Dear Lee — The In-Laws on Holiday
This summer, I'm being included in my (not yet) in-laws' family holidays for the first time. We're traveling together for a couple of days and staying at a family home with other relatives. I'm nervous, and I want to avoid as many awkward situations as possible. I also want them to know how happy I am to be going on this trip. Do you have any tips?
Thank you so much for writing in. I'm sure this is an issue many would like to hear about.
It's natural to be nervous about going on family holidays with your (not yet) in-laws. I consider nervousness as a sign of caring. Therefore, I have no doubt that you will be polite and let your partner's family know how nice it is to be included on the holiday.
As for avoiding awkward situations, just know that they are going to happen and there's little you can do about it. I'm not one to let go, and I doubt I'd ever really be described as a "get along gal" but when on vacation, with someone who invited me, I try my hardest to be one. When I first vacationed with my not yet in-laws, I was incredibly anxious. I was not used to traveling with people who were not my family, and I was not used to being thrust into new situations (we went skiing and, at the time, I wasn't a skier). However, I was able to trust my boyfriend to let me know about his family and what they expected on vacations. Your partner's role is to smooth the way for you since your partner knows you and then their own family. So, know that something is bound to come up; it probably won't be a huge deal, and your partner will know the best way to deal with it. Living with people, on vacation or not, is incredibly difficult to manage so be a cheery and thoughtful guest to make the way easy for everyone.
As for letting your in-laws and the relatives know that you're thankful, I find it's best to send thank you cards and to bring a little gift to your hosts. Upon arrival, let your hosts know that you're happy to be of any service in any way. Bring a small gift for your hosts, something personal, if possible. Nothing of large monetary value, this is meant to be a token of gratitude. Some items I like to give are: a box of chocolates from your favorite chocolatier, ground coffee from your favorite local coffee shop, a favorite jam (bonus points if it's homemade), freshly cut flowers, or a potted plant, like orchids. You can also leave a gift (like a bottle of wine) with a thank you card as you leave but no matter what, please leave a thank you card. As for your in-laws, upon returning home, send them a thank you card. Thank them for inviting and including you with the family, and maybe even slip in a favorite photograph you took on vacation of the family, or the scenery.
Have a wonderful holiday!