It’s new. It’s scary.
No, I’m not talking about that new fancy TV remote control your boyfriend has with all those buttons that you aren’t really sure what to do with. I’m talking about when you make it to the point in your relationship when spending the holidays with your significant other’s (SO) family becomes a reality.
For my boyfriend and I made the decision to start splitting holidays two years ago. We spend Thanksgiving down south with my parents, and the land of delicious snacks for the winter holidays with his folks. So far, so good, but I would be lying if I didn’t say there have been some growing pains along the way.
Navigating other families’ holiday traditions while not feeling like an outsider can take some time. But I’ve picked up a few nuggets of wisdom that may help ease the transition so you don’t feel like you need to reach for that extra glass of eggnog, or whiskey…or eggnog whiskey.
Don’t show up empty handed
My mom taught me this from a young age, and I think it should apply to any visit you make. Sometimes money can be tight though, so don’t forget about the appeal of homemade gift (cookies can go a long way!). If you have a few extra bucks to spend, but don’t know what to get, think local. A bag of coffee from a local coffee house where you live, or maybe a beer or wine that they can’t get where they live. Try hitting up your local farmers or flea market to find something unique. The more thoughtful you are with your gift, the more meaningful it will be to your SO’s parents, especially if it’s the first time you are meeting.
Offer to help
In the kitchen, with any last minute decorating, etc. Although you may feel uncomfortable leaving your SO’s side, put yourself out there and offer to help clean up the dishes, or set the table. You never know when something so small could mean so much. You’re a guest in their home, and it may feel weird for them to have someone new there, so be sure to offer to help. And use it as a chance to chit chat and get to know each other! But keep this next tip in mind…
Avoid controversial topics
As with the first two points, this is also something good to keep in mind all the time–not just a trip to your SO’s hometown. This doesn’t mean you can’t have an opinion, but try to avoid any political or religious debates during your visit. The holidays should be a time for happiness and togetherness, not time for you and Uncle Jerry to get into a spitting match over why so-and-so is a moron (even if said so-and-so probably is).
Befriend the pets
Any pets they may have are a part of their family, so you can help win your way to their heart by making friends. If, for some reason, you aren’t the biggest fan of pets, don’t sweat it, just be kind and courteous, and never be rude. Talk to your SO beforehand, too, in case you have allergies. Dying of anaphylactic shock upon your first meeting will definitely be memorable–but we don’t want that for you.
Talk to your SO beforehand
If you are having any anxiety about visiting for the holidays, have a conversation with your partner about what is causing the anxiety. Is it just being somewhere new? Are you worried about small talk? Ask for advice on things to talk about before you get there to help avoid any awkward silences. And if they happen, embrace them. They are probably just as nervous as you, so take a breath, enjoy, and don’t take yourself too seriously. We’re human, after all.
What are your tips for meeting your significant other’s family? Have a crazy ‘first-meeting’ story? Leave us a comment and share!
Posted by Jordan Barrish, Public Relations Manager