09/12/2014 16:07 GMT | Updated 07/12/2015 11:59 GMT

How to Survive Christmas When You Have Two Families

Hundreds of thousands of people in the UK have divorced parents and I'm one of them.

The majority of the year I don't even think about the fact that my parents live in different houses with different people. After all, it's been that way for the last 16 years.

But at Christmas time their separation is suddenly significant.

As a kid, splitting the holiday season between two families was hard. If I spent Christmas Day with my mum, I missed my dad. If I spent it with my dad, I was sniveling on the phone to my mum.

As a teenager, Christmas with two families was awesome. Gaining two step brothers meant my sister and I had other people our age to hang out with. And let's face it, what materialistic, 15-year-old wouldn't want double presents?

But as an adult, Christmas with two families can be a logistical and financial nightmare.

I'm not part of a two parent family with 2.5 children. Like many I have a mum, a dad, a step mum, a step dad, a sister, two step brothers, grandparents, step grandparents, uncles, step uncles, aunts, step aunts, cousins, step cousins, a dog and a cat.

Oh, and a boyfriend with a whole other family to think about too - but that's a whole other story...

Don't get me wrong, I do feel blessed to share my life with so many loving people. But Christmas with such a large family just isn't practical.

So, here are my tips for surviving Christmas if you have multiple families.

1) Set a budget with presents

With all those people to buy for, money can be tight. Forget being coy about cost, pick a price range everyone involved can afford and stick to it. Add homemade gifts for a personal touch at little extra expense.

2) Secret Santa is your friend

On the topic of sensible buying, Secret Santa doesn't need to be reserved for your work colleagues. We did this between siblings a few years ago when budgets were especially tight and it worked a treat.

3) Make plans early... then stick to them

If you've got lots of people to see in December, organisation is key. Let all family members know where you'll be and when as soon as possible.

Trust me, your mother will get pissed off if you tell her you're having dinner at her house last minute - especially if she's already bought the turkey.

4) Give yourself some me time

Last year I tried to see everyone within three days - Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day. By the end of Christmas I was more tired than when I started.

This year I've spread out all engagements and booked a few extra days off work in between which I plan to spend in bed, watching box sets.

Yes Christmas is a time to see family, but it's also a prime opportunity to de-stress and refresh.

5) Be honest about your turkey limit

After many years suffering double turkey dinners, I learnt to say "actually, I know we're having turkey at Mum's, shall we try something else at your house Dad?".

Your parents love you more than they love a traditional roast, it's fine to ask for an alternative.

6) Don't regift

You know that swamp-coloured bobble hat you got for Christmas last year? Don't rewrap it and give it to another relative.

Regifting is bad etiquette in any family, but when you've got a large family and you can't quite remember who bought what it's downright risky.


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