I’m freaking out.
This weekend, I’m meeting my boyfriend’s family for the first time, and though he’s certain they’ll adore me, my anxiousness is understandable, as I haven’t “met the parents” since my high school sweetheart introduced me to his mom and dad in 2005. I may be out of practice, but I do know a thing or two about guest etiquette, so here’s what you should keep in mind if you’re meeting your boyfriend/girlfriend’s relatives during the crazy holiday season.
1. Help as much as possible
If you’re staying in their home, try to help with basic tasks. Offer to clear the table after meals, assist with cooking (unless, like me, you’re terrible in the kitchen. In that case, just stick with table cleaning!), and walk the dog if they have one. If they tell you not to worry about any of these things, feel free to just relax, but making the effort up front speaks volumes about your character.
2. Get up early
Maybe even brew a pot of coffee so it’s ready for the rest of the house when everyone is awake. Getting up before the others allows you to breathe in the morning and at least seem like an early bird, which is better than the alternative.
3. Ask questions
If you ever feel like you’re under a microscope or being grilled, take the attention off of you by asking questions. It’s also nice to take an interest in their lives. After all, you are with their son/daughter.
4. Don’t do anything that makes you uncomfortable
I can be a picky eater, but in the past, I’ve scarfed down things I seriously disliked just to please the people around me. You may be offered food you dislike or cannot consume due to allergies/dietary restrictions, so don’t be afraid to say no. It’s better to politely decline something you won’t finish or that will only make you sick, which no one wants.
5. Keep conversations cheerful
It’s easy to complain this time of year: You may be spending tons of money you don’t have on gifts, worried about the effects of holiday snacking, or all around disappointed with the way 2013 has panned out. Regardless of any turmoil you may be facing, be optimistic and upbeat around your special someone’s family. Don’t simply lay out all of the things that have gone wrong this year. I know I’ll have to stop myself from revealing too much about the aspects of my life that could use work, but in that case, it’s best to keep it short and light.
6. Bring a present
I was raised to never show up to another person’s home empty-handed, so don’t forget to bring the family something nice this holiday season. It can be as small as a bottle of wine or greeting card, just demonstrate that you’re thankful they’re having you over. A little gesture can go a long way, especially for a first impression.
7. Send a thank you note afterward
Even a nice email works in this day and age! Thank you notes aren’t for everyone, but if you had a great time with the family and think you’ll be seeing a lot more of them, it doesn’t hurt to stay in touch and end the year on a positive note (no pun intended!).
Are you meeting the parents this Christmas? Any tips for newbies like me? Share in the comments section.