How to Create the Holidays You Want For Your Family


Let’s be really honest about the holiday season for a minute.

Yes, they’re magical.

Yes, they’re fun.

Yes, they’re beautiful.

Yes, they’re full of friends, and family, and traditions we love.


They’re also BUSY. They’re also STRESSFUL. They’re also EXPENSIVE.

And, they also can cause some conflict in our relationships.

  • Whether it’s conflict with our partners because we just have very different ideas of what the holidays should mean or how they should be spent...

  • Or whether it’s conflict with our in-laws who expect us to do extra traveling, or our boss who wants us to bring our partner to the company holiday party, or our friends who are hosting a no-kids-allowed dinner on a weeknight....

It’s a lot of wants and needs to manage.

So, today, I want to talk to you about how to create the holiday traditions you REALLY want.  


That includes compromises that feel good to both you and your partner and clear boundary-setting that communicate what you won’t do, but also what you can do.

It all starts with a heart-to-heart with your partner, where you ask each other some key questions.

Check out the video and transcript below to learn about how to have that conversation with your partner, what to ask, and how to set clear expectations for everyone else.



This video previously aired as a Facebook Live.  You can follow Happy With Baby on Facebook to catch all their live videos here.




Hey there. Can you guys believe that Thanksgiving is already next week?

I've been kind of prepping for--my kids have the whole week off from school and I'm hosting Thanksgiving, which if anyone knows me or has seen any of my other posts knows that cooking is not my thing, so I try to make things as simple as possible and, yeah, I'm probably ready to go for that.

So I'm Catherine at Happy With Baby, if you don't know me. And so today, I know that this time of year can definitely put an extra burden on us, especially as parents if we have little ones and even older ones. And it can be a happy burden because definitely our kids can get excited about all the holidays and especially if they're in school and being off from school and parents are around more and that kind of thing. Because it's just a really special time for them, right.

But still, it's a lot more to orchestrate as parents. There's a lot of like moving parts and things that need to happen and many of us are sometimes even juggling like four sets of parents and four parents have divorced and remarried and feeling kind of that pressure to go to all the different events and activities and things that are going on. And sometimes we just feel like we want the holidays to be like they were when we were kids.

Or maybe we don't. Maybe that's totally--we want to make sure it's absolutely different. So we really want to do something different, but the expectation of how things are supposed to be or what we want them to be kind of can set us up for some letdown. And rather than enjoying the moment of the holidays and having that time together, it's just trying to do all the things and it's bound to create some tension somewhere. And can lead to exhaustion and frustration and overwhelm.

So today, I'm talking about how can we make this easier, guys. How can we make it more enjoyable, so we're not dreading the holidays? And I think the most important--one of the most important things to do is to talk to your partner, if you have one. Or even ask these questions to yourself, like what it is you want for your family?

And so the questions that you guys should think about are:

  • What did you like or not like about the holidays when you were a kid?

  • What did you like or not like about the holidays now that you're an adult?

  • What what do you personally want to get out of the holidays? What's the most important pieces for you? What do you want to feel or what do you want to experience?

  • And then what values do you want to have around the holidays?

  • And what do you want your kids to feel or learn or remember?

So I think these are all really important questions to ask yourself.

So what values, so your values, it might be something like the importance of family or traditions, giving back to others, kind of feeling that wonder or the magic of the holidays, you might have religious connections to the holidays that you want to honor, or if you're not religious, you might want to value learning about the various other winter religious holidays as a way of teaching tolerance and acceptance and respect to your kids. And understanding, like that's a important thing to teach our children.

And these key questions help us begin to understand why certain events and traditions are important to us and our partners.

So if your partner is insistent about something, like sometimes we have something in our head that we have to do or we want to do and maybe you're just like, I don't want to do that. I don't want to go that particular relative's house. I don't want to go to that Christmas party. Or whatever it is, right. And you're like, don't want to do it. I think it's really important to start uncovering the why behind these strong beliefs. Like why is this really important to them? Or why is this really not important to you? And to help us really understand each other.

So often, the uncovering the why behind our preferences, we can help find some commonalities, some understanding for each other. And it's our--if it's not a value that you both share, maybe you find some appreciation of why it's important for them, which can definitely help with with compromise. And from this place,  you're going to be able to talk about that compromise more, right. This might also include acknowledging any losses or changes that make our current traditions, our needs, any situations different from other nostalgic memories.

