How to bring a date home for Chinese New Year

Tips and tricks for including a new significant other in the family festivities.  

Photos: ING Image
Photos: ING Image
20 Jan 2016

Photos: ING Image

Well, aren’t you brave. Not only did you invite your new guy to the family home, but you scheduled the occasion for Chinese New Year, when he’ll probably have to deal with a horde of relatives in addition to your parents. While the experience would render most couples (and their parents) into fire-breathing dragons, there are simple courtesies you can practice that will help everyone relax amidst the pressure. Here’s where we’d begin: 

1. Run the idea by your parents.
1. Run the idea by your parents.
20 Jan 2016

1. Run the idea by your parents.

The holidays are a time for family, so show some consideration by asking your parents if they would feel comfortable hosting your new boyfriend. Keep in mind that they might want to delay introducing him to the extended clan until your relationship is more serious. 

2. Brief the guy on your family.
2. Brief the guy on your family.
20 Jan 2016

2. Brief the guy on your family.

If this is the first time your date has met your parents, tell him a little bit about them so that he can prepare some conversation topics to break the ice (and so that he’ll know which blabbermouth uncles and aunties to avoid!). If you’re worried about awkward silences, introduce your guy to your siblings beforehand so that they can chat during dinner when things get weird. If anything, your parents will relax after seeing how well he gets along with their other children. 

3. Pick an appropriate date to invite him.
3. Pick an appropriate date to invite him.
20 Jan 2016

3. Pick an appropriate date to invite him.

Every family is different, so make sure you consider how strictly your parents adhere to traditions. For instance, some parents will prefer that you spend New Year’s Eve with your respective families, as per tradition, while saving visitations to New Year’s Day. Keep the conversation open so that you’ll be aware of which days your family has reserved for itself.  

4. Tell your date to shave.
4. Tell your date to shave.
20 Jan 2016

4. Tell your date to shave.

In Chinese tradition, facial hair signifies death and mourning, so he’ll have better luck with your more conservative family members if he looks clean cut.  

5. Buy gifts.
5. Buy gifts.
20 Jan 2016

5. Buy gifts.

Arriving empty handed is a no-no. Make sure your boyfriend brings a couple of oranges, a parcel of loose leaf tea, or even a gift box of food. A bottle of alcohol is also acceptable if he knows what your parents drink. 

6. Take the lead when doing introductions.
6. Take the lead when doing introductions.
20 Jan 2016

6. Take the lead when doing introductions.

While you should encourage your date to be friendly, make sure you or your parents do the initial introductions, as that will communicate to your relatives that he’s really a boyfriend, and not just your seasonal squeeze. 

7. Encourage him to help around the house.
7. Encourage him to help around the house.
20 Jan 2016

7. Encourage him to help around the house.

Chinese New Year provides plenty of opportunities for your guy to be chivalrous. Helping Granny out of her chair, carrying dirty dishes to the sink, and offering to scoop bowls of soup demonstrates initiative as well as a desire to care for other people. Chances are, your mother will refuse your guy’s help in the kitchen, but at least the gesture will afford him the opportunity to compliment the meal. Soon enough, they’ll be chatting about ingredients, recipes, and technique, which will also help them establish camaraderie. Just make sure he ventures out of the kitchen eventually, or else your father might suspect that he’s avoiding him. 

8. Play with the kids.
8. Play with the kids.
20 Jan 2016

8. Play with the kids.

Is there anything more charming than a guy who’s good with children? Instead of sitting awkwardly with the adults, your boyfriend can keep busy by playing with the small nieces, nephews, and cousins. Bonus points if the kids like him so much that they follow him around the whole day. 

9. Turn on the TV.
9. Turn on the TV.
20 Jan 2016

9. Turn on the TV.

As anti-social as it sounds, keep the television running once the meal winds down. That way, you comment on the news when the conversation reaches a stalemate. Just make sure you field the usual hot button topics, such as politics, sex, and religion. 

10. Be patient.
10. Be patient.
20 Jan 2016

10. Be patient.

Let’s pretend that despite being considerate and friendly, your boyfriend totally bombs. Your dad treats him coldly, your mum complains about his “sketchy” mannerisms, and in the end, the poor guy just folds under all of the pressure. Don’t be discouraged. If the relationship gets serious, your parents will eventually open up once they see that your guy was willing to tough out the tension. As for your date, well, the Lantern Festival is in less than a month, so perhaps he’ll have better luck now that he knows what to expect!

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