Meeting your partner’s entire family is a huge milestone for any relationship, so kudos to you if you’ve finally advanced to such a serious stage. Although that prospect can be quite exciting, it can also be extremely intimidating and stressful. Besides, who wants to embarrass themselves in front of their future possible in-laws? If he is bringing you to his annual Chinese New Year gathering to meet everyone in his family, here are some tips on how you should be behaving during that special occasion.
It’s important for you to leave a good first impression, even before they get to know you. So, choose something decent to wear and do not reveal too much skin. What you wear shouldn’t attract too much attention, but you shouldn’t be looking sloppy either. Don’t forget your hair and makeup for the auspicious season!
2. Study up
Before you head to your destination, do your research and ask your partner questions about his family. Think about things like what line of work they are in, what their interests are, what they like to do during their free time, and so forth. You do not want to seem clueless about their lives when you initiate a conversation and you certainly do not want to say something that would offend or upset them.
3. Smile and greet everyone when you arrive
When you walk into the room, smile and try to make eye contact with everyone or nod, if there are way too many people. If there are only a handful of people, greet everyone individually by saying hello, gong xi fa cai and calling out their names or titles. This is to ensure that you don’t come off as disrespectful to the elders or the rest of your partner’s family.
4. Have manners
Use your please and thank yous, and be wary of what you do in front of your partner’s family. When you receive ang paos, take the red packet with two hands, nod and say thank you. You should also be polite and be helpful at all times. For instance, if there is help needed to set the dining table or to clean up and wash the dishes, do offer to help out. Also, do not sit at one corner and mind your own business. Walk around if you can and try to get to know some of his family.
5. Think before you speak
Before you say anything stupid or offensive, always think before you speak. Steer clear of controversial topics such as politics and religion, and sensitive topics such as deaths in the family or bad relationships that shouldn’t be discussed. Just be yourself and filter your words in your head before you speak. Some easy conversation starters are career, latest movies, shopping sales, hobbies, and popular CNY snacks.
6. Watch what and how you eat
Let’s go back to the basics – always eat with your mouth closed, do not touch your phone at the dinner table, try to eat as much of whatever you dislike, politely decline if you’re already feeling stuffed and they are trying to place more food on your plate. Eat slowly and don’t make a mess at the table.
7. Be yourself and enjoy
Don’t ever try to fake it and be someone you’re not. You’d look really uncomfortable and his family would notice. Instead, relax, let loose and enjoy the company of your partner’s family. One day, they could possibly be your family and you should learn to love each and every one of them, and accept their flaws. Most importantly, make your partner be proud of you for being a good sport!