How to make Christmas less of a burden (and more of a blessing)

The holiday season is upon us and most people will spend the Christmas period with loved ones.

But it's difficult to enjoy this time of year without having financial or familial stress.

Relationship coach Stephanie Dawson-Cosser emphasises the importance of openness and honesty to help shatter the often false illusion of 'Christmas cheer' and the 'perfect family'.

Dawson-Cosser warns families against trying to "keep up with Joneses' and says transparency drives down the costs of Christmas.

She explains that families need to have courageous conversations about their financial and emotional challenges.

According to Dawson-Cosser, having open discussions and offering support can be cathartic for everyone around the dinner table.

Many people carry hurt throughout the year... to get back to the joy we need to deal with the hurt.

Stephanie Dawson-Cosser, relationship coach

Christmas does heighten everything; the joy and the loss, the sadness and what's exciting.

Stephanie Dawson-Cosser, relationship coach

The relationship guru explains that caring actions and gestures are more valuable than pricey gifts - during a time of year that encourages excessive spending.

The real message of Christmas is giving from the heart - and that actually means relationships... It gives families the chance to be honest and true.

Stephanie Dawson-Cosser, relationship coach

She says that each family has to figure out what works for them, but offers the following advice on reducing strain:

  • have open conversations with loved ones.
  • turn Christmas giving into a fun and inexpensive game like 'secret Santa' or 'dirty Santa', as Dawson-Cosser describes.
  • think about the life span of the gift. Rather spend money on investing into the future.
  • donate items to family members in need, which will also lead to unique generational stories, she says.
  • make your own gift with a personal touch.
  • make Christmas gatherings and meal times a bring and share.
  • do not drink too much alcohol or over-indulge in food. Everything in moderation.

Listeners called in to share their experiences and tips on how to make Christmas holidays work better:

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