How Do You Handle the Holidays Splitting Time with Family??

Updated on September 10, 2010
3.B. asks from Tampa, FL
40 answers

I know the holidays are a ways off, but I start stressing months ahead every year lol.

Both my and my husbands families are local. Every year for thanksgiving we split time between his parents and mine. There is ALWAYS someone griping that we are late, have to leave to soon, didn't eat enough at "their" house, etc. I have never had the opportunity to host a thanksgiving because our moms HAVE to have it at their houses. Okay fine.

But then christmas time comes around...UGH. His parents want us to come ASAP christmas morning, and basically spend the day. My parents wants us there no later then 3-4 every year. My parents house is very small, with WAY too many people crammed in, gift opening is chaos, they have four crazy, unhousebroken dogs, I have step siblings who smoke and light up in front of my kids. Needless to say, the whole day is alot of anxiety for me. Last year I put my foot down and said we werent being put on a time limit. And I hosted my family at my house for christmas eve, and didnt attend my moms the next day. I provided EVERYTHING for the meal, and desert. And thought it was a great solution. Well my moms already starting saying SHE gets christmas this year, and she wants to have it in the moring, and I'm already dreading the whole thing. We are a married couple with kids, and our own home. Why do I have to drag my kids out of the house, and around all day juggling everyone elses time demands? I really hate that its turned into such an unpleasant chain of arguments over the years.
How do you other moms handle the holidays with multiple family obligations? I really need a solid plan laid out this year lol!

1 mom found this helpful

What can I do next?

  • Add yourAnswer own comment
  • Ask your own question Add Question
  • Join the Mamapedia community Mamapedia
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

So What Happened?

Thanks for all the responses! i'm glad to know we're not alone! Let me add that I DO split every other holiday with BOTH families. I am very grateful to have them around, don't get me wrong. But I feel like as a grown woman with a family of my own, I should be "allowed" to have some tradition and say so over holidays with my kids. I go to both places for easter, mothers and fathers day, thanksgiving, we even get pulled for fourth of July and labor and memorial day. It just gets tiring! Unfortunately my home now isnt big enough to host both families at once, hopefully next year after our move we can consider that option. I think this year i will just tell both sides that we arent stretching ourselves thin on christmas day, and if that doesnt work for everyone we will see them another day. It doesnt help though that I am the only one on my husbands side who has 2 places to go so they just dont get it, all of his siblings in laws are out of town. So I get to look like the bad guy :(

Featured Answers



answers from Boston on

I love the Holidays since I put my foot down also. Thanksgiving is at home ....we travel nowhere! Christmas is at home....we travel nowhere. If anyone wants to see us. They know where we live. ; )

More Answers



answers from Lancaster on

ugh! I know how you feel. My husbands parents are divorced and that means we have to try to split holidays 3 ways, not just 2. I empathize with you because I also feel that holidays went from being joyous fun filled occasions to just an ugly stressful obligation (and honestly that just makes me sad) What we finally agreed is that we will switch on and off for Thanksgiving and Easter (one year his family, one year mine). I put my foot down about Christmas _ we do not go anywhere on Christmas day. As far as I'm concerned we deserve a relaxing enjoyable day at home without driving the kids around all day to see the relatives. My children deserve to have happy Christmas memories just like I do and I'm going to provide that regardless. My obligations to my children are every bit as important as my obligations to my in-laws and parents. I host a Christmas eve buffet and whoever can come, comes. I'm not hurt or upset if people can't make it. If the grandparents want to come over at anytime on Christmas day, they are welcome. A week or 2 after Chrismas we then get together for "Christmas" with our respective extended families. Its not perfect, but it is better than arguing everyyear about where to spend Christmas. Once everyone got used to the idea that we stay home on Chistmas and could see we were serious about, we didn't get any flak.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

Before we had kids we said that we would be in OUR home Christmas morning. Anyone was more than welcome to come to us, but we were not going anywhere. We made that decision since we had both grown up splitting time between families and never had time to enjoy our Christmas.
Of course there were times where we didn't adhere to that, like when my grandfather had just been released from the hospital and "you know, he won't be around forever." Grandpa lived another 6-7 years, thank God.

Some where along the way we started the every other year thing which has worked out great. One year we spend Thanksgiving with my family and Christmas Eve with his, the next year we switch. It has worked out great. This year is Thanksgiving with my in laws so my mom goes to visit my brother who lives out of state.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

hey i had that problem...know how my husband and i fixed it? we will alternate holidays...sorry mom thanksgiving was with you, christmas is with them...and actually, if things get too stressful, i just "quit" i don't attend anything, just stay home wit MY family, yeah his inlaws (mom mostly) hates that, but she's learning not to make it a huge deal, if i can/want to be there i will be if not, her's are for spending time with family not for stressing out about who's going where.

so if things get too weird or stressful just tell your mom like it is. if you want to spend christmas at YOUR house no one is stopping you but you, you don't have to answer to your mom any more (or his) so quit, if mom belly ache's about it, let her, you don't have to be around it. this is YOUR FAMILY to enjoy and one day soon they will get to chose whether or not to come see you, so use this time wisely. i've already told my family what i'm doing, they didn't like it but they know not to gripe or i'll just stay home and have fun cooking with my kids and husband and watch movies all day or play games, just us.

KEY WORDS: Make it work for you and your family......not everyone else

i know how i'm spending my holidays...thanksgiving, at my uncle's house, (never had one with him) my pj's cooking and playing the new wii we're going to get for us!!!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

I feel your anxiety! Our families are both local, as well. And before my husband's father died a few years ago, we actually had to split the holidays between 3 different families (his parents are divorced). We continued on until our daughter was 2 and then I said enough. We have created our own family now and we want to have a relaxing, stress-free, no driving, lay around in your jammies all day if you want to type of Christmas day. Sometimes we invite the grandparents over for present opening in the morning, sometimes we don't. We don't commit to any type of formula that we have to do year in and year out. The nice thing is, we see our families all year long. I'm sure it would be different if we didn't live so close.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Denver on

"Why do I have to drag my kids out of the house, and around all day juggling everyone elses time demands?"

