LGBTQ+ Christmas Survival Guide

LGBTQ+ Christmas Survival Guide

Tuesday, 12 December 2023

Those from the LGBTQ+ community have shared with us that this time of year can be difficult for them depending on their own family dynamics.

There are ways in which we can cope which we discuss below!


As we know, all families are different. If you identify as LGBT+ you may have a family who does not understand what you are experiencing, or your family may have no idea at all if you are not yet out. Then we have those families that are quite open and receptive to whatever their young people may be sharing. Regardless of what kind of family you have, you may be delighted for the holiday time or dreading it! Some thought in advance can go a long way to help your holiday time be manageable.

Managing your expectations

A helpful mindset can be managing your expectations. We all have hopes and dreams for what we wish our family may do or say. However, this can lead to disappointment as we can only control our responses.

If we are hoping to have a new response from a parent or family member who has not been open to learning about your experience as an LGBTQ+ person, we may be set up for disappointment. Parents can have their own hopes and dreams for what Christmas may look like. This can lead to stresses and pressures much higher than day-to-day. We all come from different perspectives even within our own family. Holding this in mind can help take the emotional intensity down a little.

At times we can assume that our family would be upset with us when we speak about our LGBTQ+ experience. But sometimes there are family members who are receptive to learning more which can be quite connecting. Keep your eyes open for those in your family who seem curious and open-minded to hearing more as you could have more support around you than you think.

Safe Spaces

Creating your own safe space that feels LGBTQ+ friendly. The ‘space’ can be IRL or on your phone. It may be finding a creative outlet on holiday by blogging,  journaling or doing something creative that you enjoy. It could be setting up video meet-ups with your LGBTQ+ family to keep those who accept you close by. It may be something as simple as having a WhatsApp group of funny holiday memes. As for a physical space this may be a room in your childhood home, a walk you can talk down the road or in your car. Regardless of how you create a space, having something in place here can be a real relief for if emotions get hot when you are in your family home for Christmas.

Creating a LGBTQ+ Sensory ToolKit

If you find being with your family for prolonged periods a challenge, having a special sensory toolkit can be a welcome distraction. This can be as obvious or hidden as you like. For example, you could take a shoe box and decorate the inside as you wish, rainbows and more. Sense of sight; you could stock your sensory box with images or quotes that make you feel hope, comfort and calm. Sense of touch; perhaps a squeeze ball, a soft piece of fabric, feeling the bumps of a comb, a fidget spinner, a special gift from a friend. Sense of smell; pack a favourite perfume/cologne, scented hand cream, or even a car air freshener! Sense of taste; A package of your favourite chocolates, gum or mints. Sense of sounds; A favourite playlist of songs, crinkly textures, musical instruments, and Christmas sounds that you have positive memories from.

If you prefer a sensory toolkit that is less obvious than a physical box some ideas could be: sight; Save a screensaver on your phone with a photo that makes you grin ear to ear, touch; wear comfortable clothes, smell; bring your favourite shampoo, taste; practice mindfulness with each meal, sound; wear sound-cancelling headphones and your favourite playlist
Finding ways to have time in and time away from family.

Spend your time wisely

Young people from the LGBTQ+ community have shared that they have found that mindfully thinking about how they spend their time when home for the holiday helps. This could involve factoring in how to take breaks from family away from the home, or even a short escape to a less communal living space. Some have found that taking daily walks away from the family home is key. Developing new boundaries when home can take some time but also be very important. If you notice that an environment has led to your mood declining, find a way to take action as your mental health is important.

As for time-in with your family, you can think of which family traditions or times of day when you feel most accepted and safe. You can place emphasis on these moments being more of quality than quantity. Plan your day so that you get to spend time with your family in ways which would be more pleasant and time away from those tension points.

Plan ahead

Plan something special with your LGBTQ+ family for when the Christmas break is over. Sometimes just knowing a date and time for a get-together once back home can be enough. You can plan a post-Christmas get-together with your chosen family. Changes are you are not alone in your experiences over the holidays.

Reach out

If you are isolated from other LGBTQ+ young people, please reach out to the online communities;

If you are struggling with thoughts of suicide or self-harm, please do avail of crisis support such as attending your GP, A & E or Pieta House (Free 24/7 Crisis helpline:1800 247 247 Text HELP to 51444).

For some, the holidays may trigger these thoughts. It is important to remember that as with all emotions, what comes up must come down. If you are feeling upset over the holidays, it can help to remember that emotions are temporary. Christmas is temporary. In the coming weeks and days, you will be back into your normal routine without these extra triggers.


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