By Kerrie McLoughlin
Remember when you didn’t have to worry about being in three places at once during the holidays? The dilemma of where to go seemed to be so easily worked out by our parents and extended family. Now that we are grown-ups, by the time the New Year rolls around, most of us seem to have ended up totally frazzled from celebrating the holidays several times over with many sets of relatives. Adding your own kids to the mix can make the situation even more crazy, leaving children feeling like the rope in a game of human tug-of-war. Below are some quick fixes to help you and your family be peacefully full of holiday cheer this year.
Combine Family Events.
Instead of running to your parents’ house and then to see each of your siblings separately, consider having a single shindig in one location when most everyone can attend. A sit-down dinner isn’t necessary. In fact, make it a potluck! One idea is to throw a small party every year on the second Friday in December, for example, and have crafts for the kids (like building a gingerbread house or painting ornaments).
Consider an Open House.
Choose a location (like your uncle’s house), a date and a convenient time frame when family members can come and go as they please without the pressure of being on time for a meal. Serve finger foods and other easy fare to make it easy on the hostess.
Attend the Far-away Celebrations Every Other Year.
It’s a fact of life that many people marry someone from another state or move out of town due to a job change or other circumstance. This can leave many families feeling pulled in different directions when the holidays roll around. It can be difficult to decide how to come together, so work out the details in advance and spread out travel.
All families are different, and it can be practically impossible to please everybody every year. One year your cousin may need to leave early to spend the rest of the day with her husband’s family. Another year it may just work out best to hold the event on a completely different day of the month.
Do a Drop In.
Elaine St. James, author of “Simplify Your Christmas: 100 Ways to Reduce the Stress and Recapture the Joy of the Holidays,” visits her sister and her family to raise a toast but not to eat. She takes no food for the meal, no gifts and tells her family, “We’re bringing ourselves and our best wishes for the season.”
Celebrate on a Day Other Than December 25.
You can get together with your grandparents and other relatives a couple of weeks before or after Christmas Day for a much more relaxed mood. Imagine leisurely opening gifts while enjoying each other’s company. What a time to treasure and look forward to every year!
Just Stay Home.
Some couples make the choice to celebrate Christmas Day at their own home every year. The decision may not popular, and you might have to defend it every year, but it could be the most relaxing (ah, sweatpants all day long!) and fun (playing with your kids and their new toys) day of your entire year.
Think of Others Less Fortunate.
Consider serving food at a homeless shelter sometime around the holiday or being a bell-ringer for The Salvation Army for a couple of hours. These are great opportunities to take your kids along and teach them the true meaning of the holidays.
To ensure no feelings are hurt, make sure your family knows they are always welcome to spend Christmas Day at your home (with some notice, of course!). With a little understanding and communication, everyone involved can have a peaceful holiday season.