Christmas and New Years Eve is right around the corner, and while we often know exactly how thing will be within our ow families, figuring out your significant other’s family can be challenging! Not only is this the most wonderful time of year, but for many, the stress of getting prepared can seem overwhelming. However, Christmas is a wonderful time to connect with the people who matter the most to you and your significant other, and serves as an important day to come together as a family to celebrate and feast together. Whether you’re in a new relationship or married, it’s always good to refresh on how-to make (or continue making) a positive impression with family. Here’s a How-to guide to mastering this holidays with your significant other, as well as their family!
DO Ask About Any Family Traditions or Important Info Beforehand
If this is your first time being around your significant other’s family on a holiday, be sure to ask about any important family traditions or pertinent info. For example, we all know that politics and religion is discouraged at any dinner table, but if there are other topics the family may be sensitive to, it would be good to know going in. As a guest, your goal is to be yourself, but also make sure you’re not offending anyone while you are all together. Get as much preparation on the front end as you can to avoid any awkward moments. If the family has any holiday traditions, try embracing them while you’re there.
DO Make a Nice Gesture for the Family
Previously, I wrote a blog post about event etiquette, and this is definitely a must for visits with the family. It doesn’t necessarily need to be a gift, and in fact, if your budget is tight this Christmas, I would recommend getting more creative for a family dinner. Look up some recipes on dish you would feel confident about bringing for dinner or dessert. My boyfriend’s family lives in Louisiana, so I always like to ask him and his parents if they have anything in particular that they would like at dinner. His mom is usually overjoyed that someone else will be contributing to the dinner preparation, so it never hurts to ask before you go searching for a gift. Usually, my go-to contribution is my double-layer chocolate cake that I make completely from scratch. It’s yummy and is always a crowd pleaser. If you don’t have time to cook, picking up a bottle of wine would also be a nice gesture. Making time to take that extra step always goes a long way!
DO be Actively Engaged with the Family While You’re There
Being around the family gives you an opportunity to learn more about your significant other and their loved ones. While you’re together, block out all distractions that may take you out of the moment. Trust me, your Instagram and Pinterest can wait. I have a pretty extended family, and I find it very disappointing when a boyfriend or girlfriend of a family member doesn’t take the opportunity to get to know us better. For many couples, it’s not often that you all will get to spend time together with family, so make the most of that time. Make yourself freely available to be a part of all the fun memories that can be made during that time together.
DON’T Get Too Comfortable
When staying with your boo’s family, it is almost certain that you will be told to make yourself at home. While you should totally relax and enjoy yourself, it’s always best practice to not get too comfortable during your stay. Clean up after yourself, offer to help with any household chores, and make sure you’re dressed appropriately considering the circumstances. If your significant other’s parents are ultra conservative, it doesn’t hurt make sure that your attire in the house is a little more modest during your stay. No matter how nice they are and how comfortable you may feel, remember that you’re also a guest. Be yourself, but also make sure that your presence during the holiday leaves a positive impact.
DON’T Get Involved in Family Business
During your time with your significant other’s family, there may be some sensitive issues that are brought forth about members within the family. Your best bet is to stay neutral and not engage in any conversation surrounding “family business.” Even if there is an uncle that needs to go to rehab, or a cousin that needs more discipline at home- keep those thoughts to yourself. Now is definitely not the time to speak up and let the family know what you think is best for someone in the family. If a discussion is brought forth in front of you, let them hash it out on their own. Getting involved at any level may be deemed disrespectful, so let’s avoid going down that path.
DON’T Criticize Your Significant Other
This may be one of the most important tips of this entire blog post. During your time with your significant other’s family, there may be times in which on of his/her family members begin mentioning things about them. “Is he still messy and disorganized with his house?” or “Have you talked to him about how he needs to enroll back in school?” are just examples of conversation starters that you do not want to engage in. I repeat, do an about-face and politely excuse yourself to the restroom if you find yourself in hot water like this. Even if your significant other is not present during the conversation, there’s a really good chance they will find out about it eventually.
Thus, avoid any and all opportunities (even if it seems like it’s being done in humor) to say anything at all critical to your significant other’s family. If you must say something, keep it generic, yet positive. For example, if your boyfriend is really messy around the house, simply say “he was been working really hard lately to keep things clean, and I appreciate that about him.” In doing that, you keep it short, positive, and pretty much steered the conversation in a different direction. Keep any feedback positive!
In all, the holidays are such a fun time of year! Enjoy your time spent with each other’s famililes, and don’t fret too much about every single detail. Make new memories together, and enjoy the opportunity to learn more about the foundation of your significant other. What are your holiday plans? Comment below, let’s chat!With Love, Melanie