how to split christmas between divorced parents

How to Split Christmas between Divorced Parents

The holiday season can be one of the most challenging times for children of divorced parents. The stress and anxiety can be overwhelming, especially when it comes to deciding who they will spend Christmas with. But with a little bit of planning, communication, and cooperation, navigating a split Christmas can become a manageable task. Here are some tips on how to make it work:

Establishing the Holiday Plan

The first thing to do is to discuss and settle on a plan for holiday time sharing. This process involves effective communication and negotiation between both parents. Both parties should communicate their preferences and concerns, including transportation plans and family traditions. It’s essential to keep the needs of the children in mind throughout this process.

Here are some tips that can help in establishing the holiday plan:

  • Communicate early:
    Discussing the holiday plan as early as possible helps everyone involved to prepare for what is to come.
  • Think about distance and finances:
    If one parent lives far from the other, think about transportation costs and arrangements that can make it easier for both parties to travel frequently.
  • Understand family traditions: Take time to understand which traditions are important for each household. Cooperation in honoring these traditions can help each parent feel appreciated.

It’s important not to let personal differences get in the way during this phase. Putting aside differences may require the involvement of a third-party mediator.

Making Decisions about Celebrations

Once an agreement has been reached, both parents should make specific decisions about where and how Christmas will be celebrated. This process involves considering factors such as scheduling availability for extended family members, holiday safety guidelines, and cultural or religious considerations.

Here are some tips on making decisions about celebrations:

  • Address Safety Concerns: With the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s essential to plan for safety during this year’s Christmas celebration. Understand and follow recommended safety guidelines when planning activities.
  • Consider Children’s Preference: At the heart of any holiday celebration is the children. Involve them in planning so that they are aware of what to expect and can feel their opinions are valued.
  • Create New Memories While Honoring Old Ones: Honor family traditions while making room for new traditions. Families should consider how new practices could be incorporated into existing traditions.

Arranging Transportation

Coordinating travel plans comes with unique challenges, but it’s possible to do so effectively by being mindful of different transportation modes available and the costs involved. Successful planning for transportation depends on factors such as each parent’s resources, distance involved, and children’s schedules.

The following tips can make transportation arrangements easier:

  • Careful consideration of finances: Transportation costs should be discussed before deciding who will bear each expense. No individual parent should feel financially burdened during or after the holiday season.
  • Involving children when planning transportation: By involving children in the process of planning transportation, you create a sense of agency. This involvement shows that each child’s preferences matter and reduces stress levels that may come with traveling between parents’ homes.
  • Using Technology: Utilize current tools that allow parents to monitor travel schedules, delays, real-time location tracking, and video conferencing.

The “Mid-Holiday” Swap

Another consideration when it comes to sharing time with children is the “mid-holiday” swap, where children will have the opportunity to spend time with both parents. This approach involves splitting the Christmas holiday so that each parent has shared time with the children in smaller blocks.

Some activities that can foster mutual support between the two households include:

  • Joint celebrations: Parents coming together as one big family unit and involving everyone in planning and participation can lead to a shared experience for everyone.
  • Mutually rewarding events: Other collaborative activities, such as hiking or snowboarding, can strongly reinforce love and togetherness among family members when done positively.

Honoring Old Traditions While Building New Ones

Transitioning to a different holiday structure after separation or divorce can be challenging. One way of addressing this difficulty is by creating space for honoring existing traditions while looking forward to building new practices. Encourage recognizing and loving what remains when it comes to family life after divorce.

Here are some tips for accomplishing this:

  • Creating new opportunities: Trying new activities during the winter holidays helps parents move away from old memories-linked events, resulting in a renewed sense of celebration.
  • Incorporating traditions without changes: Consider replicating familiar traditions at home so that they continue uninterrupted. Blending variations and adding an action plan for how the celebration may involve healthy memories of past holidays.

Talking about changes with Children and Relatives

There’s no way around sitting down with our children to discuss why things are changing. Still, delivering that message may not be an easy task, especially in cases where there is an older child who may feel misunderstood through parenting in separated environments. Extended family members should also be informed about the planned changes before they occur.

Here are some tips for managing such conversations:

  • Plan for age-appropriate discussions: What one tells teens may be different from what one tells a ten-year-old. Spend time assessing your child’s emotional reactions and respond accordingly.
  • Using positive language: Start the conversation by reaffirming love and security rather than dwelling on separation or divorce as the primary message.

Managing Alone Time and Self-Care

Splitting Christmas between divorced parents can subject children to a lot of stress and emotional confusion. For parents, it’s essential to create personal routines that offer comfort or joy amid stress throughout the holiday season.

