4 Sparrows Sitting on a red rope with baubles

How to Manage Relationships at Christmas

12th December 2020

Whether it’s a partner, family member or even potential date, relationships can be difficult to manage at the best of times.

The festive period can make this trickier, so learning how to manage relationships at Christmas is important.

Christmas is supposedly a time for love, family and happiness, but for many it can cause fear and anxiety due to the impact it can have on relationships.

After much reflecting and research, I’ve found tips to help navigate the complexities of relationships at Christmas:

Family Relationships at Christmas

Christmas is a warm, fun time for some families, but for others it’s a challenging time.

If you’re from a dysfunctional or distant family, imagining how to manage relationships at Christmas within that environment can be stressful.

Plan Your Christmas in Advance

Don’t just hope for the best when it comes to spending time within a difficult family environment.

Instead, plan for the best to improve the chances of it going well.

If somebody you struggle with will be there for Christmas, plan how you will cope with their behaviours in advance.

For some, they may keep busy with jobs to avoid sitting and chatting with that person. Others may plan positive responses to use if they’re triggered.

Think about what the possible problems could be, and then list some ideas of how can these be avoided.

Sometimes planning can be very helpful!

Christmas presents under a tree with a silver lantern.

Take Breaks

An entire day (or more) with anybody can be exhausting, let alone with people we don’t always get on with.

Is there a dog to take for a walk in the fresh air when it gets too much?

Can you find a quiet room to be in, even if it’s sitting on the toilet with a book for half an hour to get away and recharge?

Set Boundaries

Setting boundaries for yourself is important, which can include planning a way to leave if certain boundaries are crossed.

A family member might be an addict, or have mental health issues which trigger negative feelings or reactions in you.

A plan to leave if they become intoxicated, or if they have triggering episodes ensures your own wellbeing’s maintained.

It could be a simple excuse like having a headache so needing to go home, to avoid them knowing the real reason.

Alternatively, you can say at the start you’ll leave if certain things happen, to avoid making excuses.

Christmas dinner table with a cracker on a plate. how to manage relationships at Christmas during dinner can be tricky.

You Can Decline

If it’s really an awful experience to spend this holiday with certain people, you can say no to doing it.

Stella O’Malley, a psychotherapist, was quoted in the Irish Times as saying

You can say no. I’m really all for that sort of thinking, which is actually just choosing to go for a different Christmas for yourself as opposed to trying to change the traditional family Christmas that they’ll all be obsessed about.Stella o’malley

There’s also some great Christmas Day hacks here I came across that could help.

Step-Families at Christmas

These days most families have separated parents or half-siblings from previous relationships, which adds further complexities to the festivities.

Who will spend Christmas Day with the kids? This can be the most emotional question for some.

Working out which extended family can see the kids on that day can be tough, especially if some don’t get on since you separated from your ex.

Granddaughter and grandmother sitting outside at Christmas., smiling together. A key reminder of how to manage relationships at Christmas.

Plan Well Ahead

Talk with your ex to look at options. Could you take it in turns each year, or share the day together for the child’s sake where appropriate.

If you can’t see some children in your network on the day (e.g. step children), can they be seen on another day (Boxing Day, Christmas Eve) as an extra Christmas Day?

Find Out Everybody’s Expectations

If it’s your first year as a blended family, finding out what everybody wants is important.

Ask the children, grandparents and ex-partners what they want from the holiday, to try and find a mutual agreement.

Stay in Touch

For days your child/partner is spending Christmas with other family, look at ways to stay in touch.

Video phone calls are great to schedule in, or texts if they dislike cameras.

Reassure your child that you will be fine, so they don’t worry that you are alone or missing them. Let them enjoy their day as much as possible.

Girl with Christmas hat reading to a teddy as part of the tips of how to manage relationships at Christmas.

Dating at Christmas

Dating this year with an epidemic and two lockdowns has been different to say the least, so if you survived that, dating at Christmas is easy!

Online Dating

During these difficult months many have begun dating online, such as free dating sites Lancashire to virtually meet potential dates.

This is from the comfort of your own home, so you can message and exchange photos for as long as you want before deciding if you want to meet.

People I know are loving lockdown dating, because they can stay in their pyjamas and have online Zoom dates!

