Nothing beats being in a new relationship around the holidays. All of a sudden, you can’t wait to take advantage of all of the cutesy, romantic extras couples do during the holiday season that you used to roll your eyes at when you were single (don’t deny it). You know. Things like sneaking kisses under the mistletoe, sharing hot chocolate on a hayride, ringing in the New Year with a blockbuster-worthy smooch.

As much as you enjoy the newness of being someone else’s better half at those ugly sweater parties, being a lady in love over the holidays isn’t all fun and games. For many new relationships, the holiday season is the ideal time to meet each other’s family, which means that the typical seasonal anxiety you usually get around this time of year is about to go through the roof.

Don’t let the idea of meeting the parents diminish your holiday cheer. Check out a few dos and don’t for surviving the holidays with his parents and make that first impression count.

Do Dress for the Occasion

Wearing your LDB to meet the parents for the first time isn’t necessarily a bad idea—unless, of course, you’re wearing it to Sunday brunch at grandma’s house. Like any other event, the last thing you want is to feel over-dressed or under-dressed when you’re trying to make a great first impression. Suss out the who, what and where particulars of the big day well in advance, so you can get a jump on planning your outfit.

It’d also be helpful to know how his family dresses when they’re together. Are they a “pearls and sports coat at dinner” bunch or more of a “jeans and jersey at the pub” kind of crowd? Having the low-down on how his family hangs can play a major role in choosing your outfit.

Don’t Wear Perfume

Err on the side of caution and ditch the flowery perfumes and body sprays for this oh-so-important date. Every nose is different, and the last thing you want to do is make his mom turn hers up at you because your fragrance of choice just so happens to give her a headache. Instead, treat your skin to a little extra TLC with a lightly scented body lotion or hand cream. Bonus: your skin will definitely be soft and smooth for that first handshake (or awkward hug).

Do Dress Conservatively

Nobody is asking you to cover yourself from head-to-toe, but that doesn’t mean you have the green light to break out the holey jeans, either. Ultimately you want to show them that you have your act together—and that his heart is safe with you because, clearly, you’re a woman who knows how to take care of what she holds dear.

Wear something nice but not too formal and, most importantly, something that you’re comfortable in. You’ll be nervous enough without the added trouble of a pinching waistline making you squirm. Keeping things simple and low-key is probably a safe bet for most first-time meetups with the fam.

Sweaters are feminine and comfortable and can easily be dressed up with leggings and heels or dressed down with nice jeans and flats. If you’d rather play it a bit fancy for a killer first impression, then wear a long-sleeve maxi or midi dressfor a put-together look that screams

“He’s lucky to have me.”

Don’t Forget to Accessorize

Save the eye-catching bling for those club nights with your VIP and, instead, pick one or two statement pieces to bring a little pop and personality to your outfit. If he’s given you any jewelry (or family heirlooms) during your relationship, now would be the time to bring them front and center. Otherwise, pick a favorite statement necklace or some colorful earrings to tie your look together and show his family that your style is as unique as you are.

Do Bring a Gift

Remember all of those times your mother told you to bring as a hostess gift when you were going to a party? Chances are his mother told him the same thing (whether or not he listened is another story). Show his mama that you are a woman who appreciates being entertained, and brings a little something to thank her for having you over. It doesn’t have to be much—a bouquet of flowers or a bottle of wine to go with dinner are both good choices.

If you’re a whizz in the kitchen, bring a dessert to share with the party and show your beau yet another reason to adore you.

Don’t Forget the Compliments

A little compliment goes a long way when you’re trying to make a great first impression, not to mention breaking the ice when everyone is feeling a little nervous. Try to make it specific—like complimenting a piece of art on the wall, as opposed to just liking their house in general. If you’re lucky, your compliment will double as a conversation starter that will hopefully get things rolling and make everyone relax. How’s that for spreading a little holiday cheer?

Do Let Them See How Happy You Two Are Together (Without Too Much PDA)

Don’t shy away from innocent moments of affection with your Mr. Right. Feel free to hold his hand walking to the car or give him a quick peck on the cheek between courses. Ultimately, what every parent wants is to see that their child is happy. When they see how much you make theirs smile, it’ll be hard not to love you too.

Don’t Forget to Be Yourself

Try not to get so wrapped up in presenting who you think they want you to be that you forget to show them who you actually are. After all, the real you is who your beau fell in love with and is the woman he truly wants them to meet. Try not to let your nerves get the better of you, and wear clothes that are reminiscent of your own personal style and which make you feel comfortable no matter what. This is not the time to try out some new trends.

At the end of the day, if everything works out, you very well could be calling these people family in a couple of years. The last thing you want is to feel like you’re playing a role around the people who are supposed to love and accept you for better or for worse.

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