Here are ways to use solo time productively:

  • Picking up a Relaxing Hobby: An enjoyable hobby can go a long way toward reducing stress levels, particularly during any alone-time periods.
  • Scheduling Regular Alone Time: Allocating dedicated alone time that should not include other family members can help reduce the anxiety level around the holidays for parents or children.
  • Mental Health Support: If possible, consider talking to support groups or professionals who can offer coping mechanisms around separation stress stressors.

Balancing Holiday Spending Between Households

Holiday expenses can spiral out of control if both parents aren’t careful when buying gifts for their children. Parents should consider splitting costs without involving any competition between each other.

Below are some tips for money management during the holiday season:

  • Joint Investment: Consider pooling resources for big-ticket items such as equipment that may require considerable investment.
  • Shop with a Budget in Mind: Consider making use of Black Friday or Cyber Monday deals when looking for savings on holiday gifts. Shopping at goodwill or consignment shops may help parents save up money while still getting their children holiday gift requests.
  • Find Creative ways to spread the love:If it’s not easy to budget and buy more expensive items, consider creating smaller homemade gifts that convey meaning and remind children they are loved.


Splitting Christmas between divorced parents can be challenging, but with communication, planning and cooperation, an agreement can be reached that prioritizes the needs of children. Strategies and tips ranging from transportation to money management can make it work. Create cooperative environments that foster mutual support between both households while still honoring old traditions. Remember always to put the mental health of you and your children first by prioritizing fun, relaxation, and self-care during the holiday season.

Frequently Asked Questions About Splitting Christmas Between Divorced Parents

What are some ways to split Christmas between divorced parents?

There are several ways to split Christmas, depending on the needs and preferences of each family. Here are some popular options:

  • Alternate years: One parent has the child on Christmas Eve and Christmas morning one year, while the other parent has them for the afternoon and evening. The schedule flips the following year.
  • Half days: The child spends half of Christmas Day with one parent and the other half with the other.
  • Extended visits: One parent has the child for a longer period before or after Christmas, while the other has them for the actual day.

How do I decide which option is best for my family?

You should consider your child’s age, your work schedule, travel logistics, and any other holiday obligations or traditions that are important to your family. It’s also a good idea to communicate openly with your ex-spouse and your child about their preferences and needs.

What if my ex-spouse wants to spend time with our child during my designated time?

If possible, try to be flexible and accommodating. Remember that your main priority should be making sure that your child feels loved and supported by both parents during this time. If you can’t come to an agreement on your own, consider working with a mediator or family counselor.

What if one parent wants to keep the child for the entire holiday season?

This might be an option if you live far away from each other or have limited visitation time throughout the year. However, it’s important to consider how this will affect your child’s relationships with both parents and their extended family members. You might need to make compromises or adjust your plans to ensure that everyone feels included and valued.

What if my child doesn’t want to split their time between two households?

It’s understandable that your child may feel torn or overwhelmed during the holidays. However, it’s important to help them understand why spending time with both parents is beneficial for them in the long run. Consider involving them in the planning process and making sure that they feel heard and validated.

What should I do if my ex-spouse makes the holidays difficult?

You can try to communicate your concerns directly with your ex-spouse and find a solution that works for both of you. If this isn’t possible or if you feel unsafe or unsupported, consider reaching out to a lawyer or mediator for assistance.

How can I make Christmas enjoyable for my child despite the split?

The most important thing is to focus on creating happy memories and traditions that your child will cherish. Consider baking holiday treats together, watching seasonal movies, going caroling, or volunteering at a local charity event. Try to maintain a positive attitude and avoid speaking negatively about your ex-spouse in front of your child.

keys takeaways

How to Split Christmas Between Divorced Parents

Splitting time between two households during the holidays can be challenging for children and parents. Here are some key takeaways to make it easier:

  1. Communicate openly and respectfully. Discuss plans with your ex-partner, share your concerns, and listen to their point of view. Create a plan that prioritizes your children’s needs and schedules.
  2. Be flexible and realistic. Recognize that things may not go as planned due to unforeseen circumstances or emotions. Be willing to adjust the plan or compromise if necessary.
  3. Create new traditions. Establish new traditions that your children can enjoy at each household. Encourage them to share their experiences with both parents.
  4. Show appreciation. Thank your ex-partner for their cooperation and efforts in making the holidays special for your children. Focus on creating positive memories for you and your family.

Remember, the goal is to reduce stress and conflict for all involved. With patience, respect, and a willingness to work together, you can create a happy holiday season for everyone.