Rudolph’s Countdown to a Conflict-free Christmas

By Rudolph R-N Reindeer


Hi everyone,

It’s Rudolph here! You may remember me from the song ‘Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer’? Yep, that’s me!

You may be expecting a message from Santa or even Mrs Claus but they’re very busy this year because so many young people have been ‘good’ and production in the workshop has had to double. The elves aren’t happy, I can tell you…

Sharing a stable with eight other reindeer, and overcoming that difficult period when I was being teased about my luminous nose, I know a bit about conflict at Christmas. Remember us Reindeer have to work all of Christmas Eve – whatever the weather – and sometimes the stress, well, it just gets too much.

On Christmas day we end up stuffing our faces at the trough, lapping up too much to drink and becoming quite bored and frustrated or we just fall asleep – the sound of reindeer snoring can become intolerable…

I know Christmas day can be the same for you humans, so here are a few ideas for planning ahead for a conflict-free Christmas (Mrs. Claus kindly took some time away from washing elf socks to help me with this).

Have a Compassionate Christmas:

A couple of weeks before Christmas why not have a clear out with all the family. Plan to give away toys, electronics, or even big jumpers that you haven’t used in over six months. Make a game of choosing these (children, spouses and even parents may need some encouragement!) bearing in mind that as you get rid of the all the stuff that you no longer love or use you’re making more room for Santa to leave you lovely new presents!

You can explain to the family that the donated items can go to people or families that may have less or nothing at Christmas and so you’re also helping Santa out. Giving away stuff really brings home the idea of compassion at Christmas and will help to set the mood for a more chilled and happy Christmas day.

Colonel Mustard in the Library with a candlestick…

Speaking of games – why not turn the many tasks that have to be completed for your big Christmas day into a game for the whole family. You can decide who will be doing what (and when) to help make it a fabulous Christmas, and get the kids involved in make a countdown to Christmas advent calendar.

Remember to encourage people to volunteer rather than assigning them tasks. While saying “Who wants to peel the potatoes and wash the sprouts on Christmas morning?” may not inspire cries of joy you can take on an unpopular task yourself (let’s face it – you’d probably end up having to do it an way) in exchange for the kids helping to tidy up the house, loading and unloading the washing-machine and dishwasher in the days leading up to the big day.

Most people don’t mind compromise as long as they have a say in the decision-making process and negotiating who’s doing what will help to build everyone’s skills at managing conflict!

Plan your way out of Christmas conflict

When planning the big day why not have a discussion about what people would like to do, what they want to watch and when they might like some quiet time?

You can plan the day’s TV viewing using a TV Guide – say, everyone gets to choose one show! – oh, and don’t forget to agree a time when the TV’s switched off…!

Agreeing a time when all phones, table and the TV will be off well in advance of the day is more likely to work than suddenly telling everyone to stop what they’re doing or just the regular nagging about everyone ‘always’ being on their phones, laptops or the X-box.

Plan a walk for the morning or the afternoon. The change will help balance the mood out for the rest of the day and some physical exercise will help release some pent-up energy. Why not agree a quiet time for everyone to have a break from company to recharge their batteries?

It’s the thought that counts – is true of giving and receiving!

All of us are guilty of spending too much money at Christmas on things that we may never use (every year I buy the other reindeer fluorescent red noses that they never wear – I don’t understand it…).

Rather than spending lots of money to make someone happy, remember that it’s not only the thought but the feeling of giving and receiving that makes Christmas special.

Have a pre-Christmas chat about how we receive gifts and show gratitude: do we smile, say ‘Thank you’ and give the giver a big hug? Do we do this no matter if we get a new quad-bike or a pair of hand-knitted socks?

On Christmas morning most people are looking to see how you will react to receiving their gift rather than what they’ve received. Being truly grateful for the thought, time and love they’ve put into a present will make everyone happier than spending a lot of money on a gift that’s not properly acknowledged.

It’s hard to be in conflict if you’ve hugged and thanked everyone who’s given you a gift!

Keep it real

Santa’s workshop is full of large pictures and murals of people having a perfect Christmas: there’s usually snow, there’s a log fire and plenty of presents and food. In Santa’s office there’s just a framed picture of Santa and Mrs. Claus with all us reindeer. Mrs Claus says that’s because Santa knows who’s really important to him and that doesn’t change at Christmas.

Even Santa knows that there’s no such thing as a perfect Christmas. We can’t buy, drink or eat your way to a perfect Christmas. Christmas is best when we get to spend it with friends and family and show and accept love and respect – pretty much like every other day of the year!


Wishing you a cheery, conflict-free Christmas from all of us at the North Pole and our friends at Parenting Across Scotland and the Scottish Centre for Conflict Resolution!

Rudolph R-N Reindeer

For more information on family conflict resolution visit my friends at the SCCR’s website or tweet them @sccrcentre 

Rudolph R-N Reindeer

Rudolph lives in the North Pole with Santa and Mrs Claus, the other reindeers and Elves. Since his appearance in the popular Christmas song ‘Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer,’ he has had many appearance in films, on TV and as an invited speaker at night-time aviation-safety conferences. Rudolph enjoys carrots, mince-pies and sugar-lumps and is proud that his international celebrity has not made him immune to the important things in life.

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