How to Celebrate the Holidays with your Blended Family

The holiday season is always a time of high anxiety. From the decorations to the dinners, there is a lot of commotion going on. When you add a recent divorce or marriage to the holiday table, the stress level can increase for all concerned. Here are some etiquette tips to remain calm and enjoy the holiday season with your blended family.

Communication, Communication, Communication
Discuss and communicate plans with relatives and all involved to ensure that everyone understands the arrangements and is in agreement on the family holiday schedule. Dinner menus, travel plans and timing of events should be discussed prior to the holidays.

Create New Traditions
Everyone’s family has a specific way they celebrate the holidays. In light of a divorce or addition of new family members, traditions may have to be altered. This is an opportunity to start new traditions. Discuss family customs with new members of the clan and figure out how to include something for everyone. If there are specific meals or traditions that a paternal member cooks or follows, ask them for a how-to so that the tradition can still be enjoyed despite the member’s absence.

Keep a Good Sense of Humor
There might be changes in the way the season is celebrated, but don’t forget the true reason for the holidays. Don’t let negative attitudes toward exes or specific family members get in the way of the family celebration. Let the little things slide. You will probably have to make sacrifices like the day dinner is served or whose home everyone gathers for gifts and that is OK. Focus on the togetherness of family and holiday cheer.

Gift Giving and Talking with Children
Never make a child feel torn between two families. Sit and discuss with your children how the family will celebrate the holidays. Take into consideration the children’s wants and needs and discuss them with all of your relatives.

Some relatives tend to shower children who had to undergo the blended family transition with gifts. Make sure you shower all of the children with love and attention despite the gifts they do and do not receive. If a relative’s gift giving strucks a nerve with you, discuss it with them after the holiday is over.

Make sure to include stepchildren and relatives in gift giving. Relatives should know the sizes and gift preferences of the new family members. Teach your children not to gloat in front of stepbrothers and stepsisters; just because their gift might be grander, it doesn’t matter. If your gift exchange occurs during a gathering, make sure everyone receives “something,” especially the children. A gracious host will always have a few extra gifts on hand to ensure all of the guests feel welcome and are acknowledged.  A gift does more than give someone a material item, it shows that he or she is thought of and loved.

Just because your family’s core has changed, doesn’t mean that the holidays are going to be an extra burden. Although changes will have to be made to the way the family holiday is celebrated, the celebration will still commence. Embrace the holiday season and all that comes along with it.

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Tina Hayes is the founder and owner of The School of Etiquette and Decorum in Antioch, CA. As a passionate instructor dedicated to providing quality and professional etiquette training to her clients, Mrs. Tina Hayes promotes the awareness that social presentation and behaviors are important to be successful in today's society for all ages.