Holiday season is among us –a time of year that is most traditionally known for its cheerful spirit, prevailing gratitude and generosity. So why does bringing your significant other along make you want to run? Sometimes things that are supposed to be exciting like Thanksgiving dinner or holiday parties with the entire family are particularly stressful.
Let’s say you are anticipating that your mom is going to comment on how you still haven’t lost the “freshman fifteen” you have been hanging onto since college and your dad is going to try to have a serious conversation about your future, suddenly the upcoming holiday celebrations don’t sound so exciting. Add a stubborn grandparent, a dysfunctional aunt and uncle and a younger cousin who always boasts about their achievements in your face to the mix. Sounding fun yet?
So bringing your special someone as a guest to your family holiday celebrations might stir some things up for you and that is a-okay. Here are some tips to help you survive this holiday season riding the love train and not the stress express.
Give Them A Scouting Report. Run through everyone your significant other will be meeting so it will feel less overwhelming when they walk in the door. If there are a lot of names to remember, try using a pen and paper to draw out the family tree or look at family photos.
Make an S.O.S. Plan, Just In Case. Intentionally plan for stressful moments to happen. This way, you adjust your expectations so you can work together if sh*t hits the fan. For example, if you know certain topics (i.e. the election) will cause your special someone’s blood pressure to skyrocket, discuss an exit plan for you to step in if they are feeling overwhelmed. On the other hand, if you have beef with a relative, now is the time to tell your S.O. which person “not to piss off” and in what circumstances you might be on edge or need some extra support.
Expect ALL Of The Relationship Questions: How long have you been together? Where did you meet? What was your first date like? Relatives love to ask about your relationship for a million reasons, especially those curious younger children. So, prepare yourselves in advance by playing the “20 Questions” game to help one another feel confident in your responses.
Review The House Rules. Rituals and traditions are important to some families. If your family says Grace before Thanksgiving dinner and your guest is not religious, let them know so they can decide if they want to participate. Make sure to give your S.O. the heads up about any topics that are off limits or whether foul language is permitted.
Beware of Sensitivities. If your S.O. is super introverted or has a low tolerance for large groups of people, you might consider initiating one-on-one conversations with a few of your relatives who share common interests as opposed to a table with everyone. Or, if you know your family members are carnivores and your partner is vegan, now might be a good time to talk about bringing a Field Roast or some dairy-free eggnog.
Just remember to introduce your guest… Ahead of time! Tell your family about your S.O. by sharing your top five favorite things about them. Keep it brief, but make sure you emphasize that they will be coming with you to the celebration and it is important to you that they feel welcomed. Plus, the host will appreciate this as they are probably taking a head count for dinner and will want to know much food to prepare.
Now, you are ready to relax and enjoy the holiday season!