Tuesday, 13 December 2011

How to entertain the in-laws this Christmas!

So here's a little advice to help you keep the in-laws and everyone else happy this Christmas (and out from under your feet!)  Some tips to keep the in-laws entertained and ease your hosting duties, sorted by individual 'type' for your convenience.

For the Travellers   
They are always abroad, or planning their next trip.  They are astounded that you haven't been to the Yemen.  Watching TV with them is a constant stream of "oohhh, we're been there, haven't we dear."

Ensure to obtain a small stock of up to date travel brochures (the more unusual the better) before their arrival and leave them on the coffee table for them to 'accidentally' find and spend the next hour browsing through together (hopefully) whilst you get to listen to your new Buble album. (Or is that just me?)

For the Sports Fans
Always dissecting the last game and planning strategies the players should adopt for the next., whether it's football, rugby, golf, tennis or athletics....
Entertainment (indoor): 
Check the BBC Sports page before their arrival to ensure you can make a couple of relevant comments (good for brownie points) and to check the Christmas fixtures.  Those that are likely to be on the TV will be highlighted on there.  For double points, suggest they watch it (whilst you catch up on the latest Sky shows news with your sister.  (Or is that just me too?)) or ask them if they've remembered to record it and offer to do so.

Entertainment (outdoor):
As above, but book tickets for a Christmas match and either send them, or go with.  A bit of fresh air and shouting is good for bonding as long as you remember some sweets!

For the Brainiacs   
Constantly doing crosswords, playing scrabble or watching quiz shows.

Entertainment (Techie / to leave you free):  
Get Scrabble downloaded onto your ipod/iphone/ipad and show them how to play against the computer and where they can help themselves to drinks/nibbles.  Ideally, don't hear from them again for the next hour.

Entertainment (Non-techie / to leave you free):  
Buy a couple of bumper puzzle books - possibly even as a Christmas present for them.  They'll feel obliged to sit down and do at least some!

Entertainment (for you to join in):  
Get 'proper' Scrabble out.  Or any other brainy board game like Monopoly, Game of Life, Cranium etc... Or for real techies - pop the ipad on the table for the board and play your tiles on your own iphones/ipods through the wi-fi.

New Grannies-in-laws
You've just had your first child, and the mother-in-law is testing your patience?  Providing unrequested advise at every opportunity?

Entertainment:  Ask them how they dealt with weaning/teething/sleepless nights when they first gave birth to your partner.  Then ask them what worked, what didn't and what they'd change in light of your different situation (working mum vs stayathome mum?  married vs single?  new guidance on sleep patterns etc)

If you remember that you aren't saying you will actually follow this advice, you could find that you either;
  • get them talking so long you can multitask;
  • find out something you can actually use;
  • bond a little (dare I say that!?)
Suggest she might want to take darling grandson/daughter out for a walk in the pram after dinner.  All go; or say you'll stay home and do the washing up whilst everyone else goes (dishwasher and glass of wine anyone?)

For all

Allocate responsibilities for everyone.  If you have guests for Christmas dinner, ask the in-laws to provide and sort out dessert for example.  (Oh, and if you can, make clear what time the invitation is for and until so that no-one outstays their welcome)

Stock up on fruit juices as well as alcoholic beverages, crisps, oranges, nuts, chocolates, or any other appropriate Christmas snacking fair you know will go down well with your audience.  Then ensure the produce is easily available for everyone to help themselves!

Get a selection of newspapers and magazines in for browsing (see above headings).  There are always moments when the family can't think of something interesting to say to one another!

Try and avoid having the TV on (let them know before hand) on Christmas Day until a specified time.  And even then, you'll have to manage expectations.  Perhaps just don't bother and revert to playing board games (see Brainiacs above!)  Or have a rota for 'choices'.  Perhaps one hour each!

Please feel free to add more tips below!

If you like this, you might also like:

How to keep children entertained
3 steps to stop a tantrum
Parenting wisdom (getting toddlers to go to bed!)

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