How to juggle Christmas expectations when you can’t be in two places at once

Christmas with grandma

Christmas is a time for family gatherings and enjoying time with each other, but these days, it can be hard to see everyone you want to on the one day. It’s important that everyone feels valued and included, but when so many families are spread out, how do get around to everyone?

Visiting more than one family before you have a baby is hard enough, but when you have children, it’s even tougher to get around to people, who tend to want to see more of you and your family when there’s little kids around.

As much as it’s important to make the effort to keep everyone happy over the holiday period, you can’t be in two places at once. Or three or four for that matter. Trying to spread yourself too thin will likely burn you out and sap the joy from the season for you. But if you can keep expectations in check and practice some flexibility, you might just be able to keep the relatives happy this year, as well as yourself.

Start planning NOW

Don’t leave it til the last minute to come up with some plans, or you might find yourself knee-deep in Christmas Day invitations and obligations. Chat with your partner about what you guys want to do, and where you’d like to spend Christmas, and then announce what your plans will be. That way, you can invite people to join you on your terms and no one will feel left out of the arrangements, or offended when you decline their invitations.

Put your family first

If you know it’s going to be hard getting around to spread out families over the holiday season, it’s totally okay to put your needs first. This is a time of year when you want to be able to enjoy yourself, not run yourself into the ground trying to make everyone happy. Want everyone to come to you and bring a plate? Put it out there. Prefer to host a casual barbecue rather than the full on roast dinner? Let them know and send out the invites. If you can’t stand the idea of hosting, then pick a place that’s right for your family and lock it in.

December 25 is just one day

You don’t have to spread yourself thin on the one day, which will just leave you exhausted and ratty – and probably with overexcited children to manage. The holiday season goes on for a few days, and most people are going to have some time off so you can make alternative plans with them if you can’t see them on Christmas Day itself. You can plan get-togethers on any day you choose, and still consider them special events. Think Christmas Eve barbecues, or Boxing Day breakfasts, and how these dates can work in your favour.

Split the day

The traditional Christmas Day usually revolves around an extravagant lunch, but you can rejig this idea and break it up into two distinct parts if you have two families to visit. Christmas brunch and an early dinner can keep two families happy and give you the chance to spend quality time with special people. Plus you get fed on both occasions, so no kitchen duties for you that day. That’s a gift all on its own.

Consider other ways to connect

For those families you can’t get to during the holiday season, consider other ways you can connect that can make them feel included and valued. Sending a Christmas card with a heartfelt message and some photos is still a great way to make relatives feel special, even if snail mail seems a bit old-fashioned. Skype and Facetime can also help you connect with people far away and gives everyone a chance to say hello to each other.

Keep it stress free

Christmas can be such a fraught time of year, when expectations and emotions tend to run high. Decide early on to keep the whole thing as stress-free as possible, and communicate this with your loved ones. And then, do your best to keep everything super simple and right for you and your family. After all, this is your Christmas too!

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