There’s no two ways about it: the holidays are a pretty stressful time of year. Sure there is joy and giving mixed in, but between shopping, travel, and entertaining (on top of all the other tasks that populate your daily life), it can begin to feel like you’re caught in a class five hurricane. Of course, all of this is nothing compared to a visit to the family of your significant other, especially if you are meeting them for the first time. The pressures associated with meeting the parents along with the stresses of the season can easily form a lethal combo that quickly has you heading for the loony bin. But don’t fret yet. By following a few simple guidelines, you can easily win the hearts of his parents and make this a holiday gathering for the history books.
1. Insist on separate rooms. And keep PDAs to a minimum. Don’t forget: you’re not just meeting them for the first time, they’re also meeting you for the first time. And macking out on their child may not be the best way to score points with them. They are likely feeling possessive, so let them work through it and get to know you without raising their hackles right off the bat (especially if they seem traditional).
2. Shoot for alone time. You should try to spend some alone time with your loved one’s parents if at all possible. It can be difficult to get to know someone when there are a lot of other people around, so if you want them to become comfortable with you, you’re going to have to buck up and do a little one-on-one. Accompany Mom to the grocery store or go with Dad to pick up donuts and coffee. This way they can start to see you for who you are (and get to like you along the way). If you avoid being alone with them, it may only serve to perpetuate a suspicious attitude as to your intentions towards their kid.
3. Help Mom with cleanup. There’s no better way to endear yourself to a mother than to help her with the menial chores (which she is probably stuck doing on her own). You can offer your hand for the cooking, but likely she has a system in place and you’ll just be in the way. However, don’t let her get away with clearing the table on her own. Insist on helping regardless of her protests and she’s bound to be grateful.
4. Watch Dad’s favorite movie, even if you hate it. If Dad announces that it’s time for It’s a Wonderful Life, A Christmas Carol, or some other old movie that makes everyone groan, tell him that you love it and you would be happy to watch it with him. Dad is often the ignored party who is trying to fit in with his own family, so making him feel special for a change will go a long way towards chipping away at his heart.
5. Bring the perfect gift. A bottle of wine is traditional and personal items like robes are nice, but if you really want to wow your loved one’s parents, give them something special that only you can provide. Take videos of their son or daughter having fun (with you) so that they can not only get a glimpse of his/her daily life, but they can also see how happy you are together. Put them on a disc for the parents to watch over and over. If you stay together, this will become a treasured possession and a wonderful memory of your first holiday together.
Darcy Johansan writes for Cheap Holidays Abroad where you can find a variety of inexpensive, family friendly, and fun travel packages.