With the holidays right around the corner, we’re all gearing up to spend time with loved ones. While the holiday season is often busy and exciting, it can sometimes create a unique challenge for those in relationships. As such, today’s #REALationshipGoals post will focus on how we all handle the holidays with bae and our families. Whether you’re in a new relationship or have been together for years, you and your partner will likely discuss how to divide the time among your families and friends at some point.
Some couples spend the holidays with their respective families individually, some divide time equally each year, some alternate year over year, and some choose to avoid family all together. There are a million and one ways to split your time. In any case, the topic can be stressful and, if not handled maturely, divisive. You both have family and friends who love you and want to spend time with you during the holidays and it can be difficult to navigate how to keep the peace with your families while still maintaining your sanity. Mae, Lauren, and I each handle the holidays with our guys and our families differently and thought we’d offer our perspective and what works (and what doesn’t) for us.
How will you be splitting your time this holiday season? Do you follow the same plan every year or mix it up?
Lauren: This is an interesting year for B and I. If you follow my blog/as you know, Brandon’s dad passed away two months ago. Because this is the first year he’s gone, Brandon and has family have decided to keep their holidays a little more intimate – and rightfully so. So, I’ll be heading out of town with my parents and extended family while B spends time with his family this holiday season.
Mae: This year, we are staying home for Thanksgiving (unless we get lonely last minute and go home, which we’ve done in the past). For Christmas, we are spending a couple days with Nick’s family then going to Colorado with my family to visit my aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents on my mom’s side. Last year, Nick didn’t get to see my family for Christmas at all so he was comfortable spending more time with them this year. Also, his family just came for a visit not too long ago and we are visiting them before Thanksgiving. We try to divide the time equally among our families, but it doesn’t always happen in one visit or even one year.
Sabrina: We tend to play things by ear, but as a general rule of thumb between November – January we do something with our families, with our friends, and just us. This usually means Thanksgiving with the family, hosting holiday parties with friends in December, and our dating anniversary in January – but every year is different. This year we will be spending Thanksgiving with about 40 members of my husband’s family at a cabin for a family reunion. A few weeks later we are headed to London & Paris for a winter getaway. It’s so important to spend time with friends & family during this time of the year, but we always make it a point to spend time with each other as well.
What’s a pain point for you and bae when trying to figure out what to do?
Lauren: Honestly, because we’ve only been dating for a year (and some change), we haven’t really run into many issues. Other than the fact that I’m super indecisive when it comes to making plans and also a super organizer (a true contradiction), B is pretty calm and just goes with the flow.
Mae: Most of our immediate family lives in the same state (a 10 hour drive from where we live) so when we are in town everyone wants to see us the whole time. “How lucky you are that your families live in the same area! That must be so nice during the holidays” people always feel the need to exclaim. It’s a blessing and a curse, really. It’s nice in theory, but it can be stressful. We usually feel like we are being tugged in two different directions and we spend most of our holiday driving (out of state, then back and forth from one house to the next). We have lots of friends in our hometown, too, and we never see them, which is kind of a bummer.
Sabrina: I think the hardest thing for us is wanting to spend time with our own families, but also wanting to be there with the others. We are lucky enough to live 20 minutes away from both of our families, but we don’t get to visit as much as we would like to. When the holidays come around and we have the day off we try to see both pairs of parents in the same day and that can be challenging. My husband is fortunate enough to see both of his parents at work throughout the week so priority generally goes to seeing my family when we can. We also travel to see my sister and her fiance in Philadelphia a few times a year. Overall, we try to stay together and spend time with both families an equal amount of time, but when plans overlap we go with whoever asked us first.
Do you have any tips or suggestions for discussing the holiday season with your families?
Lauren: Under normal circumstances, I’d take the splitting it up approach. In our case, we both have big families and are extremely close to them so I’d always air on the side of, one holiday with your family, the other with mine, etc. However, it’s not always that easy I’m sure. So when all else fails, I think it super important to just have an open conversation with your bae and let each of you share what you’d like to do and then compromise. I’d also say, depending on where you are in your relationship, now might also be a good time to start creating your own traditions to allow for even more flexibility for your families!
Mae: I had a really hard time with the holidays when we first got married. I always wanted to make everyone happy. We would try to spend equal time with everyone but it never seemed like enough. Nick and I finally decided that the best way to handle it is to just make a plan, let people know what the plan is ahead of time, and stick to it. We also had talks with family members who didn’t get it and said, “We are a family now and his/her family is my family, too.” It’s hard sometimes to leave family when everyone is having fun, but if you have your plan (i.e., we’re leaving at 2:00 no matter what) and stick to it, you won’t have to come up with a new plan or break any promises. Since we set up these guidelines, our holidays have been A LOT smoother.
Sabrina: This is so hard for couples no matter how you slice it. For us, we are fortunate that our families get along great so we try to host as much as possible. If you bring everyone to you, then you don’t feel like you are leaving anyone out! This will be our second holiday together, but we want to get into the habit of hosting our families together at our home at least once during the season. This isn’t going too well yet, but I think this will change in the future – especially when we have kids.
How do you make sure you and bae make time for one another during the season?
Lauren: Because we’re spending the actual holidays apart, we have some fun things planned so we can still get in that holiday action. We love a good Facetime marathon whenever we’re apart with our families and our families love it even more. My mom finally learned how to use Facetime and loves chatting with B and his mom. We’re also hosting Friendsgiving together this weekend and although B doesn’t know it yet, I have some pretty epic gift ideas and very holiday-themed activities planned for us over the next few weeks!
Mae: Since we usually travel out of state to our hometown for the holidays, we usually try to sneak away for a few hours to do something we used to do when we first started dating. It might be as simple as going to our favorite Mexican restaurant or walking downtown. Our dating anniversary is in December, too, so it’s kind of a fun way to remember our early days. We also do all of our holiday shopping together and exchange gifts before we leave town. I find the holidays very romantic so we definitely find the time to prioritize one another.
Sabrina: Sahir and I are still trying to figure out what works best for us since we have only been together for one holiday season, and this year we will be traveling during Christmas. We always host at least one holiday party every year. We love to host! Making fun mocktails, loud holiday music (Justin Bieber’s album is fabulous, I highly recommend it) and finding new group games to play is so much fun for us. Last year, after all of the holiday travel, we sat down under our Christmas tree with some hot chocolate, played our favorite Spotify playlist, and opened presents together – just him & me. We are still in the process of building our traditions so let’s see where this year takes us!
Now we’d love to hear from you! How do you and bae handle the holidays with your families?
However you choose to divide your time, just make sure that you and bae are on the same page and that you do what works best for the two of you. You by no means have to please everyone and you won’t be able to anyway, so just make sure you and bae feel good about your decisions.
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