Managing Family Relationships Around Christmas

Managing Family Relationships Around Christmas

While for many Christmas and the festive season are a time for joy and a time to connect with family and friends, for some of us this period can bring up other feelings, sometimes around loss of a loved one or difficult family relationships.

Managing our feelings around this time of year and checking in with ourselves is important. Maintaining boundaries around certain relationships too can be important. Sometimes we can use this time of year to reflect on happy memories of loved ones, whether still here or departed.

Some guidelines to keep in mind this festive season:

Set boundaries around what you are comfortable talking about with family/friends,
identify this before any gatherings and be friendly yet firm. For example, perhaps you
are okay to talk about work or the kids, but not okay to discuss your recent marriage
breakdown. It can be as simple as advising family members that ‘This isn’t something
I’m ready to talk/share about’.

– Identify boundaries around timeframes for Christmas gatherings, whether it be
friends/family/work – some of us have shorter social batteries and longer days in this
context can be tricker to manage. Perhaps limit your attendance at the family
Christmas lunch to two hours if being around family/a lot of people is draining for you.

– Make sure to take time out when needed, the festive season can be a very busy one,
take steps for self-care/grounding – such as mindfulness activities, meditation, walks
in nature, massages, favourite pastimes. Schedule your timeout ahead of time to
ensure it doesn’t get away from you.

Respect your budget – identify what your budget allows ahead of time and maintain
boundaries around this. There can be pressure to provide gifts to extended
family/friends however if your budget is tight, consider making something creative or
writing a card with beautiful sentiments that are sure to be appreciated by the
receiver no matter how many gifts they have provided.

– Take time to honour and remember those loved ones who won’t be joining you this
festive season, find ways to feel their presence amongst your usual Christmas
traditions, whether it be holding a place for them at the table or engaging in family
discussions around memories shared by everyone.


If you are struggling as the Christmas period approaches, reach out for help. Things can be different and there are people to support you.

Wishing everyone a restful and peaceful Christmas time and into the New Year.

Sophia Wiacek