Items needed are as follows…
- Several cups of good cheer (small bottles pack better)
- One “free pass” in case of foot in mouth syndrome
- One “free pass” for laughing at an embarrassing family story or baby picture
- Code word for get me the h*ll out of here now
- Decoder ring for spotting signs of social or emotional fatigue
- Cheat sheet of all topics to avoid at the dinner table with the family (small enough to tape to side of dinner glass)
- File of waterproofed family customs in case of emergency (hide in guest room toilet)
- Family Tree complete with names, pictures and relations to study during travel
- Coordinated communication on just how you met, what your plans are for the future, where you are staying while visiting (if it’s not obvious) and if you live together or not
- Gassed up car to make a quick get away if needed
Holiday survival plan:
Use the above items to create a visit of no longer than 4 days with one or both families during the holidays. The 4 day rule is important. (I would use the 3 day stinking fish rule but you are more than just visitors, so you have an extra grace day or two to make mom happy.) Try not to subject your new boyfriend or girlfriend to more than 4 days no matter how lovely your family is. Yes, you love them, but imagine how nerve-wracking it is for someone who not only wants to make a good impression on you but also on the people who raised you and has no idea what to expect. Yikes!
All families have different customs and expectations. If her family is the old-fashioned “no one sleeps together under my roof unless you are married” type and your mom provided condoms in your bed stand when you were in High School, discuss what will make you both the most comfortable with the experience while respecting your family’s boundaries. If mom and dad aren’t down with PDA or sleep overs… rethink your plans to snog by the fireplace after dinner.
If you know your family can be challenging… issue fair warning. No need to scare your boy/girlfriend, but neither can you just expect them to be thrilled about walking in blind to a potential Lampoon’s movie.
If you are the one visiting your S.O.’s family here are a few tips:
- Your boyfriend or girlfriend will bear the brunt of the fall out if you act up. So be gentle with your impact on their family. If you become part of the family, you’ll have more license to state your mind.
- Limit your alcohol intake. A good rule of thumb, you want to be more sober than his/her parents even if they are completely plowed.
- Bring a gift. Even if it’s something small or homemade, it’s a common courtesy for older generations that us younger gens often times think we can skip.
- Even if your S.O. is being disrespectful to their family, don’t jump on the bandwagon. Maintain respect at all times and if you can’t, I would suggest leaving before you lose your cool.
- If you are going on a family trip as your first family meet-n-greet, well, God help you. But still, apply all the tips and just be ready to find ways to take a break without making it look like you don’t want to hang out with grandma on the shuffle board deck for another hour.
If you were not invited to come home for the holidays… well… that’s a whole new post, but since you were… get ready to enjoy meeting the people who helped shape the person you’re dating. If you decide it’s going to be fun, you’ll find a way to make it a happy occasion. And if you’re stressed… talk to your S.O. about your fears… it’ll help (if they’re the right person for you.)
Any other tips to add to the survival plan?
And yes, this is a re-post from last year, but I thought it would make a good kick-off post for a “How To Survive The Holidays” series. Stay tuned for “Holidaze: How to keep the holidays from getting to you,” “How to survive the holiday gift giving experience,” and “How to survive planning a multi-family holiday experience.” If you have any other ideas… feel free to shoot them my way!