The holiday season is here, and it can be a wonderful time for newlywed couples. However, if you are like my husband and I, you may need to make sure you are on the same page for the holidays. Sit down and discuss how and where you will spend Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, New Years and any other special days of the season. Make sure to have this discussion early so that you are not caught by one family or the other without a plan. Nothing is worse than having to go back on your word.
Make sure that you compromise; both of you have traditions, but neither of you is going to get to keep all of them. The two of you will come up with what works best for you and your families. To help you with ideas, here is what has worked for some other couples…maybe one of them will work for you?
Have your families come to you
Why not take the stress off of yourselves, and have the families come to you? “We decided that the first year both our families would come to our house for both Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years,” says Maria of Adventures of the Mommy Homemaker. “Three years later I’m still in charge of all the festivities.”
Split your time between the families
If you are adventurous and time permits, you can try to see both of your families during the holidays. Maybe all in one day like Joy of The Kids Did It? “When we were first married we did lunch with his family and dinner with mine. My family always runs late and are night owls whereas his family are more early birds so it worked fine in the beginning,” says Joy. “I always went Black Friday shopping with my sister so we needed to be together after dinner to plan our attack anyways.”
Spend time with just one family
You may have an easy decision because one of your families lives too far away. Emily of Nap Time is My Time says, “Our first Thanksgiving as a married couple we were alone – we returned from our Honeymoon the night before! We spent the first few holidays with my husband’s family because we lived near them. Now that we’ve moved closer to my family (and his is 1500 miles away) we spend them with mine. Last year, we traveled back to Florida for Thanksgiving and while it was nice to spend time with his family, I don’t ever want to travel on a holiday again!”
I don’t blame you Emily! Traveling during the holidays can be very stressful, which is exactly how you don’t want to feel at this time of year.
Spend time alone with one another
You may feel that you have created a new family now that you are married. Why not spend the holidays just the two of you (or with your children)? “We spent our first Thanksgiving alone. It was just a few months after Katrina and things were really chaotic,” says Laurel of Let’s Go on a Picnic. “It is kind of ‘our’ holiday now and we like to spend it just the four of us [together].”
Spread out the celebration
Who says that holiday celebrations have to take place on the actual day? Why not make it a holiday week or two weeks? Kecia of Southern Girl Ramblings says, “We usually spend holidays with my family. Hubby’s parents/grandparents are all deceased, so it’s just him and his brother. Typically the only holiday we celebrate with [his brother] is Christmas but we do it a few days early so it doesn’t interfere with my family’s or our sister-in-law’s family’s events.”
What about the kiddies?
Once you have children in the picture, you may start to think about celebrating the holidays at home like Nicole of MamaNYC. “The holidays are always very hectic for our family since we divide our time between my parents and in-laws. We try to give both sides of the family an equal share of our time, but it isn’t as easy as we thought it would be. Now that we’re expecting our second child, I am ready to start talking about holidays hosted at our home.”
A combination of the above
One of the above options still may not be perfect for you and your spouse. Don’t be afraid to come up with new ideas or combine the ideas above like Amber of Parent Palace. “We’ve always split the time. We alternate each year with who we visit first, but always spend a ‘tolerable’ amount of time with everyone,” says Amber. “My family does our gift opening on Christmas Eve, and his mother usually does it a few days before so it works out easily for us.”
If you dated a few years prior to marriage, don’t feel that you have to continue doing what you did when dating after you get married. “We always split time and alternate Thanksgiving Days, but when we married, we decided that the actual Christmas Day should be spent with our immediate family. This is a special time that we feel shouldn’t be spent traveling or with extra family stress,” says Gena of Life with Captain Fussy Buckets. “It works well for us.”
How do you and your spouse spend the holidays? Was it difficult coming to an agreement? Feel free to share in the comments below.
This post was first published on 11.16.2012 and updated on 11.20.2015.