When you become an item with your SO, first you make it Facebook official. Then you start getting integrated into the family. Finally, you receive an invite to a holiday celebration. If you will be celebrating Turkey Day with your boo, you need to know how to impress. Since we've dated everyone from Mitten Romney (the country's foremost MR impersonator) to baristas and taxidermists, we have plenty of firsthand knowledge and advice to share with you so that this holiday season, you shine even brighter than all of the polished silver.
Bring something. Showing up empty-handed won’t get you any extra points. Being a teenager doesn’t mean you can’t make a small contribution. Offer to bring a dessert, and ask your mom to help you bake her famous pecan pie, sure to knock your future in-laws' pants off. If that seems like a bit too much (or if your SO insists you shouldn't bring anything), show up with something else, like a bouquet of flowers or a thoughtful little gift for the host (i.e. cranberry scented candle). If you think this seems suck-up-ish, that’s 'cause it is. However, remember that you are trying to impress, and simply showing up isn’t enough.
Look legit. Maybe at your family’s turkey celebration, it’s OK to wear pajama pants to accommodate stomach expansion. If you’re going to dine with your SO’s fam, however, step it up a notch. While you don’t need to show up in black tie or a ball gown, put a bit of effort into your looks. A pair of neat and clean jeans will do, along with a great looking sweater. Or, you can wear that dress in your closet—just make sure it isn’t too sexy. You don’t need to risk some weird uncle making jokes about your sweet potatoes—that’s just beyond awkward, and not the kind of attention you want.
Come mentally prepared. People are going to be interested in talking to you—after all, you're one of the only new faces at the table, which is refreshing after celebrating with the same people for decades. Because you’re new and exciting, you’re going to be expected to engage in conversation. If that isn’t necessarily your strong point, make sure to prepare before you go. Go over facts about yourself and prepare to deliver this information in thoughtful, creative ways (i.e. sophomore in school/senior at heart when I volunteer at the nursing home). If you steal the spotlight at dinnertime, make sure to tell the story of how you and your GF got together—you’ll know you’re set if her aunts and cousins smile and give one collective “AWW” at the end.
Help out. After the meal, it may be tempting to disappear into the dark confines of the basement and suck your SO’s face, but you still have one final act to make your SO’s mom (and your hostess) swoon. As everyone heads to the couch to continue watching football, ask Mrs. SO if she needs any help cleaning up. Better yet, don’t even ask; just start grabbing plates from the table and bringing them into the kitchen to be washed. Mrs. SO will likely be shocked by your good manners. After all, clearing the table (especially without being asked) is something she couldn’t even teach her own children to do.
Sniff back. After a spending a day striving to impress to your SO’s family, it’s time to take a hard look at them and sniff them out too. Observe their interactions—are they a close family, an aloof one? A smart clan with interesting stories, or a group of people who throw caution to the wind and fart at the dinner table? Can you see yourself with these people for the rest of your life, or do they legitimately scare you? Remember, you’re entitled to your own opinions about your SO’s family—however, it may be a good idea to keep them to yourself, at least until your SO has the chance to judge your unit. Remember, nobody’s family is perfect. If you like someone or even love someone, you need to accept where they come from.
Nervous about spending the big day with your SO's family? How are you going to make sure they all like you? Are you going to win their hearts with a great dessert or will your skills at making conversation wow them? Let us know how you think you will fare in the comments!