‘Can someone pass the salt? This roast is a bit bland.’ Sound familiar? The festive season isn’t always all Christmas carols and golden tinsel ─ a whole lot of family in a confined space makes for irritated family members and snarky comments that could have easily been avoided. So, TravelGround decided to round up some of our top feud starters that go hand in hand with the festive season and, of course, ways to avoid them so that you and your family can have a peaceful Christmas holiday this year.

Christmas day comes with its own set of problems. The first one, and the one we South Africans dwell on year after year, is whether it is socially acceptable to braai on Christmas day. Uhm, who cares? Braai if you want to braai! I’ll have a skaaptjoppie any day of the week ─ whether it’s Christmas Day or not!

While we’re on the braai subject: Please don’t heckle the braaier on duty’s braai style. Nobody likes a backseat driver ─ or a backseat braaier. And if you’re the braaier on duty, here’s some tips that’ll make you look like the braai boss: Firstly, stand directly in front of the braai, guarding it with your body. This way, you’ll look totally in control and the others won’t see a gap to look and comment on your coals. Secondly, make sure to dig around the coals and push them around with your braai tongs every now and again ─ this will give the impression that you know what you’re doing. And lastly, if your chicken’s a bit dry, the steak a bit chewy and the pork chops still oinking, just say, ‘Turned out just like I wanted!’

Put these tips to the test at these great stays with excellent braai areas:

La Cotte Forest Cottages | Kudu Lodge | EngelZicht Self-catering Villa

I don’t know about yours, but my family tends to over-do the whole Christmas meal thing. It’s as if food gets prepared for three times the amount of people actually sitting down to eat ─ gammon, leg of mutton, tongue with mustard sauce, watermelon salad, potato salad, trifle (side note: why was this invented again?), you name it…it’s there! And this means a whole lotta leftovers. So the question is, who gets the leftovers? I say: first come, first serve!

Then there’s the Christmas presents problem: are we buying for everyone, every family for itself, only for the children, or are we doing Secret Santa? Buying presents for everyone is such a schlep and ain’t nobody got money for that. Secret Santa is the way to go! Tip: Please force everyone to make a wishlist beforehand ─ this way disappointment is avoided. And stop buying socks. Seriously. Stop.

The next issue is who is doing the dishes. Keep it simple and rotate the dishwashing duties during the holidays. However, the question of who’s doing the dishes on Christmas Day is a whole new ball game. I have a great solution: Make home-made Christmas crackers, place a ‘dishes duty’ note in one of them, and place them on the table ─ whoever gets the cracker is responsible for the dishes! Side note: Please don’t peep and place the unlucky cracker on your least favourite family member’s plate ─ that’s not very Christmassy.

If doing the dishes is not your thing, have a look at these lovely stays with dishwashers:

Four on C Luxury Suites | Slip Slops | Dream of Nature

This is where things get really heated: games. There are two games one should completely avoid when spending a large amount of time together: Monopoly ─ it will even turn the likes of Karl Marx into a greed-stricken capitalist, and 30 Seconds ─ for some reason everyone’s competitive side gets exponentially worse. The safest games to play are Cluedo, Scrabble, Chess, Go Fish and Snap. Play safe guys!

‘So when are you guys having kids?’ Please, no personal questions this holiday. Nobody wants to hear: when are you getting married, a boyfriend, a baby? What are you doing after school? Is that a real job? But let’s be honest, not everyone in your family is going to read this blog and auntie Karen will probably still ask everything you don’t want to answer. But the holidays are all about taking the high road to avoid unnecessary conflict, so clench those teeth and give the shortest answer possible. If all else fails, make something up! ‘I’m starting an internship under Elon Musk in January’ is always a good bet.

Don’t let your wannabe DJ brother hog the aux cable. Rotation is the key to a family holiday, so rotate those DJ duties. There’s just one rule when it comes to music: no one is allowed to play Boney M’s Christmas album under any circumstances ─ nobody really wants to hear that.

So many people, so few bathrooms. Guys, please be considerate and keep your showers short. Not only does it save water, it saves family ties. But unfortunately, every family has that one teenager who showers for ages no matter how many times you knock on the door, so to ensure hot water and a clean bathroom, and to avoid a boiling temper, just get up a little bit earlier. If you’re really desperate, you can always buy a timer for the shower at your local hardware store. ‘That’s my towel!’ is another argument starter, so, please hang your towel to dry in your own room and pick a towel with a colour no one else has ─ the same goes for your beach towel and toothbrush!

To really keep those tempers from boiling over, think ahead and book a stay with more than one bathroom such as these options:

Blue Horizon – Absolute Tsitsikamma | Clifton Views | Idwala View

And then the topic nobody likes to talk about: money. With so many different family members in one house, the financial side of the holidays could get a bit confusing. ‘Don’t worry, I’ll take this one, you can pay tomorrow night.’ (But is he really going to?) ‘Are these chicken kebabs ours? No, but it’s fine, we’ll just eat some of your steak tomorrow night!’ (That’s not really fair is it?) ‘Could I borrow some of your coffee? I’ll run to the shop tomorrow?’ (But she’s not going to remember, is she?)

I have an excellent solution. Have the family CA work out a financial plan, giving each family member a percentage of how much he/she will eat per day by using their age. The CA will then give the head of each family an amount that would cover the whole holiday and has to be paid into a money box. This box is then used to pay for everything! (If this doesn’t make sense, please ask your CA to clarify.)

And if you don’t have a CA in your family, sucks to be you ─ jokes! My suggestion would be to rotate the pleasure of buying basics, such as milk, bread, toilet paper, etc., and for the rest, it’s every man for himself.

So, that’s it! May your holiday be without any personal questions and filled with enough hot water for everyone. Do you have some suggestions on how to avoid family feuds during the holidays? Please teach us your ways in the comments below!

Feature image: Bigstock