Nothing can make that honeymoon phase end faster than figuring out how you’ll split time for the holidays. Even if you and your partner have been together for years, there’s something about that first holiday season as newlyweds that makes answering, "So what are you doing for the holidays?" so much harder. Unless you're lucky enough to be hosting both of your families for the celebrations, chances are one (or both) of you will have to make some sacrifices or break with holiday traditions.
The good news is, that's okay and totally normal. It's all a part of growing together as a couple. If you're heading into your first season as newlyweds, here are a few tips to help you figure it out.
Tips for Splitting the Holidays
Split the Time
Dividing the time as evenly as possible is your best bet. If you’re spending all of Thanksgiving weekend with your parents, give your in-laws the same amount of time during the later holidays like Christmas, Hannukah, and Kwanzaa.
Switch It Up
If both of your families celebrate the same holidays, the best way to avoid hurt feelings is to alternate your schedule annually. Flip-flop where you’re going each year to make sure everyone gets to share in those memories.
Start a Pattern Now
If you and your partner are planning to have children, don’t wait until they arrive to decide how you’ll divvy up the holidays. Instead, figure out a plan that works for you and is sustainable, then get into the habit of following it every year. Then, once you’ve got little ones of your own, the grandparents will already know what to expect.
Ask for Advice
Your parents were newlyweds once, too. If you’re not sure how to split things up or are feeling overwhelmed, ask your parents how they divided their time back in the day. They might have come up with a creative solution—and it will remind them that it wasn’t easy for them, either.
How Real Couples Split the Holidays
If you're in need of some reassurance or support, check out how some of some real brides navigated the tricky waters of splitting the holidays for the first time.
An Even Split
"We are going to my husband's parents' for Thanksgiving, and we are going to my family for Christmas. Our families live in different states and it's too much to try to do in one day. We split it fairly 50/50, and then we will rotate next year. We also just bought our first home so we want to sleep in it Christmas Eve and have Christmas morning together." —Jessica, 29
Switching Each Year
“Since we've been married, my husband and I have split the holidays with our families. So, last year we celebrated Thanksgiving with my husband's family and Christmas with mine. This year will be the opposite. It was definitely an adjustment for us to not celebrate with our respective families, but it's all about compromise, and we are starting to make new holiday traditions of our own, which is special." —Laura, 29
A Lot of Back and Forth
"This is actually always a huge stressor for us, but we always figure it out in the end. We always go to Thanksgiving with my family, so that's easy. My husband's family doesn't make a big deal of the day at all. Christmas is always super complicated. We have always gone to my husband's side for Christmas Eve, where they celebrate the traditional Italian way. As for Christmas Day, my family rotates whose house it will be at, and typically my in-laws host Christmas Day so we stop at both. To make it even more complicated, my Dad's birthday is Christmas and I hate leaving before he blows out his candles. We pretty much just can't wait to have a bigger home and then host the holidays ourselves. After all, this running around, we've earned it." —Nicole, 29
"It's probably the most annoying thing to deal with. We decided together to make things as inconvenient for ourselves now while we don't have children, so we basically hit up every possible family member. It makes it even more difficult because we have a set of divorced parents. We do alternate who we go to every Thanksgiving, and then luckily since everyone gets along we drive 2 hours to go out to eat on Christmas Eve with my husband's family, then open presents at his mom's, then his dad's, then drive down after breakfast another 2 hours to spend Christmas with my family. Once we have a family, I hope people are more willing to make things convenient for us, but we've gotten into this groove that works for now." —Pamela, 29
One Family for Dinner, the Other for Dessert
"My husband and I are fortunate that my Mom and his parents live near each other. We have Thanksgiving dinner with my mom, dessert with his parents, and then spend a day over the weekend with my Dad. We spend Christmas Eve with my Mom, Christmas Day with his family, and again see my dad over the weekend. It's worked for us for the past few years." —Katie, 30