When traveling with your family, it should be wonderful to spend time together. Sharing and caring with loved ones sounds wonderful, but often there is an undercurrent of tension that can make this a difficult and dreaded time for some. Why does this happen, after all the holidays only come around once a year and we deal with family tension all year round.

Families, who don’t normally spend a lot of time together because of work/school commitments or because of location, are now spending several days together at a time. People fall back into old patterns of behavior, old arguments still simmer and issues that have been avoided have a way of coming to the surface. Those involved can feel angry and unappreciated, which in turn causes more tension and so the cycle begins.

Add to the mix a host who is exhausted from weeks of shopping, planning, and decorating, teenagers who resent the invasion of their space and time, and young children who just know how to capitalize on the fact that you have company and you have a recipe for disaster.

If you are hosting a family holiday event, you may find that the stress of trying to create the perfect holiday season for the family begins many weeks before the holiday actually arrives. Eliminating holiday tension and stress would require a lifestyle change that very few people really want to make. You can however make it more manageable.

1. Accept that the holidays will come and there is nothing you can do about it, be determined to be flexible and not sweat the small stuff.

2. Acknowledge that this is not an ideal world and that people don’t change just because it is the holidays. Your in-laws may snipe at your decor and your cooking, your teenager will want to hang with friends rather than be stuck with family and everybody else will still be the same. In the grand scheme of things it does not matter, keep it in perspective, and remember the “perfect holiday” is different for everyone.

3. Don’t shop till you drop, instead make a list and stick to it. Holiday spending can easily get out of control and leave you with a financial headache for the New Year. Determine your budget and stick to it, be ruthless.

4. Don’t let guilt or a misplaced sense of obligation force you into attending parties and activities you would rather not go to. Pick events you know you will enjoy and that means something to you and you will have a great time.

5. Consider your expectations of others during the holidays. When it comes to the family photo, family functions, and holiday activities, do you expect your spouse and children to be shiny happy people for all such activities and events? Don’t let a tense situation develop just because they are not behaving the way you think they should. Consider what they want to do and talk about it.
In summary, you should be realistic, focus on the people you love, don’t overspend, keep your sense of humor and you will keep your sanity. Life is short and time is precious, consider every holiday you spend with family and friends as a wonderful gift. Most important of all…Enjoy.