Whether this is your first holiday season as partners or your fifteenth, there’s always an opportunity to make your celebrations more you. As you grow in your relationship, you’ll discover what really matters to the two of you, and how those priorities translate into the traditions you follow year after year—as well as when it’s time to change things up.
Photo courtesy OMTimes.com
If you’re looking to create some new experiences this year, here are five ideas for inventing some fun, fresh holidays rituals.
Involve your friends
While many of us focus on spending time with family over the holidays, there’s recently been a rise in hosting friends-based celebrations. (Surely you’ve heard of, or been to, a “Friendsgiving.”) These gatherings provide a different element to the holiday season that allows for you to experience new recipes and activities than what you might be used to back home or at your partners’ family’s house.
Focus on giving back
Find a charitable organization that speaks to you and get involved! Whether you’re wrapping presents for the less fortunate or dishing out food at a local shelter, you can make giving to others part of your holiday season, which not only adds a new tradition to your repertoire, it also helps those in need at the same time. By donating your time, together, you’ll form lasting memories and really experience what this time of year is all about.
Revive an old tradition
Perhaps your grandmother always made a special holiday cookie or your uncle used to host a family talent show—but these rituals have been abandoned once everyone got older. Think back to your childhood and choose something special that you’d like to resurrect with just your partner, or your family and friends, too. Not only will you feel a sense of connection to your roots, you’ll be creating something new for this holiday season.
Choose a new ritual
Photo courtesy WeddingPartyapp.com
Maybe there are certain holiday rituals you never participated in as child, like the Elf on the Shelf or an advent calendar, or even something as simple like coordinating a potluck for Thanksgiving instead of the host doing the majority of the cooking. Do a little research on some of the traditions and rituals others partake in to discover something that might be fun for you and your partner. By trying something new, together, you’ll make whatever you choose your own.
Decide to jet-set
Sometimes, opting out of the holidays can be just as fun as being super involved in the season. With many people getting paid holidays in November and December, these months are ideal for taking a few vacation days to make the most of your time off. Choose a destination that you and your partner have always wanted to visit and play hooky from the holidays. When you get to your location, you can either engage in local holiday rituals, if there are any, or you can creatively celebrate however you are able, making lasting memories in the process.
Ringing in your first holiday season after the wedding? With so much to celebrate, it’s only fitting that you and your partner are establishing newlywed holiday traditions together. The holidays are all about spending time with your loved ones, making it the perfect occasion for an extra special first Christmas as a married couple.
As you balance hectic work schedules, holiday shopping and non-stop traveling, don’t forget to take time for you and your spouse as well. Below, we’re sharing seven newlywed holiday traditions to start that will make your season joyful and fun.
Host a Dinner Party
There’s a good chance your kitchen is stocked with brand new appliances from your wedding registry. What better way to celebrate the holidays than by hosting a dinner party to put your wedding gifts to use? Whether you present your homemade meal using your new serving tools or show off your DJ skills with your smart home speaker, invite your loved ones over to enjoy quality time together. (Bonus points if you make a dessert using your brand new standing mixer.)
Remember the reason for celebrating the season. Whether you spend an afternoon volunteering at a soup kitchen or you donate gifts to a shelter, giving back is a great newlywed holiday tradition that will help you connect with your local community. Or, consider asking your loved ones to donate to a charity in your name in lieu of holiday gifts. (PS: You can always link your wedding registry with The Knot to a charity and we’ll donate a portion of the purchases to an organization of your choice.)
Travel Somewhere New
The holidays mark the busiest travel season of the year. Grab your weekend bag and take a trip to a brand new city every holiday season. Whether you coordinate a mini vacation with your family or make it a newlywed getaway, you’ll create lasting memories by checking off a new place on your bucket list during the holidays.
Design a Family Holiday Card
One of the most sentimental newlywed holiday traditions is documenting your current season of life. Show off your brand new moniker (along with your favorite wedding photos!) by designing a family holiday card. Tools like Minted and Shutterfly make it fun (and easy) to create a personalized card to send your loved ones. Collect them over time to preserve your cherished memories over the years.
