You’ve snagged a special someone to enjoy all the couples’ activities with – Valentine’s Day, etc. But now you’re also taking the next step – you’re going to meet the in-laws, or your significant other’s family, for the first time.

Couples commonly introduce each other to the ‘in-laws’ at this time of year, and the buildup can be extremely nerve-wracking. No one brings just anyone home to meet their family, and the stress of having to make a good first impression can definitely throw a wrench in the task.

Here are some tips to keep things simple, while also knocking the socks off of your significant other’s family.

Gather Information Beforehand

  • Is there a specific topic that you should avoid at all costs?
  • What is the family dynamic – playful, joking, strict, etc.?
  • Is there anything in particular I should know about your family?
  • Are there any traditions or rules that I should be mindful of?

Even inquire about specific family members. Asking your partner these questions before you meet the in-laws prepares you for the environment you’re walking into (and your partner will also appreciate that you care enough to ask!). Though you definitely shouldn’t change yourself to fit in with the dynamic, this will give you time to prepare yourself and calm your nerves.

Bring a Gift

You don’t have to splurge on expensive china, but a small gift or food contribution will definitely help you get into their good graces. It shows that you thought about the family before coming over, and that you care to go out of your way for them.

If you decide to cook something, check in with your partner about any allergies, and ask how many people it should serve. Making a small side dish or dessert will show off your culinary skills without taking the limelight away from the host/hostess.

Help Out

Offer to help with the dinner preparations, setting the table, clearing the table, etc. Holiday dinners are tons of work, and by pitching in, you will bond with their family and show them that you are a polite, hardworking person! This is also a good way to earn a moment of silence when conversation starts to run dry.

Put Down Your Phone

We all know it: there’s nothing worse than having a conversation with someone who is constantly checking their phone. Silence it, pack it away in your purse, and focus on trying to making conversation and connections with your partner’s family! Even if others are keeping connected, remaining present with the people there will help you stand out.

Questions All Around

Your partner’s family is going to want to know as much as they can about you, and that’s great. Answer questions as openly as possible, and let them get to know you. If you’re a ham, don’t be afraid to make some jokes and get some laughs.

However, remember to ask them questions. Not too prying, but enough to show are interested in getting to know them – you’ll want to show you’re attentive and engaged. You can ask about your SO’s childhood stories, how her parents met, or how they spend their free time. Showing that you don’t just care about yourself will definitely help you win some bonus points.

Don’t Try Too Hard

The last and most important tip is to let your personality, values, and self shine through. Take the advice above, only to the extent that you still feel like you! Your SO picked you because of who you are, and you’re who they want their family to meet.

Take a moment to get in touch with your thoughts before arriving, and enjoy getting to meet the in-laws — some of the most important people in your partner’s life! You’re going to be great.