Sister starting to stress you out? Contemplating lobbing the turkey at your mother-in-law? Don’t worry, you’re not alone.
We all have to spend WAY too much time with certain annoying family members at this time of year. And sadly there’s not very much we can do about the situation other than grin and bear it… or is there?
We’ve identified the characters that fill you with the most dread over the festive season – and come up with a few smart ways of dealing with them!
1. Nasty niece
Spoilt doesn’t begin to describe this horror. From foot-stomping to temper tantrums, she’s an expert at getting her own way. Her parents might try to subdue her demands with extravagant gifts and soothing ‘Yes, dear’ platitudes, but it’s never enough. She won’t eat the same as everyone else, she won’t let anyone else decide what to watch on telly, and don’t even think about asking her to clear up after herself. She’s the boss and don’t you all know it.
QUICK FIX: The way to tackle the nasty niece is to play her at her own game – just don’t get caught in the act. In a room full of people, continue to play the doting aunt, but if you get her on her own, make sure you meet her demands with a firm no – someone’s got to stand up to the little madam.
2. Gruesome granny
Oh, Grandma. Bless her heart, she’s one of the most loving people you know, but you do sometimes wish she’d rein it in a bit. She has a heart of gold on the inside, but outside, it’s all gone a bit, well, rusty. Your poor children look disgusted when she pulls them in for a full-on smacker – and is it any wonder? Worse still, she sees it as her right to say as she finds, regardless as to whether that’s suitable for little ears…
QUICK FIX: This is one scenario in which it’s perfectly acceptable to use your children as a shield. When Granny arrives, push them towards her, and make a run for it while she gets all the kissing and squeezing out of her system. For inappropriate commentator types, invest in a large box of Brazil nut toffee… then sit back and relax.
3. Lazy grandad
Lording it up from his armchair, he’s the one guest who is least likely to help out and moments after stuffing his face, he’s guaranteed to be conked out. That wouldn’t be so bad if only it wasn’t for his snoring, but his bellowing has become the soundtrack to every festive gathering. With the dog howling along, the TV turned up full blast and the kids squabbling (again), it’s just too much noise to bear.
QUICK FIX: The good news is that as you’ve little chance of actually keeping him conscious, it’s one less relative to entertain. Just leave him in his armchair to snooze in peace; move the festivities to the other room and give the kids some felt tips to play with. With any luck, they’ll use them to get creative on Grandad’s face. That’ll teach him!
Why, oh why, does she despise you? Not only are you not good enough for her son, you’ve also done a rubbish job of cooking the turkey, the roast potatoes are ‘not how I would have made them’ and the designer scarf you splashed out on for her, ‘is lovely, but not my colour’. It doesn’t matter what you do, she’ll make sure you know she’s not impressed.
QUICK FIX: If her attitude towards you hasn’t changed the whole time you’ve been married, it’s not going to any time soon. The best thing you can do is just accept it and stop bending over backwards trying to please her. Or, splash out on a gift for her that you’ll both appreciate: a nice long Christmas cruise – for her.
5. No-good nephew
He might look all sweetness and light, but you know that once your back is turned he’s up to something. He may have fooled his parents with that halo polishing act, but when your eggnog’s been spiked with chilli powder and the dog’s just puked up half a selection box, you know there’s only one person to blame.
QUICK FIX: The only way to keep his twisted mind from dreaming up evil schemes is occupying him with something he’ll enjoy even more. So, download a challenging game on your phone and park him in the corner for the rest of the day – hopefully he’ll stay
6. Father hopeless
You know he means well, but your other half’s hapless efforts at Christmas time really do get more irritating every year. He’s completely incapable of buying a tree that actually fits in the house, he still hasn’t figured out how to untangle the outside lights, he uses the electric knife to carve the turkey and his efforts at present-buying are a joke (unless you did want that new vacuum!). You can’t even talk about the time he took the kids sledging in their best party clothes – which then got ruined!
QUICK FIX: Simply do not let him help. Yes, you will have lots to do, but realistically it will probably take you more time to fix the things he’s done wrong than it would to do them yourself in the first place. Oh, and if you don’t want another lame gift, give him a list this year!
7. Sarky sister
She’s the mean girl who is skilled at pushing your buttons. From her snide comments about what you’re wearing to her sneaky digs about your cooking skills, she’s a master at winding you up, yet your parents still think she’s the golden girl.
QUICK FIX: Don’t get mad, get even. If she disses your dress, accidentally spill the cranberry sauce on hers, and if she complains about your cooking, sweetly suggest she hosts the next family gathering. That’ll teach her.