Surviving the holiday season
Christmas is coming fast, and while many people look forward to it, others face it with dread. Even one day spent in close proximity with family can seem like a year.
Here are five tips to get you through Christmas, allowing you to keep your cool and your assertive behaviour.
- Don’t make yourself broke buying everything.
I recently heard about someone who plans to cook an eight course meal for thirty family members. The meat bill alone is £750.00. This person is not well off. Crazy! Don’t get in debt just to impress your guests. Ask them to bring something towards food, drink or entertainment. Be specific so there is no duplication. You’ll be surprised how willing people are to contribute.
2. Don’t wear yourself out cooking.
I learned years ago to cheat. Frozen roast potatoes (yum!), frozen yorkshire puddings, instant gravy, whatever. If you can’t bear to do that, get your guests to share the tasks. Again, be specific. ‘Tom, I’d like you to peel the potatoes, Mary, can you peel the sprouts and chop the cabbage.’
Share the work and you won’t be tired and tetchy before you’ve even started eating.
3. Plan how to respond to difficult people.
Okay, you know which relative is a pain in the neck. The one who winds you up each year with sarcastic comments or heavy sighs. Plan how you’ll respond. Here are some suggestions:
‘I’m sorry you need to comment on that.’
‘Thank you for your comment.’
‘I’ll keep that in mind.’
Get the idea? Just a quick phrase, calmly said. Then walk away and get on with something else. If they see they can’t irritate you, they’ll get bored with trying.
4. Ask for help with clearing up.
Don’t go all martyr-like. No-one likes a martyr, and they often get ignored so your efforts will probably go unnoticed. Make your requests straightforward, no insincere flattery. Keep your voice calm and clear:
‘I’d like some help now we’ve finished our meal. John, would you and Jane clear the table. Tom and Mary, would you load the dishwasher please? I’ll wipe all the worktops and put everything away.’
Better still, warn people ahead of time that you would like them to do some tasks.
5. Offer entertainment.
If your family like to slump in front of the TV, that’s fine. But do consider offering alternatives like boxed games or a walk. Ask for suggestions before the day.
Planning ahead for how you will act assertively will make your day so much more relaxed. Give it a try, what have you got to lose?