Your first Christmas with THEIR family

Christmas can get more complicated when you’re loved up. Whose home do you spend it at, and, if it’s your boyfriend/girlfriend’s, how do you tell your family? We spoke to agony aunt Suzie Hayman about spending your first Christmas with your partner's family. What do you mean you don’t DO stockings!

Girl with Christmas hat

"No stockings?!"

How do we decide where to spend Christmas?

Don’t feel ready to spend Christmas away from home? That’s OK, no matter how long you’ve been with your partner. Sometimes only your nan’s mince pies will cut it. So, before you decide, weigh up the pros and cons and talk things through. What’s most important to you at Christmas? Who are you most comfortable with?

Some good compromises to discuss are:

  • If you live close, spending just the morning/evening with each other?
  • Spend Christmas Day at one house, but switch on Boxing Day?
  • Promise to take it in turns, switching where you spend Christmas each year?

If you’ve decided to spend this Christmas away from home, you’ll need to tell your family. Depending on how close you are, they may find it upsetting. Tell them ASAP to give them time to get used to the idea … and so they can practise using Skype. Their baby’s growing up, so be prepared for tears and wails of “Who’s going to put out the milk for Father Christmas?”

But what about MY traditions?

Christmas is different for everyone and you will have to adapt to their way of doing things. Try and embrace it if you can, says agony aunt Suzie Hayman.

“Get stuck in, say yes to things,” says Suzie. “Go for a walk if it’s offered, play that game you’ve not heard of, and remember to do the dishes! It’ll help you feel like part of the family.”

However, it’s not ridiculous to want to keep some of your own traditions too. Relationships are about compromise, and if you’re giving up a family Christmas, the least your partner can do is let you bring in your own rituals. So, if you usually have a champagne breakfast, suggest it, or tentatively ask if you can open one present on Christmas Eve. The most important thing is: don’t forget to communicate with your partner. If you’re worried, maybe they can talk through their family’s Christmas Day, and prepare you for their odd traditions.

What if I get homesick on Christmas Day?

Spending Christmas away from home can be a huge change, so don’t beat yourself up if you feel sad. “If you’re upset, say so,” says Suzie. “Be honest. You might get a cuddle. Remember – you’re not saying you don’t want to be there. They will understand.”

Bottling up strong feelings will only make you feel worse and isolated. If you do feel upset at some point, step away from the antics for a while. Give your family a ring, or go and sneakily pick at the turkey carcass. You’re allowed some self-care time. And remember, if you really feel it will be a wrench, you don’t have to go to your partner’s house. You can always spend Christmas apart.

Create your own traditions

Everyone’s Christmas changes over the years. Once upon a time, your family wouldn’t have spent the day marathoning films on Netflix, or Instagramming your stellar table setting. Family traditions alter anyway, so changing how you spend the day is a great opportunity for you and your partner to start your own traditions. Maybe go for a walk together after dinner while everyone else is napping, hide under the duvet to watch the Doctor Who Christmas Special, make a festive playlist for journeys between families or take selfies of your awful Christmas jumpers. You’ll soon make up new rituals you’ll be reminiscing about in years to come.

Double Christmas!

Whether you’re squirming at your partner’s grandad after he’s had a few too many whiskeys, or glancing at the time and imagining what your family will be doing now – there’s no escaping the insurmountable excitement that you may well be getting TWO Christmases this year! Two Christmas trees, two turkeys, and double the amount of presents. You should probably start clearing some space now in your room and start testing out how much food your stomach can hold…

And besides, it could be your partner who has to deal with your family’s niche traditions next year. Better warn them now about how competitive your auntie is at Jenga…

Next Steps

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By Louise Jones

Updated on 18-Dec-2015

Photo by Shutterstock.