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Christmas Conflict: 8 Ways to Get Along With Your Family This Season

Does someone in your family always get ticked off about Christmas?

Maybe they hate parties, visiting certain relatives, or shopping for those Santa-sized wish lists. It could be tough to talk about these pet peeves because you want to avoid the conflict. But conflict here is just what they need! Addressing the problem head-on is the best way to fix their not-so-jolly attitude.

Here are eight touchy holiday subjects and how to resolve them without tearing the family apart.

1. Compromising on parties

If you are married to somebody who can’t make it through a party without acting like Ebenezer Scrooge, strike a few deals before you go. Figure out which shindigs you’ll attend and how long you’ll stay. They may not like the thought of going to any gatherings at first, but when they see there’s an end in sight, it will be easier to smile and engage in nice conversation.

2. Shortening your shopping list

It’s simple to see why some people don’t want to buy a gift for Uncle Who’s-That-Again and Aunt What’s-Her-Face. You don’t even remember the last time you saw them! A person who only shares your last name or is just a Facebook friend doesn’t make the gift-giving cut. This approach may anger a loved one who thinks you should purchase for everyone, but they’ll live. Do what you can afford, not what someone else thinks you can afford.

3. Drawing names for giving gifts

This one will raise eyebrows. Buying for one person instead of all of them? Talk about ticking people off! Here’s how to address the matter: Explain to your parents, brothers, and sisters that you are on a budget this year and can purchase one gift. Ask if everyone would be willing to draw names. If they do, then you’re all set. If not, just say that you can’t participate in the gift giving or gift getting this time. Either way, the amount you spend on presents will go way down. Who knows? Maybe everyone will see how this plan keeps them from overspending, and they will be excited about picking names next year.

Related: Secret-Santa Giving

4. Spending time with relatives you don’t like

You knew this one would come up. Maybe it’s having dinner with your brother who rubs everyone the wrong way. Or maybe it’s taking a trip to see your less-than-lovable in-laws. Tell the complainer that they don’t have to pretend to be best friends. Just be pleasant and avoid any passive-aggressive conversation. They can hang close to the people they like, and time will pass quickly.

5. Family members who should be more involved

Do you have a relative who only calls when they need something—never to just say hi? You’re not alone. Here is a cheery and direct way to help them along: Have the family members make a “Christmas promise.” Each person names something they need help with, such as repair work, babysitting or changing the oil. Then you draw names and set a timeline for the act of kindness. This shows the value of being involved—even if a family member needs to be nudged into it.

6. Kids who are ungrateful

Children look forward to Christmas for, oh, 11 months each year. Still, the last thing you want to hear is them complaining about is how they didn’t get everything they wanted. Teach them to have a spirit of gratitude instead. Before Christmas, set aside a day where you and your children volunteer at a soup kitchen, homeless shelter or favorite charity. Don’t worry if they gripe. Serving will help make them into a better person. It’s harder for them to think about their pint-sized problems when they see the Bob-Cratchit-sized issues of the less fortunate.

7. Grandparents spoiling grandkids

It’s their job, right? Unless they’re broke. It’s frustrating to see people stubbornly shower your kids with gifts when they can’t afford retirement. So why not tell them to find a less expensive way to show the kids a good time? Christmas gifts can be in the form of ice cream and candy parties at the grandparents’ home and mall trips to see Santa. Quality time is priceless, and the children will remember an experience a lot longer than a doll or action figure.

8. Traveling versus staying home

There are many reasons why people want to stay home during the holidays—they just want to relax, there are money concerns, or the relatives are too far away. We totally get that. Just ask them to be honest about why they don’t want to leave town. Then come to a compromise such as a shorter trip or less outings. They might just have a little fun along the way.


Want to build a non-anxious life? Learn how in Dr. John Delony’s new book.

It’s uncomfortable to tick someone off. But that awkwardness doesn’t have to last long. When Christmas is better as a result, you’ll be happy you spoke up.

Is there already conflict in your family? Smooth over any issues and make your holidays merrier by blessing your relatives with The Total Money Makeover.

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Ramsey Solutions

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Ramsey Solutions has been committed to helping people regain control of their money, build wealth, grow their leadership skills, and enhance their lives through personal development since 1992. Millions of people have used our financial advice through 22 books (including 12 national bestsellers) published by Ramsey Press, as well as two syndicated radio shows and 10 podcasts, which have over 17 million weekly listeners. Learn More.

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