Surviving Christmas at home after the freedom of uni......

Posted on December 20th, 2016

So you’ve finished your exams, launched that last essay into the submissions box and happily skipped out the door to the nearest drinking establishment. Things are going rosily, until you wake up for your 9am train home with the World’s Worst Hangover™ and a sense of trepidation at the inevitable “So tell me about last term, and don’t leave ANYTHING out!” from your Mum/Dad/Mrs Jones from number 66.


Whilst being fed for free and waking up in a house that isn’t sub-zero temperatures like you’re accustomed to is great, going home for the Christmas holidays can also be a battlefield of family bickering, post-lunch boredom and sibling rivalry. Thankfully, after 3 years of student life I have officially been there, done that, and come out somewhat unscathed. Here’s how:

  • Rehearse, Rehearse, Rehearse

All your family want to hear, when you – their darling son or daughter – returns home from the land of trebles, libraries and independence, is that you are:

  1. a) Eating well (can of beans for lunch – check)
  2. b) Studying hard (all night cramming in the library day before exam – check)
  3. c) Looking after your money (so £1.70 is enough for two Greggs sausage rolls, right?)

Make sure you cover all these bases in one well-rehearsed paragraph of speech which is suitable to be rolled out before all family members, and you’ll save yourself hours and hours of repetitive interrogation. If all else fails, feign study-fatigue and dash up to your bedroom for a well-deserved nap.

  • When Christmas day arrives, be smart about offering to help

The key here is to choose a task that’s simple, clear, and has a definite beginning and ending. ‘Tidying the kitchen’ is too vague, and could result in you forfeiting your post-lunch nap for an hour of getting up close and personal with a pair of marigolds. ‘Clearing the kitchen table,’ on the other hand, has a definite end point, and means you’ll be on the sofa watching Elf in no time.

  • Food and drink heals all

Christmas time is (sadly) one of the few times of year that it’s acceptable to eat and drink all day long with no judgement. Use this fact wisely. After Christmas dinner, when the Queens’s speech is on and things begin to get a bit banal, get out the cheeseboard and crack open a bottle of prosecco. This tactic has the double-edged benefit of not only making you the hostess with the most-ess, but also means that people will be too pre-occupied to question you about that new piercing peeking out from behind your hair. More chewing = less arguments, it’s a Christmas miracle!

  • Your siblings are your friends

At family parties where bickering is inevitable, you need all the allies you can get. Siblings provide the perfect comrade when the ‘back in my day we didn’t HAVE phones, why are you so addicted to yours?’ dialogue creeps into conversation. As annoying as you find your brother or sister, chances are that over the 3+ years you spend at University, you’re not going to see that much of each other. Try your best to use the festive period as a nice way of making memories with them, even if this means holding your tongue when they ask you to try out your brand new Charlotte Tilbury lipstick.

  • Have an escape plan

When your Uncle’s offensive jokes start to grate and you’re tempted to hop out the bathroom window, it’s best to remove yourself from the situation completely and avoid a full-on family argument. The key is to drop in subtle mentions of your escape plan early so as not to appear rude. Does your Grandma need a lift home later? Offer to do it, and casually suggest popping round to your home friend’s house for a catch up on the way back. Hey presto, you’re in the family good books and you’ve got a guaranteed couple of hours of argument-free bliss.

If all else fails, say you’re tossing around the idea of doing some extended reading and retreat up to your room until next term arrives. Good luck, and see you back in Newcastle!”

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