You don't.

Do what you want to do - if that's spend Christmas day at YOUR house with YOUR family, then do it. You can tell your extended family that you've decided to do it this way (or whatever you decide) from now on and invite them to visit YOU (if you so desire) at YOUR house.

You and your husband need to agree beforehand, but nobody else gets to weigh in, unless you feel your children are old enough/mature enough to have a say.

Keep in mind that YOUR family - you, your kids, your husband - are your PRIMARY family unit. If members of your extended family (that includes your Mom) get angry about it or refuse to come see you, that is THEIR choice. It's not your job to make them happy.

Easier said than done, I know. GOOD LUCK!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Cincinnati on

I haven't read the replies, but we change the days. Our parents aren't local, but both my parents and my in-laws live in the same town, about 3 hours away. One year, my in-laws get Thanksgiving day and my family gets the day after, and then my family gets Christmas and my in-laws get the day after. The next year, we switch. And I understand your pain - although my parents have never made any complaints about this schedule, any time my in-laws don't get the actual day, we hear about it. :-p

This year, we have a new baby, so we're doing it differently, though. I don't yet know how it will work. We told both sets of parents that we are not traveling for the holidays this year. My in-laws are invited for Thanksgiving at our house (but have not yet accepted the invitation, so I don't know if they're coming), my parents are coming for Christmas, and then my in-laws are coming for the New Year. Personally, I love going home for the holidays and I am not really looking forward to hosting, but I haven't got the objections to the holidays that you seem to have (no smokers, all dogs are well-trained, etc.)

I think the biggest and most important aspect is that both you and your husband need to deal with your own parents, and need to lay things on the line. Simply state what you will be doing for the holidays, and don't let anyone bully you! Yes, my in-laws tend to grumble when we decide things that they don't agree with, and my husband feels hurt and cross, but we have to do what is best for our family. Good luck!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Ours is beginning to get crazy because of multiple parents houses from divorces. But here's what we do and don't do.

We figure out who goes well with whom. My kids get along and live close enough to all. Usually we had a Christmas morning at my house. They could do Christmas Eve with their spouses parents and Christmas evening with their best friends. (In the middle of the day, they can go home to give their kids -- and themselves -- a nap if desired. On Christmas evening, we might go to my husband's parents house. They're not big on several loud, rambunckous little grandkids running amuck. We may meet his siblings there or not. Sometimes one adult sponsors all adult siblings and parents but not always. One of the sisters always hogs the talking with talking about herself and interupting to do it. Yikes. I could go on and on, but no one dictates to us and we try not to dictate to them. We can change policy any time we like. So far, my daughter's husband's family gets them alternately. One year is theirs for Thanksgiving and I get them Christmas Eve and day. I don't get them that Thanksgiving. We might want to travel then or go up to my parents and KS family. Christmas we both get but we don't try to share a day. Too much.

I'd say hold your ground with no one smoking inside the house when company is there. Period. Unhousebroken dogs? Aiyii. When we have guests over that are allergic to dogs or frightened of them or it is too crowded, we put them in our large master bedroom with a little gate at the door - door open. The dogs don't seem to mind, bark, or scratch at the door.

You don't have to do anything. Really. Just try to make up a new plan, try to make it kind of fair, and show your kids how to handle controlling people while keeping family ties and having some boundaries that most people could understand.

I went to my son's house this Christmas so they could stay in their jammies like our Christmases of old. Their son was 2 and now old enough to enjoy waking up to a lit tree and big toys under it. it was nice for me not having to clean thoroughly and do a big breakfast brunch as usual and nice to see how they'd do it if they did it. We were all pretty laid back. My poor son had been up til 5am putting together a garage set for his son. I think it had 62 million parts to it.

People need to shake things up now and then and check out different styles of being together and being happy. My niece won't go to her mother's for Christmas because she likes to wear jeans and slouch around a bit. She has a very demanding job. My sister likes to dress all up with heels and all, serve wine, and sit around like at a formal dinner. My sister has no idea that's why daughter makes excuses every Christmas but she flies up by herself a week before Christmas. I just wish she had the nerve to discuss it with her mom and see if she can change my sister's expectations. I think she would (but I know she'd want hubby to take her out to dinner for a dress up date around that time).

I don't think a rule has to be made forever but I sure don't think families have to pack up the kids and travel here and there on Christmas day.

P.S. After reading all the responses, I am wide eyed at all the parents that try to control the kids and all the moms that have it there way and to heck with anyone else. Did you ever wonder if the kids want to be with family or some part of it around the holidays -- or build happy memories at Grandmas or somethintg occasionally. We all hope that we live long, but let me tell you how many people get a "you have 3 months to live" diagnosis or get involved in a car wreck -- love, live, share, be nice. Your kids may have some years when they treat you like they hate you or they get a rare opportunity to go skiing and they won't come home for Easter or Thanksgiving from college or something. And then whose door are you going to go knocking on to be with family?

