Contributed by Jill Z.

Introducing your partner to your family is a big step.  It can be awkward, stressful and lead to major faux-pas.  Meet the Parents provided a funny take on this but, let’s keep it real; what can you do to make the introduction easier? 

Here a few steps you can take:

Introduce them to each other before-hand.  I don’t mean in person or over the phone; a description of what each person is like ahead of time will help.  Are there any quirks, touchy or emotional subjects that should be avoided?  Let all parties know so you can have fun conversations and avoid uneccesary coflicts.  Always let your host know an extra person is coming.  If they don’t know they can get flustered and make your partner feel unwelcome. 

Describe your relationship.  Are you partners? Are you living together? Are you allowed to date other people? If someone is not your boy/girlfriend, let everyone know so they don’t make a mistake labeling your relationship. 

Is the timing right? If you have been going out for a couple of months, are you sure you want to introduce them to your family?  This gesture may take your relationship to the next level, even if you didn’t plan on it.  If your relationship is not serious, yo may be sending the wrong message to your family and your partner.

Family tradition. Does your family have a holiday tradtion? Personalized reasons why you are thankfuld for each other?  A gift excahnge?  Be sure to ask your partner if they want to participate and let everyone know to include them.  If you don’t, you will ensure that your partner doesn’t feel like they are a part of the family or even that they weren’t wanted there in the first place.  In my family, we always have extra presents under the tree in case someone pops by and doesn’t have a gift to open.

Make a good impression.  Show up on time.  Bring a gift for the host.

Make the host aware of any food allergies your partner has.  You don’t want to go to the emergency room because someone had an allergic reaction.  You also don’t want your partner to have to announce they are a vegetarian when someone is passing them turkey.  If the host cannot accommodate your partners’ allergies, bring something for your partner to eat and share with others. 

Be prepared to leave early.  You may be relaxed but this may be stressful, tiring and overwhelming for your partner.  Ask them how they are doing after dinner and see if you may need to leave early.