The holidays are a magical time for a lot of people. The festive season brings opportunities for families, friends, and loved ones to gather and enjoy each other’s company, along with lots of delicious food.
But it can be difficult for partners, whether dating, engaged, or married, to decide the layout of their holidays. You will definitely need to spend some time planning to ensure you see all the family members who undoubtedly want to see both of you.
How do you navigate the holidays as a couple while still spending time with the people who mean the most to you? Read on for tips on splitting the holidays between families!
Things to Keep in Mind
Make a Plan or Schedule
It likely goes without saying, but you should never go into the holiday season without planning well in advance. While your holiday visitations don’t have to follow a strict timetable, it’s still a good idea to give yourselves a visual reference of when and where you will be expected over the holidays.
This is particularly useful if your festive plans include a lot of travel or attending different functions—with all the rushing around, it’s easy to forget some things!
Discuss Your Plans Together Before Telling Anyone Else
Whatever your plans, it’s a good idea to discuss them with your partner and iron down a concrete schedule before sharing anything with your extended family.
Make sure you are on the same page, and neither one feels left out. Then present a united front to let everyone know your plans for the holiday.
Be Willing to Compromise
Like most other things, when you share your life with a significant other, it’s all about compromise. Whether you both feel strongly about attending a specific gathering or have a mild preference, talk it through and make sure you are both happy with the decision.
If you have friends or other family members who manage to juggle multiple Christmas engagements at a time year after year, it’s okay to ask them how they do it! Helpful advice is always something to be open to, and it’ll make your life easier.
Split Your Time as Evenly as Possible
While this can sometimes depend on transit times and weather delays that are out of your control, try to divide your time evenly between families.
Only having an hour with your family is not enough time to catch up and will likely leave you dissatisfied, especially if the next gathering lasts all night. Try to schedule equal time between each destination for the fairest distribution.
Consider Your Respective Traditions
Most families have some holiday traditions, whether participating in a Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving morning or opening presents on Christmas Eve. After joining with your partner, you should discuss which family traditions are important to you and why. This can help determine the timeline of where to spend certain festivities.
Also, don’t be afraid to begin new traditions of your own! And while you can certainly still incorporate some customs from each of your family backgrounds or upbringing, try setting up some new activities for yourselves to look forward to every year.
Keep Communication Open
Like any other logistical or scheduling process, keeping the lines of communication open is essential. It’s frustrating when confusion leads to someone showing up at the wrong house or not at all, so keep everyone updated.
That being said, it’s a good idea to be upfront with your family when planning how to split the holidays. Some might assume that you will be spending the entire day with them, and it’s best to let them know in advance so they can also plan their festivities accordingly.
Though you might want to work everything out and schedule the entirety of your holiday season, it’s still a good idea to remain somewhat flexible. Plans can change for anyone, storms disrupt travel, or many other things could happen.
Instead of being set in stone for your festive function attendance, leave some wiggle room in your schedule.
Remember That You Can’t Please Everyone
This is a key aspect of any holiday gathering to keep in mind, whether you are rushing between family parties or simply sitting in front of your own tree at home. There’s no way you can please everyone, no matter the size of your family.
And in the end, avoiding stress and chaos is what you should be focused on during the holiday season!
How to Split the Holidays
Lunch in One Place, Dinner in Another
If both families live fairly close together, you can split up holiday meals between the parties! Consider eating lunch at one household, then saying your goodbyes and traveling to the other house for dinner, if it’s close enough.
Celebrate Before or After the Holiday
If there’s no way to fit it all in, opt for celebrating the festive season before or after the day itself. Some family members may actually prefer to celebrate early or late if they have to work on the actual holiday.
So consider the weekend before Thanksgiving or Christmas Eve for gathering with family, and give yourself a break!
If one of your families prefers Thanksgiving gatherings to Christmas functions, then you’re in luck!
Consider celebrating one holiday with your family and another with your partner’s loved ones. The following year, you can alternate to ensure you each get to spend the holiday with your family at least every other year.
Host the Celebrations at Your Home
Avoid being the ones to travel by hosting the holiday at your house. If you have enough room for everyone, this can be a great way to turn the festivities into an at-home occasion!
That way, you can also have a direct say in the menu, games, and other holiday festivities.
Have the Holiday Just to Yourselves
No matter your approach to splitting the holidays between families, it’s important to take time for yourself and your partner to avoid burning out.
Sometimes, it’s nice to have a solo holiday season. If it’s getting to be too much with planning and compromise, consider having a Christmas with just your partner in your own home.
While this can get a bit more complicated if you have kids, it’s still achievable—just make sure you have food, fun, and festivities aplenty, and you will feel the holiday spirit regardless of location!
Connect Over Tech
Thanks to technology, even if you cannot physically spend the holidays with part of your family, you can still wish them a happy Thanksgiving or a Merry Christmas. Use Zoom, Skype, or FaceTime to include them in the festivities.
Go on a Trip
If you are worried about the upcoming festive season, why not just take a vacation? Christmastime can be a great excuse to book a flight, pack your bags, and enjoy some time in a different place entirely.
You can even invite your respective families to join your holiday getaway so that you can spend the holidays together in a new city.
For those who love snow, outdoor winter activities, and good food, consider Canada, Iceland, or Germany. Or, if you want to enjoy some sunshine in December, scope out a tropical destination like the Caribbean or Hawaii!