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Erie on

We started celebrating Thanksgiving at our house. period. And now we celebrate Solstice instead of Christmas, so the kids get a couple of days off from school before the big holidays to celebrate that with just us and then we wing it for the 24th and 25th. Sometimes we don't go anywhere, though. I stopped caring what they thought after we had our third child, I was sick of lugging all the littles around to meet someone else's schedule. We just told them they could come to our house if we didn't feel like traveling that year. But we're lucky, we live in the Great Lakes Region and can always blame not traveling on the weather ;)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Indianapolis on

Wow! Do I understand your pain. We used to have this same problem every year. Finally, 3 years ago I put my foot down and my husband went along with the plan. We do split Thanksgiving between our families and try to do it as evenly as possible but of course someone always feel they didn't get enough time. However for Christmas what we have started doing is hosting an annual Christmas celebration at our home for both sides of our families to come and celebrate with our family the Saturday before Christmas. We provide the meal,have games, and exchange gifts. We send/give out invitations at Thanksgiving that way there is plenty of notice. Initially this did not go over well but I explained to everyone that it is our family and children that is packing up and going from house to house trying to see everyone and we don't even get to enjoy each other which is what Christmas should be about. So now on Christmas day my family gets to wake up and relax the whole day and we can stay in our pjs all day long if we want doesn't matter because we aren't being rushed to be anywhere but right there with each other. And now the rest of the family knows they will not see is on Christmas day and they actually look forward to the get together that we host.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Anchorage on

Honestly, you have to stop worrying about everyone else and focus on what is best for your family. What will give your children the best memories? If it means Thanksgiving with one and Christmas with the other, so be it, or Thanksgiving at your home and Christmas/eve at one or the other house. What ever will work best for YOU and everyone else will just have to deal. For us Yule is a 5 day celebration, and my FIL in also non-christian so he celebrates with us, and we use the last day of Yule, the 25th, to celebrate with my Christian parents.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

I suggest you having Thanksgiving at your house. Tell both sides of the family that is a tradition that you are going to start and they are both welcome to join you. That way you can see both families and still be home.

As far as Christmas we luck out because my husband's family celebrates Christmas Eve and mine celebrates Christmas Day. So we go to his parents house around 3pm Christmas Eve, have dinner the open presents. We're usually there until 10-11pm. Christmas morning we get up and open presents, then usually one of us (mom or dad) will nap! Then around 12-1pm we go to my parents house for brunch. It works beautifully because we get to do all three without running around.

I suggest you try something like that. Just pick one family and tell them that starting this year, they get Christmas Eve to celebrate with you. Christmas Day will be celebrated with the other side of the family (late enough that you can get up, open presents and enjoy your morning as a family). Then the next year, switch it up. If either side of the family gets upset or angry, tell them you will see them at the next holiday gathering then because it's turning into a day where you are driving and running around all day instead of being able to sit and enjoy time/company with everyone.

I will also say, though, that you should feel lucky that you have your family close. I know many people who's family is too far away and they would give anything to be close to family and have a crazy busy Chrstmas Eve/Christmas Day with their families.

Another idea would be to host Christmas Eve or Christmas Day at your house. Again, invite both families. If your mom (or his) insists on having a celebration at their house, tell them you understand but that you will be available on X day (Christmas Eve maybe) or maybe move one of the celebrations to the 26th.

One more thing, I would emphasize to your mom that you want your kids to have their own time (even if it's just the morning) at THEIR house to open gifts and play with them. It doesn't have to be all day - maybe just until 12. If they want to start celebrating without you, tell them to go ahead. Or tell them they are welcome to come over and watch the kids open presents.

Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Spokane on

We do every other year Thanksgiving, one year at his parents house, the other at our house.

As far as Christmas is concerned I put my foot down. My kids deserve to have a proper Christmas morning at their own house, doing our own thing! If people want to come, they know where we are. We have a Christmas brunch, then Prime Rib for dinner every year...Christmas is also my oldest nephews B-day so I make sure my family is always home to celebrate with my family...but my sister and her kids are my only real family. As far as his parents/brother are concerned, they have come to realize that is how we 'DO' Christmas and they make other arrangements, they either come up and visit in our city for Christmas but usually we do an early Christmas with all his side at some resort somewhere where everyone can ski/snowboard and we exchange gifts there.

Hubby's parents had me "hold" Christmas one year so that hubby's brother could come from New York. Now BIL was at that time 30 years old and had to spend the actual Christmas day with his GF in kids were relatively young at the time but I made it perfectly clear I would NOT be holding or arranging our Christmas morning schedule @ BIL no more...he is a grown man for crying out loud and Christmas is supposed to be for the kids!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

They're all invited to my home for holidays and they all bring 1 thing so I don't have to cook everything. My kids dont have to get dragged everywhere, they can go to bed at their normal bedtime, and my hubby and I don't have to miss out because of taking the kids home early.

We generally have 30ppl or so at our house for holidays and birthdays. My family, my hubby's family, my ex-mom in law, and a couple of friends sometimes.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

My parents divorced when I was 5, so I spent a good part of my life visiting 2 to 4 houses on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. The 2 house years weren't too bad, but the 4 house years were awful. When I met my husband, things didn't improve because his parents were thrown in the mix and didn't like having to share us with my parents. My parents were used to the holiday schedule juggling, but my in-laws only have my husband living nearby weren't very accomodating. One thing I told my parents (and my in-laws eventually) was that I would not be dragging my kids all over the place for the holidays.

