Improve communication with family to ensure a happy holiday season

Elisheva Funk Licensed Clinical Social Worker Jewish Family & Career Services

Most of us love the holiday season. What’s not to love about feasts, celebrations, gifts and vacations? But the reality is that all of the preparations for big meals, shopping for gifts, time spent in airport lines or traffic, as well as tons of time with family and changes in routines/ schedules, can bring some challenges. While each family celebrates the holiday season differently, most of us have one thing in common: added stress.

Consequently, communicating effectively with your family is a great way to ensure a smoother and happier holiday season. This article offers some tips on improving your family communication


Do recognize your trigger points

Know your trigger points and plan ahead. Anger and anxiety are obstacles to effective communication. If you know something or someone is likely to set you off, be prepared with coping skills. The fundamental coping skills of exercising and sleeping well before a stressful event can help you manage the event with grace.

Do be honest

Be honest with yourself about what you want to do to celebrate the holidays—not what you feel you should do. Just because your neighbor bakes cookies for everyone, does not mean that is something you need to do as well.

Do create rituals

Establish a family ritual that allows your immediate family to spend time together and connect. Simple rituals, such as putting up decorations, watching a holiday movie or wrapping presents together, can create happy, lifelong memories.

Do spend time listening

Listen to all members of your family and keep the lines of communication open. If it feels like chaos in your home, something is not working. Take time to figure out a solution together. Even if some things can’t be changed, it is important to validate everybody’s feelings. It is worthwhile to spend time listening.


Do not overlook the need to model communication

Model the respect and communication you want to see from others. Be cognizant at all times of your words and actions and how they affect others.

Do not wait to be disappointed

Be proactive by asking for what you want from others. Don’t wait to be disappointed. Others are much more likely to meet your expectations if you are clear.

Do not underestimate the importance of quality time with your spouse

Spend quality time with your spouse every day—even if it is just five or 10 minutes. Discuss challenges and make sure you are on the same page.

Do not forget to focus on the positives

Remember that the holidays can be a joyous time. Focus on the positive parts of the season and enjoy the time with friends and family.

Jumping cartoon

It is common to be excited to spend the holiday season with family and friends, while also feeling stressed by family time, meal preparation, shopping and travel. By taking some time to work on your communication skills, you will have a more joyous and relaxing experience.

More expert advice about Improving Family Communication

Photo Credits: Happy family celebrate Christmas by Gorilla via BigStock; Check Man, Cross Man and Jump Man © ioannis kounadeas -

Elisheva FunkLicensed Clinical Social Worker

Elisheva is a licensed clinical social worker who specializes in working with children, adolescents, and families. With more than 14 years of experience in social work, Elisheva has worked with both adults and children in a variety of settings i...

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