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Staying jolly this festive season

Death, marriage and Christmas are, for many, the rare occasions that thrust families together in tight quarters, occasionally leading to tiffs between siblings, in-laws and even partners.

While conflict is completely normal, there are a few communication and behavioural tricks you can keep in mind to ensure your Christmas lunch isn’t one you’d rather forget.

Steer the conversation
Religion, politics and money: we all know not to discuss these topics at work and on dates, but this rule should also apply to Christmas gatherings.  It’s highly unlikely your entire family will share all your views, but you love them anyway.

Indulge… with caution
A glass of wine (or four) can seem like a worthy reward after a stressful year, but when was the last time you had an intelligent conversation with a bottle of wine under your belt? Know your limits and stick to them, especially if you’re the self-appointed family peacekeeper.

Be the bigger person
While you’re trying to explain for the fourteenth time “why you didn’t become a doctor like your cousin Paul”, remember this is only one lunch in 365. Try asking your family members more questions than you usually would; it shows you’re interested, helps you understand their perspective and will keep the questions away from yourself.

Stick to the budget
You might think you’re doing your nephew a favour by splurging on his secret Santa gift, but price limits are agreed upon for a reason. Your generosity may be misinterpreted as ostentatious and while Christmas is a time for giving, it’s the thought and effort that goes into your gift that will be appreciated the most.

Be selfish
Unfortunately, there are the same number of hours on Christmas Day as every other day of the year. You can’t expect to fit in a visit to every family member on the one day, so save Christmas Day for yourself and your immediate family—you’ll enjoy the day a lot more if you’re stress and conflict free.