If you’re newlyweds, discuss openly with your spouse how you’ve celebrated holidays in the past and what’s truly important to you. If you plan on getting a 10-foot tall, live tree the day after Thanksgiving they need to know this – they may be more of an artificial tree type. Communicate early, so you can work together to uncover a compromise.
Set and manage your extended families’ expectations concerning what you will and won’t be able to do during the holidays early on. Sometimes their expectations are out of whack so it’s up to you both to work together and realign them.
If your extended family doesn’t respect your choices remember that the most important family over the holidays is your own. We had a great comment related to this during #marriagechat. Someone said they used to try to please everyone (which never works anyway) so now they just focus on their marriage and their kids over the holidays.
Figure out a budget with your spouse for holiday shopping and stick to it. Know in advance who you are shopping for and what you’ll be spending on them so there are no surprises. Money is always a problem when not discussed properly – especially during the holidays.
Be sure to take some time to do something alone with your spouse (especially if you have kids). An intimate night in front of the Christmas tree can be very special. The kids will say they saw mommy kissing Daddy…not Santa Claus.
Bring traditions into your family that have been passed down through the generations and explain their origin and importance to your family.
Instead of seeing who can spend the most, figure out who can be the most thoughtful. Challenge your family to create a gift that shows how much you love each other without spending any money.
Create new traditions for your family. Your kids will grow up and remember the things that you did over the holidays together and the love that went into your celebrations.
If trying to decide whose family you’ll spend the holidays with is a problem, then try alternating each year or each holiday. Also consider doing an early Christmas with one family by celebrating on Christmas Eve if you can’t be there on the 25th.
Take some time during the holidays to reflect on the year. Did you meet your goals as a family? Take stock of your marriage? Refine your goals….establish new goals. Identify areas of improvement and growth for your marriage.