Whether you’ve been dating for almost a year or just don’t want to spend the weekend alone with your crazy family, bringing your girlfriend home for the holidays has its perks. But after the invite, what are you supposed to do? Especially if she’s never met your family before, you can’t just show up unprepared and hope for the best – well not if you want to have a girlfriend by the time Monday rolls around. Read these five tips and don’t mess it up.
Before the holidays, take your girlfriend out to lunch with your sister and her boyfriend or a couple of your close cousins. This will give you an idea of how well she meshes with your family, and it will give her a chance to get out any meeting-the-family jitters. Plus, you want her to feel like she knows someone so you two don’t have to be side by side the whole weekend.
Set the Stage
It doesn’t have to be too detailed, but fill her in on the Thanksgiving dinner itinerary. What should she expect? Does you family have a tradition of eating and lounging around all day or is the weekend packed with food, family, football, shopping, games and more? If your family goes around the table and everyone says what they are thankful for, tell her. Don’t expect that your traditions are hers. She may be used to fancy dishes while your family might be the paper plate type.
Discuss Your Family Dynamic
Talk about your family dynamic. Are they traditional, conservative and formal or sarcastic, loud and a bit unconventional? Try to see your family through someone else’s eyes and give her a description. Prepare her for how right-wing your dad is or that your siblings really like to tease. You will likely show parts of your personality she hasn’t seen before while you are with your family. At least if she knows your mom is quiet or your brother is sarcastic she won’t assume everyone hates her.
Talk to her about sleeping arrangements, dress code and what’s okay and what isn’t. Some families might think texting at the table, spending time alone or talking openly about politics is totally fine. Others might not. Let her know.
Talk About Expectations
Figure out both of your expectations for the holiday. If you want to introduce her to the family and make sure everyone gets to know her, tell her you hope she can connect with your sister or get to know your dad. If you just want to have a good time and she may as well tag along, let her know the weekend will be low key. People tend to cling to what they know in new situations. Let her know beforehand if you plan on spending some time playing ball with the boys or watching TV with the guys while the girls (her included) do some shopping.
Get Everything Out in the Open
Tradition is that meeting the family symbolizes a big step in the relationship – a forward leap toward more commitment and potentially marriage. Others think of it as just another way to spend time together and nothing so dramatic or permanent. Most couples may fall somewhere in between. You don’t have to get all serious on her but if introducing her to your parents or involving her in family activities is kind of a big deal to you, let her know. It’s as simple as saying you don’t often bring girlfriends home to meet the family or your parents have wondered when they’d get to meet her. If it’s nothing like that for you, let her down softly. Make sure you are on the same page so she doesn’t think she’ll be coming home with a ring on her finger.