Holiday Harmony: 6 Tips For Navigating Holidays with Both Sets of In-Laws

Spending holidays with two sets of families can be better handled by discussing how to divide time equally in the future with your spouse. According to your situation, you could spend each holiday equally or divide major holidays in a year with both families. Another way is to alternate celebrations each year. If you’re busy and still want to celebrate with both families, inviting them to your house is a better idea.

Marrying your partner means marrying into their family, and with that comes a bunch of new responsibilities you must take on for the sake of a happy married life.

There’s no better feeling than opening up Christmas presents with the family or preparing a holiday together to sit at a big table and eat it all up.

Holidays and special occasions are often spent with family, but after becoming a married couple, you have to divide your time between the two families.

Both your families want to spend the holidays with you, and deciding which family to spend a particular holiday with can be tricky.

Talk to your spouse first

Before making any major decisions, you must ensure you and your spouse are on the same page.

While holiday celebrations are about having fun and making memories with your family, you wouldn’t want to unnecessarily fight over which sets of parents to celebrate your holidays with.

After marriage, you might often stress over which side of the family to celebrate an occasion with. So, to avoid decision-making conflict and stress, discussing things in the future is best.

Don’t leave things for later and have a conversation about how to celebrate your holidays this year so you can stress over what to wear on holiday instead.

6 tips to split holidays between two families

It can be a great source of confusion at first when you have an invitation from both sides of the family and now have to decide which one to choose.

But all of this emotional stress can be avoided if you’re prepared for it beforehand.

Celebrating the holiday season is a great way to get closer to your family and even meet the extended family members you haven’t met in a long time.

Creating happy memories over good food and drink while sharing funny stories during holidays between families are some things that forever remain with you.

While you want to do that, deciding how to spend these big holidays when you’re married and have two families to attend to can be tricky.

1. Extend the celebration time

Extending the celebration time is the best way to celebrate the holidays with both families.

Instead of missing out on the celebration with one family this year, you can include both by extending the time of celebration for a couple of days.

A young married couple is having an extended Thanksgiving dinner with the husband's parents after having a previous Thanksgiving dinner recently with the wife's parents.

It’s easier to spend the holiday with both families when your side of the family and your spouse’s family both live closer, like in the same city.

When they’re only a few hours away, you can split the holiday time by spending the morning with one family and the evening with another.

If things allow you to be flexible on the timing, like if a major holiday is on Friday or over the weekend, you can take plenty of time to spend more time with both families.

You could spend one day each with both families.

But it can be tricky to do the same if your in-laws live far away or both sides of the family live far away.

If one family lives relatively close to your home, you could celebrate with them early. Then spend the actual holiday with another family since they only get to see you over the holidays.

2. Alternating major holidays

This would be a better idea for those whose families live far away. It could also be a better option when you don’t have enough time to celebrate with both families.

Alternating holidays this way each year will save you from the hassle of rushing around to spend holidays with both families each time.

Doing this will give you quality time to focus on one side of the family and remain stress-free during the entire holiday, as you can do the same with the other side of the family next year.

For major holidays, if you celebrate two to three of them in a year, you could spend one with your spouse’s family and the other with your family and then alternate between them next year.

3. Celebrating a holiday that’s important to your family

Now there’re many inter-faith couples where one side might celebrate Thanksgiving, but the other might celebrate Diwali.

A young married couple is celebrating Diwali with the wife's family

For such cases, it’s an obvious answer as you can divide the holidays easier by spending them with the family that prefers to celebrate them more.

You don’t have to suffer from mental agony, and this way, both sides of the family get to spend their major holiday with you and your spouse.

4. An early or belated celebration

This depends on your particular situation, but if it allows you and your spouse to do this, you can have an early or belated celebration with one side of the family.

Sometimes we don’t have enough time to spend the holidays with both families, but we do have to attend the celebration of both sides.

Instead of upsetting your families, you can split the holiday schedule and celebrate a bit in advance or later after the holiday.

