It’s that time of year again. The tree’s been trimmed, the gifts have been purchased, and the mistletoe’s been hung (but hopefully not anywhere at your parents’ house, because that might get awkward). That means it’s also time to show your partner where you came from. Parents, siblings, childhood bedroom, and all.
During the holidays just about anything can happen, including your mother undoubtedly telling some stories over a few glasses of eggnog around the fireplace. Before you subject your partner to any cringeworthy moments, though, there are a few things you should know. If you’re taking your significant other home for this festive season, it’s time you brush up on our list of do’s and don’ts. Take ’em or leave ’em, but don’t say you weren’t warned.
1. Don’t surprise your family with your partner
Besides being rude, showing up with an unannounced guest is just plain stupid. Are you trying to make everyone uncomfortable? The Huffington Post reminds us the holidays are no time to spring a new partner on your family. Even if your partner’s RSVP is a last-minute thing, you still need to give your family the heads up. You know they’ll have questions, and it’s better they inundate you ahead of time rather than bombard your significant other when you first walk through the door.
2. Do make lodging accommodations ahead of time
You may be better off booking a room at a nearby hotel rather than staying at your parents’ house. Maybe you want to avoid potentially awkward, pajama-clad moments at your family home. Or perhaps your parents’ subscribe to a more old-school way of thinking, and you don’t want to subject your partner to Mom and Dad’s traditional set of house rules. Your partner in your childhood bedroom while you strain your back on the horrible living room sofa? Pass. Depending on your family home and where you are in your relationship, you and your partner may have a better experience sleeping outside the confines of your parents’ rules.
3. Don’t put on a performance
Whether it’s divulging every aspect of your private life to your sister or sucking up to your parents at the dinner table, there’s no reason to hit people over the head with your personality. Although Glamour mentions the importance of your partner being him or herself, the same can be applied to the person hosting their significant other. Trying too hard will look like a desperate attempt to show off when your partner just wants to see how you and your family genuinely interact. He or she did make the decision to visit during the holidays, after all.
4. Do let your partner be themselves
Don’t try to convince your partner that he or she needs to act a certain way. If you’ve invited your partner to your family home in the first place, it’s likely they’ll get along with everyone else just fine. If you’re trying to ensure your partner will gain your mother’s approval or your sibling’s acceptance, just remember what you love about them. Chances are, your family will love them, too.
5. Don’t overdo the PDA
Most people know not to engage in a full-on make out session in the company of others. But there are less obnoxious public displays of affection that may still render themselves inappropriate in a family setting. Elle mentions it should be up to the person whose family you’re visiting, so it’s important you involve your partner before single-handedly deciding to set the PDA tone. It may be your family, but it’s your partner’s first time around them. You’ll want to make sure they’re comfortable with any type of physical attention before diving in for your typical morning kiss in front of the whole family.
6. Do explain family dynamics before arriving
If you learned just one thing from The Family Stone, it was how awkward large family holidays can be. You think it’s all sleigh rides and sugar cookies, then before you know it, your partner’s talking religion and politics over the honey-baked ham. Shit’s gotten real faster than you can shove a stocking in their mouth.
If your mother never speaks of her estranged sister, or if your sister and brother-in-law are going through a rough patch in their marriage, do your partner a favor by giving fair warning before you arrive. You’ll be happy they had insider info before seeing it firsthand.
7. Don’t get wasted
Even if your family drives you to drink, you’re not alone with them anymore. Your partner shouldn’t overdo it on the booze, and neither should you. If you feel yourself going to the dark side, rein it in. There’s no need to make things awkward for everyone else around.
8. Do look out for your partner
You’re already on your own turf, but your partner is playing an away game. There’s a good chance they’ll be trying to navigate the waters for the first few days, at least. So don’t leave your significant other hanging out there to fend for themselves. Make sure they feel included. That’s the least you can do, considering their willingness to spend the holidays with your family in the first place.