We are feeling particularly festive today after a magical evening at the V7 Launch Party (THANK YOU to all those who came to celebrate with us!), so we can’t think of a better day to kick off our first annual Southern Newlywed holiday series! Over the next few weeks, we’ll be sharing special traditions, festive decor, tasty treats, and more from some of our favorite newlyweds. Since we, along with many of y’all, are working on coordinating our plans for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve, we thought we’d ask some friends to share what they’ll be doing this year. Whether your families live across the street or across the country, holiday planning can take some creativity and grace, and there’s no one right solution for every couple. If you’re a newlywed navigating this situation for the first time, we hope these ideas will get your wheels turning for a plan your whole family will be happy with!
What are your holiday plans this year?
Jacin: This year, we are driving up to New Jersey to spend Thanksgiving with Pat’s family. His aunt makes the yummiest Thanksgiving dinner, and we love being close enough to enjoy this holiday with them after living so far away for so long! For Christmas, my family is flying down to stay with us for a week, and I cannot wait!!
Caitlin: This year, we are excited to stay at home and celebrate with my family, who lives near us. We also hope to host a holiday party or two!
Megan: For the first time since getting married almost five years ago, we will be spending Christmas at home. I have never taken decorating too seriously because we have never been present for the holidays, but this year, I plan to spend time preparing.
Juliet: We are looking forward to going back to my home state of North Carolina this year for Christmas. It will be our first married Christmas in North Carolina, so we are both so excited to spend some time with my side of the family.
Alex: We are still figuring out our Christmas plans for this year–there are so many logistics to figure out when you are dealing with several families spread out over a few different states! We feel blessed that both of our families are very understanding and super flexible! We are doing a combined Thanksgiving meal at my parents’ house for the second year in a row–it’s so much fun having everyone under one roof.
How do you and your husband coordinate where/how to spend the holidays? What have you tried in the past? What are you doing this year?
Jacin: Until we were married, we still did separate holidays! Since we lived so far away from our families for so long, we typically would do Thanksgiving with his family and Christmas with mine–both of our families are content with this arrangement, and we are too. It takes a bit of planning each year to decide where we’re going to be, but it works out well!
Caitlin: This is always a tricky situation! We typically do Thanksgiving with my husband’s family and Christmas with my family, and then celebrate Christmas with his a week before the actual holiday. It’s a lot of travel, but it works for us and we love every second we get to spend with family.
Megan: Mike and I’s families live on opposites sides of the country; his is in Texas and mine is in Michigan. Since getting engaged, we worked it out with our families that we would trade off holidays equally unless, for some reason, there was a major reason we needed to change it. This way, we were not traveling right in the middle of it all and complicating the whole thing. It has worked well, and this year, we even offered to spend Christmas with both of our families in Raleigh, but it didn’t work out–one day, it will happen! This year, we are glad to be spending Thanksgiving at our new home with my family and Christmas with his family.
Juliet: Since both of our families live in different states from us and each other, it makes it very hard to see both families for one holiday. We visited David’s family in Michigan last year, so this year, we are spending the holidays with my family in North Carolina. We try our best to alternate Thanksgiving and Christmas each year with both sets of families. As of now, this works for us. :)
Have you and your husband started any new holiday traditions together?
Jacin: Yes! We both love the holidays so much. We have two favorite traditions. The first is an ornament exchange “game” we play during our Friendsgiving dinner (a big supper party we host two weeks before Thanksgiving with our local friends–this will be our seventh year, and we even have friends flying in from California to enjoy the festivities!). Everyone brings a wrapped ornament and we set a timer for a certain amount of time and take turns rolling dice. Every time someone rolls a 7, 11, or doubles, they get to take an ornament from anyone at the table. The game continues until time runs out, and it’s really fun to see everyone vying for the favorite ornament! Our other tradition involves one of our favorite things: champagne! During the tree trimming every year, we pop open a nice bottle of bubbles and put Charlie Brown Christmas on in the background. We save the muselet (cage), write the year underneath, and hang it on the tree! It’s always fun to find the cages in the ornament boxes to remind us of all our past tree trimmings (and bottles of champagne!).
Caitlin: We are eager to start new traditions this year, as it is our first Christmas as husband and wife! We got engaged last December right after we got our Christmas tree, so this will always be a very special time for us! We are hoping to cut down our tree this year and go out for lunch at our favorite Irish pub afterwards.
Megan: Getting married meant we were open to accepting the traditions both of our families have. I remember the first year I spent Christmas with his family in Texas–as a northern Michigan girl who never knew Christmas could happen without snow, it was a little difficult. Since then, I have come to enjoy that instead of making warm cinnamon rolls and hot chocolate, we instead mix up fresh guacamole and margaritas. It is different, but for both of us, we know those are things that formed us into who we are and who we each fell in love with. I figure when we begin a family, we will begin to form more of our own traditions, but for now, our holidays are about experiencing each other’s traditions from growing up.
Juliet: We both have our own family traditions that we would love to continue in our marriage. Aside from those, every Christmas, we find one special memento or ornament to represent that year’s Christmas. Last year, it was a snow globe with the year carved on the bottom. It is something we will treasure for years to come, since it was the year we were married.
Alex: We started collecting colorful glass food ornaments for our tree. Trevor is a chef, and we both love to garden (and eat!), so it’s fun to have some of our favorite things on the tree. We even have a hamburger ornament!
What do you eat for Christmas breakfast?
Jacin: My mom makes chocolate chip waffles and omelets or biscuits and gravy!
Caitlin: Oh boy! Usually a ton of coffee and some sort of breakfast casserole my parents have made. We usually spend the night at their house, even though we live 20 minutes away. There’s nothing like waking up with your family on Christmas morning!
Megan: Both of our families serve a big, warm breakfast. Mike’s family makes breakfast casserole and cinnamon rolls, and my dad always makes french toast or pancakes with bacon. Oh, and of course, plenty of great coffee!
Juliet: We love to have an assortment of food to choose from–donuts, bagels, miniature egg frittatas…the list goes on and on. We have no limits when it comes to Christmas morning breakfast!
Alex: On Christmas morning, we usually eat a breakfast casserole. Christmas pajamas are a must!
Real or fake Christmas tree?
Jacin: Real! But we might snag an artificial tree to put in the front hallway this year–the first time we walked through our house, I was already plotting where to put the tree(s)! :)
Caitlin: Always real! I deal with cleaning up pine needles and wrestling with the stand for that wonderful scent!
Megan: I grew up with both. Mike always had a fake one, but I have such fond memories of living in Michigan, bundling up, going to the tree farm, and picking out our tree. My dad would even pull us in a wooden sled. Sure, real trees are a total mess, but the process of getting a tree feels so special. Now, living in North Carolina, I am trying to find a place to go and purchase our first tree in our new home so we can have this experience, and share it with our kids one day as well.
Juliet: It’s got to be real! We love hunting for the perfect tree together!
Alex: We definitely have a real tree! I put real greenery anywhere I can around the holidays!
We’d love to hear, what are your holiday plans? Any advice for newlyweds?