Thanksgiving is the perfect time of year to stuff yourself full of turkey and think about all the good things you are thankful for. It’s also a great time to hang out with your family and bring together the people you love the most. But if you’re bringing home a new partner to meet the family, be careful! It can be a social minefield for your partner.
Keep reading for tips on how to successfully navigate a family weekend or family dinner. We hope your parents end up loving your new significant other as much as you do!
DO: Prep Your Partner
Thanksgiving can be a battlefield of political uncles and bad impressions, especially in these divisive times. Be sure to support your significant other as best you can and help them shine. Prepping them on who will be present at Thanksgiving and what their relations are to you is always a good idea. Show them pictures of past Thanksgivings, and let them know about any traditions or expectations your family may have.
If you are LGBTQ or a mixed race couple, make sure to set the stage on what to expect from homophobic or racist relatives. And make a plan to avoid that part of the gene pool as much as possible. Nobody wants to feel unsafe or uncomfortable on a holiday.
DO: Give Your Parents Notice
Be sure to give your parents some notice that you are bringing a guest with you to Thanksgiving. The meal is stressful enough without having unexpected people there. This ensures that there will be enough food for everyone and all food preferences are taken into consideration.
Also, keep in mind what Thanksgiving means to your family – will you be staying the whole weekend or just coming for the meal? Be clear about your plan with your parents.
DO: Bring A Gift
Don’t let your partner show up empty-handed! The gift doesn’t have to be extravagant, but bring something: a bottle of wine, flowers, or fancy chocolate are all good ideas. Or if your significant other has a particular talent for cooking or baking, perhaps some homemade goodies would be a welcome treat.
If you are bringing something to eat, cook it ahead of time. You don’t want to be underfoot on Thanksgiving – any complications to an already stressful day will make a bad impression!
DO: Spend Time Together
Remember that your partner is there to get to know your family, so shutting yourselves up in your room to watch Netflix might not go over well. Commit to spending quality time together, whether it’s a party game or a football game. And if you have your own little Thanksgiving traditions, make sure to involve your partner and help them feel like part of the family.
DO: Offer To Wash Up
You and your partner should be on your best behavior, whether it’s a whole weekend of Thanksgiving festivities or just a meal. And if you want your partner to make a good first impression, one of the best ways to do that is to offer to help clean up. Thanksgiving is a huge undertaking for whoever is cooking the bird, so allowing them to relax after would likely be very welcome.
If you are staying for the weekend, offer to wash up the rest of the meals too. A little courtesy goes a long way!
DON’T: Bring Up Politics
This advice goes for religion and other difficult subjects to discuss at the table. Thanksgiving is meant to be a time to be thankful for what you have, and your mission is to introduce your partner in the best possible light. Starting an argument at the table is not going to make a good impression.
If someone else brings up tense topics, you don’t have to engage. Alternatively, you can make a quick comment, laugh it off, and change the subject.
If your family tends to dress up for dinner, you and your partner should wear something a little nicer for the evening. There will likely be pictures, and dressing appropriately shows forethought.
DON’T: Bring Your Phone To The Table
Remember your basic manners. Don’t bring your phone to the table, don’t start eating until the host starts eating, no elbows on the table, etc. There are helpful guides all over the internet about table manners, so skim one just to be sure. You might love your partner no matter what, but the goal is to get your family to feel the same way.
DON’T: Drink Too Much
In the same vein as remembering your basic table manners, try not to drink too much. Your partner will need your support during this potentially nerve-wracking or rough time, so keep the drinking to a minimum. This is good advice for your partner as well.
DON’T: Disrespect Family Rules
If you are staying for the weekend at your parents’ or another family home, remember that this isn’t a sexy interlude for you and your partner. You should focus on making a good impression and helping your partner shine to your parents and other family members.
Whether it’s just for a meal or for a whole weekend, bringing a new partner home for the first time can be stressful. The above do’s and don’ts should help you navigate the testy waters of that first interaction. We hope this guide helps you and your partner have a great Thanksgiving with your family!
If you’re an LGBTQ couple headed home for the holidays, check out our LGBTQ-Focused Strategies for Coping with Holiday Stress.
***Disclaimer: There is a good chance that this post contains affiliate or sponsor links. If you make a purchase through them, we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you (for which we are extremely grateful).
Also, while we do our best to highlight LGBTQ-friendly destinations and businesses, info provided is based solely on personal experience and recommendations by community partners. We hope that nobody experiences discrimination or homophobia while visiting Florida, but we make no guarantees. Please inform us if you experience discrimination or homophobia while visiting any destination so we can make updates to our recommendations.