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As our families get more complicated, so do the holidays. Most modern families no longer consist of Mom, Dad, 2.5 kids and one or two adoring grandparents. Instead, you’re dealing with ex-spouses, their new partners and a mix of children, stepchildren, and various half brothers and sisters. With that comes a lot of complication to your already busy holiday schedule.

While each blended family is different, there are some things you can do to simplify the situation and more importantly make sure everyone involved gets to enjoy the holidays. Here are my three ground rules that have served us well.

Find Common Ground
No matter how strained the relationship may be, start by trying to find some common ground. For example, if you share children with your ex, this would be giving the kids a nice Christmas. Start there and keeping this most important goal in mind, make your holiday plans. If nothing else, it gives you a starting point, and a reason to talk and make things work this Holiday season, no matter how that ends up looking.

Finding common ground can be tough when you don’t get along with part of your extended and bended family, but I promise it will be well worth it and make the holiday season that much nicer and more peaceful for yourself and your loved ones.

Be Ready to Compromise
Blended families involve a lot of people and with that come different commitments, traditions, and expectations. To make things work this Christmas, be prepared to compromise. Maybe you want the kids at home Christmas morning while your ex wants to take them to Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve. Make it work, even if it means you must take a drive across town at two in the morning.

The same goes with traditions. Each family has their own traditions, decorations, and holiday plans that tend to clash when you blend two families together. Sit down and have a talk early in the season with everyone involved. Find out what’s most important to each family member and find compromises that work for everyone. Blend your traditions, and don’t be afraid to make some new ones as well.

Practice Makes Perfect
Finally, don’t expect things to go off without a hitch during your first blended Christmas season. It takes time to make this work. New traditions aren’t created in a day. Keep working at it, keep practicing, and before long you will find your stride and come up with the new perfect Christmas for your complicated, but loveable family.