Healthy Relationships

Meet the Parents: Holiday Edition

November 24, 2021

Introducing your significant other to your parents and other family members is a momentous occasion. Many emotions are sure to be included in the fun: stress, worry, excitement and nervousness for both you and your partner. Instead of crossing your fingers and hoping that it all doesn’t turn into a scene from “Meet the Parents,” do the work ahead of time to make sure you’re ready for any hurdles that may come along.

While large holiday gatherings provide a unique set of challenges in which to introduce someone to your family, it may also feel like the right time to jump in with your significant other by your side. If you have a large family and are concerned about bringing your partner home to meet everyone at the same time, set up a short date with just your parent(s) and/or sibling(s) first. That way, your immediate family can get to know your partner before he or she is fed to the sharks — I mean, the rest of the family — during holiday festivities. 

If you’re both comfortable meeting everyone at once, chances are it’s safe to go for it. Whatever you decide, here are some general guidelines to keep in mind when introducing your significant other to your family this holiday season.

Prepare your family

Make sure to tell your family in advance that you’re bringing someone home. Hopefully you have a close enough relationship in which you can also share any worries and garner their support. If not, you may need to set some boundaries surrounding what you expect. The last thing you want is for your family to pull out pictures of your ex or tell embarrassing stories you’re not ready to share.

Since we’re all human, we tend to have emotions surrounding such memorable occasions, especially when our children and close family are involved. You may need to give your family some time to adjust to the idea and some space to express themselves while also maintaining your personal boundaries and expectations. If you think this will be the case, make sure you break the news to them with plenty of time to spare.

Prepare your significant other

Your partner may be just as nervous to meet your family as you are to introduce them. Make sure to state what you need from them in terms of meeting your family, but also ask what they need from you. Have honest discussions about worries and fears as well as what you are each looking forward to during this gathering. Enlighten your partner to any personality quirks, expectations, traditions, dynamics and other information that will help them fit in once they’re sharing space with your family.

Decide sleeping and travel arrangements ahead of time

If you are coming home from out of town for the holidays, make sure that you and your partner have a private place to stay. While staying with your parents may seem like a dreamy idea, it may not give you or your significant other the space you need, especially if things become more stressful than planned. Book a hotel or vacation rental nearby so that it’s convenient while also providing you both a place to unwind. Make sure your family knows your lodging plans ahead of time so there aren’t any surprises. 

Get all of the other details ironed out in advance

Bringing a partner home to meet your family for the first time carries enough uncertainty that it will be helpful (and much less stressful) to preplan most of the smaller details. Inform anyone cooking if your partner has any dietary restrictions. Work with family members to get times and planned activities and expectations figured out well in advance. If your family wants to do a gift exchange, keep this in mind and help your partner have a gift ready. Having a framework for your visit can really help everyone to feel much more settled so they are more likely to relax and really enjoy their time getting to know your partner.

Introducing a significant other to your family can feel overwhelming between the worries or fears about how they will interact to all of the little details you have to plan for and remember. You may be likely to forget to focus on enjoying the moments with your family and partner. Try to take some time to relish those happy moments this holiday season, especially if you and your partner are having a good laugh with your family!