So it finally happened: for years you complained about being single for the holidays and having to answer the inevitable questions about when you were going to settle down, by various concerned family members. Or maybe you were partnered and had to field questions about marriage plans. But alas!  Not this holiday season.  You finally connected with the one you love, and ‘tis the season to share your joy with the family.  The only issue is that as a couple, you now have two sets of family to share that joy with and two sets to ask when you’re going to have children. How do you survive the holiday season as a couple when having to split holiday celebrations?  The tips below might help you out.

List the stops where you know the best food will be and go there.
Fall Wedding Colors

Just kidding on this one, well sort of.  The point here is that you need to discuss with your partner how many homes you might actually need to visit during the holiday season and list those.  If you have ever seen the movie “Four Christmases,” then you know what I am talking about.  Families have certainly evolved over the last 50-60 years and it’s no longer as simple as visiting just 2 houses.

If both of your parents are divorced or just no longer live together, there may be four totally separate homes you need to visit.  To add on to that, many people also have visits with a grandmother or great aunt or just a family friend on holidays.  Considering all of those factors, your plan could potentially become a list of 6 or more homes to visit.  Are you going to try to hit all of these in one day?  Will you split the holidays?  Does one family celebrate Hanukkah and another Christmas?  All of these things require discussion with your partner in advance and will save you a lot of stressful last-minute decision making.

How to Split Holiday Celebrations
Think about where you might encounter a toxic environment.

This one is definitely more important than choosing where the best food is.  Holiday celebrations should be full of joy and love.  The last thing you want to do is bring your partner into an environment festering in toxicity.  Has one of your parents or siblings made it their life’s goal to kill every bit of confidence and self-worth you ever had?

A good friend of mine grew up in a family where she had to fight just to escape. Every time something great happened in her life both her mother and sister found a way to turn it negative.  If she bought a new car, they would ask her why she thought she was so much better than them.  When she graduated from college, her mom showed up after she crossed the stage, drunk with her alcoholic aunt and missed the most important part.  She eventually decided that even though they were family it wasn’t worth her mental health to continue inviting them into her life, so she has limited contact with them now. 

This part might hurt a little.  Think long and hard about how the people on your holiday visitation list make you feel.  No, you don’t have to cut family who are just occasionally annoying. We are talking about something different. Are there people who just make you feel like you want to live under a rock?  Do you feel worse every time you are in their presence? This requires introspection. Is this a place you are comfortable sharing with your partner?  Both of you should definitely take a minute to consider those things and if you find a place on your list that meets the criteria, go ahead and cross that out.  This holiday season, you don’t have time for that. The beauty of Tahoe is that we get to celebrate our friends as our family at every holiday: we hold friendsgiving, we spend Christmas Eve together and we group ski on Christmas Day and I never regret it. Keep your joy.

Tahoe Family Photography
Tahoe Family Meal
Consider where you feel the most loved and at home.

This one is the fun one!  Hopefully, there are a few places on your list where you know you will feel ALL the love.  With any luck, it is the home of the best cook on both sides of the family and you hit the holiday jackpot! This is even better if both you and your partner have at least one of these each.  This is the place where there is always laughter and everyone is always happy to see you.  It’s the place where you can find the best game of Scattegories, or Cards Against Humanity, or Harry Potter Trivial Pursuit (am I right?) after dinner and where your niece is the Queen of Uno, so you know there will be solid competition. Did we mention, it has all the apple, pecan, pumpkin and sweet potato pie you want?  Okay, I think you get the picture. 

Make sure you spend significant time in those places. That is the atmosphere and those are the people that refresh your soul and prepare you for another year.  Those are the places you want to spend time during the holidays.  Make sure you set aside a hefty amount of your day to share with these folks. One more tip, don’t make it the first stop of the day, you want to marinate in this joy, and if you feel like you need to leave in the middle of a good time to go somewhere else, don’t.  Never leave fun to find it: be present and enjoy it!

How to Split Holiday Celebrations

Lauren Lindley is a wedding and elopement photographer based in Lake Tahoe, CA that also services the local areas of Austin, TX and New Orleans, LA and the surrounding areas. Also available to provide services for weddings across the U.S. and worldwide. Specializes in capturing artistic portraits paired with unique storytelling moments to produce photojournalism based wedding photography with classic, clean and vibrant images.  Lauren Lindley is currently booking weddings for 2020 and 2021 in New Orleans, LA, Austin, TX and other destinations worldwide.