Computer keyboard with heart key instead of the return key.
Online Dating at Christmas can be Fun

Christmas can be hectic, so online dates help see if there’s a spark before arranging ‘real world’ dates when things calm down.

I’ve used online dating sites over the years and even met my fiancé on one. They’ve helped give me confidence to talk to men when returning back to single life.

Online dating’s easier to fit into my single parent lifestyle than socialising and hoping to bump into a potential date. The dating agency Lancashire isn’t just for that area,- there’s access to dating people from across the UK too.

Winter Dating

Hollie-Anne Brooks wrote about finding love at Christmas for Red Online and said:

This time last year I found myself at my dating best. After a summer of misadventure, men who took me on dates to the pub just so they could watch the Arsenal match and that one who turned up in a Blues Brothers fancy dress costume, I refused to give in. Not to be outdone by winter weddings and skiing mini breaks, I gave myself permission to enjoy the possibilities of Christmas.
By being proactive and refusing to write this time of year off as a holiday made for couples, you can easily meet your match.Hollie-Anne Brooks

Work Parties

Hollie also gives useful advice about ways to find a partner during this time, which includes socialising at work.

Christmas work parties often lead to someone being kissed under the mistletoe…

There’s also local events held at Christmas time, like family parties or drinks with a friend. These social events help you to naturally meet people who could become your next partner.

(Obviously once lockdowns and restrictions have ended).

Maintaining a Relationship at Christmas

Christmas can be stressful, and we can end up taking this stress out on our partners if we’re not careful!

Couple with Christmas hats on taking a selfie having fun as a tip for how to manage relationships at Christmas.

Make Time Before Christmas

Christmas is so busy that it’s important to talk beforehand to work out how to manage relationships at Christmas.

Psychologist Emma Kenny said to The Sun:

Taking time out to talk through your relationship now, before the stress of Christmas kicks in, means you recognise issues before they become problems.Emma Kenny

Relationship charity, Relate, have an online quiz you can take to see if your relationship can survive Christmas.

This might be a useful starting point as it could highlighting areas to think about.

Talk Openly

If something is starting to annoy, worry or upset you it’s important to talk about it.

Your partner isn’t a mind-reader and they’ll have their own worries around Christmas so may not notice yours.

It’s important to phrase things carefully by avoiding blaming talk. I unfortunately use blame talk often and I’m currently trying to rephrase as it doesn’t get me anywhere!

Listening is also key. Make time to sit, talk and listen to each other daily where possible.

Find out about the day they’ve had, how they feel and watch how much closer you start to get naturally.


Kissing releases hormones that increase the bond between you, yet it’s something that can fade as the years fly by.

Try to kiss each other at least once a day and more if possible!

Piggy bank with Christmas hat on. Maintaining finances is a tip for how to manage relationships at Christmas.
Budgeting at Christmas is Vital


One of the biggest stressors around this festive time can be money.

Look at the income and outgoings for the month to see what can be allocated to gifts and other Christmas bits.

There is some great advice about finding ways to save money on Christmas gifts on this site I came across recently too.


It’s a dangerous thing to assume the other person knows you are sorry if you’ve never said the words.

Christmas can cause many an argument to happen, and some don’t end with a mutual agreement.

Saying sorry doesn’t mean anyone’s won or lost, it just means you’re sorry for any pain you may have caused.

Apologising is such a small thing to do, but it has a huge, positive affect on the other person.

Share the Workload

Listing what needs to be done at Christmas, and allocating who does what can work well.

This avoids resentments building if one is doing more than the other, which can often lead to arguments.

Christmas layout with a Hot Chocolate and red bowl of popcorn.
The Perfect Date Night Indoors

Date Nights

These still need to happen during Christmas!

As the years pass, and we have kids that keep us busy and tire us out, we can start to neglect the relationship.

Finding two hours per month to go out and eat, or go for a walk together can help keep the relationship fresh, close and positive.

At Christmas an evening stroll seeing neighbours’ Christmas lights, or a takeaway watching a festive film can fit into a busy schedule.

Any Other Tips for How to Manage Relationships at Christmas?

If you have any other tips that I’ve missed about how to manage relationships at Christmas, please comment below!

This is a collaborative post with Date Lancashire Singles. All opinions are honest and my own.

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