Our solution is that we alternate Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve with my mom and my in-laws. One year it's Thanksgiving with my mom and Christmas Eve with the in-laws. The next year it's Thanksgiving with the in-laws and Christmas Eve with my mom. (My dad ended up taking himself out of the equation by moving 2 hours away.) We spend Christmas Day at home. There is no negotiations on that. The grandparents and other relatives are welcome to join us and I cook a big dinner for everybody.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Cincinnati on

I go as many places as I can and fit in what I can and then what's done is done. Not everyone can be happy and I did the best I can so that makes me...not so happy either! lol
My GRANDPARENTS still want to hold parties for the whole family (my aunts/uncles and cousins). My Mom HAS to have something with just her kids and grandkids and THEN my sons mom HAS to have her side. So we do 4 parties. I always miss at least one because I work night shift. I TRY to get my son to all 4 one way or another. I get "YOU ALWAYS work a holiday. Why don't you just tell them no? Family obligation is enough!" REALLY?? I work at a hospital. I'm a nurse. There's no other option right now.
My grandmother gets Christmas Eve, My mom's mom wants time on Christmas day along with my Sons Dad's Mom/his whole family. So we do lunch one place dinner another with a HOUR drive in the middle that he takes his nap! (That's after 8am church and getting up earlier than that to open our own gifts which he got to glance at and not play with!) My family gets together somewhere in between, normally Christmas Eve at midnight (no joke). So we are up to midnight, doing two parties, home (which is an hour drive away from everyone). Back up at 6am at our house, gifts, church and two more parties.
My one complains they didn't get to spend Christmas with us. I simply tell them "I'm sorry. Just like you wanted to see us, others want to see us too and I wish this was a week long event and I could have the whole week off so that I could spend all the time in the world with you, but I can't."
I do plan a whole day on the third day to not go anywhere or do anything and play with toys!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Boise on

Since my son was born, we have said that we will not drag our kids out of our house on Christmas. I used to hate that about Christmas. Aren't kids the joy of the season, shouldn't they be able to play in a comfortable atmosphere and sleep when they need to? Anyone is welcome to come over, but it is up to them if they do. We do Christmas Eve with my inlaws and leave for mass (more as a way to say we HAVE to leave).

Most Thanksgivings we go to my hometown. I have made a point of saying that I will visit others, but on Thanksgiving anyone and everyone that will come is invited (previously been at my sister's so that we don't have the parents fight that out). My dad doesn't play nice with others so he usually strikes and doesn't see us. That is on him, and I let it go.

That being said, it is a fairly small family. On my side, I have two kids, my sister has one, my mom, my dad, and step mom (and some more distant relations when they can). On my husband's side it his us, his brother and his wife, and their parents. I think that it gets trickier when there are more siblings and more little ones.


answers from Dover on

I will travel any and all holiday if necessary but not Christmas. If I can manage to stay home and host any of the holidays, I do. Unfortunately, Christmas Eve is still chaos but Christmas Day is ours!

Due to custody agreement w/ my ex, my son had to leave on Christmas Day so when my inlaws and my hubby insisted we go on Christmas, I always made it after he left to go w/ his dad so his Christmas was as normal as could be. Some years, his dad didn't get him and when we didn't go anyway he told it was his best Christmas ever! We are glued to our home Christmas Day. If someone wants to visit us, they know where we live.

I see it like kids deserve to be home and enjoy thier Christmas. We visit everyone the day or two before Christmas and many come over Christmas Day. With work, school, and other activities we should be allowed to enjoy our holiday and not rush like crazy trying to appease everyone while making no one happy.



answers from Seattle on

We changed the calendar.

Theoretically my husband's family gets thanksgiving, and mine gets christmas. ((My hubby's family was supposed to "get" xmas eve, but after a couple of years where they kept hosting it at a BAR... umm... hello! I can't bring my toddler into a bar!, they lost their "privilege". They want it back now, but it's too late. We have our own traditions now.)) BUT, like I said, we changed the calendar.

We go to my family's on FRIDAY for thanksgiving (H's family still gets thursday)... and we have xmas on the 24th. As in Santa comes down our chimney on the 23rd.

My mum made a big to do about how when SHE was a kid, it was the responsibility of the people WITHOUT kids (grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc.) to travel to those with kids. But Xmas rolled around and she was unwilling to relinquish. So we moved the day.

We have a lot of muslim friends (E Europe). We got the idea of moving xmas from them. Because THEY have Santa also, but instead of having xmas on the 7th when all of the christians have it, Santa comes down the chimney approximately 48 hours "after dad gets paid". The kids all love it, because Santa never comes down everyone's chimney at the same time. So in their schools, Santa can come at any time in January. Which makes it a surprise as well... when they're going to wake up and find the house all magical. We don't do it quite like that, but there is JUST as much magic having xmas on the 24th as there is on the 25th. I'd also assume for orthodox christians, that the 7th is just as full of awe and wonder.



answers from Toledo on

This is definitely a touchy subject no matter which way you look at it. I have found that the dynamics of extended family get-togethers dramatically change when the "head" of the family dies. For me this was my grandparents. Once my husband and I started having children, we decided we did not want to drag our children all over the state for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter anymore. Too much drama for me and not something I wanted to subject my children to. We knew with a lot of aunts, uncles, and cousins on both sides there would be some feelings of rejection, but we felt we had to do it.

We decided to put our feelings into words and write a letter to each household explaining our thoughts and decisions (plus, we did not want anyone to have the opportunity to miscommunicate our words to another family member). We explained how important extended family was to us, but our immediate family and the traditions we were beginning with them were so much more of a priority. We added that other family events (ie graduation parties, weddings, showers, etc. would not be missed - and have not been).

To be honest, we still got a lot of mixed reviews and negative comments. But my husband and I, still after 5 years, comment to one another on every holiday how delighted we are that we made this decision.

Our not travel away from home on those 3 main holidays. We had decided early on to rotate family invites to our home. My in-laws rejected it. My parents welcomed it. Our in-laws loss, not ours. Now we can plan holiday vacations (next Easter in Washington DC and we are thinking of doing DisneyWorld for Thanksgiving 2011) and have begun new traditions with our family. We do midnight mass for Christmas and spend the morning opening presents from Santa without rushing around to be somewhere. My kids love to take their time and play with their gifts. We plan a special breakfast for each holiday and my girls LOVE to help prepare our meal. Our neighbor has started doing an Easter egg hunt so we participate in that. And lets not forget the parades on TV!!

