Meeting your partner’s family for the first time can be stressful, but then top it off with meeting them at the holidays, no less, and you’ve got a recipe for nerves. Before you decide to run away, break up, or pretend to be sick, put these tips in your back pocket, put on your best outfit and shoes, and you’ve got this:
1. Pick Your Most Comfortable and Polished Outfit
Now is not the time to choose those pants that you can’t quite zip up or put on that racy blouse, even if your honey loves it. Choose an outfit in which you feel comfortable and look good — even if you think it’s a little dull. Also watch your shirtsleeves — when you’re nervous, you tend to sweat more than you typically do. Having a comfortable outfit will make you at least feel at ease.
2. Eat a Little Before You Go
Don’t be the nervous girlfriend or fiancée who skips eating all day, meets the parents on an empty stomach, and then decides to drink a little wine or cocktails in order to “feel relaxed.” That’s asking either for a hangover or for you to have an embarrassing moment right in front of the family.
3. Avoid Certain Topics
This isn’t the time to get on your soapbox and protest the election or another hot-button issue. Let these people get to know you — and you get to know them — before you decide to talk to them about touchy subjects.
4. Ask Them Questions
Keep yourself out of trouble, especially if you’re nervous, and put the focus on the family — Ask them questions to get them talking! Take the time to ask them questions about their work, partners, life, etc. By doing this, you’ll learn a lot about the family without stumbling over nervous words. Plus, people love talking about themselves. It will make the time go by faster.
5. Watch the Wine Glasses
You don’t want to be rude — and a little wine does help you unwind, but watch the wine intake.
6. Show Up With a Gift
Don’t go crazy with some huge present or intricate gift, but no matter what you do, don’t show up empty-handed. A bottle of wine. Nice flowers. Whatever it is, bring a simple “welcome” gift to say hello and thanks for having you.
7. Have Patience and Tolerance
Everyone’s got a little crazy in his or her family, so if one of the relatives gets a little loud, is weird, or is too drunk, just breathe deep and realize that eventually, you get to go home. It can be hard for partners to introduce a new love to the family thanks to that particularly colorful relative. Try not to judge your partner by this individual.
8. Try to Help
Most likely the host or hostess won’t accept you scrubbing dishes, but there’s nothing nicer than a guest who offers to help. Get off your seat and offer to dry or wash dishes, or perhaps, set the table. No matter what you do — just offer your help.
9. Control Your Urges
Watch your PDA with your lovey. And while your partner might get the great idea of a quickie while at the fam’s . . . I would advise against it. OK, the bad girl in me says go ahead and do it, but the practical adult in me says hold off on that. Do you really want the family to meet “all of you?”
10. Learn Facts Ahead of Time and Use Them
Try to learn about the various family members ahead of time, and use these facts in conversation. Of course, make them positive facts like the time his sister won the college basketball tournament or when her brother graduated law school. People like to brag about themselves and it will make them feel flattered to know you took the time to listen and learn about who your partner’s family is as individuals.