I can tell the holiday season is rapidly approaching, because my mom has already begun asking where my husband and I will be spending each holiday. For the past seven years, we have tried to split the holidays as best we can between each family. It is always tricky, and it can be difficult to keep everyone feelings in mind (while maintaining you own happiness). We have always lived in the same town as my family and a few hours away from his family. However, we have recently moved and will now be farther away from both families. We have already been discussing how we will spend this season, and we think we will be trying some of the ways we’ve tried in the past. As always, be sure to discuss the options with your partner first before making any decisions. Here are some suggestions that have worked for my family:
- 1) Split Each Holiday-This is the strategy I will be using this year with my in laws and my family. Since we will now be far apart from both families, we are spending each entire holiday with one family and then the next holiday with the other family. For example, Thanksgiving will be with my husband’s family and Christmas will be with my family. We usually alternate each year. While you do miss out on a holiday with one family, you get to spend time with the other family without having to rush around. You can actually enjoy the holiday and spend as much with them as you would like.
- 2) Split the Day(s)-This works well if you live relatively close to each family. Some years, we had Thanksgiving “lunch” with my family and dinner with my husband’s family. We’ve done Christmas day breakfast and drove to the next family for Christmas dinner. The positive in this situation were being able to spend the day with both families. It does lead to a lot of running around and feeling rushed. Not to mention, feeling overly stuffed the entire day, but that’s not always a bad thing. I should mention our respective families lived two hours apart at that time, and you might have an easier time if you live closer to each other’s families.
- 3) Host the Day-Last Thanksgiving; we finally had a place large enough to a host a holiday. I took advantage of this situation, and I took turn a hosting the holiday. This meant both of our families had to come to us. This worked out very well, and my in laws made the most of the trip and stayed for a few days. The only drawbacks are doing the majority of the work for the holiday and possibly opening your home for more than a few days. This option also works well if you have little kids and it is harder to travel all around.
- 4) Stay Home-This is a choice, we haven’t explored before, but a lot of family that live of town use for the holidays. The planning, the preparation, the stress, the guilt (because all families have opinions), the driving, the MONEY can all add up and make you crazy! Sometimes, it’s easier and wiser to spend the holiday with just your core family (husband/wife and if you have kids). Not only will you save time and money, you will be able to enjoy the day on your terms and with your own little family traditions. You may encounter guilt from one or both families, but usually they are appeased if you promise to visit relatively soon.
- 5) Change the Date-This is a technique that I see many of my friends with a lot of extended family and/or demanding work schedules use on the holidays. I have a friend who has firm standing Thanksgiving on the following Saturday. They are never expected to be there on the actual Thanksgiving (freeing the day to do as they please), but everyone knows they will have their “Thanksgiving” on Saturday. Christmas doesn’t have to be December 25th; it can be whenever works for you and your family. This alleviates a lot of the pressure that comes from deciding when/where to spend the holidays. The options are fairly open and flexible for how to make this work for your family. You can even change the date for both families. Again, the only drawback would be not be spending the actual day with your family.
Remember, the holidays are to be a joyous time spent with your loved ones. You do the best you can to make everyone happy, but no matter what you choose, someone will be upset. Talk with your partner and find solutions that make each of you happy. Communication and comprise are key.