How to Survive Your First Holiday as a Couple

Meeting his family for the first time during the holiday season can be nerve racking.  Will they like you – will you like them?  Will you make a good impression, as the beautiful, intelligent, and funny girlfriend?  Or will you embarrass yourself (and your man) with a mishap in the kitchen in front of his mother?  During your inaugural holiday feast as a couple, follow these steps of survival.


Don’t Get Drunk. Too many glasses of eggnog are not only a caloric disaster, but might make you too tipsy.  Behaving like a drunken mess when first meeting your significant other’s family is a recipe for disaster. Keep your beverage intake to one glass of wine or a cocktail, and then sip away at apple cider, water, or coffee.


Dress Like a Lady. There is a time and place for your sexy LBD, cleavage bearing halter, and sequined mini; Thanksgiving with your future in-laws is just not it. Remember you want his family to see you as the classy woman that you are. Your holiday outfit should express your individuality and sense of style, while also maintaining a respectful appearance.


Bring a Host(ess) Gift. Does his mother love chocolate? Bring her a box of sweet treats from your favorite local candy shop. Is his father a wine connoisseur? Pick up a bottle recommended at an organic wine shop in your neighborhood. Your thoughtful gift will mean much more than a generic fruitcake.


Don’t Lie. Graduating top of your class at Harvard, landing a top financial analyst position at a huge firm, while donating to charity and training for the marathon are all noble accomplishments, if they’re true. You are successful, so share your true successes, no matter how average you may think they are. Your education, job, activities, and interests are all important in making you who you are today. Lies will only catch up to you as you continue in your relationship.


No Hanky Panky. If you’re sleeping over his family’s home, refrain from tearing off each other’s clothes. It is disrespectful to have sex in their home. If slumbering in the same bed is acceptable, make sure your night is only filled with cuddling. Any other noises will both embarrass you and his family, and you’re bound to leave a negative impression with his parents.


Make Yourself Useful. Even if you lack culinary skills, offer to help. From chopping veggies to washing dishes after dinner, your insistence to help with chores will be much appreciated.


Eat! Unless you have a food allergy, make an effort to taste what your hostess or host is serving. It is disrespectful to make comments or shun foods that may be important to their ethnic culture or family traditions.


Pack Accordingly. Bring everything you may need for the weekend – from toiletries to beauty items. Their home is not a hotel!


Mail a Thank-You. Treat this family get-together as a job interview – behave like a lady, share and ask thoughtful questions, and mail a hand-written note to give thanks for a weekend as a member of their family. A sweet card is an unexpected thoughtful gesture.


Be yourself! No list of rules or “to-dos” can change your personality. Make sure to be on your best behavior without losing who you are. They want to get to know YOU. Take a deep breath, smile, and shine as your lovely self.


Sarah Shaker is an ex-soap opera producer, living, writing, and dating in the East Village. After launching Bright Lights, My City, a niche NYC lifestyle blog, she began working in community management and social media. Sarah is currently working for as the Regional Community Coordinator for, a hyperlocal website connecting neighbors to make their block a better place.

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