As December approaches, we can see signs that the festive season is near. Our Maltese houses are adorned with lights, stars, Christmas trees and Father Christmases hanging perilously from every other balcony! Shops are inundated with people frantically buying party food and gifts, making this season a financial nightmare for some families.  Expectations are high as we try hard to make this time special and magical for those we love. So why do the celebrations, at times end in disaster? How can we reduce familial conflict that can ruin the festivities for all concerned?


  • Plan ahead: Look at the whole month of December and balance the time between rest and play…plan time alone and with your loved ones and do not feel obliged to attend every party and meal you are invited to.


  • Manage your finances: Over spending during the month of December can lead to financial restraints in the following months. Start buying gifts early. Have a budget and stick to it. Try not to be enticed into overspending whether it is Black Friday or Cyber Monday!!
  • Manage expectations: Having extended and blended families can make managing everyone expectations during the festive season difficult. Sit down with your family and agree what family traditions you are going to follow. Discuss where you will be spending Christmas and New Year’s Day lunches. Be open to each other’s thoughts and ideas and try to find a compromise that fits with everyone’s wishes.
  • Be realistic: Understand that at times not everyone’s wishes can be honoured. Keep your plans simple and explain decisions to your in-laws. Accept that after all your discussions some family members might still be disappointed with your plans.
  • Use experience learnt: What was helpful during this year Christmas activities? What created meltdown and conflict? What experiences brought peace and happiness to the family? When the festive season is over it might be a good idea to look back and reflect with your loved ones about what worked and what didn’t during the holiday season. It might help to make the next festive season better…




Anna Catania is a counsellor with Willingness. She has had a special interest in working with clients facing intimacy and sexual difficulties and runs a service for families going through cancer and chronic illness. She can be contacted on or call us on 79291817.