How To Survive The Holidays With His Family

How To Survive The Holidays With His Family ©iStock/AleksandarNakic

Having a boyfriend is great and all, but that doesn’t mean dealing with his family will be a walk in the park. In an ideal world, going home for the holidays — his home or yours — would be stress-free, but holidays mean family, and family means lots of opinionated people to contend with. Here’s how to survive the holidays when you’re spending them with his family, because you’ll need to come prepared.

  1. Don’t take anything personally. Even when his mom casually mentions what an amazing cook his ex-girlfriend was as she accepts your store-bought dessert contribution, you’ve gotta let it roll off your shoulders.
  2. Be you, but on your best behavior. You always want to come across as your authentic self when you’re getting to know the fam, but probably minus your habit of curse words every few sentences.
  3. Ask your man to prep you. If there’s a particularly troublesome aunt or a super cool cousin, you have a right to know before you head in. After all, it’s in his best interest to make sure you’re well-liked, isn’t it?
  4. Don’t get trashed. The holidays usually include drinking, but keep your company in mind and set yourself a limit so you don’t wake up and feel the need to make a run for it. You don’t want to embarrass yourself or your boyfriend, so take it easy on the booze.
  5. Play it cool with the sexy stuff. Excessive PDA in front of his younger siblings isn’t going to sit well with anyone, and it’s just gross. Squeezing his hand or a quick peck on the cheek or lips is fine, but draw the line there.
  6. 6. Come bearing gifts. Even if a gift falls flat, it’ll feel better than showing up empty-handed and wondering if you should have brought something. If his parents drink wine, a nice bottle of red always goes over well around the holidays. If not, cookies, flowers, or chocolates are nice gestures, as well.
  7. Remember names. And use them. Using people’s names when you’re talking to them is a great way to connect, even if you’re not going to be best buds.
  8. Don’t use your man as a security blanket. This is a big chance to spend some time getting to know the family members… that could one day be your family one day, as well. Get to know them independently as people, and you might develop a connection.
  9. Take your time if you need it. Zoning out on Instagram during story time isn’t a great way to clear your mind (without coming across as distant), but taking a walk or nap can be.
  10. Avoid the drama. Most families have some conflict somewhere in there, but if anything comes up, avoid taking sides and quietly slink out of any conversations you don’t belong in.
  11. Set your boundaries. Remember that a friendly laugh and “That’s a little personal!” will send most people the message that you’re not comfortable discussing your fertility at the dinner table. Hopefully they’ll have enough manners not to ask in the first place, but you never know.
  12. Offer to help out. When you notice lots of bottles piling up, ask if there’s a recycling bin can you should run them out to. If the dishes are piling up, offer to help wash or dry. They’ll think you’re the most polite guest ever.
  13. Keep in touch with your own family. Stepping out to call your mom is a great excuse when you need a moment to chill. Plus, she always knows the right things to say and will give you a pep talk.
  14. Don’t complain. If you don’t like the food, tread lightly. Go for another round at the cheese platter or grab a snack later, but avoid outwardly insulting your future mother-in-law’s favorite recipes.
  15. Relax. Your man wouldn’t take you home if he didn’t think you were great, so try to stay calm, and maybe even enjoy yourself.
Kate Ferguson is a Los Angeles local and freelance writer for a variety of blog and magazine genres. When she's not writing, the UC Davis graduate is focused on pursuits of the entertainment industry, spin class, and hot sauce. Look for article links, updates, (and the occasional joke) on Twitter @KateFerg or @WriterKateFerg, or check out her personal blog