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How To Survive your In-Laws for Thanksgiving & Christmas Dinner
Hosting Holiday dinners is stressful enough but the thought of “how you’re going to survive your in-laws”, just adds more anxiety to your stress. Soon we’re going to feel the crisp fall weather and you know what that means, the Holidays are just around the corner. After the pandemic and so many of us were in lockdown, what better way to spend this holiday season with your family and loved ones. Of course, we also have to celebrate with our in-laws. If this holiday season you are having dinner with your in-laws and they are more like outlaws, no worries I’m going to share some tips to help you get through it.
Let’s be honest, spending the holidays with your in-law whether is the first time or not can be both excited and overwhelming. But in order to navigate Thanksgiving and/or Christmas Dinner with a breeze, you will need a game plan. But before we dive in, I want you to drill into your head ” It’s the holiday and your in-laws are here to stay”!…So if they get under your skin don’t let them ruin the Holidays, especially after this pandemic you want to cherish every moment with family.
1. Develop a Thick Skin
Developing thick skin is a MUST! no matter how aggravating your partner’s parents are, you will not change their ways. And if you have a mother-in-law who is like Dorris Roberts or 10x worse no matter what you say or do, it will never be good enough for her. Just know that whenever your in-laws make a negative or rude comment their undermining behavior is not about you. I know it’s easier said than done, don’t take your in-law’s criticism personally, make the best of the evening. If your in-laws are out of place let your partner handle it when it comes to resolving any conflicts with their parent’s criticism and behavior.
2. Holiday Dinner Dress Code
For those that are meeting the in-laws for the first time, keep it simple and CASUAL. Skinny jeans (no distressed), blouse or cute top, sweater, ankle booties, ballet flats, or if you are a pump gal. Sophisticated and conservative yet feminine pieces like sweaters and shirt dresses are a great choice. A pretty sundress worn under a cardigan is also a cute yet feminine casual look. The minute you step foot in that house all eyes will be on you, first impression says it all. So get your GLAM on point, hair, Mani, Pedi, and eyebrows. Dress to impress, keep makeup a bit neutral, and perfume, if you wear it.
3. Bring a Treat
One thing about growing up in a Latino home was my momma taught me to never show up empty-handed, anywhere I was invited to. If this is your first time meeting the family, you can’t go wrong with wine and dessert. Some mother-in-law love flowers but make sure to check with your partner if is ok to bring them and no one is allergic. Bringing a home cook dish can be quite tricky. Some future mother-in-law has their own tradition of food and wants to keep it like it. Unless you’ve been with your partner for quite some time and everyone helps out in bringing food, then you know what to bring. If it’s your mother-in-law’s tradition to be in control of the food, just settle with bringing wine & desserts. Don’t try to impress in bringing your best dish, trust me you’ll be safe with wine or dessert.
4. Meeting the immediate Family
If you haven’t met a few members of his family, on that day you will meet the aunts, cousins, uncles, grandmother, great-grandmother, grandfather second, and third cousin. Just be aware that you will be interviewed by each and every one of them. Avoid conversations that can trigger conflicts, stay away from politics, money, and religion. Some people take those topics very seriously and you don’t want to start off on the wrong foot. Ask your partner what to expect from his is family and know what you will be walking into. If you have been around them for years, you’ll know the trick to avoid or ignore their comments.
I know you are nervous go easy on the alcohol, drink in moderation especially if you are not a drinker. You don’t want to get sh*t face wasted and make a fool of yourself. Believe me, you will have that family member that will say something out of place. Take it like a champ and keep it moving. Don’t get into a confrontational match with any of his family members.
6. Lend a Hand
Always ask if help is needed in the kitchen or setting up the table. What’s the worst that can happen, they say no. And trust me, 99.9% of the time they will say no because you are their guest. My family never allows the guest to help out, nothing against the person offering, is just how the family is and their tradition. Everyone is different, don’t take it personally if they say no, just relax and enjoy.
7. Be Thankful
Don’t forget your mannerism, always say “Thank You” and “Please”. Don’t go overboard with trying to be extremely polite, when the moment arises express gratitude and appreciation. From time to time compliment your partner remembers you are there for him. Your in-laws will get on your last nerves, just kill them with kindness, believe me, you’ll go a long way.
8. Family Customs
If you are not married to your partner and you are sleeping over, and you are given a room to yourself please do not try to sneak into your boyfriend’s room, respect you are not in your house. Many in-laws have different customs than yours and it has to be respected, remember you are their guest and there for your boyfriend. For those that are married, if you are sleeping over no matter how irritating the evening was with your in-laws don’t talk about it there wait until you get home. It will be best to discuss any issues with your partner in the privacy of your home.
9. Setting Boundaries
Setting boundaries is a must-do with your partner before attending the holiday dinner, in order to proactively squash issues that might arise with your in-laws. Whether they and(or) you’re hosting Thanksgiving/Christmas dinner both in-laws need to understand that you and your spouse come first in each other’s lives. Therefore neither one can come to your home and tell you how to cook, set the table, criticize your home is, or how you are raising your kid(s)! If dinner is at the inlaws house, once you and your partner agreed on setting boundaries is up to each other to let them know, so it can be enforced.
This is where I failed with my husband, I didn’t set boundaries from the get-go, and my mother-in-law will make rude and unnecessary comments. I will not say anything and when I finally did, it caused issues with my partner and in-laws. My mother-in-law figured since I didn’t say anything or my husband proactively squash it that it made it ok, for her to make rude comments.
Please, Please, Please don’t get jealous or clingy when your partner is spending more time with his parents, siblings, and relatives (cousins). Remember, due to the pandemic your partner/spouse hasn’t seen some family members, so no need to be selfish and make him be by your side. Let them catch up with each other and give them privacy. This will be the time that you will get yourself another cocktail and try to mingle. What I use to do, when I felt awkward I kept busy with the family kids, and my son. Whether you have been around your spouse’s holiday dinner and know what to expect, or you are new to the family, KIDS are a great source of distraction.
Navigating holiday dinner with your partner’s family can be quite challenging. Whether you’re meeting the in-laws for the first time or a seasoned holiday with your partner’s family you want to make a first impression. You also want them to see the real you because you will be part of their family. Once you are in, surviving a seasoned holiday with your in-laws and families will be a piece of cake. Most importantly have fun this holiday season. No matter how uncomfortable you might feel at his family house, focus on enjoying the time together. The time might feel eternal, but you will see it will pass quickly. The Holidays are supposed to be fun, so enjoy them and don’t let anyone ruined them……
How did you survive your in-laws during the holiday season? What good or horror stories you have? Love to hear all about it, leave a comment below.