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Navigating Christmas in a new relationship

Gillian Rowe / 06 November 2018

What could be more exciting than the thought of drinking mulled wine or sparkling champers with your new love by the glow of a log fire at Christmas?

An older couple celebrate their first Christmas together

Christmas is a time of celebration, of hope and joy and merriment, particularly if you are in the first throws of a new romance. What could be more exciting than the thought of drinking mulled wine or sparkling champers with your new love by the glow of a log fire, or taking in the fresh, winter air on a walk together on a crisp frosty morning?

However, the reality of the season does not always add up to our expectations. Navigating Christmas in a new relationship requires some careful planning and a large, yuletide dose of compromise to ensure you have a wonderful first Christmas together, while keeping those around you happy at the same time too.

Keeping yourself in good spirits

The season of good will can be stressful one and if you are suffering from festive fatigue it may put pressure on a new relationship. It’s only natural to want to show yourself in your best light when you meet someone new, so if you are someone who knows that you have a tipping point somewhere mid-icing the Christmas cake or making a last-minute rush to do the supermarket shop, it’s probably best to avoid arranging for a date at the same time too.

Fix in a diary a couple of evenings when you think the pressure will be less intense and you can forget about all the different demands that are being put on you and take time to relax and enjoy the magic of the season together.

Equally, for those who believe Christmas is a load of humbug, and your new partner is full of the joys of the season, put on a brave face and take pleasure in sharing in the experience together – you never know, you may even enjoy yourself!

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Family first

No doubt, the conversations about who is going where at Christmas have long since been resolved, but now you have someone new in your life to consider in the mix. You may have pressures enough from your family members about the logistics of Christmas, who you are going to spend it with and where, and if arrangements have now been made, stick to them to avoid any hurt feelings. Perhaps decide instead to spend New Year’s Eve together, if you are both committed elsewhere on Christmas Day.

And if you do decide to invite your new love to spend Christmas with your family, prep them in advance about your own family Christmas traditions. We all spend Christmas in our own unique way, and if yours is to have Bucks Fizz from the off, a gift of something sparkling from your partner will go a long way to ingratiating them with your family.

You could create a new ritual that is just for the two of you, such as visiting a Christmas market, attending your local church carol service or buying each other something small to open on Christmas Eve.

The gift of giving

Try and avoid the pitfall of buying extravagant gifts for each other. But at the same time, Scrooge-like levels of penny-pinching, might not go down to well either. It may not be romantic, but you could agree in advance on a ball-park figure you’re going to spend on each other.

After all, these are habits that you won’t yet know about each other, so some tact and diplomacy are required to avoid any embarrassment with an over-the-top gift being proffered, compared to their paltry half-hearted bottle of cheap plonk.

Forget about perfectionism

There are benefits to having a few Christmas’s under your belt and one of them is to know that the pursuit of perfection only ramps up the stress levels and does nothing to add to the enjoyment of the day. Having the perfectly decorated tree or a table set like a magazine feature is not going to make or break the day.

Take things easy and you’ll have more time to enjoy each other’s company. If you’re going to spend the big day together, why not book into a hotel or your local pub for lunch, rather than slave over a meal for two, or even treat yourself to a mini break over the holiday period.

Helping others

Getting involved with the wider community is a great way to find new interests together. There are so many volunteering opportunities to get involved with at this time of year and it’s something that you could do together to mark your own special way of doing Christmas.

Take a look at which provides a long list of opportunities for volunteering at Christmas, from coffee morning volunteers to bucket collection days.

Taking it slowly

The lights and baubles of Christmas trees sparkle wherever you go, romantic festive songs being played from supermarkets to train stations and carollers are giving their all with The First Noel – it’s hard not to get sentimental and caught up in the romance of the holiday season, and think your new date, that you’ve just met, is the one! But when all the lights have been packed away for another year, and that warm glow of Christmas has faded, will you still feel the same way?

And if you’ve only just met, don’t be offended if they don’t invite you to a neighbour’s drinks party or festive social gathering – which can be stressful at the best of times. Just because it’s Christmas, you don’t have to do everything together. You’re just beginning to get to know each other, so take it slowly at your own pace to help you savour every moment of your new-found romance.


The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.

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