Make a plan for Santa and his presents
That can be hard to do via airplane, because anything that Santa brings on Christmas Day must be lugged back whenever you depart. (Driving vacations make it easier if you have trunk space.) After all, what child wants to wait until their best presents are shipped back? Consider trading the non-Santa presents before or after your travels and bringing stockings so there are some presents to open on Christmas Day.
If the family includes Santa believers, American Express Travel's Wynne-Perry suggests having them write Santa a letter to tell him where you'll be during Christmas.
Consider adjoining or interconnecting rooms for more family time (if you want it).
If you enjoy them, stick to the same rituals on vacation as you would at home. Make any restaurant reservations well in advance. And be aware of any baggage that comes with some presents, like battery requirements or travel rules. (Airline security frowns on Daisy Red Ryder BB guns.)
And talk to your children, says Eileen Gunn, founder of FamiliesGo!, a family travel website.
"When the kids are 2 or 3 years old, they'll go along with whatever you say," even that Santa came early or is coming later, Gunn said. "At 6 or 7, they start asking questions. It depends on your kids, their ages and their inquisitiveness."
Drama may follow you on vacation
And remember you can't completely escape the family drama if you're traveling with the family that causes the drama (including yourself).
"You're not leaving everything when you travel with family," said Pauline Wallin, a psychologist with a practice in Camp Hill, Pennsylvania. "There's an initial settling-in period when everyone is nice to each other. The way you interact with family on neutral territory won't necessarily show up for the first 24 to 48 hours. After that, you become like your family is used to becoming. At least when it starts to grate on you (at a resort), you can retreat to the pool."
Just don't be surprised if Aunt Susie makes a comment about your weight or Uncle Harold teases you about not being married yet. "If you can predict this going to happen, why are you so surprised when it does?" asked Wallin. "Remember that Christmas Day is just 24 hours. You can get through 24 hours. People can hold it together when there's a time limit."