Sabrina loves to write about love, life, and everything in-between in a candid yet humorous approach.
People say it's the most wonderful time of year, although it might not seem like it if you have to meet his family for the first time. Holiday celebrations with your own family can be hectic and stressful enough, but when you add in his relatives it could be a disaster. There are so many things that could go wrong when that many different people are all meeting for the first time. But on the other hand, a good time could be had by all, it all depends on how everything plays out. Thankfully, there are some things you can do to move your family gatherings in the right direction and minimize the awkwardness.
First off, if at all possible, try not to meet his whole family for the first time during the holidays. It's really overwhelming for everyone involved. You're nervous and stressing out because it's a lot of pressure to make a good first impression for 50 people in one night. Your significant other is probably worried too because he knows he loves you, but he might not be sure how his family will accept you or how your family will accept him. There are too many expectations involved when your meeting someone's entire family for the holidays. The best thing to do is to try and meet just his immediate family for dinner first. It's a much less awkward situation for everyone if you just meet his parents and brothers for a small dinner. You have the opportunity to get to know every member of his immediate family in a fairly easy going and stress-free environment. You only have to try to impress a small group of people and you're likely to be less nervous than if you're meeting grandma, grandpa, and all the aunts and uncles. You're also giving his family a chance to get to know more about you without any outside distractions from other family members. It's a win-win for everyone involved.
I always like to bring something with me when I'm meeting my significant others parents for the first time. Flowers are always a safe bet, and depending on what time of year it is you can go seasonal in that area. If it's the summertime, a bright colored bouquet of tulips, lilies, or orchids is always appropriate. In the spring time, there are many spring bouquets available at any grocery or flower store. In the fall, I like seasonal autumn bouquets and for this time of year, Christmas flowers or plants like poinsettias are a great choice. Roses are the classic and traditional choice that can work for any occasion as well. Depending on your age, a bottle of wine can be something else that you bring when you meet parents for the first time. I have found that most people prefer red wine over white so a good Merlot is a safe choice. It's always important to limit yourself to one drink when meeting parents for the first time or maybe not even drink at all. It's a sensitive time when impressions mean everything and if you're drinking too much you can give the wrong one. Flowers are usually for the mother and the wine is for everyone at the dinner party to share.
If you have no other choice but to meet his entire family for the holidays, relax because it's really not as bad as you think. You're going to be at the center of attention because you're the new person and everyone else already knows one another. You might get lucky and there could be another newcomer there, like his sister's new boyfriend or his brother's new girlfriend so you will only get half the attention and you can breathe easy. The key thing to meeting his family is to work the room in small groups. Meet the parents and brothers/sisters first and spend a few minutes talking to them and getting to know one another. Then move on to a group of grandparents, then uncles, aunts, nieces, nephews, and so on.
Spend a few minutes introducing yourself and talking to each small group before moving on to the next. That is a much less overwhelming strategy then trying to meet the whole family at once. That is almost impossible without missing over some people entirely and not really getting to know anyone at all. Any big task is better handled when it's divided into little pieces and meeting a big family is no different. Try to have him by your side introducing you and making the conversation flow easily.
People usually make a first impression of you in the first ten seconds they meet you so you have to put your best face forward. Smiling a lot always makes people feel comfortable around you and it gives off the vibe that you are friendly and approachable. Even if you're not really a people person, try to act as friendly as you can by smiling a lot and shaking hands with every family member that you meet. Be warned, some of them may be huggers so you may have to return the hugs to be polite as well.
In order to make a good first impression, you have to dress appropriately for meeting his family. If you already know them fairly well, you can be more creative with your outfits because they already have more to go on about you then what you are wearing. They probably know you as a person and won't be judging you based on how you look. On the other hand, if you're just meeting these people for the first time, you really have to think hard about the clothes you are wearing and what those clothes are saying about you.
Before you even speak your first word to anyone in his family, your clothes will have already revealed a lot about your personality. I don't think you can ever be too overdressed for meeting someone's family for the first time. Of course, don't wear a ball gown or anything, but a really nice dress or nice blouse and pants should work. For the dress, nothing too revealing or short, just a simple black dress, or holiday color dress is fine. Same goes for the shirt, not too low cut, but more on the conservative side. If you're used to dressing more revealing try to cover up for this occasion. If you don't know too much about his family, it's always better to be more covered up and conservative for the first meeting. After you get to know them, you can probably tell what kind of people they are and you can dress more casual and comfortable. First impressions are everything though.
Meet the Parents
It can be an uncomfortable situation if you're coming in from out of town and staying with his family for a few days if you don't know them at all or barely know them. Remember the movie Meet the Parents? You don't want to be Gaylord Focker. That guy did not win at making a good first impression. If possible, try and get a hotel room with your significant that's close to their house other rather than staying with relatives. Everyone will be more relaxed and comfortable with this arrangement. This way you can spend a lot of time together but still get some alone time away from them at night. If you do stay with his family, remember that some parents are very conservative and might even put you and your boyfriend in different rooms. Just go with it since it's their house and their rules. It's important for parents to know that you respect them enough to follow their rules when you're in their house. Most parents nowadays will not go that far and will just place you in the same room with your partner.
Whether you're just staying for dinner or the whole weekend, try to be as positive as you can about the whole situation. It may not be an ideal situation right away, but people have a way of surprising you and could end up having a blast getting to know his family. Even if you don't hit it off with them, you just have to get through a few dinners and a couple of days and you don't really have to see them again for awhile, maybe not even until next Christmas. It's important to give them a chance and try to get to know them as well as you can. If you end up marrying your significant other, these people could end up being your family so you have to keep that in mind. Always try to help out the mother who is most likely the one doing all the cooking and setting up. Offering to help clear the table or do dishes goes a long way and is very appreciated after a big meal. Try to be as helpful and courteous as you can.
Regardless of whether his family loves you or not, try not to take it too seriously because it's not them that you have to live with. Even if you end up marrying their son, you probably won't see his family more than a couple of times a year. Sometimes you can try your very best and people still don't like you, so you can't take it too close too heart. As long as you know you honestly did everything you could, you should feel safe in the knowledge that you put in your best efforts. Hopefully, though, his family will love you and become like your second family. You never know when you might be calling his parents Mom and Dad.
If you want to feel better about meeting his family during the holidays, watch the movie The Family Stone. It's a hilarious comedy about a woman meeting her boyfriend's parents for the first time and staying with them for a few days for Christmas.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2015 GreenEyes1607
Judy Specht from California on December 26, 2015:
Some very good ideas. One you might reconsider is the idea that you will be living with your partner and not his or her family. You might not see them often, but they are the ones who molded your significant other. Humor is a good idea. The first time I met my boyfriend's family it was on hot, humid, Chicago August day. I was staying with his grandparents. The room where I was to sleep had pictures of the grandparents siblings and their obituaries under them. He had to get back to base, and I made the best of it. It helped to have some common cultural background. We are both part Irish.
GreenEyes1607 (author) from USA on December 22, 2015:
Thanks for reading! Glad you enjoyed it.
Simran SIngh Wadhwa from India on December 14, 2015:
very informative.. thanks for sharing