Whether you’ve been married for decades, or you’ve only recently got engaged, nothing puts some partners on edge more than hearing “My parents are coming for dinner”. And that’s when the panic often sets in. Because there always seems to be so much pressure, real or perceived, to be the perfect host, serve them the perfect dinner, and provide the perfect environment for our in-laws.
If your in-laws have decided they’re coming over for dinner, simply follow these few tips below to ensure the evening is a super smooth success.
1. Clean the house
While you don’t have to deep clean your entire home, you should at least cover the basics like vacuuming the carpets, mopping the floors, and wiping down the bathroom. If you work together as a family, you can knock it over in a few hours. You want to get as much cleaning and preparation done as possible before they arrive.
2. First impressions matter
The secret to a great first impression lies in creating the right kind of inviting ambience. The right music playing in the background helps here, so if you aren’t sure what your in-laws like, ask your partner. Otherwise, you can try putting something like this old school Spotify playlist on shuffle.
A little bit of etiquette also goes a long way, so make sure the table is set properly. The in-laws coming over is also a great excuse to break out all of your best dinnerware, especially if you got any of them as wedding gifts from them or anyone on their side of the family.
3. Make them feel welcome
Once they’ve arrived and you’ve given them a quick tour of your home, it’s a good idea to offer your in-laws a drink and some finger food. Nothing makes most people feel more at ease than having snacks with a drink in hand.
In fact, a social drink can help with ironing out wrinkles in many awkward social situations. So serve them up some wine or beer, while making sure there’s also plenty of drinking water available. And instead of trying to be a great host all the time, don’t forget that your in-laws are part of the family.
4. What to cook?
When it comes to food, your best bet would be a classic meal you’re overconfident with or you’ve had heaps of success with making in the past. You certainly shouldn’t attempt cooking something you’ve never made, or one that has too much preparation time. Remember that it’s extremely difficult to be charming with your in-laws when you’re busy in the kitchen in a food-splattered apron.
In fact, a great idea would be to hire a private chef. Simply choose a menu of their favourite food, and they’ll come out and take care of the whole meal. That way you’ll be able to enjoy hosting and making small talk instead of being stuck in the kitchen.
5. Find out their likes
While your in-laws shouldn’t be expecting you to go to too much trouble, a little bit of effort on your part will certainly go a long way. Talk to your partner about their favourite beverages and what they usually love to eat. They should be thrilled if you’re able to make their favourite meal or offer them their go-to beer.
Remember, it’s always the little touches like these which will show them just how much you care. Dessert is always a must with most in-laws, especially something like apple crumble. Plus, most older people will enjoy a nice cuppa tea, coffee, or hot chocolate after eating their meal.
6. Family harmony
The number one rule for dealing effectively with your in-laws is working everything through your spouse. They’ve had a lifetime of a relationship with their family, so it’s best to let them handle any of the tricky stuff.
Remember that they’re always going to be a crucial part of your partner’s life, which means they’re now a part of your life too. All you need to do is whatever you can to support that bond by always being kind to them. Even if they genuinely are the in-laws from hell, grit your teeth and try to be nice. And if you honestly can’t do it, at least keep it to yourself and simply put on a smile. Because not only is creating family harmony possible, it’s always very much worth all of the effort.