Being single isn’t always awesome around the holidays, but it does provide one perk not often experienced by those who are coupled up: Flying solo saves you from having to figure out how to see both sides of the family—his and hers, or hers and hers, as the case me be—despite limited time and financial resources as well as geographical constraints. Solving the complex logistical issues involved in splitting the holidays between two families is tough, and to further complicate matters, you or your significant other may already have multiple holiday obligations to attend to even before partnering up (e.g. seeing your stepmom and dad, stepdad and mom, ex-stepmom, ex-stepdad, and so on).
Every couple is different, as are their respective scenarios, but it may still be helpful to hear from those who’ve come up with workable compromises. Below, real women share insight into how they choose to divide and conquer the holidays without causing stressful conflict—or their own split—in the process.
Find out how 11 women split the holidays with their significant others.
Give one side of the family an entirely different holiday
“None of our parents live near us. So, we do Thanksgiving in New York with my family. Then, since I’m Jewish and my parents don’t celebrate Christmas, we do that with my husband’s parents. It’s still not a great solution, however, since my husband previously did Thanksgiving with his dad and stepmom and now they get kinda screwed. So, next year I’m trying to get all of his parents to come to New York for Thanksgiving!” —Stephanie Mazepa, VP of business and legal affairs at Fabletics
Switch off each year
“We try to be fair and switch off and on from one year to the next. False promises and overextending myself do no good around the holidays, so I figure out where it’s most realistic for me to spend beneficial time and focus on that. Quality over quantity with clear communication is important so no one feels like they’re not a priority.” —Ziza Bauer, digital editor for Darling Magazine
“Our families are pretty spread out, so the best system we’ve come up with is to switch where we go every year. The most important thing is that we keep open communication to make sure we are balancing everything out and spending as much time with everyone that we can!” —Melissa Eckman, founder of MelisFit
Celebrate beyond the holiday season
“My fiancé typically has to work during one of the holidays, so I make a point to do my own thing with my family then. For example, this year they’re coming to Los Angeles to celebrate Thanksgiving with me. However, my fiancé and I typically spend New Year’s Eve together and don’t commit to being with his side of the family. Instead, we find time to see them in January or February—and because they’re on the East Coast, they love coming west. Then we also always try to pick another holiday to spend with his family, whether it’s one of the Jewish holidays or Memorial Day.” — Leah Vail-Soloft, PR consultant
“I have a huge family that I am extremely attached to and we go all out for the holidays. My husband is equally close with his immediate family, but there are fewer members in their clan. We figured out a solution years ago that has proved to be so effective—instead of splitting our time between each side, we bring his family to join in the celebration with mine. We love it! My husband and I both get to spend quality time with our relatives, while also being able to enjoy the holidays together, and it’s brought our families much closer.” —Stephanie Montes, beauty director at The Zoe Report
“Holidays can be a tricky time managing all of the different personalities and feelings that surface with family dynamics. My partner, Francesca, and I split up the holidays between our families to ensure everyone’s happiness. Usually we spend Thanksgiving here in California with her mom and stepdad and then will see my parents for a family holiday in December. Last year, we brought all of our families together and hosted Christmas at our place in Los Feliz. It was a miraculous Christmas to have both our families together under one roof.” —Morgan Marling, reiki master and intuitive healer
Host an all-inclusive pre-holiday holiday party
“My husband and I do our best to share our time with both of our families during the holidays, especially since we also have two kids—my stepsons—and everyone wants to see them as well. For the last five years, we’ve hosted an annual holiday party a couple weeks before Christmas. It’s a time when my entire family visits LA and we spend the weekend together, but we also invite our closest friends and extended family. It’s made it so much easier on all of us because everyone gets to spend Thanksgiving and Christmas in their own way with their own families while knowing that we all get to be together for the holiday season at some point. This event has now become an awesome tradition.” —Kelsey Patel, reiki master and intuitive healer
Make the family come to you
“My husband’s parents and my parents don’t have jobs or young children to take care of, so if they want to see us, they can easily get on a plane and come visit. My granny is the exception since she is too old to travel, so it is in her honor that we occasionally put ourselves through the hell that is traveling with small children.” —Michelle Vick, founder of The Baby Box Co.
“This is my feeling on it—please don’t make us drag two toddlers through multiple airports for a three day visit. You’re always welcome here!” —Elizabeth Hendrix, nurse
Opt out entirely
“My boyfriend’s parents are divorced, as are mine, so this adds an extra fun—not—layer to navigating family commitments, as we end up having to do approximately eight different events. This year I’m all about self-care, and to be honest all this navigating makes my anxiety so much worse. So, while I love my family, I think my boyfriend and I are going to go off the grid and take a vacation this year—or tell everyone we did and just stay hidden in our apartment.” —Allie Flinn, lifestyle editor at The Zoe Report
“Now that we have a little one, we’re struggling a bit with the idea of making holiday traditions of our own, all while appeasing family obligations. It’s not easy to find a balance, but I think we’ll be able to do so while keeping everyone happy. Either that or we’ll blow it all off and eat Chinese food around our Christmas tree at home. Ha!” — Mikela Kinnison, writer
Your current relationship is complicated enough—find out why, then, anyone would ever suggest you add another person into the mix. Plus, here’s how to end inevitable holiday arguments, the healthy way.