How to survive Christmas with the in-laws


Have you heard this saying You can choose your friends but you can’t choose your family? I’ve said it a few times out of frustration or envy when I’ve had great times with friends and wished they were part of my family so that I could spend Christmas Day with them.

Don’t get me wrong though, I love my family. I get along with everyone on both my sides of my family.  But if I were to be honest with you, I find it easier to spend time with my side of the family than my husband’s.  I don’t think I’m an isolated case and I’m certainly not alone in my feelings when it comes to entertaining the in-laws.

My in-laws all live interstate, so in order for them to visit, they stay at our place. Unfortunately the same arrangement can’t be reciprocated when we go to visit them because there is not enough space for us to stay over. Which has suited us fine. But it means we have to pay to stay somewhere and the cost prevents us from visiting more often.  We’ve done the day trips and will have to do these more often.

So it’s easier to have the in-laws stay with us. But I find it hard having someone else stay in my own home. I like my own space.

These are my tips on how to survive Christmas with the in-laws.

  • Get over your feelings. Acknowledge that you may not enjoy their company but you only have to ‘suffer’ for a short amount of time.  Suck it up to keep the peace. They are your partner’s parents and your children’s grandparents.


  • Be up front about how long you wish them to stay. You may only want them to stay for a weekend but they intend on staying a week or longer. When arrangements are being made, don’t ask how long they want to stay, tell them what length of time will be convenient for you to have them stay over.


  • If the arrangements aren’t negotiable and it’s going to be a longer stay than you like, accept it and make a list of some free activities that will keep you all entertained so you’re not stuck at home basking in uncomfortable silence.


  • To get rid of feelings of dread, remember how exciting it was for you as a child if you had grandparents stay over? Think about these happy thoughts and how great it’s going to be for your own children to spend time with grandparents they don’t get to see as often.


  • Ask if your in-laws are happy to babysit one night so that you and your partner can go out on a date. It saves paying a babysitter and means your kids have one on one time with their grandparents.


  • If you have in-laws that like to put you down in your own home, this can be really hard to suck up and get over. If I had in-laws like this, (thankfully I don’t) I would advise them to stay at a local hotel and come around for meals. Your inner family unit which is yourself, your partner and kids needs to be protected and nourished. If negative talk causes unwanted stress and strain in your marriage, then your marriage needs to come first and it needs to be protected.  This means putting boundaries in place and inviting the in-laws over for meals or a day, but not sleeping under the same roof.


  • Give as you would want to receive. Presents from in-laws can be… interesting. It’s tempting to reciprocate the same method of gift giving the following year. But remember that you are being the better person by blessing them with a thoughtful gift.  They may buy your Christmas gift from the $2 shop but you can do better by buying from a department store. 🙂


  • Be thankful your in-laws are healthy and able to spend time with you. There are many people in the world who have no family at Christmas or have family that are ill. Health is something to be celebrated at Christmas


  • Remember that spending time with people that don’t share the same ideals as you is part of great character building.  There’s at least one extra grace required (egr) person in a family. Sometimes it’s the in-laws. Differences can challenge your own thinking and behavior. Accept it as a challenge, rather than a painful experience to be endured.


Do you have in-laws staying with you over Christmas? How do you survive Christmas with your in-laws?