Tips on Meeting your partner’s family during the holidays

Noemi J. Mullins

First impressions may not be accurate, but they are a good way for others to form an opinion about us. The holidays can be a time of giving thanks and exchanging gifts. However, they can also bring anxiety, especially when you are meeting the family for the very first time. You don’t need to overthink things, but neither do you want to under-plan. Here are eight tips to help you find the right balance when meeting your partner’s relatives during the holidays.

Family dynamics: learn about them before you arrive

Success is not about knowing what’s going to happen but rather preparing yourself for whatever scenario could arise. Ask your partner about the family dynamics to gain an insight into their life. Do they have a parent with a strict personality? Are there certain topics to avoid? Do they joke around? It’s not necessary to alter your character in order to be able to get along with the family of your partner, but learning more about them will help calm down your nerves.

  • What do you think your partner should know?
  • Find similarities with your family members (to spark conversation).
  • You don’t need to feel bad about wanting more information. The fact that you are trying shows you care for your partner.

Get ready for small talk.

Take a deep breath before you begin to practice your carefully curated summary (and reasons for your success) of the past three years. Allow the conversation to flow naturally, even though you may have a few topics in mind. You’ll be more comfortable at the dinner table if you have open-ended questions ready.

  • Avoid controversial topics such as political and religion
  • When the conversation lulls, have a few conversation starters in mind, and don’t reach for your smartphone.
  • Try simple conversation starters such as:
  • What was your favorite childhood holiday?
  • What is the one side dish that you cannot live without?
  • What was the last film you saw?
  • Who do you predict will win the football match?

Consider your clothing

It’s not appropriate to wear a sexy dress or trendy ripped denim at your partner’s next family event. Style is all about self-expression, but we also want to avoid causing unnecessary judgments by those who are more traditional. The goal of the holiday isn’t to be trendy or to express yourself but to keep the peace within the family while displaying your personality. If you’re unsure, go for the safe option with your holiday outfit. Instead, make a statement by expressing your personality. Choose a classic LBD, trousers, and a sweater, and use accessories such as a colorful family necklace or earrings to show off your style.

  • You should follow this rule: if you are unsure if it is appropriate to wear, then don’t.
  • Ask your partner or friend for their opinion on the outfits you are considering.
  • Prepare your outfits in advance to avoid stress on the day.

Try to help

Your ability to communicate will not go unnoticed. However, it’s your willingness to lend a hand that will make you memorable. Be on the lookout and ask for help. What if the family of your partner wants you to be treated as a guest? Do not continue to insist. You can’t be hostile if you don’t know your boundaries.

  • Ask for help on only 2-3 things (asking everyone to help may seem like too much).
  • While the family member is cleaning up or eating, stay and start a small conversation.
  • Table manners and cleaning up after yourself

Respect family rules

What is the universal rule for every family? Their powers also bind you if you live under their roof. Knowing the laws of your family is as important as knowing your family dynamics. If your partner’s parents want you to sleep separately or remove your shoes and wear house slippers, then you must respect their rules.

  • You can ask your partner to give you specific details about the family rules.
  • Understanding the reasons behind these rules will help you better understand them.
  • If the chance arises, make it clear to your family that you are familiar with the rules.

Bring a Gift

Attending your partner’s event with his family is no different. You wouldn’t arrive empty-handed at a party, so do not make the same mistake. You’ll make a positive first impression on the family by being thoughtful. This will continue throughout the evening. You can make your signature dish and invite everyone to taste it, or you can opt for a host gift such as a wine or a candle. The family will be grateful for the thought that was put into the gesture.

  • Avoid stepping on someone’s toes by not cooking any main dishes
  • If you’re not sure what to give your partner, ask them for ideas.

Keep your mobile phone out of sight.

This rule is important to remember, even if you already know it. You can make a good impression by not using your phone. Avoid this behavior if you are accustomed to reaching for your phone in an uncomfortable situation or to refresh your timeline. Stay present by tuning in to the conversation and tuning out any other distractions.

  • Keep your mobile phone in your purse
  • Only check your phone when you are alone (like in the bathroom or car).
  • Switch off notifications on your phone or turn it off altogether


The most important tip to impress the family of your partner is to be yourself. It’s understandable: The stakes are high when you have to avoid spilling gravy on a modest dress or telling your life story to the grandma of your partner. But your self-confidence must be equally as high. You may be nervous, but you should take pride in your personality and know that people will appreciate it.

  • Tell your partner how you really feel before meeting them
  • You can give yourself or a loved one a pep talk
  • Participate in the party (play games, join in on open discussions, etc.).

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