So have a glass of wine or two with dinner, but cut yourself off after that.
And if the person you're dating has a tendency to overindulge, ask him to make an effort to keep himself in check.
When I first mentioned that I was going to be talking about tips to help daters survive the holidays, a bunch of readers said, "Avoid dating till January!
Perhaps Clara will love him forever if he brings her flowers, or if he compliments her on her needlepoint pillow that says, "Remember the reason for the season: Presents." Think ahead about the little things you can do to make the day more socially smooth for everyone. The guy you're dating is a vegetarian, and your grandmother thinks no meal is complete unless it features something that once mooed, snorted, or bleated? If he's the type who gets irritable when he's hungry — and you have a long drive to get to the relatives' place — bring some snacks in the car. Do your best to get enough sleep and to make time for exercise, especially if it's important to you. People often think drinking will ease all tensions and make everyone jollier.
And if you'll be with his family, ask him if he has any tips for you to make a great impression. If you both will be spending the night with the folks, and you know your parents don't drink coffee — and your boyfriend can't be human in the morning without his java — consider bringing along a French press and some ground coffee. The better you feel physically, the more likely you are to feel psychologically at ease, too. Instead, it regularly disables people's manners, amplifies any underlying moodiness or resentment, and encourages them to do things that are ridiculous, inappropriate, or offensive.
What's more, your relatives might be weird or annoying or simply not his speed. Not sure if you two are serious enough to buy each other gifts? Talk about it rather than tiptoeing around the issue.
Your mother — whom everyone thinks you look so much like — may be aging very poorly, your father could be the kind of jackass no one would ever want to be in a restaurant with, and so on. Ask if he thinks exchanging gifts would be fun — and, of course, tell him how you feel.
The truth is, a guy doesn't expect or want much during this phase. What to get him: Your best bet is to give him a gift that can be consumed.
If you know he likes a certain type of beer, buy him an entire case.
Or consider doing Christmas with one tribe and New Year's (or Thanksgiving) with the other.
If logistics are tricky, and neither of you wants to disappoint your family (or yourself!
I have been wondering what I want in terms of participation: If we're still together in December, will I be happier if he hangs out with my family on December 25 — or will it be less stressful for both of us if we simply agree to do the holidays apart?