It’s All Relative: Meeting the Parents

Whether you’ve been hot and heavy with your new main squeeze for a couple of months or a couple of years, meeting the parents is stressful for everyone. Your partner is hoping you get along with his entire network of relatives. His family is hoping you’re not too weird/crazy/mean to be dating him. You’re just trying to hold it all together. Luckily, with a little foresight and planning, you can ensure an easy introduction that works for everyone.

Do the homework.

If you’ve only been on a few dates with your honey, you might want to hold off on meeting Mom, Dad, and the rest of the gang until you get a sense of how he or she gets along with everyone. Do they talk and text everyday, or do they only get together at major holidays? Is there major drama with his older brother or her younger sister? Do they just not talk about long-lost Uncle Terry, or are conspiracy theories welcome? Also remember, if you’re being pressed to meet the family before you’re ready, be sure to let your partner know that you need time to get to know him or her better before you can meet everyone else.

Start small.

If your partner is set on you being his plus one at a big family wedding or this year’s multi-generational reunion, suggest that you meet a smaller group of his relatives to start out, especially if you’re shy or overwhelm easily in large groups. Meeting just your partner’s parents or siblings can give you a sense of their family dynamic without the added pressure of participating in a bouquet toss or three-legged race. Plus, you offer them the opportunity to really get to know you as a person, rather than as your date’s arm candy–it will make introductions at bigger family functions easier for everyone involved.

Set yourself up for success.

Encourage your partner to choose a meetup situation that works for everyone. After all, he knows everyone involved. Suggest avoiding passive activities, like attending a movie or sporting event, where conversation isn’t the focus. Sharing a meal, meeting for drinks, and other low-key social activities are best.

When the big day finally arrives, do everything you can to ensure a smooth introduction. Get a good night’s sleep, eat well, exercise–do whatever it is that helps you be your best self. Be polite and respectful, and follow your partner’s lead. Avoid discussing religion, politics, and other hot- button topics for the time being. Be sure to give everyone a basic picture of who you are. Tell them about your hometown, your work, and your hobbies. Keep it friendly and light–humor is your friend here.

Give honest feedback to your partner.

After you’ve both made it through the first meeting, take the time to check in with your partner. Let her know what you liked or didn’t like about the family, or ways that she behaved when she was with them that are red flags for you. If your relationship is getting serious, it’s important that decide together about what kind of family interactions are acceptable, and whether the two of you see eye-to-eye on how you fit into one another’s families. And don’t forget to emphasize the positives you experienced with his family–remembering the moments that worked alongside the moments that didn’t will go a long way toward figuring out the best way to build your relationships with family as a couple.

Model Responds to Kendra Wilkinson’s Post-Baby Body

…it’s fun to celebrate your sagging skin and be grateful to your body for creating life.

You may have seen Kendra Wilkinson-Baskett’s “brave” Mother’s Day post, in which she showed off her stomach after childbirth. The Instagram photo (which has since been removed from her account) has been shared on a lot of mothering websites, and for good reason. It’s inspiring to see a beautiful mother celebrating her body, especially when that body is so famous. I’m grateful for the positive impact Kendra’s photo had on social media, but it’s time to talk about the very real issues behind our response to it.

Kendra Wilkinson-Baskett proudly flaunts her post-baby body, via instagram.
Kendra Wilkinson-Baskett proudly flaunts her body, after having kids. She has been called “brave,” “risky,” and even “crazy” by the media for doing so.

Admitting that motherhood changes your body is not “crazy” or “risky.” It’s something to be proud of. It shouldn’t be seen as an act of ‘bravery’ for Kendra to be honest about her natural post-birth belly. That’s what Hollywood wants you to think – because “bravery” implies breaking the rules. In this instance, the “rule” is that women aren’t allowed to be anything other than ‘sexy’ to the men who own the media.

A Bride Confesses: I Hate Weddings.

Image source: []
Image source: []

I’m married, but I hate weddings.

This might come as a surprise to everyone who attended my wedding last year. Don’t get me wrong – we had a blast. It was a wonderful family reunion, and the best party we’ve ever thrown. I just really, really wish it hadn’t revolved around us.

My husband and I were very happy that our families wanted to celebrate our union. If we made our mothers happy, then mission accomplished. But I didn’t want to play bride. I just wanted to be a wife.

