Practical Tips for Handling Winter Holidays During a Divorce

Uncontested Divorce Mediation

Posted November 4, 2021

Most divorced spouses have a rough holiday season after the initial separation. But most of the tips out there are for people who are recently divorced; how to get through that first year without the previous nuclear family structures. There are tons of tips on how to stay cheerful, handle co-parenting, and ideas for fresh New Years Resolutions. There aren’t so many tips on how to handle the holidays if you’re in the process of getting divorced.

Here at Split Simple, however, that’s what we deal with every day.  Denver divorce mediation is all about finding the most practical answers for thorny financial and emotional matters – like how to handle the holidays. Divorces also don’t happen instantly, which makes it all the more possible that you might be right in the middle of separating and negotiating when it comes time to stuff the stockings and play Santa for the kids.

So how do you handle the holidays in the middle of a divorce? We’ve thought about it, we’ve dealt with it before, and we have a few practical tips for anyone asking themselves these important questions this holiday season.

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Build a Practical Holiday Budget

If your finances are still combined, the best strategy is to mutually decide how much of that reserve will be spend on the holidays. This will help both parties avoid anything that will be seen as excessive or revenge spending and keep your finances stable for post-divorce success.

Decide What You Will Spend on the Kids

If you have children, this is the most important financial decision of the season. Decide, together, how much you will spend on gifts for them and split it evenly. Get your kids separate gifts or, if you decide it’s best, go in together on something big like a laptop or a ten-speed. Decide how much you’ll spend on stocking stuffers and any other “Playing Santa” traditions that focus mainly on the kids.

Set Fair Budgets for Family Gifts and Home Decorations

Next, set fair separate budgets for gift-shopping and home decoration. Each of you still has a right to get gifts for your mothers and cousins, and to deck the halls a little. Just be sure neither goes overboard from the shared account. This is also a good way to avoid impulse spending from private accounts that often accompanies both holidays and divorces.

Get a Head Start on Post-Divorce Holiday Traditions

If you are already separated in the process of divorcing – but your divorce isn’t final yet – now is the time to start building those post-divorce holiday traditions. Make plans to spend more time with your families of origin, or your separate close personal friends. It’s time to talk about whether it’s OK to stay in touch or send gifts to the in-laws, and how to handle mutual friends during a separated holiday season.

New traditions are especially important if you have children. Determine who gets Christmas Night vs Christmas day – whether New Years is more important, or if Thanksgiving is a fair trade.  For children older than seven, let them have some input. Kids are often pretty creative about how to create joy and respect the laws of fairness. They will also have their own favorite traditions that should be preserved as part of your plans, like Christmas Eve church with Grandma or getting to play with their favorite cousins.

Choose to Celebrate in Whatever Ways Will be Easy and Pleasant

When your divorce isn’t final yet, it can be tempting to try and maintain nuclear family traditions for one more year. Whether this is a good or bad idea depends on the nature of your divorce. If the two of you are still friends and friendly, it may be pleasant to share a family dinner. Toast the good times and cheers to separate good times yet to be had. Your children, even teens, can appreciate a poignant final holiday together if everyone can be nice and happy.

But if feelings are still hurt and being together is painful, make other plans. Celebrate in whatever ways will be easy and pleasant. Older kids and teens, in particular, will appreciate that you’re trying to be happy apart instead of unhappy together. Even if the divorce isn’t final, yet.

Don’t Drive Angry on Icy Roads

As a Denver divorce mediation team, we’d like to make a special mention about how darn dangerous the roads can get out there during the winter. Divorces can be a tough time and it can be tempting to leave certain family gatherings in an emotional state. This could be a rough encounter with your ex or even an insensitive comment from Aunt Karen when spending time with blood relatives. Or maybe watching It’s a Wonderful Life is just too much, this year. That can happen, it’s perfectly normal.

If you’ve been drinking, if there are tears in your eyes, or you’re so angry you can’t see straight – think twice before tearing off onto roads coated in snow and black ice. It might be smarter to take a walk around the block, and maybe call an Uber, if you need to leave a party for emotional reasons.

Make a Few New Years Resolutions

As the holiday season comes to a close, consider a few introspective and personal New Years resolutions. Divorce is an interesting time when grown and mature people build a brand new chapter of their lives. Even if your divorce isn’t done yet, even if you’re still hammering out the details, now is a good time to make a few future goals for yourself.

Resolve to find the aspects of yourself that were lost or buried during the marriage. Resolve to take your career by the horns, or to make sure your kids thrive in the strange year to come. You might resolve to improve your skills, to learn something new, or to develop a better way of talking to and thinking about yourself. It’s New-Year, New-You time. And with a divorce on the horizon, that new you has more possibilities than ever before.

Save Final Decisions Until After New Years

Finally, don’t let holiday cheer or holiday sadness sweep you away when it comes to divorce agreements. It’s often helpful to put off final decisions until after New Years when that new-you starts to kick in and you’re ready to plan for your future as a newly single and empowered person. Here at Split Simple, we can help you get through this tough transitional holiday season with Denver divorce mediation services and practical advice. 

Split Simple

1624 Market Street #202

Denver, CO 80202