Whether you’ve only been with your significant other (SO) for a few months, a few years, or you haven’t even had “the talk” yet, you will soon have a festive bridge to cross together. November is a great month, a beautiful opportunity to enjoy the fall foliage and make some memories staying in, however, it’s also the opening of the holiday season.

Starting with Thanksgiving, the visiting, the gift-lists, and the mingling with many you do or don’t want to mingle with begins. And if you have an SO, planning all of it becomes just a bit more tricky.

To help you with the looming possibility of meeting the parents for a day filled with wine, relatives, and inevitable uncomfortable questions, here are a few tips on getting through it all in one piece.

meeting the parents

To Go, or Not to Go

You’ll initially have to figure out whether you should go over to your SO’s home at all. This dilemma can be easier to solve depending on whether your boo or his/her parents extend the invitation or not.

If you do have the invitation, base your decision on how comfortable you feel in your relationship. Since we’ve come a long way from five dates implying marriage, you don’t have to worry that going over to their house is going to imply anything serious at all.

meeting the parents

Sure, the parent’s might be wondering what their grandkids will look like, and the aunts and uncles might begin to make a mental list of wedding venues, but you can’t control everything. Try to feel at ease as you let them get to know you and vice versa. The worst that can happen is that you might discover it isn’t all the horror you made it out to be (unless you’re on the set for Meet the Fockers 4).

Should I take a present?

Bringing a little something for the first time you visit someone’s home is always an appreciated gesture. However, you shouldn’t feel obligated to impress them either.  

meeting the parents

Consider smaller things that speak with the kind of person you are. If you cook, take a batch of cookies, if you like making things yourself, try a DIY picture frame. If you don’t do either, you can never go wrong with a bottle of wine and flowers; it’s the thought that will be appreciated.

How should I act?

Even though you should definitely be yourself, it would be nice to clean up a bit. Also, don’t be too self-conscious: trying to be a version of yourself that you think will be more liked is never going to fly by smoothly. In the end, know that they just want their son or daughter’s partner to be a good, honest, and loving individual.

Let them get to know you and that’s the best and most you can do. Mingle, be friendly, and consider asking about childhood stories or having them bust out some family albums. You don’t just want to be seen as arm candy; let them know there’s more to you.  

meeting the parents

You’ll probably know by now which family members are favorites and who to avoid. Don’t be shy and head over to grandpa who probably has some great WWII stories up his sleeve.

If the older generation doesn’t speak a lick of English, then asking to learn a few necessary phrases in your SO’s native tongue is a winning card to play. Showing how you appreciate their family’s roots will surely win them over.

meeting the parents

For the Married

If you’ve got years of experience with the in-laws, it doesn’t get any easier. Either you all get along great, or there are permanent subtleties that you can’t seem to overcome. The holidays can be stressful and sometimes you just have to grin and bear it.

In any case, make sure you go armed. Break out your tablets and phones for a sneak peak into the all the exciting events your family missed. Show them your son’s soccer match photos, your daughters chess tournament, or shots from your husband’s latest high school reunion. They will love being in the know through pictures.

meeting the parents

When it comes to gift ideas for in-laws, you have a greater amount of resources for deciphering what they’d like. Think back to the last time they were visiting. Did they like the special tea you served or the scented candles in the guest room? They’ll be thrilled by the attention you’d be showing them by remembering and it would definitely be sentimental.

meeting the parents

With grandparents, you cannot go wrong with handmade goodies by their adorable grandkids. Stamping just about anything with your tot’s painted palm will be a masterpiece in their eyes.

The Day After

Whether you think the daunting visit was a success or not, in the end, it comes down to one thing: If he/she loves you, they’ll love you. But if things didn’t go too well, one way to cope is to laugh at what might have bothered you in the moment and commiserate with your SO about the shared quirks on both sides of the family.

meeting the parents

Most importantly, don’t let formalities get the best of the romance and memories that the holiday season has to offer for you and your lover.