Family Christmas Survival Guide for Dating Couples

The key to rocking your first family Christmas is to prioritize loving your boyfriend, his family, and Jesus. For the most part, implementing this strategy happens during the actual event.

However, it also really helps to be prepared. You might assume your families operate basically the same way, but that’s probably not the case. I remember saying after my husband spent his first Christmas with us, “I never realized how crazy my family was until you came.”

Spare yourself from repeating our epic Christmas embarrassments — like the time he showed up in jeans while my dad wore a suit, or the time I gave him a Lego keychain and he gave me a ruby necklace — and ask a few intentional questions ahead of time.

These are questions I wish I’d asked before showing up at my husband’s family Christmas. Take some time to discuss them with each other as you prepare for the holiday break.

For Smaller Family Christmas Gatherings:

  • Who should I bring a gift for? How much should I spend?
  • How does your family express gratitude during the gift opening?
  • Are thank-you cards expected or appreciated?
  • When will the two of us exchange gifts?
  • How much will we spend on gifts for each other?
  • What should I wear?
  • How long should I stay?
  • How much time will we have alone?
  • How can we respect your family with our PDA? What are you comfortable with?
  • What does a “good guest” do in your house? Do they wash the dishes or keep the conversation going at the table?
  • What are some conversation topics that each of your parents and siblings is passionate about?
  • How will we spend the time between meals and opening gifts?

For Larger Family Christmas Gatherings:

  • How many people will be there?
  • Can you give me a breakdown of how everyone is related to you?
  • Are you going to introduce me to people, or should I introduce myself?
  • Are there any deceased or divorced relatives I should avoid mentioning?
  • Are there any hot-button topics I should avoid bringing up?
  • Should I bring any food to share?
  • How formally should I dress?
  • What types of photos will your family take?
  • Are we more likely to hang out with “the kids,” “the adults,” or people from our generation?
  • How long are we expected to stay?

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