Plan a Festive Date Night
It can be easy to get swept up in the hustle and bustle of everything you have to get done by the end of the year. But don’t let your never-ending to-do list take away from your relationship. The holidays are about spending time with your loved ones—and as newlyweds, now’s the perfect time to enjoy your “firsts” and create lasting memories. Be intentional about setting aside time for the two of you. Whether you check out the holiday lights in your neighborhood or stay in for a movie night, prioritize date night during the season. It’s a newlywed holiday tradition you’ll be thankful you started.
Focus on Health and Wellness
You don’t have to wait until January 1 to get started on your New Year’s resolutions. Get a jumpstart on your goals in the thick of the holiday season. Making your health and wellness a priority is important all year long, but especially during this time of year. It can be stressful to balance work, shopping, traveling and extended family time. Everyone manages holiday stress differently, but consider this: the more you focus on keeping your body and mind healthy, the better your holiday season will be. Commit to drinking more water every day or consider enrolling in a relationship counseling program like Lasting to prioritize your marriage. It’ll make your holidays so much more enjoyable.
Honor Your Childhood Traditions
Your favorite childhood holiday traditions don’t have to stop once you become a newlywed. Think about what means the most to you every holiday season, whether it’s decorating your house in flashy lights or watching Love Actually every weekend in December and make them your newlywed holiday traditions.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year! If you’re newly engaged or married, there’s even more to be thankful for this holiday season than usual. From chummy get-togethers with the extended fam to breaking in new traditions of your own, it’ll likely be a season of “firsts.” To make your first Christmas as a couple truly magical, we’re sharing nine ways to make the most of the holidays.
Fill Your Home With Memories
There’s something about the holidays that makes us feel all nostalgic and sentimental. Whether you recently got engaged or walked down the aisle, be sure to commemorate the big year you’ve had. Print out those keepsake photos, put them in frames, and get to hanging. If you have a tree in the living room, decorate it with ornaments that tell your love story. It could be shells from your Hawaiian honeymoon or a miniature wine glass to symbolize your vineyard engagement—whatever it is, do the same every year and make it a tradition.
Honor Family Traditions
Think about the traditions that made the holidays special for you as children, and find ways to weave them into your adult lives. It could be as simple as choosing a live tree for that aromatic pine scent or renting a classic movie (ahem, Love Actually). You can’t do it all, so this is also a good opportunity to practice your negotiating skills.
Make Your Own Traditions
It's okay to cherish holiday traditions from your childhood, but you’re creating a home of your own now. Start by picking a few things that you can put into practice every year—and perhaps even share with your own kids. Open one gift on Christmas Eve, make nachos while you’re decorating the tree, or try out that baked French toast recipe you’ve been eyeing for an epic Christmas Day brunch.
Have a Cookie Frosting Night
Even if your partner is all thumbs in the kitchen, chances are they'll jump at the opportunity to help you bake (and decorate) holiday shortbread cookies. Want to level up? Try your hand at a gingerbread house. Though, a fair warning: If you make them from scratch, the assembly process may be a test of your patience.
There's something truly joyful about singing old holiday carols on your neighbors' doorsteps, or even just in the comfort of your living room. Why not make this old-fashioned pastime one of your yearly holiday traditions? Don't be a Scrooge! You'll definitely score some brownie points from us.
Plan Time for Just the Two of You
With holiday parties and family gatherings galore, it can be hard prioritizing your relationship once December rolls around.
Set aside a time that’s just for the two of you so you can reconnect without distractions, reflect on the past year, and dream together about what the year ahead might hold. To cap it all off, record your thoughts in a special notebook and make plans to revisit it every year.
Traveling to see your loved ones? Make a reservation at your favorite local restaurant before you leave to squeeze in some alone time. Another idea we love? Spending your first holiday season as a married couple as, well, a married couple. If you live near family, opt to have Christmas morning alone and then meet up with everyone in the afternoon; or see your families on Christmas Eve and then spend all of Christmas day in your pajamas in front of the fireplace, with no responsibilities—just you and your boo.