The day we got engaged, everyone went into production mode. Where will the wedding be? Do you know what kind of dress you want? Have you decided on colors? How many people are going to be invited?

It surprised me that so many people cared. But then, I hadn’t realized just how many people lose their shit over weddings. People love them. They’re a big deal. And while I felt ready for marriage, I was not ready for a wedding.

8 Ways You Can Survive Awkward Holiday Situations With Your Significant Other

On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me… some totally awkward family holiday encounters.

Holidays: a time of yummy food, festive parties, and your crazy Aunt Suzy judging everyone’s outfits (c’mon Aunt Suzy, be cool). But family holiday time can be especially crazy if you’re a couple. Whether you’re in a new relationship or have been together for years, you know you’ll have to face whatever your family (or your SO’s family) dishes out during the holidays. And sometimes, it can get awkward.

Are you ready for the “so when are you guys getting married” question? Uhg! No one is. What’s your game plan for when your boyfriend’s mom cuts you off some turkey but you don’t eat meat? What on earth are you going to bring as a gift? Here are some tips on how to gracefully get through the holiday season with your honey.

1. What to do with the “when are you getting married” questions.

These are the worst. Questions about your relationship can be so intrusive, and, if you and your SO haven’t talked about things like marriage yet, it can be extra weird. The bad news is that these queries never stop.

You might be thinking: “hey, won’t people stop asking once we get married?” No, no they won’t. It’ll just turn into the when-are-you-having-kids question and then the when-are-you-having-another-kid question until it’s the when-are-your-kids-having-kids question, until, I assume, you die.

By now, I’ve tried every answer in the book. From the jokey: “I’m still holding out for Chris Pine” to the polite brush off: “we’re not really sure right now” and had mixed results. But eventually, I found a line that works almost all the time.

The next time someone asks your when you guys are getting hitched, try this: “It’s so nice that you care about our relationship. The two of us haven’t come to a decision about that yet, but when we do have news you’ll surely be one of the first to know.” It’s polite but doesn’t encourage further discussion. It suggests that you’ve talked about it before, but respects your privacy. It’s vague and I love it.

2. Here’s how you can handle dietary restrictions at holiday dinners.

I’m a vegetarian and my fiance is allergic to dairy. I know: we’re the worst to have over for dinner. We’ve both run into the awkward “sorry, I can’t eat that” at each others’ family’s house and it’s tough.

I hate it when my fiancé’s parents spend all day making a turkey or ham and I have to tell them I can’t eat it. I hate sounding ungrateful and I’m always afraid that his family will think I’m making an excuse to not eat their food. And for my fiancé, it’s a different (but perhaps worse) situation where he might really want to eat those cheesy mashed potatoes but he can’t without having an allergic reaction. Bummer.

If you have a dietary restriction, there are a few things that you can do to prepare:

If it’s your family’s house you two are visiting, make sure there will be things your SO can eat. He/she will really appreciate it and it’s a great way to show you care.

If you’re going to their family house, bring a dish you can eat. It’s nice to bring a little something when you go to someone’s house, plus, you know you’ll have at least one thing to eat. In addition, see if your SO can mention your dietary restriction to their family. It’s nice to be upfront, and if your beau can casually mention your peanut allergy before the visit, that’s all the better.

When it comes to the day of: be honest about what you can have, eat what you can, and if needed, grab some drive-through later.

3. Here’s what you can do with presents for your significant other’s family.

surviving holidays as a couple

A lot of families exchange gifts during the holidays. A present exchange might be a ton of fun in your family, but when you’re going to someone else’s house it can cause stress.

You might not know if you should show up with gifts, and if so, what kind. You might not know everyone in the family (and what they like), and, if your date has a big crew you might not be able to afford to get a gift for every single person.

One great idea is to bring a wine and snack gift basket. It’s communal, tasty, and won’t break the bank. Bringing a snack gift can even become a tradition. I have an aunt who, in lieu of gifts, makes cookies every year and brings cute Christmas tins full of cookies for everyone… and it’s amazing. I look forward to those cookies every year and the holidays just wouldn’t be the same without them.

4. Be cautious with those holiday cocktails.

Alcohol is often free-flowing during holiday events and it’s easy loose track of how many times you’ve topped off your merlot. You don’t want to get into a situation where you (or your beau) has too much to drink or it could mean major embarrassment.

