How to Merge Your Families for the Holidays


They might call it the most wonderful time of the year, but the holidays come with their share of stress, especially for couples first trying to merge their families together. Blending holiday traditions is a big step and it’s one that I know many newlyweds and nearlyweds wrestle with each year. But it can also be a joyful time of celebration, where stronger relationships are forged and new traditions are born.

The biggest question, of course, is where to spend your holidays. You both want to see your families and they both want to see you. Neither wants to miss out on the traditions and celebrations (and food!) that you grew up with. So how do you work it out?

As always, good communication is the key. Sit down with your S.O. and figure out what means the most to you and your families and how you can reach a compromise that works for everyone. For example, you might decide to alternate across different holidays. Spend Thanksgiving with one family and Hannukah or Christmas with the other. If your families live near enough, you could attend multiple celebrations – Christmas morning with your folks and the afternoon with your partner’s, for example.

Of course, there’s a third option, and that’s to host the holidays yourselves! This may not always be as easy as it sounds, but it can be a fun way to bring both families together. Here are a few ideas for how to host a wonderful celebration!

Include elements from both sides. Spend time talking to your partner and finding out what dishes and traditions mean the most to their family. Include these in the day. Maybe their mother makes the most incredible dessert – ask her to bring it along, or better yet, invite her to make it with you. Everyone likes to feel like their traditions are respected and will be passed on to future generations.

Involve everyone in the preparation. It can be hard for people (especially moms!) who have done the hosting for years to sit back and take no part in holiday meals. Give key family members a job. It will help everyone feel included and it’s a great way to keep conversation flowing!

Set up a drinks station. A fun drinks station can also be a good ice-breaker. Plus it frees you up a little, not having to keep guests’ glasses filled. Consider something fun and festive – a prosecco bar, holiday-themed cocktail station or a hot cocoa table with all the trimmings will all go down well.

Serve lots of appetizers. Hungry guests are grumpy guests! Make sure you greet your guests with food by having appetizers available when they arrive and keeping them coming.

Make everyone feel special. Be sure to take the time to make everyone feel welcomed and wanted. Place a handwritten note from both of you at each place setting. Make Christmas crackers and fill them with small gifts that show you care about the recipient. Send everyone home with a sweet homemade hostess gift, like a pancake or granola mix they can enjoy for breakfast the next day. Whatever you do, let it come from the heart.

Here’s to mingling all the way to a happy holiday season!