How to Survive Your Christmas In-Law Family Hell

By Aatif Sulleyman on at

Perhaps it’s the first time for you. Perhaps you did it last year. Perhaps you’re finally back in their good graces after The Great Fire of 2011. Whatever the case, Christmas with the in-laws is no joke.

Unfortunately, for many amongst you, Christmas will not arrive this year. December 25th will come and go as usual, but very little fun will be experienced. Consider Christmas 2015 as a test. With our little tips (and a smattering of tech) you’re going to smash it, and remain cool, calm and collected throughout the ordeal.

Just make sure you have your wallet handy.

Let Yourself Down

While this is an essential step, you can go about it in a number of different manners. I recommend the Apple Watch method. Take in the lovely ads, ask your mates about it, buy it, and finally curse the world for convincing you that it’s actually any good. This is an exercise in managing expectations. The Apple Watch will disappoint you. Stay pragmatic. You're ready for Christmas.

Plan Meticulously

“Fail to prepare, prepare to fail,” is what my douchebag of a PE teacher used to smugly say as he watched me complete the dreaded Bleep Test in my undies and shoes after stupidly forgetting my kit (again). He was right. Cut out all mystery and plan the day to the minute, so you always know where you need to be and what you need to be doing. There's no room for slip-ups. 14.30-15.00: Meeting with The Snowman in the living room. 15.00-15.03: Light canoodling in the kitchen. 15.03-15.05: Pep-talk in the bathroom. Google Calendar’s a great little tool, though using it to organise your private life is admittedly rather depressing.

Bring the Fun

Board games, puzzles and LEGO are standard fare over the holidays, but Anki Overdrive will guarantee you make at least one positive impression this Christmas. The robotic car system is a bonkers blend of the best of Scalextric, Mario Kart and slick smartphone app stuff, and is certain to help you break through even the toughest of parent-in-law hides. It’s mind-blowingly fun, as well as a precious time-killer. Fake parents, you should smile more often. Really shows off your tooth gaps.

Hold Your Tongue

Peanut butter's great for this. Have a spoon handy too. Peanut butter is delicious, but that’s not why it’s on this list. If you do decide to go down the bottling-it-all-in-when-all-you-want-to-do-is-lash-out route, you’re going to need a bit of help. With a spoonful of the sticky beige stuff in your mouth, you physically won’t be able to snap back with those witty retorts that always tend to land you in hot water. Keep smacking those lips, don’t rise to the bait, and be glad you’re not wearing a tongue clamp. Stay away from liquids too. This is all about sacrifice. If you're a really sensitive soul, however, a pair of noise-cancelling headphones will help you ignore all of the put-downs.

Get Fit

The alternative is to keep on running work the room. Once the red mist starts descending, it’s time to get a wiggle on. A fitness tracker will count your steps and make you feel at least a little bit better about the fact you’re not and never will be your parents-in-law’s idea of marriage material. Oooh, a mile already. That Apple Watch could come in handy after all.

Dodge the Bottle

It looks so good, doesn't it? Those drawn-out silences, the constant impression of not being entirely welcome, the boredom. You may be tempted, but getting steamed and coming between the love of your life and their parents isn’t the best way ahead. Download an alcohol meter app before the big day, to make sure you don’t go beyond your limits. IntelliDrink's a good option for iPhone users, while AlcoDroid is the one if you’re on Android.


Still struggling to keep your shit together? It's time for desperate measures. Download a plan for a 3D printed water pistol (we all went out and bought 3D printers last Christmas, right?) and make it look as realistic as possible. Tuck it into your trousers and make sure your fake-parents-who’ll-never-be-your-real-parents get a tantalising and slightly terrifying glimpse of it. Oh yes, you’re packing. Once they succumb to fear and mention something to your other half, you can act all innocent and offended, and reveal the true identity of your weapon. “No, don’t worry about falsely accusing me of being a deranged killer. I forgive you.” Squirt away. Maybe don’t take it out with you in public though.

Get Your PIP Out

In case operation peanut butter and your new Fitbit don’t quite work out, the PIP biosensor should be able to get you breathing normally again. It’s designed to measure your electro­dermal activity (the sweat you produce when you get nervous) and chill you the hell out with a number of games available through its app. You’ll never spend a better £145 in your life.

3D Print Yourself

You know, if all else fails. No need to let that printer gather dust – you've used it twice more in a day now than you've managed all year. They've already managed to 3D print organs. It surely can't be long before they do a full-sized, fully-functional human that looks and behaves exactly like you? Keep wishing. Father Christmas had better deliver the goods this time around.

Images: Thought for Food, Valerie via Flickr, HP Wikia, Just a Squirrel

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