You want to be on your best behavior when visiting someone else’s family and sometimes that means switching to the virgin eggnog early. Talk to your partner about how much you both plan to drink beforehand and encourage each other to stick to just one or two cocktails with family, you’ll be glad you did.

5. Talking politics at your significant other’s holiday meal might actually be cool.

While most people think discussing politics at family gatherings is taboo, it might not be totally off the table. Some families like talking about current events, and if your family is one of those, they might find it rude if your boyfriend or girlfriend keeps trying to change the subject.

As long as everyone is polite and thoughtful, some deeper conversation might be a relief from typical small talk. Plus, if your SO and your family have the same views, it might be a great way to bond.

Talk to your sweetie about the climate of your family gatherings and what’s typical. If you’re both well-informed you’ll be able to steer the conversation in the right direction.

6. Here’s what you can do if you’re dealing with a challenging family.

Whether it be a backhanded compliment or full-on mean remark, family is famous for being rude to dates. You might end up apologizing for your dad’s remark about your new girlfriend’s job or you might find yourself taken aback by an unwelcome critique of your haircut. No matter what, rude family is tough.

If you wind up on the receiving end, brush it off with humor. If his mom says something about your clothes, try your best to make a joke about it and change the subject.

If your family’s the one causing trouble, shut it down early. Don’t be afraid to take your sister to the side and tell her to stop picking on your date. If a warning doesn’t work, know when to start heading home. It might seem harsh to leave early on a holiday, but if someone’s really causing problems, make sure they know it won’t be tolerated.

7. When things get to be a little too much with the family — there’s always the bathroom.

I love the bathroom. I really do. It’s where I go when I need to smell my pits to make sure I’M not that weird thing Aunt Carrie was smelling. It’s where I go to check if there’s spinach in my teeth, and it’s the place I go to wait out the storm at the table.

Perfectly planned bathroom breaks are the best when your boyfriend’s parents start to bicker again. It’s also super handy when your girlfriend’s uncle wants to show everyone the weird mole on his back. It’s shaped like Michigan? That’ so interesting, Frank. Excuse me, I need to use the restroom. Done.

8. The most important thing to know at a holiday dinner is when to leave.

Leaving: the most important part of your evening. While you might be having a blast hanging out with your family, know that your SO might be getting bored. Hanging out with new people (or people they don’t know very well) might not seem like such a blast for them.

Before you arrive, talk about how long you want to stay at your holiday gathering and set a time range for when you’d like to head out. You might also want to make a sign (or get a code word) to use if you’re ready to go home early. Communicating beforehand will put you two on the same page and will help you end the night gracefully.

Spending time with your SO’s family during the holidays can be challenging and awkward, but it can also be a ton of fun. It’s a great opportunity to get to know more about the important people in your boyfriend/girlfriend’s life, make some memories, and have a good time. Just remember these eight tips, and your holiday gathering is sure to be a success.

For more wedding day advice, check out “Picking And Choosing Wedding Advice That Works For You” or “7 Things I Learned From Marriage That I Couldn’t Learn Anywhere Else.”

How to Focus on Friendships This Holiday Season

The holidays should be about family and friends.

There is so much to do during the holiday seasons. There’s family to see, presents to buy, work to catch up on, events to go to. Sometimes friends get forgotten when you have so much more going on. You forget to call, tell each other you don’t have time to go out for a coffee or a drink just now, and before you know it, it’s mid-January and you haven’t seen any friends for months.

But maybe your friends don’t have to take a back seat during the holiday season. There are ways to not only include your friends this season, but to make sure they feel like they’re apart of your holiday fun!

How to Focus on Friendships This Holiday Season

There’s so much to do during the holidays: There’s family to visit, gifts to buy, and events to attend.

You might be rushing to clean up the house before family comes over or maybe you’re speeding to pack your bags in preparation to go head home for the holidays. But no matter your plans, this season can get busy.

With so much going on, it’s not uncommon to find friendships taking a back seat in December.

You and your bestie may forget to call each other, you might miss your friend group’s usual coffee date, and before you know it, it’s mid-January before you realize that you haven’t seen any of your friends for a long time.

But maybe you don’t have to forget about your friendships this year. This season, make a point to focus on your friendships with these 4 tips and tricks for a friends-filled holiday.

