Cost-of-living crisis set to be main source of family arguments this Christmas

News Release

Cost-of-living crisis set to be main source of family arguments this Christmas

Over half (52%) of Brits are anticipating family arguments this Christmas with the majority (73%) blaming the cost-of-living crisis.* 'Turning the heating on' is the top expected source of conflict (20%), followed by 'how much to spend on gifts' (18%) and 'the expense of electricity used for Christmas lights' (15%).

In total, over a third (34%) of the 2033 UK adults surveyed on behalf of relationships charity, Relate** said they expect the cost-of-living crisis to have a negative impact on their relationships with loved ones this winter. This rose to almost half (47%) for Gen Z (16-24) and millennials (25-39).

The research found people are expecting a range of different pressures on their relationships at Christmas. Whilst 'money worries' is by far the biggest source of concern (28%), 'mental health' (15%), 'pressure to create the perfect Christmas' (12%) and 'pressure to socialise' (12%) also featured highly. In response, Relate is launching The Christmas Sanctuary - an online haven full of self-help articles, escapism and relaxation tools to support people during what's likely to be a challenging time for many.

Relate counsellor, Holly Roberts said:

"Money is often a concern around Christmas time but this year it's on our minds even more, due to the cost-of-living crisis. When we're worried about whether we'll be able to pay the bills in January, we might get triggered and react angrily to somebody turning the heating on. For the person on the receiving end of this anger, their first response may be to act defensively and before you know it, there's a full-blown argument.

"If somebody wants to turn the heating on or off and you don't agree, try to understand what fear or unmet need is behind this. Acknowledge that you can see this is important to them and use "I" statements to express how you're feeling without placing blame on the other person. Hopefully, from a place of greater understanding, you can reach some kind of compromise."

As well as being a potential source of conflict and relationship pressures, the cost-of-living crisis means families are less likely to be spending quality time together this festive season. More than a quarter of respondents (28%) said they are avoiding hosting Christmas this year due to the cost-of-living crisis, almost a quarter (22%) won’t be spending Christmas with their family this year as it’s too expensive to travel, buy gifts, host etc., and a quarter (25%) have taken on extra work or additional shifts to pay for Christmas rather than spending time with their family.

The cost of presents is also a concern with 36% of people feeling pressure to buy gifts for loved ones they can’t really afford this year, rising to 41% of 16-24 year olds and half (49%) of 25-39 year olds. On the plus side, over half of Brits (53%) agree that the cost-of-living crisis means they will put more thought into the gifts they give, with almost a quarter (24%) planning on buying second hand gifts, over a fifth (22%) planning on gifting their time and 21% planning on making their gifts instead of buying them.

Relate is encouraging people to take their Pre-loved pledge, which involves committing to shopping second-hand this Christmas.


For all media enquiries including interviews with Relate contact Sarah Osmik on 020 7554 2895 or For urgent out-of-hours enquiries call 07875 049415.

*29% said the cost-of-living crisis is fully to blame for arguments, 44% thought it was partially to blame.

 **The research was conducted by Censuswide with 2,033 nationally representative consumers between 30.11.2022 - 02.12.2022. Censuswide abide by and employ members of the Market Research Society which is based on the ESOMAR principles and are members of The British Polling Council.

Notes to editors:

  • Relate is the largest provider of relationship support In England and Wales.
  • We’re here for every relationship – from romance to roommates, from colleagues to co-parents.
  • Our services include relationship counselling, family counselling, sex therapy, mediation and online self-help. You can access many of our services together or as an individual via webcam, phone, email or face-to-face.
  • We’re an inclusive organisation and actively welcome people of all ages, backgrounds, relationship styles, faiths, religions, sexual orientations and genders, including anyone with health conditions or impairments
  • Relate is a registered charity number 207314.
  • Millions of people every year access information, support and counselling from Relate but many more could benefit.
  • For more information visit:

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