Dreaming of a Christmas day that runs smoothly with no problems between anyone in your family?  A leading clinical psychologist recommends to start planning now to ensure conflict can be avoided on the ‘big day’.

In an interview on 774 ABC Melbourne earlier today, Professor Jane Fisher (Director of research at Melbourne’s Jean Hailes Foundation) said that while most family members came together for a peaceful gathering, the potential for conflict remains extreme.

We approach these [occasions] with high expectations, perhaps excessive expectations,” she said during the interview, “We expect it’s going to be a particularly joyful or pleasant and then we’re disappointed when it falls short.

Professor Fisher recommends reviewing what happened at last year’s Christmas celebrations and changing family habits to plan for a gathering with less potential for conflict.

Implementing changes to the ways gifts are bought, ensuring the workload of the day is evenly distributed and even changing the gathering meeting place to a neutral location can assist to decrease the likelihood of negative interactions.

“This is about disrupting some of those habitual ways of doing things…[asking] can we do this better or can we do this differently?” explained Professor Fisher, “Meet in a park, go to the beach and recognise that the blinding row is not actually a great solution.”

What is your top tip for avoiding conflict at Family gatherings across the holiday period?  Share your experiences and ideas below!

Main image courtesy of Shutterstock.com



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  • Agree on what each person will supply/ help with etc. well in advance so that everybody contributes. One person cannot be expected to provide all the food, especially if there is quite a few people. It works very well if everybody shares responsibility. I know one lady that always ended up buying and paying for all the food, drinks etc. She simply couldn’t afford to do it any more so she made it that everybody paid so much, she bought the food and her daughters and one of her nieces helped her prepare it as nobody offered at all. Before charging a set price she tried getting people to provide various food etc. all at approximately the same value. Some turned up empty handed and complained that none of their favourite food was there. They could have asked to supply something different and the lady would have been fine with that. That issue was sorted out over a couple of Christmases so there is no longer hassles over the price and quantity of food and drinks needed.


  • we had family drama this Christmas which destroyed the spirit in everyone – so my husband and i have decided to go away next Christmas – and there was NO booze involved .
    The ‘Hollywood’ ideal of Christmas never matches the reality of Christmas


  • We all made something to eat and had kris kringle where we drew the name of the person we each had to buy for and it was a $50-$100 limit on each gift to make it fair. It worked out great!


  • We don’t have any conflicts on the day, we enjoy the whole family together. I plan my day out well in advance by making notes to tick off as I go, seems to make everything more organised and less stressful.


  • We do not have disputes. Everyone just helps out and then relaxes.


  • Yes it can be a trying time. I think we all need to be respectful and tolerant as much as possible.

    • Exactly – being respectful is so important and is a right that should be afforded to everybody.


  • Exactly yesterday I went to the movies to watch “Love the Coopers”. The best example of conflicts at Christmas time! :-)


  • i don’t think that i have particular tips except try to keep the convos light and friendly. Don’t go near the topics that will start fights or are soft spots. Try to be more easy going and let the stuff slide. i have my silent rebuttal but you are not worth hearing it lol.

    • I agree with keeping conversations light and friendly, and letting things slide.


  • Lke va


  • I pre-stress and this isn’t a good time of the year for a girl who is easily wound up…..just need to remember to take a step back and smell the roses. Deep breath and think before speaking because if it’s not nice it shouldn’t be said


  • Could not agree more.


  • When all the family gathers were usually to busy eating, laughing and having fun rather than arguing. It’s the kids who always seem to find something to fight about. Nothing new there !!


  • The most annoying this is everyone excepts us to be everywhere for christmas, Mother and father in laws parents houses and then mother and father in law. Won’t be happening this year too hard with babies.


  • I truly agree. My sister in law hates my mother and already there has been tears and blow-ups so can’t imagine having them together this Christmas. It is quite sad because both have stubborn personalities , but also a lot has been triggered from their past psychologically so they trigger one another . Please if this happens to you , seek help and deal with it if there are any emotional issues . it is hard for everyone .


  • Family Christmases are very prone to problems! Don’t expect perfection, that really helps!!!


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