The children are still young, but I relish the days ahead when they are older and always running, knowing that those 3 days will be solely reserved for family time together at home talking, laughing, and making more wonderful memories.



answers from Cleveland on

Don't know if this helps or makes it worse but
-my mom stopped having Thanksgiving on Thursday. All four of her kids(husbands and grandkids) celebrate with the inlaws on Thursday and then we have a full blown, if you didn't look at the calendar you'd never know the difference, Thanksgiving meal all day on Saturday. She did this of course so she could lay claim to Christmas. We all spend Christmas eve with the inlaws(and celebrate as if it's christmas with all the food and packages) and then drive all night or the next morning for Christmas.(4hrs between the two locations)

The good news is both families like you and want to spend time with you. If your mom wants Christmas morning can you leave by three? If you set it up ahead of time with an agreed upon time will they honor it? Will their be less smoking at 10AM ;) If you arrive in jammies will that make her happier(my one sister does this since she isn't their in the AM).

If everyone wants your time and attention can you make cookies with the grandkids the week before or help decorate their trees to there is something that is a tradition and makes the needy grandparents feel special?
Good luck
We run to some family issue/drama about every other year if it makes you feel better, After 16 yrs of marriage I have come to expect something to happen with this many people involved 50% of the time.


I have a different opinion than most of the posts. I don't think putting my foot down and having a holiday by ourselves is how we want to do it. I want my kids to see the chaos of family(good and bad) and I see it as a sacrifice worth making. I will give up sanity, and stress myself, and sleep on 30yr old mattresses, and drive 9 hours and then 4 more and when I'm told "I wish you could stay longer, have some more pie" I choose to hear, 'I love you and want to spend more time with you'

I remember how sad my mom was when her sister stopped coming for Christmas so they could have their own family Christmas. Now that we are all grown up, I would have liked to see my cousin more(even with the drama that would have also come with the visits). Often my family opens our gifts to each other the weekend before Christmas and have our quiet family time together then. Tis the season not the day for us.

-My mom stopped having Thanksgiving on Thursday. All four of her kids(husbands and grandkids) celebrate with the inlaws on Thursday and then we have a full blown, if you didn't look at the calendar you'd never know the difference, Thanksgiving meal all day on Saturday. She did this of course so she could lay claim to Christmas. We all spend Christmas eve with the inlaws(and celebrate as if it's christmas with all the food and packages).

-The good news is both families like you and want to spend time with you. If your mom wants Christmas morning can you leave by three? If you set it up ahead of time with an agreed upon time will they honor it? Will their be less smoking at 10AM ;) If you arrive in jammies will that make her happier(my one sister does this).

-If everyone wants your time and attention can they make cookies with the grandkids the week before or help decorate their trees so there is something that is a tradition and makes the needy grandparents feel special?
Good luck



answers from Cleveland on

I totally understand what you are going thru and I always start stressing around this time of year. As Dana below said- both my husband and my parents are divorced and remarried. So we have 3 families to visit over the holidays!!! Craziness. For Thanksgiving- we split time evenly between 2 families. And my MIL thankfully has moved her Thanksgiving dinner to Friday so we can spend the whole day there. For Christmas, my MIL hosts her present opening on Christmas Eve, then we do the other 2 on xmas day. Although this year- I am refusing to leave my house until later in the afternoon so it will be different and i know i will be "ruffling feathers". But its unfair to my kids that we open their presents from santa and then run out the house. So whatever you do- stick to your plan and don't waiver. You'll never make everyone happy. Just make sure you and your family are happy- that's whats important.



answers from Cincinnati on

We have smaller families, but this is what works for us.

Thanksgiving Day is (usually) spent with my in-laws, and then my parents get the Friday, Saturday, or Sunday after Thanksgiving. Last year, my in-laws actually hosted my parents and brother on Thanksgiving as well, so it was one big get-together.

As for Christmas, we had several years of trying to celebrate with my parents on Christmas Eve and then showing up at my in-laws exhausted and crabby on Christmas Day, and it didn't seem fair to anyone. So, we decided to spend the weekend before Christmas with one family, the weekend after Christmas with the other family, and spend Christmas Day at home. The families were more than welcome to stop by and see us, but we were just going to hang out, relax, and enjoy family.

Easter is usually alternated every year but that just depends. The other trick is that my mom and mother-in-law both have April birthdays, so if Easter happens to fall on or very close to one of their b-days, we celebrate with that family then and choose another weekend for the other family.

Again, the nice thing for us is that we both have small families -- only one sibling apiece (and they're not married yet, no kids), so there are no other sets of in-laws and cousins to work around. You may have to see if one family is willing to give up the actual holiday day in order to have a longer, more quality celebration with you on another day near the holiday.

Good luck figuring out what works for you!



answers from Evansville on

Ok, well, we moved 3000 miles away last year, so we don't have this problem anymore. Lol. But, I have felt your pain. Step-mothers, Mother-in-laws, and Step-mother-in-laws OH MY!!! (It does always seem to be the moms. Except my dad guilt trips me, too.) I got tired of the, "since you went here last year, I get Thanksgiving." Really? Says who, bossy-pants?!?
I got this advice from my good friend. We followed it for the last 3 years we lived in our families' area. It worked good. We told our families that though we enjoyed the previous holidays running from house to house, this year, we plan on watching football and drinking beer on Thanksgiving so we can't be driving around, it's not good. Also, we are staying home in our pj's all day for Christmas. If you want to stop by, please do! We can stop by on Christmas Eve. (We did Christmas Eve breakfast with my mom, lunch with my dad, and dinner with my in-laws.)

