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Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanza, New Year, the most wonderful time of the year well except when it comes to dinner! The classic holiday dinner dilemma can present certain challenges for couples, especially those who are in new relationships.  Sometimes both sets of families can become very emotionally attached to spending holidays together. And so, the question becomes “whose house do we go over for holiday dinner?” Of course, the most obvious answer is to take turns having dinner at each families house, but it is not always that cut and dry. Now add to that the pressure from family and friends and all hell can break loose. Whether you’ve been together for two months or ten years, the stress of the holiday season can take a toll on your relationship. Here are some holiday tips to handle this classic dilemma that will not only help you survive the dinner with your partner but also make sure that you maintain your sanity throughout the holidays!

Host dinner at your house. Hosting can mean a completely different kind of stress. Of course it can be a lot of work however hosting dinner and inviting everyone over to your house certainly removes the dilemma of where to go for dinner. It also brings both families together giving them an opportunity to get to bond and know each other. The downside to hosting dinner at your house is cleaning up after everyone is gone. However enlisting the assistance of family members can make this task a little easier and give you more time to spend together enjoying one another.  

Create a new holiday traditions. Expectations are elevated during the holidays because of family traditions and assumptions about how the holidays are supposed. These expectations can often cause chaos, hurt feelings and stress. However the holidays don’t have to be as stressful as we make them. The holidays are about family, being thankful and enjoying one another in love and fun! This time also offers the perfect opportunity to create new holiday traditions. Your new tradition may be to take a family vacation during the holidays, feed the homeless as a family, have a family potluck in the park, etc. New holiday traditions can be a beautiful hodgepodge mix of old traditions and new innovative ideals. With a little creativity, your holiday traditions will be joyful and meaningful.

Go out to dinner.  A restaurant is a great choice for having holiday day dinner especially when you consider that the cost of going out is equal to the cost of the grocery bill. This option lets you be fully present at the family festivities. Other added benefits to going out to dinner for the holiday is that everyone can get all dressed up, there is no stress of cooking or having to eat your aunts nasty fruit cake, there are more menu options and best of all no one has to clean up! All the time to can be spent on family fun! The whole point of the holiday is celebrating traditions and spending quality time with family and friends. However, the downside is that a restaurant can be a little impersonal for a family holiday celebration and no leftovers.

Alternate families. One year it’s at his families, one year it’s at hers. The downside is… how do you decide whose family to have dinner with first. While this may be the obvious and easiest decision, it can also be the most challenging. Fairness is a great principle to work from to resolving this dilemma. Try to come up with a decision that involves spending equitable time with both families. For example, you may spend Thanksgiving dinner with one family and Christmas with the other. Another option may be to go to one family’s house first on one holiday and second on the other holiday. This option can get tricky because you may feel pressed for time. In addition, this option may be a little more challenging if one side of the family lives out of town, in which case you may consider spending the one holiday in town with one family and the other holiday with the family out of town.

Get Creative. Be willing to “think outside of the box” as you try to make a fair and equitable decision about holiday dinner.  After all, there are no rules or guideline that you must follow when making this decision.  Just don’t get caught up believing that there are only two options – one family or the other –  to choose from. Instead, challenge yourselves to plan a fabulous way to spend the holiday that works and feels good to the both of you.

Go on vacation. If the pressure to decide where to go for holiday dinner is too much, change up the whole equation. Instead ditch the family and go on a vacation that way you don’t get catch up in the chaos! Send postcards to your family for the holidays or even pick them up a souvenir or two to share with them up your return. While a white Christmas can certainly be beautiful and nostalgic and little warm weather doesn’t hurt either.

Just Stay Home. Refuse to get stressed out by all the holiday hustle and bustle. Stay home and create your own holiday dinner together as a couple. It’s a great way to begin building your own memories and traditions for current your family or future family. Don’t worry about missing out on your family’s holiday activities. You can still be included with all the technology and smart phones by using Skype or Facetime to chat with your loved ones. Staying at home can not only reduce the stress but it is also a great cost effective option if one or both of the families live out of town.

Don’t let the decision of where to have the holiday dinner become a fight! Talk about your expectations for the holidays with your Beloved by expressing what is really important to you, consider all the options and make a decision together that you both can live with. Keep in mind, that the decision will require compromise on both parts. Finally at the end of the day, the important thing is to find a way to make your holidays together as meaningful as possible, with or without holiday dinner!