John Gottman says, like "You have to be able to understand something before you can try and solve it." I think that's like important to remember.

So from here, you can start brainstorming different ways to find a compromise that works for you guys. So maybe you just think, OK, like I know this is important to my partner, so every other year we'll go to this Christmas party or we'll do this event. Or, you know, we'll alternate which family we go and see for different events.

Or maybe you can do things on a different day, I know some people get really caught up on, oh it's Christmas Day. We have to do this. It's, you know, Christmas Eve or on Thanksgiving Day, but why can't you celebrate with your family on a different day and make it a different thing? Like I know people that have like, they can't all get together during the holidays because of school schedules and the weather and stuff like that, so every summer or every other summer, they have this big, you know, family event kind of reunion type thing. And it's like great and exciting and fun and they enjoy. And it's not the stress or the pressure around the holidays.

Or like if you're co-parenting with an ex, you know, does it make sense for you guys to do separate holidays all together? Or maybe there's times where you can kind of combine celebrations. I mean this is definitely going to depend on you relationship with your ex, but it's also like considering what is the impact on your child, your children?

So compromising is definitely gonna be half the battle. The other half is communicating your plans with your family--your other family members beyond like your partner, your immediate little family, who might have their own set of expectations, their own wants and desires and things that they have for the holidays.

So I think it's important that no matter what is decided between you and your partner, that you have each other's back, right. You guys know what your plans are and that you're gonna communicate with them. You don't want to be like, yeah, I would love to come, but my partner didn't want to come, and so  we're not gonna come out for the holidays this year.

I think it's really important to say like, "Hey we're gonna miss being there, but this is how we decided to do it. This makes best the most sense for us this year, right. So as partners we've done this, we're doing this together." Not "Yeah, I wanted to come but she didn't want to come this year, so we're not coming."  You know. You don't want to throw that your partner under the bus. Not a good way to do things. (And don't you like my voice for my cranky partner?)

Anyways and then the other thing to do is to set clear boundaries for others. Because again you're not gonna be able to control their expectations or their reactions or their feelings about it, but what you can control is setting your clear boundaries.

So if you're--if traveling with little ones just doesn't make sense or doesn't work for you, say something like, you know, traveling with the baby just doesn't work for us right now, but we'd love to have you over for dinner sometime or we'd love to come out later in the year if it's further travel. And just let people know what you will not do, but also what you can do.

Like let them know, like yeah this doesn't work, but we'd love to try doing something else. Because I think this is--sometimes our family wants to know like we're not avoiding them. We're just--this isn't an easy time, you know. We have a little one. We don't want to take them out. Illnesses, all those things. Weather components.

Lastly I think another important thing to do throughout the the entire season is to just be grateful for what is going well.


What can you do with what you have? Focus on your strengths in the situation. What you--and not focusing on like the negative things. I think we can kind of get bogged down in like the stress and all of that, but if we can really start to just focus on what is going well, it definitely can make a huge impact and a huge shift.

And if you aren't already following on my daily gratitude challenge on Instagram and Facebook, definitely love for you to join me there as each day I try to share at least one thing that I'm grateful for. And I've noticed for myself just what a huge difference that's made and it's definitely gotten easier and I'm just even able to like notice throughout the days and then it's like, oh gosh, what's the one thing I want to share today because like all these other things happen. Like I'm able to--it seems to come a lot easier. So would love for you to join me on that. It's definitely not too late ever.

So I think the thing to remember too is like we can get bogged down with all the things that we have to do and like last week I talked about how it's like slowing down and just being--so we can be able to just notice all the good things that are happening and not focus on all of the the details and the minutiae and all the things coming at us. But it's like, OK, like what--I don't have to do all the things. Like what are the things that are most important? So go back and ask those questions with you and your partner because I think it's it's important it can help us really decide what is going to be important for our family.

And if you guys are around on Thanksgiving Day and in between eating pie, I hope you join me on Thanksgiving because I'm gonna be sharing kind of some boundary setting and you know how also when you bring the baby home and stuff like that too - so I'll be sharing some more things.

So if you want to join me, I'll be here live hopefully at 11:30 I'm thinking. We'll see. It's my plan. So I hope you'll join me.

I hope you guys have a wonderful holiday season and I'll see you guys next week. OK. Take care.


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