This was a huge battle for us the first few years we were married. We did everything we could to make sure we spent time with each family, and that we kept it as equal as possible. Unfortunately for us, on Thanksgiving and Christmas this meant four separate family gatherings (my parents, my extended family, her parents, her extended family), plus three on Easter (my parents, her parents, her extended family). Thanksgiving generally worked out since my parents and her parents ate at different times, and our extended families met on different days. Christmas was rough because, at that time, all four gatherings were on Christmas Day. We’d open our gifts, go to one of the parents’ houses, then go to the others’, then go see her family, then show up late for my family, then get home around midnight. Easter was worse because all three were on the same day, and two of the meals were always at the same time.
We started setting firmer boundaries one year due to the total exhaustion I’d dealt with the year before. We decided we’d see her parents Christmas Eve, then do the other three gatherings Christmas Day. It made sense, but then her parents threw a fit when they found out we weren’t coming back the next day. We tried explaining nicely that this allowed us to spend a lot of time with them Christmas Eve, far more than we were spending with any one family on Christmas Day. When that didn’t appease them I told them this was our decision, it was how we’d be doing things from now on and there wasn’t room for discussion.
We reevaluated holidays entirely the following Easter. Her family didn’t invite us to Easter dinner. We tried calling about it but they never answered or returned out calls. Her parents then told us they weren’t having Easter dinner that year and would see us the following weekend. We made our plans accordingly and as we were headed out the door to my parents’ house, her aunt called and told us we were invited and that dinner started in 20 minutes (less time than it actually took to get to her house). Her parents were already there, by the way, and knew the plans all along. I said we couldn’t make it for dinner but could show up later. She said if we didn’t show up for dinner, we shouldn’t show up at all. The whole thing was just a way to try to force us to not see my family for Easter since they felt their side of the family had been slighted on Christmas. It got ugly, and after that we decided that we would only see the immediate families on the actual holidays, then work in the extended families if time permitted. We realized that there’s no way we could ever divide the time up so that it appeared even to all parties involved, so we decided to stick with our own schedule and do what worked for us. If anyone wanted to make nasty comments about it, we figured they were more concerned with causing trouble than spending time with us, and we certainly weren’t going to adjust things on their account.