Tools for Creating a Holiday Parenting Schedule

A helpful fill-in-the-blanks calendar and tips for holiday parenting

Creating a Parenting Schedule

Once your divorce or separation is finalized, your agreement will outline how you and your ex-spouse will continue to provide for your child or children’s well-being. You will have to develop a plan for how the children will spend time with each of you. This becomes especially important — and a potential source of conflict — on holidays and birthdays.

 In order to facilitate your development of an effective and fair plan, Peace Talks is happy to provide this helpful fill-in-the-blanks calendar, along with some suggestions for developing your holiday parenting schedule. Our mediators will work with you to develop a mutual solution that respects the needs of all parties.


Download printable table here

Suggestions for Developing Your Holiday Parenting Schedule

Holidays with Multiple Celebration Days 

Some holidays, like Christmas, Easter, and Passover have 2 celebration days. 

For example, Christmas can be divided up into Christmas Eve and Christmas Day; Easter may be divided with Good Friday and Easter Sunday; and Passover may be divided with first night Seder and second night Seder. Other holidays, like Halloween, are also celebrated during the season with parties and events in addition to the actual date. 

While one day might be more widely celebrated, the second day also gives the other parent an opportunity to be involved in the holiday each year, even if he or she doesn’t have the “primary” day in that particular year.

Federal Holidays

In the case of Federal holidays, which are generally celebrated on a Monday, many parents elect to extend the previous weekend by 24 hours. If only one parent has off from work on the Federal holiday(s), it may also make for a natural extension of time.

Children’s Birthdays

Children’s birthdays may or may not supersede the regular parenting plan. Some parents prefer to give each parent the opportunity to see the child on his or her birthday, even if it’s just for a short period of time. Other parents split the birthday with the actual day to one parent; and the following Saturday or Sunday to the other parent for the birthday party, alternating each year. 

Talking in advance about whether you’ll invite each other, both extended families, and/or new partners to the child’s party; and how you’ll handle the stress surrounding this mix of relatives and friends, can make the event go more smoothly.

Alternating Holidays Each Year

Many parents alternate holidays, with one parent having a holiday in even-numbered years, and the other having the children in odd-numbered years.  Or, if one family has a special event held each year (e.g., Uncle Fred’s 4th of July Picnic), one parent may have the children on that holiday each year and the other parent has the children on another holiday each year. This allows you to create family traditions that are repeated each year.

Parent Birthdays

Many parents elect to use the following language: “At the birthday parent’s option: the children are with the birthday parent or with the other parent, with 48 hours’ notice to the other parent.”