This way, it would still be better than not celebrating the holidays together at all.

5. Invite both families over

You don’t have to celebrate each holiday or special occasion by splitting up your time between the two sides of the family each time.

Giving equal time to both families can be physically and mentally tiring.

A young married couple is celebrating their Christmas holiday with both sets of parents together

To avoid such a hassle, you can spend the holidays by inviting both families to your humble abode and creating new holiday traditions.

This is also good for situations when you and your spouse don’t have enough time to travel to your respective family’s house due to work or other reasons.

Also, great since no one will be disappointed or sad that you didn’t celebrate the holiday with them, and the more, the merrier.

6. Virtual attendance

During the past two years, all we could do was video call each other when we felt lonely or whenever there was a big holiday to celebrate.

Our smartphone came to our rescue in a significant way to live our lives as naturally as possible, and while it seemed unnatural, it was still better than having no contact at all.

Our parents need us to be considerate enough to spend enough time with them.

They are our parents, after all, and if there’s a situation in which we can’t seem to celebrate a holiday with them, it would be better to have a virtual celebration.

Digital time is still better, and you can make it celebratory by making meals and having them together while talking like you would have done face-to-face.

It’s all about the effort you’re willing to make.

Talk to your family about it

After deciding for yourself, discussing this with your families is vital to avoid disappointment around the holidays.

Imagine if you think you want to see your in-laws over a major holiday, but they’ve already planned a trip instead, which can lead to lots of last-minute confusion.

While you’re eager to spend the holidays with family, your family might have other plans you aren’t aware of.

Discussing the holiday schedule and asking them if they’re okay with your arrangement of the plans can leave you enough space to plan things out and replan them if required.

This will help you and your respective families get mentally prepared as well. Sometimes in-laws can be very controlling and wish to spend all major holidays and monopolize all your time this way.

If you’re prepared to handle it beforehand, this will also help create healthy boundaries with your in-laws.


How to talk to my spouse about not spending holidays with in-laws?

When two people come together in marriage, they both get additional responsibilities toward each other and their families in addition to it.

Holidays can be a tricky time as both families wish to celebrate them, but choosing only one all the time will end up hurting the other.

It’s better to discuss how to spend your holidays with two families and discuss how to divide your time in an equal manner. It’s essential to have your spouse’s support in this matter.

If your spouse wants to spend every major holiday with their side of the family, then you should talk about it and tell them how sad you feel over this matter.

Calmly expressing your feelings can help solve lots of issues.

But if they still don’t listen, you should find different ways to handle the situation, like stopping attending the gatherings.

Maybe even revisit your relationship and see if it’s worth staying married to someone unwilling to compromise.

Why does my husband want to visit his family without me?

If your spouse is visiting his family without you, then deeper issues need to be solved. It could be that their family doesn’t like seeing you or your spouse doesn’t want you to mingle with their family.

There could be several reasons behind such decisions, and it’s not too far-fetched to consider the possibility of an affair as well.

Discuss with your spouse why they don’t wish you to come and see if you can find solutions for those reasons.

How do you deal with toxic in-laws during holidays?

In-laws can monopolize the holidays and be greedy enough to spend each major holiday with you coming over, leaving no room for you to go over to your side of the family.

  • Set realistic expectations with your partner. This includes letting your partner know things you can and can’t do while spending holidays with in-laws.
  • Talk to your spouse about alternating between major holidays with both families and dividing them equally with both sides of the family.
  • Try to understand your in-laws during the holidays but don’t over-compromise.
  • Set emotional boundaries.
  • Agree to disagree.
  • Get through it with your spouse’s support.


Was this article helpful?
Hi! I’m Saumya, writer and editor at Marriage & Bliss. “To be fully seen by somebody, then, and be loved anyhow—this is a human offering that can border on miraculous.” —Elizabeth Gilbert. Every marriage faces pitfalls, be they internal or external, and with my words, I hope to help couples find possible solutions and mend their broken relationships. After all, a successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person.
Read more

Leave a Comment