By guest blogger Natasha Burton
If you’re newly married like I am, this holiday season is extra special: It’s the first one you’ll be spending with your significant other as husband and wife.
Sure, it may not feel different if you’ve been together many years and have spent a number of holidays with each of your families, but this year marks the first time you’ll start making decisions as your own new little family. For some, what you decide to do this season could set the tone for how you’ll enjoy the holidays for many more to come.
Here are some tips to get you started on creating some new traditions—and incorporating a few of your old ones— with your new spouse.
1. Talk about your musts.
You each likely have some strong opinions about what constitutes the holidays for you. Perhaps your spouse enjoys doing absolutely nothing on Christmas Day, while you can’t imagine not baking cookies, going sledding, and making a full-scale meal. Maybe you have to have ham, while he can’t live without turkey. These may seem like small things, but it’s important to talk about what your ideal holiday looks like for you to see if you both are on a similar page (or opposite ones!), especially if you typically spent the holidays with your respective parents pre-marriage.
2. Borrow from your families.
Pick the best and most beloved holiday traditions to incorporate into your new life together. Maybe his mom has a special latke recipe he loves. Maybe your family always watches Elf on Christmas Eve. Give these childhood rituals new life in your marriage.
Also, you’ll want to ditch the rituals that never worked for you. Does the idea of having to put up—and decorate—a Christmas tree give you anxiety? Nix it. Prefer to give one big present rather than do eight whole nights of small Hanukkah gifts? Go for it. Now is your chance to switch things up, if you so choose.
3. Try something new.
Use this holiday season as an opportunity to test-drive certain activities that could become traditions. Maybe go ice-skating on Christmas Eve, or go on a mini vacation for New Year’s. You’ll find what feels festive to you by trying it first.
4. Allow yourself to spend the holidays alone.
If you ever have an excuse to spend the holidays without having to schlep to your families’ houses, it’s this year: You’re newlyweds, after all! Take this year to opt out of driving and flying home, if you’d like, to enjoy the holidays as a family of two. This will give you a chance to actually try out some new traditions and will show you what you really miss about your families’ celebrations. You may think you can’t live without your Aunt Mary’s sugar cookies or the rambunctious family gift-exchange, but discover that you actually prefer making homemade gingerbread houses and quietly opening stockings with your husband instead.
5. Stay flexible.
Just because you do something one year, that doesn’t mean you’ve set a tradition in stone. Maybe it’s not possible for you to spend the holidays just you two this time around. Maybe you even have to split up over the holidays to see your parents and extended family. That’s okay. However, and whenever, you celebrate will be right for you as long as you’re staying true to what you think is best for you and your marriage. New traditions take time to take shape so be patient and focus on enjoying the moment, not having every last piece of tinsel in place right away.
Natasha Burton is a relationship author, freelance writer and wedding planner.