My husband and I are in a somewhat unique situation in that our families and most of our siblings are all in the same state. In addition to this, my parents are divorced which means we have three sets of parents. While we love having so much family nearby, we don't like it as much during the holidays because it always seems like someone doesn't get visited or an event can't be attended. We've experienced a lot of frustration and guilt over the years as we have tried to make everyone happy, to the exclusion of ourselves.
Since that first Christmas almost seven years ago, we've gone through a lot of trial and error when it comes to planning how to spend our time during the holidays. We don't have it all figured out, but maybe you can learn from our experience and go on to enjoy the holidays a little more fully.
Establish fluid traditions You've heard the saying that goes something along the lines of "celebrating Christmas all year long and not just at Christmastime". The idea of course being that we can have the feeling that surrounds Christmas all the time. I think that this applies to holiday traditions (and other traditions) as well. We can do different activities throughout the holidays that doing have to happen right on or around Christmas Day (or Thanksgiving or whatever holiday you are celebrating). By spreading them out, I think it just adds to the excitement and joy of the season. Holidays are so busy and if the only time you do certain things are during the holidays, it's possible that doing those activities might lend to more anxiety or frustration rather than the happiness of the event because it's squished in between everything else you have going on. (Which leads me to my next point...)
Be flexible and willing to compromise Since having kids, I've learned to be more flexible with my time. I still like planning and schedules and routines, but they aren't as set in stone as I used to insist on. Since being married, I've learned that true compromise, where both of us are happy with the final decision, is equally important. Back to my husband and I on our first Christmas: we both wanted to see our families on Christmas, so the "compromise" we made was that we'd spend time with my family during the first half of the day and his family during the second half of the day. This sounded great in theory, but in practice, we didn't even make it over to his parent's house until 8pm that night. The next year, we spent a little less time with my family and more time with his. Gradually, we've been able to work out a system that my husband and I agree on. It changes a little from year to year, of course, but the holidays are actually enjoyed instead of dreaded or something to get through.
The holidays can be challenging when it comes to splitting time between family, but hopefully at least one of these suggestions will help you.
What has helped you when deciding how to split time between family during the holidays?