If you come from a broken home or a very large, close family, you probably have had a few holidays of bouncing around from place to place… If you are new to the multi-house holiday you are in luck!
I am a pro!
Let me first explain why I am so good at these things, then I will let you in on some of my tips on how to make this jammed packed day run more smoothly for you and everyone else you are dragging along with you.
Some of you may already know that when I was 2.5 my parents divorced, and quite frankly ugly hardly explains it sometimes. I am pretty sure both of my parents know what the word compromise means. However, just because we know the meaning of a word does not mean we must put it into practice. Now if it was only the two households perhaps this wouldn’t be such an issue.
As if only in an effort to make things more complicated for everyone, my dad married into a very large, very family-centered Italian family. On holidays like Christmas we could have to visit 3 different places just for my step mother’s side.
I also forgot to mention that my father’s mom is was also divorced… twice. At some point in my childhood I had my dad’s dad’s house I needed to go to. And for some reason my mom rekindled a relationship with my dad’s stepdad for a short period of time. Is your brain ready to explode yet?
That means as some point in my life for major holidays I was dragged around to:
- Mom’s house
- Nana and Poppy’s – Mom’s parents’ house
- Grampy Time – Dad’s stepdad outing – thankfully I think this was only once
- Dad’s house
- Grammy B’s – Dad’s mom’s house
- Pop’s – Dad’s dad’s house
- Sandy and Joe’s – Stepmom’s parents’ house
- Stepmom’s grandparents’ house
- Whichever other of stepmom’s relative was hosting that year’s house
For Christmas every year, my sisters and I saw 9 houses for the Holidays!! That is just sheer insanity. Not to mention if you added in good friends of the family and such — I am exhausted just writing about it!
Thankfully, Thanksgiving was a little calmer, but it is also only ONE day instead of being able to spread it out over at least 2 if not more. Regardless there was always at least 3 houses I was dragged to, and eventually found my way to during Thanksgiving.
So how do you make the multi-house holiday work?
First, I want you to be sure that you know, there is definitely some planning that goes into this.
Start with Information Gathering
- Find out what time everyone is serving dinner, who will be there when, etc.
- A lot of time there are other friends and relatives coming in and you want to make sure you time it with the people you want to see, or just “happen” to miss those you careless to see…
- Figure out if you are required to bring something to any or all of the places
- Know who is the most forgiving and understanding of your situation
- Determine when is an acceptable time to start the day (potentially showing up early somewhere) and what time you want to be home
- Map out your destinations and driving time between each
Share your plan
- Make sure every place you are going is aware there are other places you need to be also. Be sure to let them know how thankful you are that you get to spend some time with them and that they are a part of your life.
- Give a loose idea of when you will be at each place.
- Let the kids know your plan ahead of time. If there are other kids when you show up try to share that Tommy can play till such and such time. It is best to set the expectations up front.
- DON’T use the big plate! If you have multiple places to go it is far too easy to fill up at the first house and then make everyone else made because you didn’t eat. Smaller plate means less room for all the food.
- Pass on the rolls and chips and dip! Seriously, it makes a big difference!
- Consider letting the later place know you will just be having dessert so they are not waiting on dinner for you and so you don’t feel obligated to eat more food.
- Ensure the desserts for the kids are either packed to go at the first couple houses or at least minimized. I was a eater so I always ate real food at almost every house, my sisters on the other hand when right for the junk food. Know your kids habits and have a plan in place before hand.
- Bring your own tupperware. If you can’t fit in Aunt Sherry’s stuffing, there should be no need to miss out on it completely. Usually, there is more than enough to go around and they are happy that you like something enough to want to take it home.
It can be fun!
Multi-house holiday dinners can be fun and productive if you do them right. With a little planning, self control, and positivity you can make the most out of any hectic holiday hopping adventure.
Please keep in mind these are not full-proof. You may hurt someone’s feelings who is used to having you all to themselves for the full day. A kid could get super cranky from being dragged across the state and back again. Regardless, they should be able to get you started on a better trajectory for a happy Thanksgiving.
We would love to hear about your multi-house holiday stories! Feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.