So, you met someone this year, and you really like them.
Now, the holidays are coming up, and talk about your family is coming up, and you’re wondering, should I bring them home to meet my family? Should I meet their family?
Let’s not kid ourselves, here. Meeting the family is a big deal. Family disapproval has ruined more than a few relationships, and if you see any kind of future with this person, you’re going to have to interact with each others’ families eventually.
On the other hand, how many horror stories have you heard of someone bringing their new guy/girl home to the family too soon and ruining the holidays?
Actually, the holidays can be the perfect time to introduce your family to someone new. If you do it right.
Don’t freak out, just think before you burst in the door with the guy you hooked up with last weekend.
If you’re considering bringing someone home for the holidays, or going to a new partner’s home for the holidays, follow this step-by-step guide and you’ll breeze right through.
Should you bring them home?
(L. J. Willinger/Keystone/Getty Images)
Your family dinner probably won’t be as picturesque as this one. So when should you introduce your significant other to the family madness?
You can answer that by asking yourself another question – “Am I ready for them to see my baby pictures?”
If you would be humiliated by your mom showing this person that picture of you with braces and frizzy hair at an N*SYNC concert in middle school, then avoid that situation: don’t bring them home. You need to be comfortable with this person before you can expect your family to be comfortable with them. Bringing someone into your family means showing them your past, too.
Here are some critical factors to consider if you’re still trying to decide if this year is the right time to bring your new someone home, or go to their home for the holidays:
How long have you been dating?
If you’ve only been together for a week or two, maybe you shouldn’t disrupt your family’s and their family’s traditions just yet. If you’ve been together for over a year and they still haven’t met your family, it needs to happen. Anywhere in between those two and you should move on to the next question.
Do they have family nearby?
If their family is in Nebraska, or maybe even another country, and they aren’t taking the flight home, it’s perfectly acceptable to let your home be their home for the holidays. If their family is nearby, however, you have to consider whether you’re stealing them away from their family traditions. They can always meet your family at some point in the holiday break, if not necessarily on a holiday.
Is your family typically welcoming to your new relationships?
You know your family better than anyone else. How do you think they’ll react to this new person? If you KNOW it won’t be pretty, give it some more time to sink in.
If you do bring someone home…
Tell your family they’re coming!
It doesn’t matter how much of a fuss your family will make over you bringing someone home, it will be worse if you surprise them Thanksgiving or Christmas morning.
Introduce them to your siblings first
If you have siblings and it is at all possible for them to meet your new guy/gal before your parents do, make that happen. Unless they’re really judgmental or you have some beef with them already, your siblings can be your and your partner’s allies during family dinner.
Include them in family traditions
Warn the person you’re bringing home of any weird family traditions ahead of time so they aren’t caught off-guard, and make sure to make them them feel like a part of the traditions, not an outside observer.
I know you’re nervous, but the more nervous you act, the more nervous your partner will be, and the more nervous your family will be (yes, the parents get nervous about this stuff, too!). Just act like you’re hanging out with your family, or like you’re bringing any other friend over. You can’t control whether or not your family makes a big fuss, but you can control how you handle it.
If YOU’RE the one meeting the family…
Learn about the family before you get there
Know some background information – how many brothers and sisters do they have? Which aunts and uncles are on whose side of the family? What kinds of movies does their mom like? Who’s their dad’s favorite football team? Try to find some common interests to discuss when you get there.
Flowers, wine, dessert, a holiday card… Find something to bring as a thank-you gift for their parents. Best way to figure out what to bring? Ask your partner! Find out if their parents like wine or beer, or if their mom has a garden or collects anything. Try to make it something a little personal.
Offer to help with cooking
And the cleaning. It’s common courtesy, and cooking can give you something to bond over.
Don’t drink too much, and don’t get involved in family arguments
These are two difficult rules to abide by during the holidays. As a matter of fact, no matter what side you’re on in the meet-the-parents situation, you should stick to these. You don’t want to give the family the impression that you’re an alcoholic, or start off by offending them. You just don’t want that kind of energy around in general, if it can be avoided (let’s face it – it often can’t). If a family argument does erupt, try to remain quiet and neutral. You can debrief and vent to your bf/gf later.
Don’t try to be perfect, because no one is. In fact, the family will probably think you’re weird if you seem completely perfect. This person and their family all have to like you for you, so just be that, do what feels natural, and let them get to know who you really are.
Have you done the meet-the-parents thing already? Have any other advice for people who are bringing someone new home for the holiday? Give us your tips in the comments section!