Surviving Your First Holiday Season as a Couple

Navigating your way through the holiday season can be tough enough, let alone if it's your first holiday season with your new significant other. The family parties, work parties, exchanging of gifts and all the other details are like little landmines planted all over the month of December. It can be confusing and having to share in these events with a new partner can add even more stress. Last year, my boyfriend and I shared our first holiday season together. Looking back, it was chaos, but somehow we made it through, and this year we are scratching things off our list like pros. Hopefully this article will provide some advice, and allow you to breathe in the smell of that Christmas tree a little easier.

  • Meeting the family/co-workers. Whether it's your first time meeting his family/co-workers or vice-versa, it will probably help both of you feel more relaxed if you go in prepared. Find out some information (careers, children, hobbies etc.) and names of people in the family and how they are related to your significant other. This will also help you from making embarrassing mistakes...think step-parents, divorced couples, etc. Theres nothing more embarrassing then pointing out the white elephant in the room. Let you partner know if any topics are off limits. You wouldn't want your boyfriend/girlfriend to start that one conversation that will suddenly make everyone in the room uncomfortable. You want them to make a great impression in a positive way, and not one that will last in a negative way. Maybe Uncle Joe's new girlfriend is really the reason why him and Aunt Martha are now divorced. And of course, you don't want to be telling Grandma or his Boss about your lastest romp in the bedroom, no matter how laidback the family/group seems.
  • Exhchanging of Gifts. This may seem like a no brainer. I'm sure you've heard these tips over and over before. But, there's a reason why its been said over and over again. It's important to talk to your significant other about if you two are going to be exchanging gifts and to set a price limit. Last Christmas, my boyfriend and I never discussed if we were going to exchange gifts. I bought him a hoodie, hat and boxers. He didn't buy me anything. I know, I know....pick your jaw up off the floor, and yes, we are still together. To his defense, we never talked about it and I never told him I bought him anything. It made for an awkward morning when I whipped out my presents for him, beaming like a school girl waiting for his reaction. He in turn, had nothing to offer me. I made him feel terrible for not getting me anything.
  • ....that being said, drop hints! This year, when my boyfriend made the comment about 5 times that he really wanted a Clemson jersey, I logged into my Ebay account faster than you can say mistletoe and ordered one. I got the hint. I also got the hint that he wanted gloves and new slippers because he had made the comment in passing several times. Guys...perk your little elf ears up!! We girls do the same thing! If you find your lady commenting on how pretty that necklace is on one of those obnoxious Christmas jewelry commercials, chances are....she probably wants one. If she keeps asking you for a massage or stating her back hurts, a gift certificate to a spa might be what she has in mind (my hint this year...let's see if he noticed). When all else fails and you find yourself clueless, just ask. It's better to get your loved one something they actually want, rather than an Obama Chia-Pet.
  • Spend time together. With all the craziness of the holiday season...traffic, crowded malls, long work hours and daylight slowly diminishing, you and your partner could both probably use some low-key alone time. Spend all day together doing nothing but watching movies or football on Sunday's. Get a Christmas tree and decorate it together. Visit a local winery. Something that only involves the both of you. My boyfriend and I make it a point to NOT leave the house on Sunday's. It's so important to spend time together and put life on slow motion when the chaos of Christmas is all around you. It will make you feel closer and you'll remember why you want to drag them around to all those holiday parties with you.
  • Spend time apart. I love my boyfriend, I do. I love coming home and cooking dinner for him, doing his laundry etc. But I absolutely relish in those times when I am completely alone in my house. This truly lets me unwind from the holiday stress. I can wrap presents, finally bake those cookies for the cookie swap at work, and do any last minute shopping for him. You're already running all over town with each other to different holiday events, or trying to find that perfect present for his mom or your goofy younger brother at the jam-packed malls. It truly allows you recharge when you have that complete alone time.
  • It's the little things. Small gestures can go a far way. Let your man know if your mom loves pointsettas....this will score him extra points when he shows up at dinner with one for her. And for dinner at his family's house, it's always a nice to bring a bottle of wine, or send a bagel basket the next day to thank his family for inviting you to share in their holiday. Cook up a breakfast casserole for Christmas morning for the both of you to share. Make a stocking for your partner full of special inside jokes/memories you share. It's the little things that really show each other how much you love one another this time of year.
  • Talk to each other. Actually, this probably isnt bad advice for all year-round. "Check-in" with each other every week. Ask each other about what might be stressing them out. Thank them for little things. Maybe he cleaned the coffee pot out for you, or maybe she DVRed a movie she thought you'd like. Acknowledge the fact that they thought about you. The holidays can bring out the best and worst in people. Make sure your own the same page with the different events. Are you both not feeling the Ugly Christmas Sweater party?? Skip it!! You'll never know if you keep things from each other.

Hopefully you and your significant other somehow manage to battle your way through the sea of green and red. It's important to talk to each other to make sure both of you are on the same page throughout the holiday season. Be patient and be conscious of each other's needs...everyone handles the season differently. Just remember why you love them, cross your fingers, and pray for the best. And chances are...if you love them, so will everyone else.

And if all else fails, you can always drink any embarassing moments or claws-out fights you may encounter away on New Year's! Hopefully this time next year, you'll be pro's and laughing about you holiday blunders past.

Happy Holidays and Best Wishes!

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