It’s only a day, after all. But is it really the day to sort out those issues? Remember, the way others behave in their home may not be your way. Be relaxed - then people around you will be relaxed. Stress breeds stress - especially when alcohol is involved.

Be clear beforehand whether mother wants you to help or whether it would be better to stay out of the way; but bear in mind that whoever is cooking has probably spent time shopping and preparing and may be tired!

Be clear what would make a good Christmas for you, but also respect each other’s wishes. Some may want to play a game, some go out, some sleep! Don’t bully everyone into playing charades.

Lower your expectations; remember, nothing is perfect

Lower your expectations; remember, nothing is perfect. It’s easy to be hypnotised into thinking that everything must be just so. We see the TV adverts so cleverly done - the perfect dress, not a hair out of place. Does anyone actually cook a Christmas dinner while wearing a posh dress? If you’re the chef, allow yourself to get changed just before the meal because this will boost your self-esteem. Look at recipes that allow you to prepare food like apple sauce and bread sauce ahead so you are not as exhausted. If you’re less tired you will be less stressed, and more able to enjoy the day and cope with any tension.

Of course, for some a family Christmas can be very quiet and - dare I say? - boring. The family meal can feel like walking on eggshells and there is a brittle politeness in the air. The effort you make before the day will pay off. If you ring Aunty Nelly and ask her what would make a really good day, or even what was special for her as a child – if you help people connect to good memories - they will arrive in good humour because you’ve taken the trouble to take an interest. If you are a non-communicative family, ask an open question, such as: “What were Christmases like when you were growing up?”

Focus on what is right for your family rather than what you “should” do because others are

Deep breathing helps to relieve any stress. Breathe through the nose, not the mouth, and allow a big out breath, almost like a sigh.

Have you noticed that when people are stressed they tend to hold their jaw tight? We can hold a large amount of stress in our jaw. The stress then travels to our neck and down our back, and gives us a headache. If you are someone who grinds your teeth you will understand what I mean.

Wiggle your jaw and feel the bone jutting under your ear- it’s called the TMJ joint. Sit somewhere you can support your neck, and very gently massage this area with the bend of your thumb. You will be amazed at the relief you feel down your spine as the stress melts away.

If you are at the dinner table and there is a little tension, simply move. Stretch your arms or stretch your feet out. Often when we feel criticised, especially by parents, we return to feeling like a child. Moving is a quick and easy way to return to feeling like an adult.

Visualise Christmas going well beforehand. Too often we imagine a poor outcome, and then wonder why that happens.

Focus on what is right for your family rather than what you “should” do because others are. And if all else fails, smile - first smile on the inside, and then on the outside. A smile can take you a long way.