Decide How to Divide Your Time
Before the season is in full swing, sit down and discuss a game plan. Instead of trying to be fair to everyone, first, decide what works for the two of you—keeping your calendars and budgets in mind. Figure out how you’ll want to alternate time, whether it’s switching back and forth between who gets you for Thanksgiving or Christmas every year or spending one holiday alone and alternating the other annually. Not sure where to start? Ask your parents how they split their time as newlyweds. It may provide you with a newfound perspective, and vice versa, it will remind them of how challenging it can be.
Take a Goofy Christmas Photo
Even if the "real" holiday photo you put on your card is more traditional, consider throwing on ugly Christmas sweaters or some crazy glasses for a humorous photo to frame on the wall each year. Friends and family will love seeing your lighthearted side, but the best part is that it will make the two of you laugh year after year.
Between all the parties, travel, and nonstop gift-giving, the holiday season can start feeling a bit self-indulgent. Take some time to give back with your partner by your side. Seek out local organizations that allow you to “adopt” a child or family for the holidays, head to a food bank to help pack up holiday meals, or join forces to decorate an assisted living center or hospital waiting room.
The holiday season is right around the corner, and that means many of us are about to become very busy. Between Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, New Year’s and a host of other festivities, the final months of the year are always a flurry of family visits and get-togethers.
While seeing our relatives, giving gifts, and eating tons of delicious food can be fun, the holidays can get very complicated for newlywed couples. After all, you’ve been seeing the same family members every holiday season for your entire life—what do you do when your spouse wants to see their family instead?
Don’t panic; it is possible to celebrate the holidays with your spouse and spend plenty of time with both of your families. Here are a few tips to help you navigate your first holiday season as a married couple.
Make a Plan (and Stick to It!)
As soon as family members start floating around holiday plans, you and your spouse need to start strategizing. You’re both part of two families now—and if you want to celebrate the holidays with everyone, you are definitely going to need a plan of attack.
Are your respective families separated by hundreds and hundreds of miles? You may have to agree to split the holidays (Thanksgiving with one family, Christmas with the other, you get the picture). If your families are local to one another, you might be able to spend a little time at each family gathering, shuttling from one to the other on the big night.
However, if you do decide to see both families on the same evening, there’s one more challenge that awaits: sticking to the schedule! It’s so easy to linger at one party, especially when everyone’s having a good time and your grandmother offers you another slice of pie. But if you ignore your timetable, you might end up making the second family you visit feel slighted, and that’s not the season’s greetings you want to give.
Be Practical and Fair
Look, I know that you want to spend every holiday ever with your own parents. You love them dearly, and time with them is how you’re used to spending your holidays. It can be very easy to advocate for a holiday with your side of the family every year—but if you aren’t willing to compromise, you and your spouse might have some real conflict.
When you start filling in your holiday social calendar, make sure that you and your spouse have equal say in the plans. Keep things fair between the two of you, whether that means splitting time between both families or making sure you see your spouse’s high school buddies while you’re back in town. If you both feel heard, you’re more likely to make fair, sensible compromises that satisfy everyone.
Communication Is Key
Family gatherings during the holidays can be warm, loving, and a lot of fun. They can also be incredibly uncomfortable and stressful! You never really know what’s going to happen when you walk into a room with your family—but it’s important that you and your spouse are on the same page at all times.
If anyone says or does something that makes you uncomfortable, don’t be afraid to let your partner know right away. If family members (be they your blood relatives or your in-laws) are rude, pushy, or otherwise inappropriate, take your spouse aside for a moment and talk to them about how you’re feeling. Then, you both can decide how to proceed so you both feel comfortable again.
Similarly, if your husband or wife comes to you and says someone in your family made them uncomfortable, it’s your job to listen and give your spouse the support they need. Remember, you two are your own family now, and you need to be each other’s top priority.
Share Your Old Traditions with Your New Family
Let’s say that you and your spouse decide to split the holidays. You’ll do one gathering with your spouse’s family, and the next one will be with your crew. This arrangement might be the most practical for you, but it can be a huge bummer. After all, part of what makes the holidays great is the time with your loved ones. Is it even Christmas without your family around?
