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6 EASY Ways to Bring Peace Into a Blended Family for the Holidays

The holidays are a time for getting together with family, creating memories and growing traditions … but sometimes the composition of our families can make that stressful and difficult. Even though blended families make up for the majority of families in the U.S., juggling schedules, relationships, emotions and logistics can be just downright hard.

If you’re in my camp, you know that being a step parent AND having a child means there’s a ton of pressure to make the holidays special for all the kids, making sure everything feels fair, fun and inclusive. This past Christmas was my 6th year celebrating with my bonus kids, and our 4th Christmas as a family of 5. While I’m no expert in step-parenting, I do know what’s worked for our family to promote togetherness and warmth.

Here are my 6 ideas to bring joy and ease into your {blended} family to really enjoy the holidays together:

1. Matching Jammies:
I like to have an idea of who will be spending Christmas in our home well in advance, mainly so I can make sure I can get matching jammies for everyone. Some of my favorite places to get them are Pat Pat, Zulilly and Jane.com, and the new styles usually get released in July!

I try to find ones to fit the titles (Big Sis, Papa, Mama, etc), but really as long as they match, it’s a big hit for everyone! In our family, especially when daddy walks out matching all of us ladies, you can’t help but crack up!

 

2. Personalized Ornament: 
We started this tradition when we found out we were expecting our daughter, but an annual ornament is such a fun way to look back and remember that year (especially if your family is growing).
Funny story about the one with our pet names: the original ornament with all 5 of us was shipped to the wrong family (and we got a random family ornament too), but since it was so close to Christmas, the company said it was impossible to do anything but replace it with a new ornament. One problem: all the family of 5 options were SOLD OUT. Eek! But they had a 9 family one, so we decided to add in our pets and make it work!! It was hilarious when it was unveiled … but looking back, it’s so great to remember which pets who were with us too.

 

3. Family Photos:
Taking annual family photos usually happens in the fall for us, which is a great intro into the holiday season. I usually pick the color scheme, and then try to get each member of our family involved in customizing their outfit for the shoot. For the pictures this year, we were intentional with our two older girls to let them choose their whole outfit so they’d feel comfortable and wear it again. The shopping excursion alone was fun bonding. 

After the shoot, we always grab dinner out together, which is of course a fun treat to do together.

 

4. Christmas Cards & Photos:
Call us old school, but we love sending out family holiday cards. We use Postable to keep track of everyone’s addresses, which makes it SO EASY! We usually highlight our favorite pictures from our family photo shoot and then share individual pictures of each of the kids.

Our photographers also usually stage us in a Christmas-themed backdrop for a pose or two, and I love framing those pictures around the house for the holiday season. I switch them back to non-Christmas pictures for the rest of the year, but why not showcase holiday cheer through the years?! It’s fun to see how much everyone has grown.

A photographer once told me that hanging pictures of your children on your walls is one of the best ways to boost their confidence and remind them how much they mean to the family, and I agree!! Our walls are definitely filled with all the girls, and I do think it’s subliminally important.

 

5. Personalized Stockings:
Another simple way to make everyone feel included: get the whole family personalized stockings. We found these red knit stockings at Walmart and had a local shop embroider them for us. We picked up regular initial stockings that matched pretty closely when two other family members could join us (and Santa brought goodies for them too). Literally no one was left out, and it was so much fun opening stockings together on Christmas morning. 

 

6. Custom Schedules:
This one isn’t always the easiest to do because it’s the one you have the least control of, but it’s important. If you have family traditions or events and can adjust them to accommodate everyone’s schedule (especially to make sure the children are around for them), do it!

The first three Christmases, when our youngest was just a baby, we waited to open stockings and checkout what Santa brought until mid-day Christmas day because that’s when our older girls could get there, and we could easily distract the baby. This year, since she was 3 and very aware of Santa and all things Christmas, the co-parenting schedule was arranged so we actually got to have the older girls on Christmas Eve! That meant we got to all enjoy our annual Lowcountry boil, AND we all woke up together Christmas morning to experience the magic with one another, in the moment. It was great!

Our older girls left our home mid-day Christmas this year, so we actually waited to make and eat a big Christmas dinner until they were back with us a few nights later. It wasn’t a big deal, and then we were able to continue the celebration and enjoy everyone’s favorite dishes together.

Little adjustments like that make all the difference, and it really helped make everyone feel special, loved and included.

 

As with any family, it’s nearly impossible to control what goes on outside the walls of your home. BUT we all have the power to control the environment in our own home. You can see that inclusion and togetherness is a common theme when navigating the world of a blended family. I always want all of our girls to remember our family for what is is: not taking into account half or step or technicalities. We are family, and that’s all that matters.

Ashley T
Ashley T

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