Thanksgiving is only three weeks away! For many of us, that means the start of recipe testing and the countdown toward lots of quality time spent with family. But for others, these weeks leading up to Turkey Day are also prime time for family drama. Especially if you’re newly married or in a serious relationship for the first time, it can be hard to navigate how you split your time or merge your two families. I just received a question to my LaurenConrad.com inbox about this very topic, so I wanted to share my advice on the matter…
I just got engaged in August, and our families were so excited for us. But when I mentioned to my mom that I wanted to spend some time this holiday season at my fiancé’s family’s house, it was the start of a huge fight. I am always home for Thanksgiving and Christmas, but I told her that I won’t be able to spend every holiday with them now that I’m getting married. I think she understands that, but was upset that I sprung it on her so early when we aren’t even married yet. How can I make everyone happy (including me and my fiancé)?
Thank you for your advice!
First off, let me say that I know how hard this can be. It definitely took a couple years for William and I to come up with a plan that everyone was happy with. Plus, every family dynamic is different, so what works for us may or may not work for you. No matter how you end up deciding to split your time, the first thing you can do is be open with everyone about it. Have an honest conversation with your immediate families about it, and do this sooner rather than later. Even if it’s an awkward conversation to have, it’s definitely better than waiting until the last minute to tell your mom you won’t be making it home for Thanksgiving after all. And as far as how you do decide to split your time, you have a couple of options…
Option 1: Attend Multiple Celebrations
If you’re lucky enough to hail from the same hometown as your partner, you can please everyone by stopping by both houses. It won’t exactly make for a relaxing holiday on your part, but it will allow you to divide your time between everyone. For example, we spend Christmas Eve with my family and Christmas Day with William’s. Thanksgiving is a little harder, but you can always spend the morning with one family and the evening with the other, or celebrate the holiday on both Thursday and Friday.
Option 2: Switch Off
If your families live in two different cities, this might be your best option. Plan to switch off who you spend the holidays with every other year, or give one family Thanksgiving and the other Christmas/Hanukkah. Switching off every other year is a fair solution that no one can really argue with.
Option 3: Make Your Own Plans and Include Everyone
If deciding whose house to go to is just too stressful, you can always offer to host and invite everyone from both families. I’m not going to pretend that this always goes over as smoothly as it sounds. If your mother-in-law has been hosting Thanksgiving at her house for 20 years, she may not be quite as amenable to this plan as you had hoped. But this way you are making a fair decision, sticking by it, and placing the ball in everyone else’s court.
Well, I hope that helps! At the end of the day, deciding to combine your life with someone else’s brings its share of compromise. It’s important to remember that while you have family traditions, so does your new partner. There might be an adjustment period, but remember that holidays are about spending time with the people you love, and now you get to make some new traditions.
If you’re in a relationship, how do you choose where to spend the holidays?
Share your own experiences in the comments.