Family gatherings doesn't have to come with all the family drama. Picture: Pexels
As the year winds down, many of us are looking forward to finally going on holiday and recharging our batteries over a well-deserved break.

Of course, the year-end also means Christmas and spending time with family and loved ones, and that’s not always easy. 

Family dynamics are complicated at the best of times, but with overcrowded houses, expectations and overspending, tempers can flare up in the midst of all the organising, gift-giving, and get-togethers, making it even worse. And with so many different personalities in a small space, clashes can be inevitable.
 
If you want to keep your cool over Christmas and make the family gatherings go over a little easier, here are a few tips to help you.
 
For starters, if you’re feeling crowded and a little annoyed with people, they are probably feeling the same too, so try to stay calm and go easy on them (and hope they do the same). 

If you are overwhelmed and feel like shouting, consider giving yourself an adult time out by going for a walk, listening to music with headphones, or reading for a while to give yourself a chance to regain your composure.
Give yourself an adult time out by listening to some music. Picture: Pexels
Buying presents can also lead to stress and tension, not just with immediate family but with your significant other as well, especially if the relationship is new. 

You might be tempted to spend more money than you have to impress others, but really, it’s not necessary. Keep in mind that expensive gifts don’t necessarily mean more to people. Experiences like picnics or even a coffee date can mean more than any store-bought object might.
 
In the case of new relationships, it can also be tempting to ignore family in favour of spending time with your new beau around Christmas time, especially when family time means dull dinners or watching inane TV shows with your grandparents. 

A balanced approach is best here, so consider allocating time for your new boyfriend or girlfriend in a way that won’t hurt your family’s feelings. That way you get to spend a bit of time with everyone without stepping on toes, or more importantly, providing fuel for next year’s Christmas conflicts.
 
If you’ve been together for a few years, chances are your relationship is in a rut and you’ve both been surviving past each other just to get through the year. 

Use this downtime together to reconnect and rebuild your relationship. Have an honest conversation about what’s working and what can be improved upon so you can start the New Year off on the same page.
 
Family gatherings doesn't have to come with all the family drama. Picture: Pexels
If you are going away with your family (or without them) over Christmas, you can always have your own get-togethers and celebrations with those who won’t be going with you beforehand. Who doesn’t like getting early Christmas presents or attending Christmas dinners with a select few in attendance? They will go a long way toward keeping friends and family happy (and keeping you sane) over the holidays.

There’s also one person it’s absolutely vital not to forget over the Christmas period: yourself. 

Being merry and emotionally balanced is a big ask, and if you don’t look after yourself, you’re going to lose your cool. 

Take some time to do the things you like, whether it’s watching a favourite TV show or movie, taking time away from everyone to gather your thoughts, or having a quiet coffee with a friend. It will go a long way to help you remain calm if things go a little pear-shaped.