Even if you aren’t spending the holidays with your family, you can still make the gathering feel like holidays past. Is there a special dish your family makes every Christmas Eve? Bring it to your in-law’s party! Does your family have a traditional game you all play or holiday song you all sing? Teach your new family members! Sharing your own family’s traditions with your new family is a great way to connect with everyone—and you just might inspire a new tradition among your spouse’s loved ones.
One of the best parts about being married or engaged in the month of December is having another person to share your family’s holiday traditions with — whether it’s baking mom’s famous cornflake wreath cookies or dancing around to “All I Want For Christmas Is You” in reindeer pajamas. But what’s even more special is creating new traditions together. Scroll down below for for 12 ideas from our readers that will fill you with holiday cheer.
1. “Each year for Christmas, we make an ornament with a photo of us. Hopefully, years from now, we’ll be able to look back at our relationship, year by year, every time we decorate for the holidays.” – C. Carter
2. “We give each other a playlist of songs that remind us of one another. It’s the best gift every year.” – @amyvanderlinden
3. “My hubby, the kids and I put up our Christmas tree right after Thanksgiving dinner, no matter what.” – @Indigenia
4. “We light the candles on the menorah and then guess which candle will go out last.” – @risaeats1960
5. “Putting up the tree. and the ornament [he used to propose] that says, ‘Say Yes.'” – @morganwneal
6. “We make a gingerbread house every year!” – @vicTORiousLOVE1
7. “We exchange gifts by ourselves, just by the light of the tree on Christmas Eve and let the kids have the morning.” – @orangegirl6
8. “I buy us Christmas jammies every year to open on Christmas Eve.” – @emmiejayne23
9. “We spent hours on our anniversary night (11/24) making our own Christmas stockings and one for my dog Bo!” – @iheartfootball
10. “We bake cookies together and do an old-fashioned Christmas cookie exchange. He plays Santa and I’m Mrs. Clause.” – @AlisaZanetti
11. “We collect creepy Santa dolls and figurines.” – @jobetta
12. “We stay in our Christmas PJs all day on Christmas and always stay at home with just us and our two daughters. We see the rest of the family on Boxing Day.” – Katrina Ambrozevich
Tips from five married couples who have been through the holidays a time or two.
Christmas is a season of lights, music, food and family. This month is filled with beautiful liturgies at church, and quality time with family and friends. And who can forget ugly Christmas sweater parties and white elephant gift exchanges? But for some of us, navigating the holiday season can lead to stress and tension in our marriages and with our families. It can be hard to sing “Joy to the World” when your communication about the holidays with your spouse is anything but joy-filled.
Celebrating and sharing the holiday season as a couple can be challenging — but it can be a lot easier if you follow these quick tips from five married couples who have been through the holidays a time or two. This year, be ready to face challenges and the joys of the holiday season together as husband and wife!
Affirm your marriage
In the middle of the business of the holiday season, it can be easy to lose sight of what matters. So take time to affirm your spouse and your marriage before even discussing what the holidays are going to look like this year. Affirmation simply means saying things that are true, and telling your spouse how much they mean to you.
“Before we dive into the holiday season, we sit down and affirm our marriage,” Sterling Jaquith recommended. She and her husband have been married for seven years, and she recently wrote a book about the holidays, A Catholic Guide to Be Merry: How to Avoid Anxiety and Depression During the Holidays. “Tel your spouse, ‘I love you and you’re the most important person in my life.’ You have to start things off as a team!”
Communicate your holiday expectations
Before the holiday season gets here, sit down with your spouse and talk about your expectations for the holidays. What food are you going to eat? What will you wear to holiday parties and Christmas Mass? How will you signal to each other that something is going wrong, or when you’re not being heard? By vocalizing what you expect the holidays to look like, your spouse will have a better picture of what the holidays mean to you. After all, we don’t get anywhere in marriage when we base things off of assumptions.
