Don’t Outstay Your Welcome

It’s wonderful to be with the whole family for Christmas, but sometimes it reminds us why we don’t live in each other’s pockets all the time.

Let’s be honest, welcoming a host of family and friends for Christmas and the long days that follow isn’t always peachy.

Knowing how to be a welcome house guest can also be about knowing when it’s a good time to go home.

“Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days. That’s the old saying,” Rhian Williams told ABC Radio Canberra.

Ms Williams is a dispute resolution and mediation consultant.

Many families have had lots of practice spending days on end together, but those who haven’t might be heading rapidly toward their limit.

“It’s perfectly reasonable to feel overwhelmed because you might be used to living by yourself or just one other,” Ms Williams said.

“To have 10 people all in a space who don’t normally live together, it’s a big ask for anyone.”

A family prepare Christmas lunch in a kitchen.

Keep some normality in routine

If you know your patience is running thin, Ms Williams suggested finding even a small window of time to recharge.

“If you need to go for a run or take your dog for a walk every day, and that’s one of your critical ways of dealing with stress, keep doing it during the Christmas period,” she said.

“If you normally take half an hour to read the paper, find the time to do that and the things that fill your cup.”

And while it’s perfectly normal to need time out, it’s worth letting the family know what you’re doing.

“If you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed and overloaded, just say ‘I think I might just need some time to recharge my batteries’,” Ms Williams said.

“If people just absent themselves it can look like they’re sulking.

“If you’re feeling drained and empty, you’re going to have very little in reserve to be able to deal with things when they get tricky.”

A young boy washes dishes in the kitchen sink

Set the rules and say thanks

For hosts with house rules, Ms Williams suggested speaking up.

“If you have particular times you want to get up or go to bed so that enables the day to run smoothly, let everyone know in advance.”

One of the things that can fuel a fire is if we’re told off when things get tense but not thanked when we get it right.

“If you are the sort of person who likes to have dinner on the table at seven o’clock on the dot, and everyone comes together to make it happen, then be sure to show your appreciation,” Ms Williams said.

Don’t know how to help?

And if you’re the guest and you don’t know what to do to help out, Ms Williams said just asking was the best first step.

“At the very minimum, take care of your own mess.

“Clear your own dishes and of course it’s very nice if you clear others’ as well.

“Make the burden a bit easier for your host by taking on a particular task.”