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- If you’re considering inviting a new partner home for the holidays, talk to your partner and your family about it.
- Give your partner the rundown on your family’s celebrations and cast of characters and choose which events you want to attend.
- Make sure your family knows about any dietary restrictions your partner has.
- Don’t talk politics and find opportunities to spend time alone.
Bringing a new romantic partner home with you for the holidays is an exciting relationship milestone. However, it can also be daunting for you, your significant other, and your family.
INSIDER spoke to relationship expert and bestselling author Susan Winter about the dos and don’ts of bringing someone special home for the holidays. Here are eight ways to make that initial visit as comfortable and enjoyable as possible for everyone involved.
See what your partner thinks first.
Is there a “right” time in your relationship to invite your partner home for the holidays? Winter said that the amount of time you’ve been together isn’t as important as how you feel about them.
“If you feel strongly about this partner, even if you just met, why not extend the offer?” she said. “It’s a very good way to find out where you stand. I don’t think it’s too early if you like each other.”
Feel out your family.
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If you’re bringing a significant other home, you’ll need to run it by your family and make sure they’re on board.
“You need to have a preparatory conversation with your family,” said Winter. “Tell them that you’re seeing someone special and you’d like to integrate them into the holiday plans.”
Give your partner the rundown on family members and activities.
Every family has its quirks and kooky relatives that join in on holiday celebrations. Give your partner an idea of who will be there and the protocol for their behavior, and highlight relatives that you think they’d get along with.
“Give them a ‘what’s up’ as to each person and tell them the conversations to avoid and the conversations they might want to enter,” said Winter.
Figure out sleeping arrangements ahead of time.
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Even if you and your partner spend the night at each other’s places all the time, your family’s standards can be a different story, making sleeping arrangements a potentially fraught topic. Winter recommends treading carefully.
“This depends on how close you are to your parents and how open-minded they are,” she said. “You don’t have to stay with the family. You can stay in a hotel. You’re adults. If you do stay in the home, you know your parents well enough – know the ground rules and don’t push it.”
Tell whoever’s cooking about your partner’s dietary restrictions.
The holidays center around food, so make sure your partner doesn’t go hungry. If they keep kosher, have allergies, are vegetarian or vegan, or have other dietary restrictions, whoever is cooking needs to know that in advance.
Winter also suggests bringing food with you that you know your partner can have to make it easier on everyone.
Pick and choose which events to attend.
You probably have a good idea of what the holidays with your family are like. Set yourself and your partner up for success by choosing the parts of the celebrations that will be the least intimidating and the most enjoyable.
If baking holiday cookies or decorating the tree before Christmas are fun family affairs, include them. If the days leading up to Christmas are too hectic with preparations, consider arriving later once the festivities have started.
“Pick the best scenario,” said Winter. “Pick the event where you know it will go the best for you and your partner and they will feel comfortable.”
Steer clear of controversial conversation topics.
You want your family to get to know your partner and vice versa. But if your partner’s political views differ from your family’s, now is not the time to hash it out.
“You’re meeting parents and family for the first time, you want to give a good impression,” said Winter. “Now is not the time to air your political views, especially if they’ll be in opposition to this family. No good can come of it.”
Sneak in some alone time.
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Meeting a partner’s family can be overwhelming. Introducing your partner to your family can be stressful. And spending lots of time around relatives during the holidays can be a lot to handle regardless.
Winter recommends factoring in some time and space to breathe during your visit, even if it’s just a walk around the block or a coffee run.
“Maybe an eight-hour day is a lot to start out with, even if you’re traveling and visiting. Perhaps you can say ‘We’re going to go for a walk,'” she said. “Keep in mind that your partner is having a new experience. Have your partner keep in mind that you’re having a new experience. Just because it’s the holidays, you don’t have to spend the entirety of the time with your family.”
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