Avoid Christmas chaos and enjoy the holidays by always having a back-up plan

It's heating up, shopping centres are packed and your patience is beginning to wane: it's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas.

Forty-degree car trips with your bogan cousin, yet another glittery bath gel, and the office karaoke party that seemed like a good idea at the time... the festive season can feel anything but jolly.

Here's how to make sure you don't wish away the last few days of December.

Christmas peril 1: Relatives on a rampage

Does the word "Christmas" stir memories of feuds that make Tony Abbott and Julia Gillard look like the Brady Bunch? Then you're on a par with the rest of Australia, so resist the urge to buy a BB gun for the big day.

Plan B: Think ahead about what sets people off, says life coach Sally Anne Law - such as mum getting no help in the kitchen - and work out how tensions can be avoided.

If you can't stop things getting heated, make sure no one else gets dragged in. If asked, "What do you think?," take a deep breath before replying, "That you two should put a sock in it." This will remind them that they're ruining the day.

Christmas peril 2: Festive friskiness

There will be alcohol. There will be attractive men (it's amazing how good-looking Josh from IT appears after four house whites). There will be high spirits. Put these all together and it spells trouble. Even if you're single, pashing Josh at the work party is unlikely to go unnoticed, and nobody likes to be last night's gossip.

Plan B: Employ your mates to keep you away from that guy who makes your afternoon trip to level six a heart-fluttering experience. If you do find yourself lip-to-lip with a colleague, look them in the eye and ask, "How do you reckon we'll feel about this tomorrow?"

If you both decide to go for it anyway (and if you're single), at least leave the party together and get your Christmas jollies somewhere private. Already in a relationship? Bail from the building immediately (solo).

Peril 3: Turkey trauma

No one's immune to culinary disasters - and there's nothing like the pressure of Christmas dinner to bring one on. If your turkey resembles a wombat that fell victim to a bushfire relax: the antidote to overcooking is all in the sauce.

Plan B: The key to disguising an overcooked anything is succulent sauce. Turkeys take almost a day to cook - so although the outside might be cactus, there'll be lots of juicy bird left beyond the char to resurrect the meal.

Let it cool a tad and then remove the overdone outside. Don't be tempted to just cover it in sauce as is. Slice the bird into serving-size pieces and arrange on a plate. Then whip up a sauce to serve it with: half a jar of cranberry sauce with half a cup each of orange juice and water, and a little sugar to taste is a goodie.

Another trick is to keep prawns, mango and avocado in the fridge for Boxing Day - and as back up if the Chrissy roast is a flop.