One of the biggest challenges for engaged couples, newlyweds, and even couples that have been married for years is determining where to spend the holidays. While the focus may come down to what seems the most "fair", financially responsible, or easy, balancing families during the holidays can be a real challenge.
Whether you decide to start a new tradition together or plan to divide and conquer, here are a few tricks to maintaining balance during the holiday season.
Start a tradition
Many families opt to spend one year celebrating Thanksgiving with one family and Christmas with the other, swapping the following year. Others choose to take on the hosting so they can bring both families together. Some divide and conquer for Thanksgiving and New Year's Eve so they can have Christmas together. It's a personal choice and there's no right or wrong way, there's just what works best for you and your family.
Take the focus off "what's fair"
One of the toughest things about splitting holidays is trying to play the fairness game. Rather than focusing on splitting an exact time amount with each side of the family, work on managing your hosts' expectations as kindly and honestly as possible. While your mother may not be happy about you spending only three hours mid-day at her house and six hours in the evening at your in-laws' house, you may ease her suffering by explaining that your in-laws are depending on you to arrive early and help with setting up for the occasion.
If you're starting a family together, it's lovely to have a starting point of what you'd like your holidays to look like not only this year but for the next few years as well. But the reality is that your holiday plans will likely evolve over time, especially as kids enter the picture and families grow and relocate. As nice as it is to say you have a tradition of hosting the holidays in a specific place, it's important to be flexible enough to change holiday plans as your families grow.
Communicate clearly about your plans
As a couple, communicating with each other is crucial to an enjoyable holiday season. You've got to be honest with one another about how and where you'd like to spend each holiday, working your way to the best compromise that works for both of you.
Similarly, open communication with both families is imperative. Be clear about the amount of time you'll have with each side of the family. If you're unable to make it to see both of your families, be sure you call or video chat the family you're not with.
Don't over commit
It takes a lot of work to see multiple families during the holidays, and following a serious agenda is the only way to really make it all happen. Make sure you're careful not to over-commit, as the worst way to spend any holiday is in the car traveling from place to place and never getting true quality time in between. Be sure to do your homework and allow sufficient time to get from place to place.
Have a plan and stick with it
The ultimate balancing act is often met with the best-laid plans. Be sure you plan everything out to be time-efficient and taking travel into consideration. As previously mentioned, you may have to be flexible in the case that your plans go awry, but that's not good reason to be without a plan. Plan ahead, be generous with your time, and enjoy the time you have with each side of the family.