Let me tell you, staying in one place all day was soooooooooo enjoyable. And, my parents and mother-in-law and the in-law family gave us grief over it. But, they give us grief over everything so what's the dif?? If it's not one thing, it's another. It's worth it to stay in my bunny slippers all day.



answers from San Francisco on

I wish I had an answer, but we are in the same boat. I hope you get some good advice we can both use! Luckily, our families are a little more supportive, but would NEVER entertain the idea of us hosting a holiday. :) Stay strong.



answers from Cleveland on

You need to have Thanksgiving at your house and invite everyone. Then you need to do Christmas Eve with one family, Christmas morning with just your husband and kids, then Christmas day later on with the other family you didn't see Christmas Eve. If that doesn't work for everyone, I suggest going out of town. Then no one gets you and you have a lovely vacation. For years we have gone and seen friends out of town at Thanksgiving. Before that we used to get on a plane Christmas day to see friends. Best day to travel, I swear.

We always manage to have Christmas at our house because my husband flat out refuses to leave our house on Christmas. Everyone on both sides roll their eyes at this but somehow adjusts to his demands. I didn't like making Christmas dinner and Christmas Eve dinner, so we order Chinese food.



answers from Chicago on

We have it pretty easy because BOTH of our families are in different states, but growing up, my parents handled it pretty well with their local families.

Thanksgiving - we go to one side, NOT both. So that my mom could still have her own Thanksgiving dinner, she'd cook it on the Sat after Thanksgiving.

Christmas - we go to the other side, NOT both. We would go to Midnite Mass and then go to bed and get up early for Santa/immediate family presents. After that we would go to the grandparents in the early afternoon. (Going to Midnite Mass the night before gave my parents a good excuse for not rushing their kids out of the house on X-Mas morning, since we'd obviously been up late the night before.)

My mom's family is so large that, eventually, it became so difficult for everyone to make it to Christmas on either Christmas eve or Christmas day that we now hold our party 1-2 weeks after Christmas, when we're pretty sure all of the cousins' spouses' parties are finished.



answers from Toledo on

Too bad that your family is so demanding. We have the craziness potential, with our families being 4 hours apart. Before we had kids, we traded holidays. Thanksgiving at one side, Christmas at the other. Now that we have kids, our kids sleep in their own beds, take the time to open presents, and we go to church when we want to. We invite grandparents to come over on Christmas morning if they want to see the opening chaos. Last year we had Thanksgiving and Christmas afternoon and all was well.

You shouldn't have to make excuses to have a peaceful holiday. The smoking is such a kicker. We left my dad's house one Christmas because the family was smoking. No questions asked. It was sad, but was a must do. I'm not sure if anyone had hard feelings at us, nor do I care.

What you need to do is protect your children; think of their needs first. Establish the routine that you think will work best for THEM. Then inform your family well in advance about what you choose. They will complain, but after you announce your plans, stick to it. Include the others in your plan, like having them attend church with you or Christmas eve gift exchange or Thanksgiving potluck. Your kids don't want to see your holiday anxiety; you, as the parents, are the most important part of their holiday. Protect that.



answers from Canton on

The last few years I have hated christmas because of my family. Everyone wants to see the my kids for christmas because they are little and it's cute. Unfortunately, trying to make everyone happy ruins the fun for my husband and me. We can't do it every year, but last year we refused to go to anyones house on Christmas. It was wonderful! It was just the four of us on the holiday. We celebrated Christmas the weekend before and the day after with family. The kids got to play with the toys instead of unwrapping them and running out the door for more. We told everyone a few months in advance what we planned. They didn't like it, but they couldn't change it either. This year we'll have to run, but do it so you enjoy the holiday. You want to have good memories of holidays with your kids, you shouldn't ruin them just to make grandparents happy. They already had their holidays with their families when you were little. Take turns with the sides and good luck.
If you want to host Thanksgiving, tell them. Find out why they always want it. They may have a good reason. My MIL always has it. She likes doing all the work and it gets her kids and grandkids all together in her house at least once a year. I would like to host it once, but it makes her so happy doing it, it isn't worth it. But, if you do decide to skip the running on Christmas one year, at least they had you for Thanksgiving.



answers from Chicago on

For the first 5 years of our married life we spent each holiday exactly as you have described above. With the added fun of an alcoholic relative getting drunk and starting arguments. And the in laws on my husbands side lived an hour away. on my side I had divorced parents so had to go to both my moms house and my dads house. Bye time the 6th holiday season rolled around we had 3 children and I was pregnant with the 4th. I had had enough. Months in advance I talked to my husband and we agreed to stick together on our plan. We told each family that we were going to have the christmas morning at our own house and that we would love to have all of them over in the afternoon but that we were starting our own traditions. My in laws were wonderful. they said why don't we just plan to do the christmas get together the sunday before christmas. So regardless of what day of the week christmas fell on it we did it the sunday before. This was a wonderful way to do it. We did my family on christmas eve. My dad died about 15 years ago and we still are very close to my stepmom but she just comes when my mom does and it works out. Thanksgiving I took over completely. All sides of the family come here. Everyone brings a dish. I make the turkey and the potatoes. We use papergoods (the fancy ones from hobby lobby you know the $5 for 10 plates lol) The rule is the men do the dishes on Thanksgiving. Since they want to do the football game the dishes get done pretty quick. and the only person pardoned from it is my father in law who is 82 this year. and he still goes in and sits with the men lol.
You don't have to drag your kids all over. Your mom will come around and so will his. Especially if you smooze up and ask her to bring whatever the dish is that is her specialty. Good luck.



