Holidays for stepfamilies can be just a little bit tougher than for biological families. Here are ten tips for ensuring a happy holiday season.
1. Plan, Plan & Plan. - It has been said if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Holiday schedule plans should actually be made early in the year. Where will children spend each holiday?
2. Manage Step Schedules - Standard visitation schedules means sharing children with the other parent. Coordinate and be considerate of others, especially the children. Share calendar dates for additional activities at church, school or work.
3. Manage Expectations - Unrealistic expectations can lead to disappointment. Do not make promises you are unable to keep.
4. Establish New Holiday Traditions - Even traditions like holiday decorations and gift opening can be a source of contention when everyone wants to do things the way they used to in their original family. Combine the best of both worlds and make new memories and traditions.
5. Manage Holiday Budgets - Discuss how much you will spend for the holidays especially related to gift buying. Avoid competition with the other parent. Ever thought about agreeing on a gift and splitting the costs?
6. Holiday Meals - Involve everyone in the meal planning and always consider dietary restrictions. The husband and wife should sit in the King/Queen position at the table. Seat younger children closest to their biological parent if possible.
7. Consider Extended Family - Children in stepfamilies may have up to four sets of grandparents. Do not overextend your family time trying to visit everyone in one day.
8. Manage Guest Lists - Discuss guest lists with everyone to avoid surprises such as children inviting your ex to a holiday dinner. Be ready to explain your choices.
9. Learn from Mistakes - It won't take long to figure out what went well and what didn't go so well. Make adjustments accordingly and get a head start on next year.
10. Remember the Reason for the Season - Never forget holidays are about family, fellowship and food. Put aside your differences and have a happy holiday!!!
Janice R Love, Author
First Lady, Mom, Stepmom and Divorce Ministry Coach