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Christmas is an odd time. In some ways, it really is my favourite time of year. A little bit of time off means you can relax with friends, family, naff TV, and plenty of great food. By the same token, a little bit of time off means some of us might find ourselves trapped with family for a little longer than we might actually want to be.
You might just want to sit upstairs and dig through the massive back catalogue of games that you've been meaning to play this year, but that's not what Christmas always expects from you. How do you survive the family dinners, enforced festivities, and time away from your consoles? Read on for the answer, my friends.
There's nothing quite like coming downstairs on Christmas morning to discover you've received a brand new gaming console from your parents. Or grandparents. Or husband. Or wife. Or dog. Or cat. Or Santa. Or the little baby Jesus.
It doesn't matter who got you the console. It doesn't matter whether it's a Switch, Xbox One, PS4, or even a gaming PC. All that matters is that I have one simple rule for you to follow: Do NOT let your younger relatives anywhere near it. Because they WILL find a way to destroy it.
They might be younger siblings, or cousins, or nephews or nieces. Hell, it might even be your own kid. Doesn't matter. If a relative under the age of seven is waddling over with hands covered in Christmas dinner and sticky pudding, there isn't a chance in Hell they're coming within 100 miles of my new limited edition Spider-Man PS4 Pro.
I don't care if you think it's cute that Darren "wants to have a go on the PlayStation" Aunty Carol. It's not actually a toy.
Okay, so maybe it is technically "a toy", but it's one that cost hundreds of pounds, so keep your wretched little hands off it.
If you're staying with relatives at Christmas, you'll have to deal with the harsh reality that you'll be away for most of your consoles over the festive period. What's a gamer to do? We adapt, and we survive that's what we do.
Assuming you have one, you pack your Nintendo Switch, you fill it full of some of the best games of the year, and you go spend the next week at your grandparents. If you don't have a Switch... I don't really know how to help you here. Dig out your old DS I guess. Grab your PSP if you're that desperate.
It'll be much more bearable when you know that if Uncle Roy brings up Brexit in between mouthfuls of turkey, you can just lock yourself in the bathroom and play Skyrim for five hours. Maybe treat yourself to a bit of a cry while you're in there.
This is another piece of advice for the travelling festive gamer: Pack some party games. As much as family can drive us to the very edge of our patience and sanity, Christmas is a great opportunity to spend with them.
It's not always easy, but the experience will be a LOT more enjoyable if you bring some games that you think they might get a kick out of, and that you know for a fact you'll enjoy. Basically, anything that staves off that inevitable six-hour game of Monopoly.
That doesn't mean you can whip out Super Smash Bros Ultimate and spend all of boxing day making your cousins cry while you four stock their sorry asses as Bayonetta on Final Destination with items off. Instead, try and pick games that are a little more... widely enjoyed.
Mario Party and Mario Kart are almost always a great shout. You can never go wrong with quiz games like Knowledge Is Power, either. I'd also recommend Overcooked, but only play that with family you have a cast iron bond with, otherwise you might kill someone.
Speaking of party games, there's every chance that one of the many, many Just Dance games will rear its head at some point during your Christmas celebrations.
I mean, they still put out Just Dance games for the Wii, so there's a chance even your nan has the latest installment tucked away in a cupboard, somewhere behind the talcum powder.
Speaking as a socially awkward gamer who is far from comfortable in his own skin, being forced to play Just Dance with family is usually my idea of a waking nightmare. With that said, there is a solution that turns Just Dance from a wince-inducing ordeal into a genuinely good time: Have a drink.
Now, I have to make it clear that you should only have a tipple if you're 18 or older - and you should absolutely drink responsibly... but even one or two whiskies will help you get in the groove
I realise suggesting this goes against everything I stand for as a lover of video games, but... it's okay to just unplug and enjoy Christmas, you know?
Family can be annoying, and the festive season can be seriously overwhelming, but that stretch of time we get between Christmas and New Year's Day really is a good time to just kick back, relax, and take stock of everything that's happened in 2019.
I'm certainly not saying you shouldn't throw yourself headfirst into catching up with all the best games you missed this year - you can and you should - but what I am saying is that the best way to get through Christmas is to settle into it, to an extent.
Eat too much chocolate. Watch movies and fall asleep on the sofa with a belly full of Christmas dinner. Embrace that six hour game of Monopoly, cos it's coming whether you like it or not. Enjoy where you're at and the people you're with. And again, if things get really bad? Just take your Switch to the bathroom and lock that door. Easy.
Featured Image Credit: Naughty Dog/Bethesda
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