“The hardest holiday experience my husband and I had was definitely our first Christmas,” Sterling Jaquith remembers. She and her husband have learned to be clear with each other about what they expect the holidays to look like. “I don’t know why we didn’t think to talk about the holiday beforehand. We both woke up expecting to have the perfect Christmas without explaining to each other what our idea of a perfect Christmas was! A day that we thought would go down in the memory books as a magical first Christmas, quickly devolved into hurt feelings, misunderstandings, and sulking in our own corners. We came to discover that our idea of Christmas breakfast, Christmas presents, Christmas family gatherings, and even what we would wear throughout the day was very different!” After shedding some tears and cooling off, they were able to come together and talk about expectations. They both compromised and communicated to create a Christmas day that was pleasant for both of them.
Sterling and her husband weren’t the only couple to mention strong emotions about holiday expectations. “Emotions run high on these topics so it’s really important to realize the underpinnings of each spouse’s attachment to ways of doing things at holidays before you even attempt to discuss doing things a different way,” Leslie Sholly advised. She’s been married to her husband John for 28 years. “Just because your family did it one way doesn’t mean that’s the only way to do it!”
Learn to say “no”
When Amy Thomas married her husband over 16 years ago, they alternated whose family they spent the holidays with. One year they’d spend Thanksgiving with his parents, and Christmas with her family. But when they moved to Florida plane tickets became more expensive and plans had to change. “We’ve learned that when we go home we can’t do it all. My entire family lives in Kansas and we were stressing ourselves out by trying to see everyone and do everything,” Amy explained. “We always felt overwhelmed. So, we learned to say no to somethings and be reasonable in our expectations. Quality time is more important than quantity times.”
Even though you may want to be at every single holiday gathering, it’s not worth stretching yourself too thin. If you are always checking your clock to see when you have to dash off to the next gathering, you miss out on quality time with those gathered around you in the present moment.
Life (and the holidays) aren’t always fair
Despite your best efforts, things won’t always be fair for everyone involved in your holiday celebrations. You’ll have to set boundaries, and those healthy boundaries may take others a little while to get used to.
“Get over the idealization of ‘fairness.’ Your time will never be perfectly equal among all parties, and any distribution will need to adapt to the changing needs of your relationship,” Kirby Hoberg said. She’s been married to her husband, Matt, for six years. “It’s okay to prioritize your little family’s needs and remember that this can be a just-for-this-year decision. This is the first year we will not be traveling to family for any of the major holidays. As sad as it is not to be physically present with our extended family for the holidays, it is also an exciting opportunity for our little family to stand on our own and make the best of our time together.”
Budget for the holidays together
Most of us grew up with Christmas gifts underneath the tree. But behind those wrapped goodies can be long stories of frustration and disagreements. How much should you spend on your family? Who should you buy gifts for? For Tracy and Anthony Smith, who have been married for 20 years, being on the same page about gifts for family and friends is crucial. “To approach the holidays as a team, we try to work as a team with budgeting for the holidays by communicating our ideas openly with one another,” Tracy explained. “We set clear expectations for who we will buy gifts for and the amount we can spend on each gift.” Tracy encouraged others to not be afraid to share expectations for gifts with extended family, too. “We try to encourage family members to not spend a lot of money on gifts for our children and for the most part, they listen to our desires.”
Create your own family traditions
3 Rituals to help you slow down and enjoy Advent
Consider This is a column focused on how important elements of a woman's life look in single life and in marriage. This week, we’re considering the experience of celebrating holiday traditions as single and married women. One single woman and one married woman have written essays, to be published on different days. On a third day, they respond to each other's experience.
Growing up, Christmas was a deeply meaningful time for my family. Both of my parents love traditions, and they brought many to their marriage and our family. From our “seven fishes” Christmas Eve dinner rooted in my mother’s Italian heritage to loading our car with tween girls for late-night trips to the local drive-through light show, the entire month of December was punctuated by what felt like nonstop magical moments, big and small.
As I grew older, though, I started to dream about what the holidays would look like for my own family one day. There were certainly plenty of memories and traditions I wanted to preserve, but others I could envision shedding to make space for something new, something that was only mine. And sure enough, now that I am married with one baby and another on the way, my family indeed brings its own personality, spirit, and flavor to the holidays. This is something we are continually working to refine and bring into sharper relief with each passing year.
