So you’re spending Christmas with your partner’s family. Whether this is your first holiday with the in-laws, or you already have a dedicated place at the table, awkward silences and fumbled jokes can make any dinner table feel like a minefield.
To avoid fumbling the ball, we’ve listed 5 easy tips to keep in the back of your mind this Holiday season—and maybe secure you a place in the family Christmas card.
Open yourself up
People are drawn to passionate speakers. Lean into this by discussing what’s on the horizon for you, whether it be career-wise or personally. Be mindful to stay humble and not come off like you’re bragging—try to loop in your goal-monologue with the interests of other people at the table. For example, if you’re planning to make an investment in your small business, this can be a great time to ask for advice from someone who has relevant experience.
Listen more than you speak
It can be tempting to fill any and all silences with an anecdote about your life, but trust us on this one: you don’t want to be the most-heard voice in the room. Ask questions about your partner’s family’s lives or careers, and be actively listening––you can bring these topics up later in the night to show that you were engaged in the conversation (and win you a few points).
When in doubt, do the dishes
Okay so this isn’t a conversation tip, but sitting around while everyone is helping with the dinner preparations is a pretty bad look, and doesn’t necessarily prompt great connections with the family. If you’re feeling awkward and unsure where to jump in, offer to wash up the dishes that inevitably pile up during the cooking process. This is a natural way to spark conversation with whoever’s cooking, and shows that you aren’t just there to be fed.
Speak positively about your partner and relationship
Your “how we met” story may not be a riveting tale, but to your in-laws this shows your commitment and interest in your relationship to their loved one. Be genuine and share a few cute stories when it’s an appropriate time to do so, and loop your partner into the storytelling to show you’re a pair.
Is there anything worse than being asked a question about a current event you know nothing about? Avoid the awkward fumbling through a half-baked answer by doing a scan through the paper or catching up on the online news forums. Knowing a bit about current events shows that you’re well-read and up to date.