Thanksgiving is one of those great holidays that is less about commercialism and more about togetherness (and food, of course). Unfortunately, all that togetherness can be a little stressful for couples — especially if it includes a hectic travel schedule and/or time with one or both sets of families. So, here are eight tips for surviving the holiday as a couple.
Plus: 8 Tips for Moving In Together
If you’re hosting Thanksgiving, make sure to share the work load.
Whether you’re hosting your friends or your families or a combination of both, the key to survival is to help each other with all the tasks at hand. That may mean splitting the duties (one of you cleans while the other one cooks), or working together to get everything on the to-do list done. This is a wonderful opportunity to support one another and work toward a common goal together. Plus, entertaining can be fun — especially if you do it with someone you love, so enjoy the day and don’t get too caught up in the idea of being “perfect.”
If you’re traveling, make a joint playlist for the road.
Holiday travel is stressful enough and if there’s family on the other end of your trip, you’re likely feeling even more pressure than usual. So keep things a little lighter by spending an hour or so before your travel day making a joint playlist you can listen together en route. Choose songs you both love or have special meaning to you as a couple to help you reconnect during your weekend away (or help you think of each other if you have to spend the holiday apart).
Make time for just the two of you.
If you’re hosting friends or family or going away for the whole weekend, it’s imperative that you squeeze in some solo time with your partner. If you’re lucky enough to share a room, retire to bed a little earlier than normal or stay in bed just a little later to relish a few extra moments of alone time. Try to get out for a walk around the neighborhood, or pull your boyfriend away from the rest of the family and show him a childhood photo album. The point is to reconnect at some point during each day so you can check in with one another and you won’t feel like strangers when the weekend’s over and it’s just the two of you again.
If you’re meeting new family, debrief each other on names, relationships, and topics to avoid.
Thanksgiving is a time for a lot of new couples to meet each other’s extended families for the first time. If you have a crazy Uncle Phil who’s sometimes medicated and sometimes not, warn your girlfriend about him before you throw her into the fray. Likewise, if cousin Sue just got canned or Aunt Irene’s cheatin’ husband just dumped her or twins Larry and Carrie can’t stand each other anymore, let your boyfriend know about these dynamics so he’s not caught off-guard or with his foot in his mouth.
Start a holiday tradition you both enjoy.
It can be anything — asking your guests to bring a favorite family dish, playing charades after dinner, watching the National Dog Show, volunteering at a soup kitchen — but incorporating at least one activity you both really enjoy and declaring it a new tradition will help you feel connected and give you something to look forward to as a couple each year.
Get your heart rates up.
Thanksgiving is all about food and you’re going to be stuffing your faces with a lot of it, so make sure you engage in some physical activity to burn off some of those calories — and stress! — and help keep each other from sliding off the exercise wagon during the holiday weekend. I can think of one physical activity that may be a little more fun than hitting the gym.
Compromise, compromise, compromise.
Whether you have invites to more than one Thanksgiving get-together, you live close enough to see both sets of families, or you have to choose which family or set of friends to spend time with this year, the key to avoiding a fight and hurt feelings is to compromise. If you can only see one set of family, decide to see the other set (or sets, if you’re children of divorced families) for Christmas or New Year’s or Thanksgiving next year. If everyone lives close enough that you can see more than one set of family (or friends) this holiday, have lunch at one place and dinner at another, or the entreé at one home and dessert at the other. People understand — or they should, anyway — if you have double the social obligations and can’t spend the entire day and evening at one place.
Thank each other.
This is Thanksgiving, after all, so don’t forget to show your appreciation for your one and only. Whether you’re grateful he’s coming home with you to meet your family or you’re thankful she’s putting up with all the football on TV, tell your significant other often how much you appreciate him or her this Thanksgiving. It’s one of those things people really can’t hear enough. Especially when they’re stuck between feuding Larry and Carrie at the dinner table…
– Wendy Atterberry
This post originally appeared on The Frisky.