Making the holidays our own
Because we live in the same town as both sets of parents (as well as a smattering of siblings, in-laws, grandparents, and aunts and uncles), our first few Christmases as a married couple looked like a very frantic attempt to accommodate events, traditions, and decor that we each brought to our marriage from our respective families. As a result, our schedule looked over-packed, our home cluttered, and our celebrations lackluster and tired as we moved through the season checking each item off our list.
This tendency to try to fit everything in came from a good place: naturally, we each wanted the holidays to look a lot like they did when we were growing up. For me, this meant joining my parents for Christmas Eve dinner. For my husband, it meant spending Christmas morning ensconced in the warmth—and chaos—of his parents’ living room, wood-burning fireplace and hordes of nieces and nephews in tow. It meant carving out a budget for plenty of festive local events and gift exchanges but also honoring the relaxed, slow pace that we both yearned for.
However, the result was less than desirable. Instead of taking time to devise our own special traditions, independent of our families, our holidays looked more like a messy mishmash of our histories: a little bit of his, a little bit of mine, but nothing that was uniquely ours.
Over time, we have slowly winnowed the family traditions we brought to our marriage, keeping only those that are extra meaningful. We have used the white space in our schedules and minds to create a few of our own traditions, for instance, enjoying neighborhood walks to look at lights and hosting our annual holiday open house (which, sadly, is not happening this year due to COVID, but which we hope to reinstate soon).
This refining of tradition has allowed us to design a holiday season that fits our unique identity as a family. There are many traditions our parents passed down that are special, but which do not necessarily fit the way we want to celebrate and observe the holidays. Accepting that has helped us understand more deeply what matters most to us during the season.
Each year, we learn something new about each other, our families, and our own natural tendencies and preferences. For example, my husband’s family tends to be more spontaneous and in some ways, less intentional, than mine. Weaving our plans with theirs during the holidays has been a valuable exercise in flexibility and graciousness. At times, our plans change on a dime or we need to consider more than one family in our plans. Life with them can feel a bit chaotic, so I’ve had to learn how to hold my plans with looser hands.
Conversely, my husband has learned a great deal from my family’s faithful adherence to their treasured traditions and has taken away a sense of the beauty and awe involved in preserving time-honored traditions year after year. He has benefited from the sense of peace, stability, and comfort this posture can bring, and we have both agreed that we would like to bring that same peaceful spirit to our family.
Cultivating beauty through traditions
We have one child now who is too young to appreciate the traditions, but we are excited for future years as we can begin to make the ordinary magical—for instance, through special meals, rituals like driving around with hot chocolate to look at lights, watching classic Christmas movies, and enjoying local events like the holiday parade and poinsettia festival that brought so much joy and delight to my childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood.
Ultimately, what I’ve learned is that traditions are for us, not us for them. It is important to only establish them if they foster a culture of life and joy in our families. They are not something to check off a list or add stress or financial strain to our lives. For my husband and me, our ultimate challenge is to keep our traditions sweet and joyful, not items to cram into our already-busy schedules. It is also our goal to appropriately honor our families of origin while still preserving our own version of sweetness and magic during what we hope will always be our favorite time of year.
Do you have reflections on celebrating holiday traditions that you'd like to share? Tell us here , and your response may be published by Verily at a later date.
It's your first holiday season as newlyweds. Here's how to create new traditions, maintain the old ones, and figure out holiday travel and coordination.
By Elizabeth Blasi
The holidays are for spending time with loved ones and celebrating traditions—and those traditions started somewhere. If you’re newly married and celebrating the holidays together for the first time as a married couple, this is your time to lean into old traditions and also start some of your own. Whether it’s cooking comfort food and staying indoors, throwing a party, or setting up a gift exchange, there’s no limit on how to celebrate the holidays as newlyweds.
Decide where to celebrate.
