How to Split the Holidays Without Making Enemies

holiday dinner
Photo: iStock
Parents, siblings, in-laws, friends -- they all want a piece of you this holiday season. But how can you be everywhere at once? Use this practical survival guide to carve up your holiday time without declaring war.
  1. Split the locals.

    Photo by Veer / The Nest
    Try the Four Christmases approach. If his parents and your parents both live in the same city, spend Christmas Eve with one and Christmas Day with the other. Of course, someone will inevitably feel slighted, which leads to approach number 2...
  2. Alternate years.

    Photo by Shutterstock / The Nest

    Whoever gets hosed this year gets the plum holiday next year. This works better for families that live farther apart, and it's practically a necessity if you have three or even four sets of parents. Sell it like this: "Mom, it’s great -- it's like the Olympics! I'll see you once every four years!" (Or not.)

  3. Bundle New Year's Eve.

    Photo by Veer / The Nest

    Simple economics. When you have a scarcity of goods, increase supply to meet your demand. Do this by adding New Year's Eve to the pool of holidays that you're splitting up. Theoretically, this lets you hit at least three sets of parents each holiday season (one for Thanksgiving, one for the December holiday and one for the new year). Or you can...

  4. Schedule a makeup day.

    Photo by Thinkstock / The Nest

    Even if you can't divvy up the blue-chip holidays, make a token gesture to show that you're trying. If you can't do Thanksgiving, visit the dissed parents on a random weekend in early November. It's not perfect (remember: survival), but it shows that you're taking their feelings into account and that you want to see them. (Even if you don't.)

  5. Make them travel to you.

    Photo by Shutterstock / The Nest

    Do the families get along? Do you have space in your home? Do you have enough liquor to provide you strength for their visit? If so, consider the grown-up move of hosting both families. Sound impossible? At the close of World War II, President Truman, Churchill and Stalin met for a series of dinners to discuss the fate of Europe. If Truman and Stalin were civilized enough to be in the same room, maybe your parents can be too.

  6. Just say no.

    Photo by Veer / The Nest

    Over the years, your parents had to deal with you learning to drive a car, going on dates, going to college and leaving the nest. This is just one more chapter of that progression: you starting your own holiday traditions at your own home. If you say no to all parents and stay home for the holidays, true, they won't be thrilled, but at least you're not guilty of parent favoritism. Of course, this is an easier sell if you launch the ultimate holiday strategy...

  7. Make babies.

    Photo by Veer / The Nest

    If you have your own kids, you've earned the right to do whatever you want. Babies are the ultimate Get Out of Traveling card or Get Out of Christmas card or Get Out of Anything card. When you have babies, suddenly you're your own nuclear family, and all reasonable parents will understand when you stay at home.

    And by all "reasonable parents"...we mean all seven of them out there.

    What about you -- how does your family split up the holidays?