How to Gracefully Survive Meeting Your SO’s Family this Holiday

christmas dinner table

The very thought of meeting your significant other’s (SO) family for this first time is anxiety inducing — but the idea of spending the entire holiday season surrounded by their immediate family is enough to scare even the most devoted partner away. As the countdown toward the holiday dinner table quickly approaches, shake off the stress and nerves and instead take some steps to set yourself up for success. Armed with a few simple tips, you can rock this year’s holiday season, impress your partner’s family, and maybe even find yourself enjoying it too.

Come bearing gifts

Don’t settle for adding your name to the presents your significant other brings to the table. First impressions last a long time — ensure you make an unforgettable one by bringing your own small offering whether fresh flowers, a handwritten note, or even baked goods. Personalized gifts for each member of the family are enough to show your effort and make them warm up to you.

Offer to help

As their son or daughter’s partner, you’re more than just a houseguest. Take that status to mind and show your appreciation for your hosts by offering to help as much as possible. Lend a hand prepping in the kitchen, clean up dishes, or help putting away leftovers goes long way when breaking down barriers and establishing authentic relationships with your SO’s loved ones. Even better, offering to help independent from your partner shows that you really want to know them.

Ask questions

If you find yourself getting grilled at the dinner table, reverse the situation and try asking your hosts questions. The easiest way to divert a conversation that feels too focused on you is to be curious. Keep your queries polite and respectful, of course, and ask anything from family holiday traditions to how your potential future-in-laws met. And complimenting the food or holiday décor never hurt anyone.

Keep “cheer” part of your chatter

The holiday season, regardless of the excitement it brings, comes packaged with inevitable stress so keep the table-side conversation cheerful. Now is not the time to unload all of your frustrations and disappointments with the year that's coming to an end. Let a more natural relationship develop before you tackle those kind of topics. Instead, try to focus on the good and remember what you’re grateful for this holiday season. Positivity outshines negativity any day of the week.

Send a thank you note

You wouldn’t be caught dead leaving an interview or networking meeting without following up with a small token of appreciation — so why skip the step after spending time with your partner’s family? A straightforward, handwritten card will show your SO’s family how much their hospitality and kindness meant to you. It’s also a quick way to slip in committed vibes by mentioning that you look forward to seeing more of them in the new year. All it takes is five minutes but the thoughtfulness you show will have a long-lasting effect on your new relationships.


Elisabeth Apanda for The BeeHive