holidays: the relationship shark tank

It doesn’t matter if you’ve been dating for a month or a year – the holidays can be the proverbial relationship shark tank (Kudos to Kelsey Perry-Carlsen for the term!).

At this time of year, you and your significant other will go from party to party, meeting family and friends in a few short weeks. Tensions can run high during the holidays and forced interactions with your nearest and dearest can put a strain on even the toughest couple.

So…how do you navigate this social minefield?


Shine on:        

It doesn’t matter if this is your first time meeting your significant other’s family or the twentieth. This is your time to shine. Bustling holiday parties and events mean the attention is never on you for too long. Short & sweet interactions are the best way to ensure they’re singing your praises for weeks to come. Smile!

If you’re in a new relationship, try to make friends with your significant other’s friends. At the very least – be likeable. This can set the stage for your entire relationship – you don’t want them to dislike you from the start! The last thing you want is to create unnecessary awkwardness (see: unfriending those friends you don’t like right before/after a party, posting ugly photos online, etc). Be your best self and they’ll love you right away.

Play matchmaker:

If you’re bringing your better half to an event, remember to play matchmaker. Events can be ridiculously awkward for even the most extroverted person – guiding your partner into a conversation with someone who has similar interests will make things easier for them. Bonus: if it’s a friend’s event, have your sweetheart bring their best friend along and introduce them to your eternally-single-yet-totally-awesome friend. You’ll get double the karma points for decreased overall awkwardness and a new love match to boot!


Spread a little love:

In line with leaving a good impression, never arrive empty-handed. Even if you’re meeting your partner’s parents for the first time, a small gift is always in good taste. You don’t need to spend a lot or be extravagant – just be thoughtful! Some home-baked holiday cookies, a box of chocolate or a bottle of wine goes a long way when someone’s invited you into their home.


This can be a really stressful time, but remember that it won’t last forever. Each year, this exercise will get easier and easier (and more fun). If it’s your family’s event, encourage your other half and make sure you steal kisses – I hear that’s the best way to get comfortable.


PS. Don’t get too drunk 😉

Extra credit:

My favourite relationship expert, Jen Kirsch of Blonde Bronzed Twenty-Something was recently featured on Canada AM with her best holiday party tips. Check it out here.

What are your tips for making a good impression on your significant other’s friends and family during the holidays?