Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The couple's guide to surviving the holidays

If this is the first Thanksgiving or Christmas you're spending with your significant other's family or the first time your taking your sig other home for the holidays, then take a deep breath and pop a Xanax.  This can be a scary time.  Not to make you too nervous, but if things don't go well, it could mean the end of your relationship.  And then you'll probably never find love again and Carolyn's mom's psychic will tell you that you too will die alone.  Totally kidding.  We all die alone.  Here are ten tips to help you get through the entire holiday season.  And if you're single, then make sure to check out Carolyn's post from yesterday for her genius survival guide.

10. If you're the plus one: Parents need to be buttered up.  Bring flowers.  Send a gift basket with lots of snacks and booze.  Nothing too over the top or sentimental, but something that shows you're thoughtful and polite. Anything handmade is too "I want to be part of this family so bad, I can taste it, please love me."  Be prepared that your gift could also lead to disaster, but it's the thought that counts.  I once sent a Harry & David chicken pot pie to my in-laws (that came highly recommended by Oprah) and it was gross.  Thanks Oprah.  Thanks a lot. 

9. If you're bringing a plus one: Remember that your bf/gf is sacrificing time with their family to spend the holiday with yours.  Assuming they love their family, then they could be a little sad (or even resentful) about this.  Consider including one of his or her family traditions to the mix or making one of their favorite T-day fixings, even if your family normally doesn't enjoy say-- dining on jello shots.  The first time I spent Christmas with my husband's family we had only been dating over a year, but his mom put a "Sara" ornament on their tree.  They don't mess around when it comes to Christmas, so I knew this was a big deal. 

8. If you're the plus one: The kids are your in.  If your significant other has nieces or nephews, it's your job to make them fall in love with you.  All grandparents are obsessed with their grandkids and they want to know that you think they're wonderful and precious and perfect too.  It's a major insult to not engage with them.  Plus, kids are adorable and they will take the attention off of you.  I knew I had it in the bag when (pre-marriage) my husband's niece started asking me to tuck her in at night.

7. If you're bringing a plus one: Make sure that your significant other doesn't end up feeling like an outsider.  Your family is the ultimate clique.  You've been a unit for years and years and years.  There will always be memories and personal jokes and people you talk about that will make your sig other feel like it's impossible to join in on the conversation.  In our case, we also speak a different language which naturally makes every American feel like they're being talked about (they are.)  If you can't always make them feel included in conversations, then be affectionate towards them.  It'll make them feel like even though this is your family, the two of you are still a unit. 

6. If you're the plus one: find yourself a sponsor for the weekend.  Preferably one of your siblings.  Someone you can sneak away and call when things get bad or if you start feeling like you're the only sane person in a house full of crazies.  It's hard to spend concentrated time with your own family, it's even harder to do it with someone else's.  Your sibling sponsor will talk you off the ledge and probably get you to realize that it's really not all that bad. But don't have them come over to rescue you, because you never know when they might accidentally steal your boyfriend away like Claire Danes did in The Family Stone

5. If you're bringing a plus one: Make sure to coach your significant other on family issues that are off limits.  Or things certain family members are really sensitive about that might seem harmless to them.  They will most likely put their foot in their mouth a few times over the course of the holiday, but it's your job to try to minimize the number of times it happens.  And when they do say the wrong thing, try to not be so hard on them.  If you need to apologize for them, do it in whatever foreign language your family speaks.

4. If you're the plus one: Remember, mom is the key to the family loving you.  The nieces/nephews/grandkids are crucial too, but they are super easy to win over.  With moms, the stakes are a lot higher.  They gave birth to this person that you're dating.  You're essentially taking their child away from them, so they start off being a little suspect of you.  So any time you see your significant other's mom washing a dish, making a salad, taking out the trash, etc etc ask if you can do it for them.  Better yet, don't even bother to offer.  Just do it.  Boys, this means you too.  And this one's important: never infer that you know your significant other better than their mom knows them.  And under no circumstances do you cook better than her.

3.  If you're bringing a plus one: avoid discussions on politics and religion with your parents, especially if you already know that your significant other won't share their views on those topics.  It's okay for you to debate your parents, but it's not okay for them to do it and you don't want to tempt them.  So if, I don't know, the subject of comes up-- don't bother piping in about how much better Obamacare would be with a single payer system-- just very quickly start talking about the weather or start singing Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. 

2. If you're the plus one: You can't really take over the plans for the holiday.  Or the alcohol.  Or the television.  My sister and I almost went Lord of the Flies on my husband and brother-in-law when they decided at 9pm they were going to have a Lord of the Rings marathon and we wanted to watch something else.  Luckily, my husband fell asleep thirty minutes into it. 

1. If you're bringing a plus one: Have their back.  I'm not saying you have to take their side on everything and sometimes you shouldn't, but the two of you should be bonding with each other over your families idiosyncrasies.  You should not be bonding with your family over your significant other's idiosyncrasies.  This will just make them feel insecure and ganged up on and this will lead to a very awkward flight home.  Trust.

Also, don't bring home a turkey:


  1. Totally!!! And eat stuffing off each other.

  2. that goes without saying, anonymous.