Plan Ahead And Reach Out For Help This Christmas

Monday 19 December 2011, 3:46PM

Christmas is a time for enjoyment, but it can also be a time of increased stress within families and among friends.

Existing conflicts between people can be brought to a head under the strain of emotional and financial worries resulting in arguments and escalating tension, as well as alcohol misuse.

But planning ahead can go a long way to avoiding situations getting out of hand and ruining what should be a time of celebration, say Relationship Services (RS) Chief Executive, Jeff Sanders, and the Alcohol Advisory Council (ALAC) Chief Executive Officer, Gerard Vaughan.

“Christmas can be a difficult time, especially where adults have re-partnered, so it’s important to be realistic, agree in advance with all concerned about what should happen on Christmas Day, and don’t commit to more than what you and your children can handle,” Mr Sanders says.

“And instead of blowing the budget, agree as a family on a limit to be spent on gifts.”

Mr Vaughan says there’s a lot of socialising at this time of the year and a bit of planning goes a long way to make sure everyone has a good time and no one ends up drunk and experiencing alcohol-related harm.

“There’s a few simple things we can all do – like making sure there’s food available, having low alcohol and no-alcohol options and having something fun to do so that the focus is not on drinking,” he says.

“We encourage people to talk to their friends and families about easing up on the drink. This will help everyone have a good time and make this holiday season a time to remember.”

More information and top tips to successfully navigate the Christmas season are available on or

Families experiencing relationship issues from the stresses of Christmas can contact Relationship Services’ free helpline 0800 RELATE (0800 735 283) or the Alcohol Drug Helpline on 0800 787 797, a free confidential service available throughout New Zealand between 10am to 10pm.