you are planning to do something else this/next year. Whatever it is, you and DH must present a united front.

expatinscotland Sat 04-Oct-08 18:29:13


leaving town and planning your own holiday away, someplace very isolated, works.

idlingabout Sat 04-Oct-08 18:37:36

Expat - we tried that once (pre child) and paid the price big time! Both families insisted on fully-fledged gatherings - one side before Christmas and one after.
Did I mention that even though we take turns for Christmas Eve/Christmas Day/Boxing Day ( it can never be just one day due to distanceshmm ) we still have to have a seasonal gathering with the other lot. No-one is prepared to post presents.
Solution wise - my ideal would be to have just one sibling+family and then either the parents go to other sibling if they would otherwise be on own IYSWIM. Then alternate over the years. Probably a logistical nightmare!

expatinscotland Sat 04-Oct-08 18:39:47

and you're expected to host this?

then i'd get firm and say no and remind them they only had to hose 2 or 3 and not 11.

or suggest a gathering in a restaurant.

LilRedWG Sat 04-Oct-08 18:45:13

Suggest that your parents/IL host it.

Miggsie Sat 04-Oct-08 18:46:40

My DH has always refused to do family Christmases.
That's 20 years and counting.
We have friends round, or go to friends.
Family visits afterwards...less stress for everyone.

lizziemun Sat 04-Oct-08 19:14:21

We do Christmas day at home (i refuse to go to IL's as i have memories from childhood opening presents then being out for the rest of the day) normally my mum comes to dinner (she lives around the corner) and my sister and BIL come for tea.

Then boxing day we go to IL's normally just before dinner (about 12pm) and then home again for 8pm.

I would perhaps suggest do a 'family' christmas the weekend before and then have your christmas with dh and dc.

handlemecarefully Sat 04-Oct-08 19:31:07

Sadly we don't have much family left. My PIL's (who were both good company) have both died, and my sister is in Oz. We will be inviting my SIL and her husband, and then it is just us 4. Potentially we could have my parents over, but I have worked hard to escape the tyranny of having them to stay!

My father is literally a Rowling-esque dementor who sucks the life blood and Christmas cheer from you, leaving you lifeless and highly unfestive. Basically I had to have it out with my parents and tell them that we would be visiting them between Christmas and New Year, but that they wouldn't be getting a Christmas invitation to our house. It wasn't an easy discussion but they have now accepted it.

If your own Christmas is being blighted by hoardes of relatives then you will simply have to find some balls, have the discussion and accept that some folk may indeed take umbrage - but they should get over it....and if they don't, tough?

In my own case I simply wasn't prepared to have 'Grumpy Grandad' ruin any more of my childrens' christmases

onepieceoflollipop Sat 04-Oct-08 19:37:14

Get a job like mine (nurse) and then you will see no one except patients and colleagues and everyone thinks you are wondeful for working Christmas and caring for all those ill people. wink

On the downside you don't see much of your dp/dcs (unless you use my alternative strategy of ensuring that Christmas slap bang in the middle of your maternity leave)

StripeyKnickersSpottySocks Sat 04-Oct-08 19:44:06

Just say that you've decided for one year you'd like a quieter Xmas and will be having it with your DH and kids only. My brother and SIL have always done this.

GentleOtter Sat 04-Oct-08 19:48:00

I get a nervous twitch in my eye just reading this and thank you handlemecarefully for making me feel less guilty about hoofing 'Grumpy Grandad' off the scene.

I have cooked the Christmas dinner for 36 bloody years and two years ago finally put my foot down at the selfishness of the rest of the family. (not immediate ones)

No one in my extended family like each other yet wanted to spend Christmas with us so I had to do lots of sittings over lots of days. Very Religious Aunt and Grumpy Grandad had to be kept apart in case they killed each other.
All seemed incapable of washing a dish and GG took to wafting his hand and saying 'Is there any Christmas cake left"....meaning bring him some now on a silver platter.

This year it is just us -no loonies, no room clearers, feuding outlaws or farty oldsters.

Thank God it is just one day a year.

ilovemydog Sat 04-Oct-08 19:53:46

Is it a matter of cost?

Lilymaid Sat 04-Oct-08 19:55:29

We did alternate Christmases with GPs and other members of family every year until we moved 200 miles away from both of them. After staying with each for Christmas, we decided that we would have our own family Christmas, just the four of us, and visit family afterwards - between Christmas and the New Year. Our DCs were much happier to be at home with their familiar surroundings and new toys on Christmas Day and we had a lovely time with good quality food that we liked, the ability to switch the TV off and could enjoy ourselves. 14 years later, we still all have Christmas like this and when the DCs set up their own family we will go off and rent a cottage for just the two of us for Christmas, eat good food, drink good wine and go for long walks.

EnchantedWithEdwardCullen Sat 04-Oct-08 19:56:45

I need to go to bed...

I read this as something like ...' has anyone managed to pull off a tranny at christmas'


CherryChapstick Sat 04-Oct-08 19:59:12

I have refused to have anybody round at Christmas. For 14 years I have managed it. We won't go anywhere either.

MegBusset Sat 04-Oct-08 20:00:45

Last Christmas my mum and stepdad stayed with us for ^two weeks^ and my sister also stayed for several days. We live in a tiny ex-council house, it was appalling -- literally on top of each other for all that time.

DH worked really hard to take a week off work and every single day was spent with family. It drove us nuts!

This year I am going to put my foot down, I don't mind hosting for a couple of days but that's it. I am pregnant and need my space!

GentleOtter Sat 04-Oct-08 20:01:12

I laughed hysterically at that Enchanted!grin

PortAndLemon Sat 04-Oct-08 20:01:42

My mother told e when we got married not to alternate Christmases with the two families because it would set a precedent that would be difficult to break without offending anyone if we fancied changing things several years down the line. We decide around September what we're going to do that year, vaguely bearing in mind what we've done the last few years in an attempt to maintain some sort of balance, but keeping an element of unpredictability smile.

SqueakyPop Sat 04-Oct-08 20:03:12

We have only had one Christmas where everyone came to us. Most of them came from the USA, so they really did make an effort. They were with us for a while (week to 10 days), and all but the parents needed putting up.

It was wonderful. It was stressful and tiring. I loved it.

Christmas is about relationships and harmony. I did a full Delia, and it was hard work, but my two SILs and MIL helped out and we had a great time in the kitchen (me in full Floyd mode). The men took care of the DCs, and general cleaning up.

We also had a family baptism the Sunday after Christmas, which meant more relatives and friends. There was some falling out between MIL and SIL about how to cut the sandwiches, but they made up within a few years.

For Christmas, the most important thing is that you are together, followed by maintaining family traditions, then outside expectations a poor third.

whomovedmychocolate Sat 04-Oct-08 20:04:11

We do christmas morning alone, then allow one set of inlaws in the afternoon, the next day we visit the other set. We also make it clear it's OUR christmas and we do it OUR way (which does not feature a turkey but we do eat well). We also have a 24 hour visit limit both us visiting and anyone visiting us.

Fish and relatives etc.

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