Organize the Family Holiday Schedule Now: merge2gether’s Ten Ideas to Make the Holidays Happy

Oakland, California (EastBayDaily) — The modern family’s holiday season can be a scheduling nightmare. Stepfamilies, divorced couples and aging parents can create additional demands on a family’s time. Meanwhile, the 40% of American families who live far away from their parents and grandparents have to worry about travel and, in many cases, which family members to travel to. Holidays can go from “yay!” to blah if scheduling issues cause conflict and stress before, during and after the celebrations.

Here are some suggested guidelines for holiday planning:

Children with Shared Custody If children are involved, then holiday planning can be more complex. Email or talk to the other parent before talking with family members. There may be legal agreements that take precedence over people’s preferences. Try to get a multi-year agreement in place to minimize the need to revisit the topic every holiday season. Put all agreements in writing and get the agreed upon dates on everyone’s calendars.

Think of the Big Picture Think of all three major winter (or four) holidays: Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas and New Years. Also, look at multiple years when developing plans. Consider sharing time with each other’s families by alternating years for each chosen holiday.

Values and Traditions Consider the importance each family places on the holidays. If one family loves New Years more than Christmas and vice-versa, it will be easier to make plans based on obvious family preferences.

Create New Holiday Traditions It may be easiest to have two Thanksgivings: one on Thursday with one family and a second one on the Saturday with the other. To maximize joy, everyone needs to be flexible and creative.             

Think Long Term Just because Thanksgiving is always at grandma’s doesn’t mean it always will be. Sometimes grandparents get tired of hosting the holidays and would like to pass the carving knife on to the next generation. Which sibling(s) picks up the hosting responsibilities should be part of the long-term planning process.

Meet in the Middle If the distance and expense is not too great, or if the families can afford it, meeting in a neutral location can be fun. There are many destinations that lend themselves to winter holidays, such as a mountain resort or New York City; the fun is in being together.

Be Less Than Perfect If the holiday season becomes logistically and geographically too complex, then some things may need to give. For example, surrender to store-bought versus homemade cookies.

Consider Costs: Both Time and Money When making a plan, factor in various family members’ budgets and travel time. People’s financial situations can change from year to year, so adjust accordingly.

If people are paying more money to travel during the holidays, the gift budget may need to be trimmed. Agree on gift-giving practices and revisit them periodically. Keep in mind that the real gift is being together.

Remember the Single People Sometimes it is assumed that the single people in the family are more flexible than the family members with spouses/partners and children. Even if this is true, consider single people’s needs in the mix; they may have fewer variables to consider, but they do have preferences and needs.

For more information about moving in and living together, go to

About merge2gether ( Founded in 2011, merge2gether is headquartered in Oakland, California. is an online community offering resources to guide people as they think and talk through the process of moving in with another person. merge2gether provides free information, questions-and-answers and ideas to people of all ages and at all stages of life.


Beverly Aabjerg

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