The Mix’s Christmas survival guide

When you think Christmas, you probably think of Santa, reindeer and Mariah Carrey (seriously, it’s been over twenty years and she is STILL the queen of Christmas - iconic). But all those happy memories are used to disguise the frustration and horror of having to spend the entire holiday season with your ENTIRE family. This Mix helps you to survive the dark side of Christmas.

A young man is sitting in front of a laptop screen. He is celebrating the festive season during COVID. This is a wide-angle image.

Relationships at Christmas can be difficult 

The festive season is known for bringing people together, but that might not necessarily be a good thing. Christmas can be a really intense experience for lots of people, bringing up difficult emotions and sometimes leading to arguments and tension. Lockdown rules also make things slightly trickier.

It can be tough to adjust to being trapped with your family, especially when you might not feel accepted or understood by them. And then there are all the people you really want to see, but can’t.

Whether you’re struggling to keep the peace at home, or you’re worried your relationship is fizzling out because you can’t see each other, we’ve got you covered with this survival guide. 

How to cope with relationships at Christmas 

Being at home for Christmas can be stressful, to say the least, and it can put a massive strain on relationships. You may notice you’re more argumentative or irritable than usual. That’s no surprise really, but fortunately, there are things you can do to help keep your sanity.

Tips for coping with tension at Christmas: 

These are our top tips for surviving the holiday season. Try and find one that works for you or maybe even adapt some of them to your living situation:  

  • Create a cosy, private nook for yourself. This’ll probably be your bedroom, but it might also be a corner of the living room or a chair in the garden. Keep it tidy and looking nice. It should basically just feel like a nice space to escape to when you need some me-time.
  • Give each other space. Respect that your mum might want a bath in peace or your partner might want a private chat with their mates. Just because you’re at home together, doesn’t mean you have to spend every minute of every day with each other.
  • Do nice things for each other. Make dinner for your housemate, help your sibling with their homework, offer your Dad a helping hand with his new iphone. Basically, in the wise words of Ms.Gomez, kill ‘em with kindness.
  • Talk about how you’re feeling. Feeling anxious? Worried? Upset? Try telling the people you live with. This can help you to feel better and may even bring you guys closer together.
  • Nip conflict in the bud. If you can see a potential conflict brewing, try addressing it head-on. Bringing it up in a calm, sensitive way can help to stop the conflict escalating.
  • Normalise the bickering. It’s normal, some might even say healthy, to get on each other’s nerves when you’re together 24/7. Try to remember this rather than reading into it. Arguing more doesn’t necessarily spell the end of your relationship or friendship, it just means you’re human.

Tailored advice

Christmas with family:  

  • Have a rota for jobs around the house. If people have set days for cooking or cleaning, there’s less room for arguing about whose turn it is.
  • Enjoy your time together. It’s not all going to be sunshine and roses, but try to see this as an opportunity to spend some quality time with your family.
  • Embrace the opposition. Accept that you’re not going to agree on everything and that’s ok.

Christmas with housemates: 

  • Remain social. If you’re feeling low or anxious it’s easier to hide away in your room. But try doing things together like cooking, eating or going out for your daily walk. Any of these activities could be an opportunity to really bond.
  • Don’t sweat the small stuff. If you find yourself getting irrationally pissed off with your housemate for the way they eat their cereal, take a step back and figure out why – is it justified or are you just going through something? It’s normal to feel irritated by silly things, but usually there’s something bigger at play that’s really setting you off.

Christmas with a partner: 

  • Have a date night. Don’t let lockdown squeeze the romance out of your relationship – get yourself dressed up, cook up a storm and share a new kind of date night.
  • Squeeze in some me-time. Time by yourself is so important for your relationship. Go for your daily exercise by yourself, talk to your mates, basically just try not to morph into each other.
  • Have more sex. Sex is a great way to pass time and if there was ever a time to focus on your sex life, it’s now. Use this time to talk to your partner about what you like, and get practising.

How to care for relationships when you’re apart for Christmas 

Now that we’ve talked about relationships that are stuck together, we should explore the opposite. Some relationships might struggle because of people having to celebrate separately. During the festive season, you’re probably missing your partner like crazy or worried what this will do to your friendships. So what can you do to keep those relationships alive?

I’m missing my partner…  

Try treating this time apart like a long-distance relationship and remember it won’t last forever. Facetime regularly, or go old-school by sending letters. And remember, if your relationship can survive the time apart, the future’s looking good!

What does this mean for my friendships? 

We won’t sugarcoat it, missing your friends sucks. But try to focus on how great it will be when you can hang out again. Keep in touch regularly using social media and schedule phone calls and Zoom chats. You can get creative about activities for your weekly / daily meetups. Try writing a quiz for your friends, doing a skill swap (like painting or playing an instrument), or even having a karaoke night.

How to cope with spending Christmas alone 

Being on your own for Christmas comes with a whole host of emotions. This is a time when we’re ‘supposed to’ be with others, but a solo-xmas doesn’t have to feel like a bad thing. In fact, there are lots of things you can do to celebrate a day of me-time.

  • Treat yourself to your favourite food (why not go against the grain and have Mexican?)
  • Plan a movie marathon
  • Do some local volunteering
  • Go for a long walk and appreciate the quiet, empty streets
  • Join our online community of young people and have a chat

I’m struggling to cope with Christmas… 

If you’re finding things really tough at home, for whatever reason, you’re not alone! A lot of young people will be going through the same thing as you and The Mix is here to help. If you want to talk it through then get in touch with our free and confidential support services, who will listen and point you to the best advice.

You can also read our article on how to deal with corona-anxiety and our top 10 fun things to do to pass the time during lockdown.

Bonus: Use our relationship tool to understand your relationship dynamic, and what you can do if it’s not as healthy as it should be.

Next Steps

  • If you're under 25 and would like free confidential telephone counselling from The Mix to help you figure things out complete this form and we'll call you to arrange your first session.
  • Our Crisis Messenger provides free, 24/7 crisis support across the UK. If you’re aged 25 or under, you can text THEMIX to 85258
  • Chat about this subject on our Discussion Boards.
  • Need help but confused where to go locally? Download our StepFinder iPhone app to find local support services quickly.

By Holly Turner

Updated on 01-Oct-2021