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A Newlyweds' Guide to Navigating Holiday Traditions

Learn how to balance the traditions of your family, your spouse's family, and create new traditions.

When approaching your first holiday season as a engaged couple or as newlyweds, you and your beloved will quickly discover that the season can be a difficult balancing act.

Relationship Advice
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Photo: Handeland Tesoro Photography

compromising holiday traditions as newlyweds or engaged couple

When approaching your first holiday season as a engaged couple or as newlyweds, you and your beloved will quickly discover that the season can be a difficult balancing act. If you and your sweetheart did not grow up in the same region, figuring out how to spend time with everyone can feel impossible. Not only that, but if it's the first time you are hosting for the holidays as a couple, there may be arguments about whose familial traditions take priority. Amber Harrison, the style and etiquette expert at The Wedding Shop by Shutterfly, is offering her tips and tricks for getting through the holidays. 

Have an honest conversation. Before the holiday madness is in full swing, sit down with your significant other and have an honest conversation about which family traditions are most important to you and which you are willing to compromise. Discuss how your time might be divided between all your loved ones. The earlier you have this conversation the better, so that you’re on the same page before your family and friends start inundating you with questions or trying to pin you down about travel plans.

Depending on your relationship, you can also try talking openly with your own parents or your in-laws; they went through this once too! Let them know you are having a hard time with the idea of missing out or disappointing anyone and ask if they have any helpful suggestions. Asking for advice can help bring you closer together and after remembering how hard it was for them to navigate, you might experience a little more understanding.

Try new things. I’m sorry to say you can’t have your fruitcake, and eat it too. Now that you are starting your own family unit, you can’t automatically assume that all holiday festivities belong to one family or expect your spouse to embrace every one of your family’s wacky traditions. Be open to new ideas and traditions, even things you’ve never done before. Who knows, maybe that family bowling tournament on Christmas Day will be your new favorite thing!        

Give a little extra love. While you will both do your best to find a fair compromise, it’s quite possible that one or more family members will be disappointed that you can’t spend all of your holiday time with them. Learning to share takes time! You might not be able to please everyone, but do your best to be sensitive and tend to any hurt feelings. Make a point to spend some quality time together or bake a yummy treat for them to enjoy in your absence to help show them you care.

Start your own traditions! Family time is essential during the holidays but be sure to start at least one new tradition of your own! Schedule a holiday date night, add a fun new décor item to your home, host a party or address holiday cards together over pizza and wine (these newlywed holiday cards from Tiny Prints are perfect for your first one). Make this new tradition all about the two of you and choose something you will be excited to do together each year.

Family traditions will inevitably change and evolve as a family grows but it may take a little getting used to. The good news? It will get a little easier each year. So cherish your time with loved ones and create wonderful new holiday memories together. Happy holidays!

Learn how to handle uncomfortable holiday dinner conversations, discover fun cocktail recipes for your holiday get-together, and find 40 last-minute gift ideas.

Opening photo by Bob & Dawn Davis Photography