When the holiday season is a relationship first, drowning your panic with a couple shots of spiked eggnog and hiding out behind the Christmas tree might be your initial reaction. It’s understandable since it’s probably the first time you’ve had to deal with navigating family obligations, work parties, and the dreaded gift-giving experience. Before you reach for another shot of the cream stuff (which is, let’s be honest, kinda gross), here are a few tips to help your merry milestone go down as smoothly as possible.
Do Give Her A Gift
If you’re not so good with the words, sometimes a small token can communicate your affection for your sweetie. Wrap it up nicely inside of a box so it’s impossible to determine what it is because you want to her shake it and be all, “OMG! What could this BE?!” (Genuine surprise is almost as important as the gift itself. Almost.) Important: prior to the gift exchange, decide on a mutual price point. You don’t want to be the schmuck who gives his GF a Tim Hortons gift card after she gives you the latest iPhone.
Don’t Get Drunk at the Work Party
One of the best things about having a relationship is being able to show off that you’re in one. Enter: the holiday work party. Finally, this year, you have a plus-one; naturally, you’re stoked. So, word to the wise, don’t ruin it by getting wasted. I know there’s going to be lots of shots going around, but the work party is usually the first opportunity to introduce your girlfriend to the co-workers that she’s heard all about during the year, as well as the chance for her to get a feel for your job. She wants you to help her schmooze and be an all-around awesome date; she doesn’t want to babysit you around a toilet all night.
Do Celebrate With Her Family
If she invites you to spend Christmas dinner with the fam, you’d better go. Not only is it polite, but it also shows your girlfriend and her family that you’re serious about your relationship and those are the kind of bonus points you want to rack up. Wear a tie. Hug her mom, shake hands firmly with her dad. Bring a bottle of wine (make sure they drink alcohol). Compliment the meal (even if the turkey is a tad dry). Sing Christmas carols (even if you don’t know the words). Don’t have sex with her in her childhood bed (even if you’re horny). Should the relationship go south, at least they’ll be able to say, “But he sure was the perfect guest at Christmas!”
Don’t Forget Her When You’re Away
Maybe you’re spending the holidays apart this year because of family, work, travel, whatever. Despite the miles apart and the busyness of the season, make sure your girlfriend knows you’re thinking about her. Make a mixed holiday tape/CD/iTunes playlist for her that she can listen to on the plane/train/car home. Send a gift basket of fine cheese and goodies to her family. Call her (no texting!) first thing on Christmas morning and wish her and her family a happy holiday, and tell her you can’t wait to spend New Year’s with her.
Do Make the Most of the Season
The holidays aren’t for everyone, and if you’re one of them, try your best to keep your inner Scrooge in check. The holidays are an interesting and enlightening time for a relationship—and not just because there are plenty of twinkly lights. Spending the holidays with a partner allows for more vulnerability, and with more vulnerability comes intimacy and, yes, that is a good thing. Scary? Maybe a little bit at first. But once you get over the newness of everything, you’ll be able to appreciate how much your relationship is growing and how much you’re growing.
OK, you can take another swig of that eggnog, now.
Brianne Hogan is a freelance writer based in Toronto, something of a humorist, and considers herself more Bridget Jones than Samantha Jones. Though she won’t reveal which parts, she will admit to liking emotionally unavailable men and drinking lots of wine. You can follow her on Twitter @briannehogan.
Photo courtesy of flickr.