NewlyWed Advice: Here’s How to Split Holiday Time between Families


Written by: Shauna D. Balfour

For most people, holiday time is a chance to visit and reconnect with family.

As a single individual, you only have one family to tend to. But when you’re married, you’re planning holiday time for your family, and your in-laws too.


This division can create some friction between you and your spouse. After all, is Christmas to be spent with in-laws? Or are you spending it with your parents?

Fortunately, there are solutions to those problems. They come down to proper planning, negotiation, and some tricks that make splitting your holidays easier.

Solution One: Compromise

Don’t be stingy. Try not to insist on every major holiday being a visit to your family.

This’ll only create resentment. Your spouse might start to see visiting your family as a burden, which will create a negative vibe every time holidays hover around.

And your family will surely pick up on that negative vibe – which might create an awkward atmosphere of unspoken friction.

How to Compromise?

Split apart major holidays. This is easier if a holiday is a few days (or weeks), where you can split time equally.

Obviously, this solution requires you to…

Solution Two: Plan Months in Advance

Sit down with your spouse, and create a calendar of all the holidays you have in a given year.

From there, define which family gets a visit on a certain holiday, and when. With a schedule, commitment is easier, and you won’t have to argue every time a holiday comes up.

Important Note.

This tip applies to major holidays. For ones that are more personal (like birthdays), planning isn’t needed, since it’s obvious who you’re visiting.

Make it a Yearly Routine.

After defining when each family should be visited, stick to the routine. Try not to change around holidays, which lets you set proper expectations for each side of your family.

Solution Three: Alternative Holidays

Maybe you don’t like the idea of spending Thanksgiving with in-laws only (and for the rest of your married life).

In that case, you can alternate. You can spend one Thanksgiving with one family, and the next with the other.

What that Requires.

It’s similar to the previous solution. Only difference is, you’re setting your calendar two years ahead, where you keep track of who gets alternative visits.

What if Two Years is too Much?

In that situation, you can take on the role of the “holiday organizer,” which you can do by…

Solution Four: Making Each Holiday a Gathering at Your Home

Some holidays are too important to miss out on, and comprising can be difficult.

In that situation, instead of splitting time for each family, why not take the reverse approach? Why not invite both your family and in-laws to your home?

This makes it easier to commit to both families. Plus, this approach is an opportunity to get both families in touch with each other.

Where to Invite?

If you want, the invite doesn’t have to be at-home (though home is a good starting point). Maybe you can plan a group vacation together. Or, you can plan a large dinner at a restaurant.

Solution Five: Spend Holidays Apart

If each family lives hours apart, then you can spend holidays separately. That might be an annoying alternative, but consider it as a final situation.

You can save that alternative for smaller holidays that aren’t too impactful.

However, for some, this alternative can be refreshing.

It’s an opportunity for you and your spouse to get some time alone. So consider it as a holiday from each other before delving back again into your normal routines!