Happy Friends Holidays

1. Show them you care, with some gifts!

I know, I know, you already have so many people on your shopping list. You’re probably already panicking about what to get your grandma, what to get your baby cousin, and what on earth to get your boss.

But even if it’s something small and silly, like a funny t-shirt or a scented candle, a gift that says “I’ve been thinking of you” can go a long way for a friend. Of course, you probably don’t even have to work hard on this gift. Picking something out on Amazon or ordering some cookies online is pretty painless. Plus, you can usually find a good deal while online shopping.

Just remember: the more personal you can get with a gift, the better. Your friends probably don’t need anything fancy or expensive from you, but they’d probably love something that reminds them of you, or an inside joke you share.

To help with your shopping, here are some fun (and simple) present ideas that make for wonderful friend gifts:

-A bottle of wine you think they’ll love

-An order of fruit, chocolate covered fruit, or cookies from online retailers like Harry and David or Mrs. Fields

-A hat or scarf in a color they look good in

-Drop off a pie or cheesecake on their doorstep

-A gift card to get a manicure (with a note saying you’ll plan to do your nails next time you’re together)

-A book or movie you loved (that you can talk about next time you hang out)

-A cute planner for 2020

-A holiday puzzle (you can even get a personalized puzzle with a photo of you two on it!)

-Silly socks featuring their favorite animal

2. Set aside time… ahead of time.

Making time for friends shows them that you care about them. It proves that, not only do you like seeing them, but that spending time with them is a priority to you.

But making time for friends in the middle of the holidays can be a tricky business. For me, it’s already difficult to plan hangouts during the non-holiday seasons. Between my work schedule, their work schedule, and miscellaneous commitments to worry about, it’s tough to set aside time. So, when you throw in extra holiday errands and family events? It can be tough.

The best way I’ve found to make time for friends is to set up a hangout date, weeks in advance, at an event that’s extra special and really can’t be moved. Think late-night movie premier or special live holiday show.

If you’re like me, it can be easy to ask a friend for a rain check if you only make loose plans to meet up for something like happy hour “one day this week.” But if you set aside time for a special event, buy the tickets ahead of time, and put it on your calendar weeks (or a month) before, you’ll both probably stick to the plan.

holidays with friends

3. Do holiday chores together.

Sometimes, you simply can’t set aside extra time for friends during the holidays. The idea of making time to see a movie? Impossible. Going out to dinner? Nope.

But you don’t necessarily have to carve out exclusive “friend time” in order to see your besties. Instead, team up with your buddies to get your holiday chores done together.

Meet up at the mall to shop together. Chit-chat as you wait in long lines. Help each other figure out what to get your parents or significant others. Try on Christmas sweaters and tell each other, honestly, if they look okay. As a reward, maybe you can sit down together for a drink once the shopping is done.

If you’re not crazy about the idea of shopping together, consider inviting friends over to your place on Christmas Eve to make pies (or appetizers) that you can bring to each of your family’s homes the next day. It takes about the same amount of time to make two or three batches as it does one—but baking together makes it twice as fun.

Or, if baking isn’t your thing, you could just meet up to wrap presents.

One of my besties and I love to meet up before Christmas and wrap presents together. We drink wine and eat cookies as we wrap, and over the years, it’s become one of my favorite holiday activities!

4. Involve friends in your traditions.

Another great way to include friends in the holidays is to make at least one of your traditions friend-friendly.

One option is to can make a tradition especially for your friend group. “Friendsgiving” is such a hit, you might consider organizing something like that (perhaps a little present exchange or ice skate party) in December. Or, if that’s too much work, you could always include friends in your existing family traditions.

You could slide some more chairs up to the table for Christmas brunch—or why not invite some friends over for some spin the dreidel?

Of course, you might be thinking this is probably easier said than done.

You might assume that your friends probably have their own plans with their own families—so why would they want to join in on yours? The truth is, you might be surprised at how many of your friends don’t live near family, or if they do, have low-key family gatherings at holidays. You might even have friends who do their “big” celebrations on different days.

I once went to a friend’s house for “Christmas Eve-Eve” which was a big thing in her family. All the cousins, extended family, and friends would get together for a big potluck. For them, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were small and pretty quiet, but December 23rd was more about neighbors and friends. It was a great tradition.

The holidays are all about spending time with the people you love—and that should mean your family and friends. While your season may be busy, these tips can help you rearrange and refocus to find some extra room for your friends this holiday.