answers from Fort Wayne on

Try having divorced parents on both sides so instead of two we now have four!!! Or should I say HAD...luckily my mom and dad have a decent relationship and we were able to start celebrating holidays together, but that's not the case on my husbands side of the family, plus they both live two hours away. Before kids we just did the running and didn't say anything. BUT when our kids came into the picture I put my foot down...Christmas day we're staying home. If you want to come to our house come on over, but we won't be going anywhere. I don't think it's fair to the kids to get up, open the gifts Santa brought and then say okay get dressed we have to go! They want to stay and play with their new treasures so that's what they shall do :o) To be honest I look forward to lounging in my pjs all day too. Thanksgiving pretty much worked itself out through the years...we celebrate with my family on Thursday because I have a 16 year tradition of shopping the day after with two of my girlfriends. When I'm finished shopping I load up the family and drive to the in-laws usually spending Friday night with one and Saturday with the other since they can't do anything together. I guess the bottom line is you have to do what's best for you, your husband and kids. Do what you want to do and don't feel guilty! You might make the extended family mad, but you're all grown up now :o)



answers from Columbus on

My husband and I used to have the same problem! Add to the drama the fact that my MIL refused to be in the same house as my FIL since they divorced 9 years ago! I finally had enough and started hosting at our house, both Thanksgiving and Christmas. Sometimes MIL wouldn't show up because FIL was going to be attending, but we didn't waver. She has finally relented because she missed seeing the grandkids. We also invite what I call 'strays'. People who, for whatever reason, don't have anywhere to go on the holiday. That really fills the house up and gives everyone someone to talk to other than a relative! Good luck and do what is best for your family!
P.S. I always hold our party in the late afternoon so that everyone can have the morning at home with their families and the whole holiday isn't taken over by our celebration.



answers from South Bend on

I didn't read all of your responses, there are so many! Great to know we are not alone. Here is what I have done though.....

When I was growing up, we had a tradition of going to one set of grandparents the weekend before Christmas. Christmas Day was spent just us. Then, the weekend after Christmas was for the other set of Grandparents.

When my husband was growing up it was Christmas Eve for one side of the family and Christmas Day with the other side of the family.

Now, my mil expects us to be there 3 days in a row. Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and usually the day after (for just them and us). Ridiculous! So, I have compromised both of our wants (mind you, it has never be okay with her, but she will have to take what she gets). Now that both of her children are married with children, I feel that her and her husband's sides of the family should be considered one for her adult children's sakes. But, she always says that isn't the way it has always been, so it will never be that way. So, I put my foot down and said that we would come over on Christmas Eve and spend the day. But, Christmas Day was for just our own relaxing family time. Best decision I ever made, even though it is still a thorn in her side every year (one year she even had the guts to bring the whole caravan of relatives over to my house unannounced so that she could have her way). My mother doesn't care when we do Christmas, as long as we do it. So, we just schedule a different weekend every year depending on what works for all of us.

This way, no matter what arguments come up throughout the season, I know that I still have Christmas Day to ENJOY with my family and RELAX! We don't do any dishes, don't get out of pj's, unless we want to. The kids get to pick the entire menu for the day (usually starting with chocolate waffles and ending with spaghetti). The toys are sprawled out on the floor being played with ALL day long (by both kids and parents). We all go to bed that night with a huge smile on our faces! Even though we don't see the grandparents on that particular day (my il's we just saw the day before), we still make it a point to call each grandparent (3 sets, d/t divorce) on Christmas Day sometime during the day to let them know that we thought of them on that very special day.



answers from Columbus on

I'm right there with you before I met my husband our family had one christmas. I met my husband and I started going to SIX total. The second year after we got married we were to stressed trying to get this all done on Christmas eve, Christmas day and the weekend after that we put our foot down and eliminated one. But we still have five to go to and we really haven't had an easy solution come up yet but I think the family is starting to move to eliminating the grandparents and inviting them to my husbands mom's christmas.
Then sometime in January we get together for Breakfast at a restaurant with the people who we weren't able to see. That is the best for me because you really just want to spend time with your family and with someone else doing all the cooking you get to enjoy and talk to your family.
But we do have a friend that they have a christmas open house you can stop by and they have food out all the time. It has actually started that the grandparents stay all day at their house but the siblings kinda set their own schedule and her family is there ususally for lunch and his family is there for dinner they love it.
Truthfully I can't wait till our children get older we would love to go take a vacation somewhere like Germany or Yellowstone or even a ski resort and tell the family we'll see you in January.
Thanksgiving is easy for us. We rotate every year who's family we go to and if we have time we will stop over afterward at the second family.
We have to decide what is most important for our family I don't want it to become a family tradition to run from house to house.



answers from Cleveland on

As a Grandma I can share with you the solutions that my family has come up with. All 5 of my children have Thanksgiving in their own homes and I am invited to my daughters house. I have desert at my house and although my grandchildren are now in college they stop with friends, girlfriends etc for pie. cake, a little chit chat, love you gma and then on their way. Their parents may stay for a while depending on everything else in life. Christmas is different for each family. Two of my children celebrate with their "other grandparents" on Christmas eve with traditional food etc. and open gifts. One of my children has the "other grandma" for Christmas breakfast at their house. The children open gifts, give gifts and have a holiday breakfast. All of my children come to my house for Christmas dinner but it is usually 5:00pm. The children have had the day at home, my grown children can relax at eat etc. Gifts are gien after dinner and the tradition that we started when they were babies and continue even though they are big guys now, is that each family passes their gifts out one at a time. We have started with the oldest child passing their gifts first, the youngest etc. My gifts are passed last. When a family passes their gifts the gifts are opened and thank yous and hugs etc are given before the next gifts are passed. This way the children know who gave them what and the giver knows that the child knows. This system has eliminated many problems for our family. I have 5 children and 8 grand children. My daughter who lives in Florida does not make it to Christmas very often but she calls when she knows that we are all there and we have our celebration with her on the phone. Organization has helped us all remain thoughtful and kind to everyone involves.



