The holidays are meant to be a relaxing time filled with love and happiness. Unfortunately, for some people, the holidays represent stress and are a time they need to get through instead of enjoying.

A lot of the time, it has to do with their finances, as they worry about how providing the things necessary to make it a good time for everyone. However, for some people, it’s about who they’ll be spending the holidays with. 

And holidays with the in-laws can be an unmitigated nightmare if you don’t get along with them. So, how do you get to the other side of a holiday season spent with your in-laws and still have fond memories of it?

Celebrate your differences

Even if you and your spouse come from similar backgrounds and cultures, there are bound to be a lot of differences. They have a lot to do with how you were raised and what roles your parents played in your lives.

The worst thing you can do is expect your in-laws to turn into your parents. It’s not going to happen, and such unrealistic expectations are going to leave you frustrated. If your parents like to have Christmas jersey photographs, don’t expect the same from your in-laws. 

You’ve interacted with them in the past, so you know their quirks and what to expect. Embrace the differences your in-laws present in your life as some of them might be a breath of fresh air if you allow them to be. 

For example, your in-laws could have some fun Christmas traditions that you might want to introduce into your home.

Make everyone feel welcome

Sometimes, in-laws decide at the last minute to grace you with their presence over the holidays. It might be an imposition and affect your plans, but be gracious and welcoming, just as you would expect your spouse to be if the roles were reversed.

Take onboard some last-minute gift shopping tips to help you get each visitor something unique and meaningful. Nothing makes someone feel more welcome than knowing you’ve taken the time to shop for a gift just for them.

Plan lots of activities

There’s nothing worse than awkward silences while everyone sits around the house doing nothing. This is the perfect breeding ground for an argument that starts with a critique from your in-laws. 

Face it, that’s what in-laws do! But have plans in place to minimize their opportunities to do so. Look for shows and other activities available around the holiday period and plan to attend them. 

The more time you spend focused on the holidays and what they mean, the less time there is for petty arguing. If you have children, it’s highly likely that your in-laws are visiting to see them more than you. 

Perhaps they can accompany the children to some events. That way, they get quality time with their grandkids, and you get a much-needed break.

Remember who they are

You might not have married your in-laws, but you made commitments to your spouse when you married them. That means that you must accept your in-laws as part of your life because they come as a ‘package deal’ when you marry.

As much as they may drive you crazy, these people are responsible for your spouse’s existence. And for that alone, they deserve your love and respect.

Bear in mind that your family might drive your spouse mad, but you expect them to put up with it because they’re your relatives. Marriage is about balance, and you need to give as much as you take. So, grit your teeth, smile, and try to make the most of it.


  • Bonnie is a Certified Life Coach. She received a Master's Degree in Psychology from the University of Chicago. She works to identify imbalances and deficiencies and create individualized therapies to improve overall health and wellness.