It’s the most wonderful time of the year – except if you are in a new relationship. For whatever reason, the holidays come with expectations and excitement that can send a new romance into a tailspin. Take it from us, as we’ve experienced every possible hiccup over the last 4 years. Here are our 7 Holiday Tips for the Dating Couple:
1. Communicate about time – I would save the best for last, but if you read anything in this post, hear me now: communicate, communicate, communicate – about everything, always – but especially during the holidays. Because we traveled home our first 3 Christmases together, we had to get on the same page as to how we would navigate multiple families and households. Though our life always felt a bit like Four Christmases, Scott and I would decide weeks in advance where we would be, when. We gave our family the schedule and stuck to our guns, as we knew if we didn’t, we’d be pulled every which way. Seriously, I cannot stress the need for you two to be on the same page regarding your time – even if you decide to divide and conquer, which is totally cool, make sure you are still a house united. Remember, united you stand, divided you fall.
2. HOLIDATE! A LOT! – Dating is amazing all the time, but the holidays provide an extra opportunity to spice it up a bit. Get out of the house – go skating, drive around looking at Christmas lights, check out holiday festivals and markets, or try seasonal plates and cocktails at your favorite restaurants. If you want to stay home and kick it up a notch, pour wine in front of the tree or get creative with a Christmas movie themed Date-Night In, like our Home Alone Holidate (two more coming tomorrow!). The first year Scott and I dated, we made Christmas cookies and watched Emmet the Otter’s Jugband Christmas – not romantic, but playful. It doesn’t matter what you do, try something new.
3. Family Gestures – Though this applies to any time of year and at any point in your relationship, you will inevitably be stopping by each other’s family households at Christmas. Do not forget to bring a gift of good faith – a bottle of wine, holiday baked goods, any hostess gift is appreciated during the holidays. Not only is it about etiquette, but it does not go unnoticed and will set you apart in a good way.
4. There is no wrong way to “gift” – But it’s also ok to talk about gifting expectations or ideas. Damn those gifts. The anxiety that surrounds the first holiday together, especially if you haven’t been dating for very long, is excruciating. Scott and I have been together for 4 years and engaged for 2, and I still suffer from gift paranoia. It’s not always fun to talk about money or to set spending limits (which, let’s be honest, blows the romance) but if you are like me, the stress of it all is easier to handle with a conversation. We’ve done everything from a one-gift exchange of larger value, to multiple little gifts, to spending the same amount on a special date night rather than exchanging material things.
5. Family Gifts – Along with discussing gift exchange for each other, it’s important to understand each family’s gifting routine. This is always mildly (or majorly, in my case) stressful, so familiarize each other with how Christmas presents go down. It’s ok to eventually give presents as a couple, which is where we are, but individual presents to special members of the family are important, too.
6. New Traditions – If you are happily settled in a relationship of many years, you know how fun it can be to start traditions as a couple. Though a new romance might not yet take advantage of this opportunity, we highly encourage you to create a few brand new things to look forward to every year as a couple. Scott and I have several, and it’s been fun to merge traditions from both our families to form unique ones all of our own. But Scott, I’m thinking we forego the air mattress on Christmas Eve under the tree since our comfy bed is only a room away…thoughts….?? :)
7. Moments Alone– Find a few minutes on Christmas to slip away and have a few moments alone. Scott and I actually had our very first date on Christmas night, and so we use our anniversary as an excuse to leave family celebrations a bit early and head out to have some time together and share a bottle of our anniversary wine. But you don’t need an excuse, you absolutely deserve to share a few quiet minutes alone. Make it a tradition.
The thread of all our relationship advice is usually about communication, and this post is no different. The holidays are romantic, magical, and provide a million new ways to grow as a couple. Now, tell us, anything we missed? What makes your relationship stand the stress of the holidays? We’re all ears.