While some holiday traditions are nearly universal, everyone celebrates a little differently. For some, it's truly Christmas when they see snow; for others, it's palm trees wrapped in lights. (Can we get an amen, Phoenix?) This divide can become all the more obvious when you're dating someone, since there's a good chance family obligations will pull you in different directions — literally. The pressure may be less if you've just met, but if you're in it for the long haul, there are compromises to be made.
We've had our share of short- and long-term separations while dating, which means we have a few long-distance dating tricks up our sleeves. One of the most important lessons you'll learn is that you can't just "wing it." You have to make plans and keep each other in the loop. That said, here are some ideas for helping you get through the holidays whether you're at home or away.
Make a Pre-Christmas Date
This may sound like a given, but this time of year, you can take one swift spin around the dessert table and all the sudden, it's the night before you leave town. While it's ambitious to think you'll already be packed (you won't), the last thing you want to do is make time with your beloved an afterthought to "how many pairs of tights are too many?" Your celebration doesn't have to be the night before or even the last time you see them, just lock in a date and make it sacred. Aside from exchanging presents, you can focus on creating new traditions to share in the years to come, distance or not. Get creative.
We all have things that truly make us feel home for the holidays. If your family has a Christmas Eve In-N-Out feast, then share that with your significant other. Of course, that won't work if you're traveling to the Midwest for the holidays (#westcoastbestcoast). But perhaps there's a sentimental ornament you could decorate the tree with or a super-secret trick to making the best hot cocoa that you can use. If you're close with their family, you can get them in on it — and maybe even orchestrate a surprise.
Sync Up a Holiday Flick
No one will be there to creepily videotape you like Andrew Lincoln, but there are other movies to give you some warm, fuzzy distraction from being apart. Schedule a time to fire up films like It's A Wonderful Life, Elf, Jingle All the Way or Home Alone and watch it together. Bonus: If time zones align, watch A Christmas Story from start to finish during the TBS marathon.
Create Holiday Playlists for Each Other
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Maybe you have a long list of favorite classics he can rattle off by heart. Or perhaps they're an old pop punk kid who will fight to the death for Jimmy Eat World's version of "Last Christmas." You two most likely agree that Twisted Sister's Christmas album is national treasure. Needless to say, music is something we are constantly sharing to learn more about each other. It's central to the season and one of the easiest ways to connect.
Capture Everything You Can
This might be another obvious thing, but as family, food and booze multiply, you might forget to keep in touch. Sharing even the smallest part of your day makes a big difference (most importantly, as many photos of the family dog as possible.) The way you spend your holidays becomes a huge part of who you are. Showing your significant other these parts of yourself can bring you closer, even when you're apart.