answers from Indianapolis on

Ok, I feel for is time for you to assert yourself. Keep the morning for your family activities at home and offer to get together with your mother etc. later in the day. If she doesn't want to do that, then plan for another day/time. Too bad they did not appreciate last year's schedule. Also, I honestly think that the situation you describe with the smoking and the dogs certainly would not contribute to your children's enjoyment and fond memories of the holiday. So it is up to you to decide just what you will allow and what is important to you, and to implement it this year.
Our large family (about 25 in all) plus a few friends (total about 30-40),
all gather at our large home on Christmas Eve for a buffet, music, gift-go-round exchange, and presents for the children. We have been doing this for30 years. We have the same menu every year, and everyone brings their traditional food or drink (for example, one of our daughters always makes frozen gin slush and some cookies). Then Christmas Day they can spend however they like, some go to the other in-laws, and here we just relax, go to church, and eat leftovers, or go to a movie. I hope that your family can get to a place where there is less stress for all involved.
Remember it is up to YOU to decide (politely) what is best for you and your children, and what kind of experience YOU think is best for them.
You might have to quietly walk away from any negative arguments in order to make it clear that you are serious about your decisions regarding your family. So stick to your will be worth it for all concerned in every way.



answers from Washington DC on

We finally decided to invite people to our house the day before the holiday, then we spend the holiday alone at home(parents and kids only). We only invite the family members who we can get along without drama. My MIL was the one to throw a fit and who still tries to get us to have the real holiday with her family at her house. My husband tells her to enjoy and refuses to be manipulated. I used to tell her exactly why, but it did no good.
It infuriated me that anyone would question us for refusing to associate with a proven pedophile among others.



answers from Lafayette on

We had the same problem. One year I ended it. I said we could ALL (both families) go out to dinner, reserve a room at a restaurant, or we could ALL eat at our respective houses. If you have a large home, we did, we ended up hosting everyone, with everyone bringing a side dish - enough for both families, and did it buffet style...Worked out so well, we had a great yard, a huge patio, and lived in Southern California, so we mostly enjoyed outside after our meals. My husband and I always hosted an "open house" to family and friends after Childrens Mass on Christmas Eve, this was passed down from my grandparents. No one had problems with that (Thank God). Christmas Morning, they (the grandparents) could choose to come to see the children open their presents, and have a breakfast with us, or not. They were even invited to spend the night, and did frequently. Christmas dinner was spent at my home Period. This was our family and I wasn't taking the children away from their new toys. My parents spent the entire day, and frequently spent the night. His parents would come early, leave around lunchtime, and make their rounds. Seemed all of the "kids" had wanted to do this for a long time. Easter, we all ate out together at a nice brunch, with of course an Easter Bunny and things for the kids (petting zoos). Anyone who wanted to come was welcome, they just needed to call a month in advance so we could arrange a proper place that would fit us for the same "seating". Forth of July was always spent at our house also (we had the largest pool :) and largest backyard....didn't plan it that way -but it worked out well, sometimes some of the family would be invited elsewhere, no hard feelings....But Christmas, and Christmas Eve I didn't budge on. Period. We were brought up in "Christmas Week" which began the morning of Christmas Eve, so if we saw "everyone" once in that week - we did our "duty". Suprisingly, it worked well, oh there were some complaints from the Mother's (mine as well as his) but, this was our turn, our family. It was too stressful for us to get the kids ready for "visiting" and having them choose what toys to take, when really they just wanted to laze around and stay home....Good Luck...



answers from Cincinnati on

For Christmas day we rotate families each year. My husbands family gets the even years and my family gets the odd years. When we have X-mas day with my husbands side, we do X-mas eve at my moms. My MIL still tries to do x-mas day every year. She whines that she didn't DRIVE all the way from Florida not to spend X-mas day with her kids. Every year the MIL threatens not to come up if she can't see her kids x-mas day. I put my foot down and told my husband NO. IF he wants to do x-mas on the odd years with his family that was fine but my son was coming with me to my families. Its only fair that way. My MIL throws a fit when she doesn't get her way. Shes a snob. You can't enjoy X-mas if you have to be at more than 1 place. Someone always gets their feelings hurt.
This came from when we were dating after 2 years, we had X-mas eve with my husbands side and spent 1 hour with my family x-mas day and was expected to be at his moms house x-mas day at 5:00 and no later or else. The excuse was that we had a kids gift for an exchange. They weren't even doing gifts till 7:30. We had my son at that point. My mom was really upset and so was I. After that, I laid down the law.



answers from Phoenix on

We spend Christmas Eve with my family and Christmas Day with my husband's family. Thanksgiving is wherever, so is Easter, but we only do one place on those days. My husband is law enforcement and so is his brother-in-law, so his family usually does holidays a different day because of their schedules (they are usually working on holidays, including Christmas). His sister and I split Christmas day between our houses last year- her husband worked in the morning so we had present opening there, drove back home the hour drive and they followed because my husband worked the evening shift so we had dinner at our house so he could have that. Kinda crazy, but it worked :)
Only problem I've had is my family on Christmas Eve wanting to have the celebration an hour away, but since my husband works nights, he can't make it but can if we have it at our house because he can just take calls from home... My sister doesn't like having it anywhere other than her house.
We may start having Christmas at our house eventually and whoever wants to come can, and whoever doesn't, doesn't. I get tired of running mad in those two days. If we have Christmas just the 3 of us, it is fine with me :) The rest of our family is important, but the three of us is what really matters the most.

For Updates and Special Promotions
Follow Us

Related Questions