This probably isn’t the first round of holidays that you’re spending together as a couple. Now that you’re married, though, you need to figure out how to either split your time between both family sides or bring everyone together in one larger celebration. There are few ways to navigate this:
- Arrange holiday time with both families. Fortunately, the holiday season is focused on one specific day—there are a few times during this period to gather together as family. If you need to split your time, consider spending one weekend with your partner’s family and another holiday weekend with your family.
- Keep the dialogue open. Oftentimes, your family will understand where you’re coming from when explaining your holiday plans as newlyweds (they’ve likely been in a similar situations themselves). Be clear about your plans as soon as you can so everyone can make the proper arrangements.
- Host the holiday together. If you and your partner would prefer to bring both of your families together to celebrate, consider hosting the gathering (space pending). For newlyweds, this is a great opportunity for the two sides of the family (and friends) to get to know each other even better.
- Go away for the holiday. If you’re newly married, you probably spent a good chunk of this year with your extended family on both sides. So, if you want to spend the holidays with your partner, do that. Book a getaway and use any time off work to enjoy each other’s company.
Photo Credit // Unsplash
Make the appropriate time-off requests.
You likely had to request time off from work for your wedding and maybe your honeymoon, too. So, when the holidays roll around, you need to double-check what days you can and can’t be out of the office.
Plan out which days you want to request off (to possibly match your partner’s schedule) in advance. Consider any travel time, too, and cushion your holidays with travel days as needed.
If your schedules are typically rigid during the holidays, make the appropriate changes to your holiday plans. For example, if your partner has work during/around the holidays, it might be smart to host a celebration. This cuts out travel time and won’t require more days off from work.
Start some traditions.
You got the days off, you know where you’re celebrating, now it’s time to plan your new traditions or activities.
Decide how to give gifts.
If you’re the type to exchange gifts during the holidays, now’s a good time to establish how you want to approach gift-giving each year. Some married couples join finances, while others keep things separate. Here are some things to consider:
- Are you holiday card people? Many couples and families opt to send a holiday card to their close loved ones and extended network. It’s a nice practice and an easy way to share well wishes (and maybe any life updates) with your friends and family. Plus, with all those wedding and engagement photos, it's easy to create a really personal moment to send.
- What’s the gift budget? With split finances, or building savings (i.e. trying to budget for a house, or future children), you and your partner may want to put a spending cap on your gifts to one another (and maybe others). This can be adjusted year to year, depending on income, circumstances, etc.
- Do you want to go in on a joint gift? If you and your partner are both eyeing something in particular (new TV, a soundbar, a grill, etc.), use your gift money and purchase it together. Ideally, this item is something that sparks joy.
- Who will you send gifts to? If you’re together with your families, you’ll probably come bearing some physical gifts. If there are family members or friends that you’re not able to be with for the holidays, decide if you’ll send gifts or figure something else out. A classic white elephant gift exchange is ideal for friend groups with busy schedules. You can get together before or after the holidays to swap.
Photo Credit // Zola
Establish a menu.
Sure, the holidays are about friends and family and traditions and all that. Really, though, they’re about food—a lot of it. Fortunately, there aren’t any rules around what kind of foods qualify as holiday staples so you can feel free to make whatever you want.
Whether you do a holiday cookie swap, recreate your family’s beloved recipes, order Chinese, or go completely rogue, it’s your holiday tradition to create. This can be your menu every year or you can switch up.
Decorate your space.
From stringing lights on the roof to hanging ornaments to lighting the menorah, there’s no shortage of holiday decor to brighten up your space. Setting time to add a touch of holiday spirit to your space can serve as a great tradition that you come back to every year.
Stick to what you know from growing up or strike out on your own with a new color palette. Whether you decide to incorporate elements from your upbringing or start from scratch, holiday decorating is something that can be habitual and set the tone for the following years (as you store holiday decorations for each upcoming year). Liven up the festivities with themed music, appetizers, or cocktails.
Regardless of whether or not you and your partner decide to partake in all (or one) of the traditional holiday festivities, it’s important to note that this time of year is a personal experience between the two of you. Enjoy this time, and build lasting memories that are curtailed to your preferences—and not those of others.