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Relate’s 10 top tips for a less stressful Christmas

A Relate poll has revealed  what most people want for a happy  Christmas is to spend time with close family. The survey of over 2,000 people, carried out for Relate by  YouGov, showed 90%  said this mattered most to them.

More than four in five respondents (84%) said what they really wanted was an argument-free festive time. More than a third (39%) reported concerns about the cost of Christmas with women (45%) worrying more about this than men (34%). Young adults aged between 16 and 24 were particularly worried about the cost with 52% of those asked reporting they were fairly or very worried about it.

Women were more concerned than men about giving the right gifts with 33% of women saying this was very important to them while 19% of men worried about this.

The polling results show that there’s a lot of expectation and emotion tied up with Christmas, which means it can be a rollercoaster of emotions for all the family. But how can dads in particular try and help everyone have the best possible time at Christmas? Relate, the UK’s leading relationships charity, says it doesn’t matter who’s  doing  most of the organising, or whether families are together or separated – there’s always a big part for dads to play in making things run smoothly.

Relate Counsellor Clare Prendergast said: “Christmas can be a great chance to spend time with loved ones, but it can also be really stressful. High expectations, money worries and family tensions can put a real strain on celebrations. It can seem impossible to please everyone and sometimes the family home can feel like a simmering pot just waiting to boil over.

“But simple techniques like thinking about what you want to say before voicing any concerns can really help to cool things down. And some frustrations or arguments can be headed off before they ever happen by making sure that everyone gets a chance to air hopes and worries before the season gets into full swing. So get talking now!”

Here are Relate’s ten top tips for dads at Christmas:

  • Be specific in offers. If your partner is doing the lion’s share don’t ask vaguely if you can help – offer to do something such as wrap presents or prepare vegetables.
  • Don’t just hope family members will help. If you’re the one doing most of the work, ask for something particular. (That makes it much harder for people to say no!)
  • Ticking off lists is very satisfying. Make lists for what needs to be done and enjoy ticking them off.  Ask people for wish lists for presents if you’re stumped.
  • Set a budget together and stick to it.
  • Accept Christmas can’t be stress free. Try to manage expectations by not seeking perfection.
  • Don’t try to duplicate happy childhood Christmases or go overboard trying to make up for lousy ones you had as a kid!
  • Encourage everyone in your family to be honest about their festive hopes and fears.
  • Don’t assume your family wants the same kind of Christmas you always have. Sometimes assumptions cause the greatest annoyance in families. 
  • If something is impractical, too expensive or too difficult to achieve, it’s ok to explain why it can’t happen. Suggest it happens at another time or think of an alternative that’s more realistic.
  • If you’re not seeing your children on Christmas Day, try to make the time you do spend with them special in other ways. Skype or text are brilliant for keeping in touch when you’re apart.

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