Forget Valentine’s Day—Christmas is by far the most romantic time of the year. With all the festive lights, snow swirling around outside and a roaring fire just begging to be cozied up to, how can anyone not feel enchanted by all the Yuletide magic and romance?
If this is your very first Christmas as a couple, then you’re in for a special treat. Spending the holidays together is exciting, romantic and—if we’re being completely honest—a little bit daunting.
As Christmas nears, there are probably a million questions running through your head: What should you get your partner as a gift? Should they meet your parents for the first time? How do you explain your mom’s super-creepy doll collection? (Answer: You can’t. All you can do is warn them about her weird doll infatuation.)
To help you answer some of these questions, here are our best tips to surviving your first Christmas as a couple.
Set Expectations in Advance
Before anything else, you should discuss your expectations of each other in the run-up to Christmas. Things between you and your partner could get icier than the North Pole if you don’t.
Does your partner expect you to attend every holiday party with them? If you’re not game for it, now is the time to speak up and get on the same page.
Do you expect your partner to tone down your usual level of affection when you’re in front of your family? If so, you need to tell them in advance, lest they try having a full-on make-out sesh in front of your parents.
Come Up with a Gifting Strategy
Choosing a gift for someone you’ve only been dating for a few months can be super stressful. Should you go all out and get them something expensive? Will they find your handmade gift meaningful or silly?
First off, just take a deep breath. If your partner is a good person, (and we assume they are since you’re dating them) they should absolutely appreciate anything you put time and effort into getting for them. Hopefully, you’d feel the same way about whatever gift they end up giving to you.
But if you’re still stressing over your gifting strategy, consider getting them a couple of stocking stuffer gifts and writing them a sweet card. They’ll surely love unwrapping your stocking stuffers and reading your tear-jerker of a note (’tis the season for sappiness, after all).
Share Holiday Traditions—Then Make Your Own
Part of the joy of experiencing your first Christmas as a couple is learning how each of you celebrates this special time of the year. For instance, maybe your Southern family has a tradition where they leave oranges in Christmas stockings, while your partner’s family is anything but traditional and bakes vegan Christmas cookies to entice old Saint Nick. (Maybe he’s into it? We honestly aren’t sure.)
Learning about each other’s longstanding traditions is a great way to grow as a couple. Plus, it gives you an opportunity to think about creating your own traditions to share with each other.
Be Prepared to Meet the Family
Don’t let your partner meet your family without giving them the 411 on their…ahem… eccentricities. If you let them go in blind, you might as well wear a hat that says “worst partner ever” with an arrow pointing down at yourself.
Be a team player by giving them the scoop on what to wear when meeting the parents for the first time, as well as how to act. Does your family expect your partner to dress up for Christmas dinner? Are there topics your partner should avoid discussing at all costs?
If your partner is doing a terrible job at providing details about his or her family, here are some failsafe tips to follow:
- Lend a helping hand. At dinner, don’t ask if you can help clean up—it will get shot down immediately. Instead, just begin picking up everyone’s dishes (assuming they’re finished, of course) and bringing them over to the sink. You’ll earn major brownie points and leave a great first impression.
- A compliment never hurts. Get in the family’s good graces by throwing a compliment or two their way. Just keep it simple and don’t overdo it. If their two-bedroom home is a cluttered mess that could be featured on Hoarders, no one is going to believe it’s the most beautiful home you’ve ever seen.
- Pack respectable PJs. Packing a new women’s cotton pajama set or a pair of men’s lounge pants takes two seconds. But erasing the memory of running into your partner’s dad in the middle of the night wearing only your undies? Now that takes an eternity.
- Don’t come empty-handed. Bring a nice bottle of wine or a lovely note—something that shows you appreciate being welcomed into their home. It’s a small sign of respect that will make you look classy.
Schedule Alone Time
Ah, Christmas. The most wonderful hectic time of the year. Between holiday parties, family gatherings, and last-minute errands, you and your partner probably don’t have much in the way of alone time.
Before the obligations start filling up your schedule, make sure to carve out some time for just the two of you. Consider scheduling a night out where you have a lovely dinner and drive around to see the Christmas lights.
Don’t want to risk running into anyone? Have a cozy night in where you watch a classic holiday movie, make yourselves a hot toddy and cuddle up on the couch. No matter what you end up doing, put away your phones to make sure that no one interrupts your quality time.
Taking on Christmas as a Team
Sharing your first Christmas as a couple should be nothing but a happy and joyful experience. If you want it to play out just how you imagined it in your head, make sure that you and your partner take on the holiday season—and everything else, for that matter—as a team. Good luck, and Merry Christmas!