Concerned that your first interaction with your spouse's parents this holiday season will resemble a scene from Meet the Parents? For the most part, meeting the parents for the first time can feel nerve wrecking, but most will go out of the way to make you feel right at home. Still, some preparation is a good idea.
I went to Beverly Hills Manners Etiquette expert, Lisa Gache, for her tips on proper etiquette when meeting your partner's parents.
Lisa says that "In order to ensure your best impression and curry favor with your potential future in-laws, it's better to err on the side of friendly and formal."
1. Use a Formal Greeting. Upon your first meeting, rather than go straight in for a hug that may not be reciprocated, be respectful and offer a friendly handshake instead. Remember to extend your right hand, shake web-to-web with two pumps and then release. Address the parents by using their titles and surnames (Hello Mr. and Mrs. Smith, it is a pleasure to finally meet you) and wait for them to give you permission to call them by their first names.
2. Be a Gracious Houseguest. Play by the house rules and keep your belongings neat and tidy. Nobody wants to entertain a rude or sloppy houseguest. Stick to the same rising and bedtime schedule as the rest of the household. Keep your personal items organized. Make your bed and be mindful of bathroom time.
3. Offer to Help with the Cooking & Cleaning. Even if cooking and cleaning is not your forté, when you are a guest in someone else's home, offer to pitch in and be helpful in any way you can. Set the table, clean the dishes, hand spices to the chef, sweep the floor, the possibilities are endless! Whatever you do, do not act as if you are staying in a hotel and expect to be waited on hand-and-foot.
4. Use the Magic Words & Be Free w/Compliments. A gracious houseguest will use the five main magic words: please, thank you, you're welcome, I'm sorry and excuse me, without abandon. They will also be free with the compliments making sure to recognize the hostess of the house, their significant other and any other family members by acknowledging them with favorable words.
5. Listen More than You Speak. Keep the conversation flowing, but make sure to ask questions and listen to the answers. When it's your turn to speak, do not give one word answers. Stick to safe topics such as the weather, sports, cultural events and seasonal topics. Do not divulge the skeletons in your closet. Some things are better left unsaid.
6. Say Thank You & Be Invited Back. At the end of your stay, purchase a small gift for the host (such as an item for the home or a small plant) and write a thoughtful handwritten thank you note detailing the highlights of your stay. This will ensure you are invited back again in the future and is guaranteed to make your significant other very happy.
Lisa Gaché has been featured on CNN, NPR, KTLA-TV and "The Today Show," and in popular publications from USA Today, Los Angeles Times, NY Daily News and the New York Post to Woman's Day magazine. Her online contributions range from AOL to The Huffington Post, and she has been a guest expert on a number of shows including CBS' "The Doctors," VH1's "Charm School" and "Living with Ed"(Discovery Channel). Visit her website at beverlyhillsmanners.com