How to Make the Most of Your First Christmas as a Couple

'Tis the season for some holiday cheer—and it's even merrier than usual!

Updated 10/29/19

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It’s the most wonderful time of the year! If you’re newly engaged or married, there’s even more to be thankful for this holiday season than usual. From chummy get-togethers with the extended fam to breaking in new traditions of your own, it'll likely be a season of "firsts." To make your first Christmas as a couple truly magical, we’re sharing nine ways to make the most of the holidays.

1. Fill Your Home With Memories

There’s something about the holidays that makes us feel all nostalgic and sentimental. Whether you recently got engaged or walked down the aisle, be sure to commemorate the big year you've had. Print out those keepsake photos, put them in frames, and get to hanging. If you have a tree in the living room, decorate it with ornaments that tell your love story. It could be shells from your Hawaiian honeymoon or a miniature wine glass to symbolize your vineyard engagement—whatever it is, do the same every year and make it a tradition.

2. Honor Family Traditions

Think about the traditions that made the holidays special for you as children, and find ways to weave them into your adult lives. It could be as simple as choosing a live tree for that aromatic pine scent or renting a classic movie (ahem, Love Actually). You can’t do it all, so this is also a good opportunity to practice your negotiating skills.

3. Make Your Own Traditions

It's okay to cherish holiday traditions from your childhood, but you’re creating a home of your own now. Start by picking a few things that you can put into practice every year—and perhaps even share with your own kids. Open one gift on Christmas Eve, make nachos while you’re decorating the tree, or try out that baked French toast recipe you’ve been eyeing for an epic Christmas Day brunch.

4. Have a Cookie Frosting Night

Even if your partner is all thumbs in the kitchen, chances are they'll jump at the opportunity to help you bake (and decorate) holiday shortbread cookies. Want to level up? Try your hand at a gingerbread house. Though, a fair warning: If you make them from scratch, the assembly process may be a test of your patience.

5. Go Caroling

There's something truly joyful about singing old holiday carols on your neighbors' doorsteps, or even just in the comfort of your living room. Why not make this old-fashioned pastime one of your yearly holiday traditions? Don't be a Scrooge! You'll definitely score some brownie points from us.

6. Plan Time for Just the Two of You

With holiday parties and family gatherings galore, it can be hard prioritizing your relationship once the holidays roll around. Set aside a time that’s just for the two of you so you can reconnect without distractions, reflect on the past year, and dream together about what the year ahead might hold. To cap it all off, record your thoughts in a special notebook and make plans to revisit it every year.

Traveling to see your loved ones? Make a reservation at your favorite local restaurant before you leave to squeeze in some alone time. Another idea we love? Spending your first holiday season as a married couple as, well, a married couple. If you live near family, opt to have Christmas morning alone and then meet up with everyone in the afternoon. Or see your families on Christmas Eve and then spend all of Christmas day in your pajamas in front of the fireplace, with no responsibilities—just you and your boo.

7. Decide How to Divide Your Time

Before the season is in full swing, sit down and discuss a game plan. Instead of trying to be fair to everyone, first, decide what works for the two of you—keeping your calendars and budgets in mind. Figure out how you’ll want to alternate time, whether it's switching back and forth between who gets you for Thanksgiving or Christmas every year or spending one holiday alone and alternating the other annually. Not sure where to start? Ask your parents how they split their time as newlyweds. It may provide you with a newfound perspective, and vice versa, it will remind them of how challenging it can be.

8. Take a Goofy Christmas Photo

Even if the "real" holiday photo you put on your card is more traditional, consider throwing on ugly Christmas sweaters or some crazy glasses for a humorous photo to frame on the wall each year. Friends and family will love seeing your lighthearted side, but the best part is that it will make the two of you laugh year after year.

9. Get Involved

Between all the parties, travel, and nonstop gift-giving, the holiday season can start feeling a bit self-indulgent. Take some time to give back with your partner by your side. Seek out local organizations that allow you to “adopt” a child or family for the holidays, head to a food bank to help pack up holiday meals, or join forces to decorate an assisted living center or hospital waiting room.

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