Start some new traditions together.
If you celebrate Christmas, or if your partner does, it can be really exciting to spend the holiday together for the first time. Your first Christmas as a couple presents an opportunity for all kinds of festive activities: picking out a tree and decorating it with ornaments, exchanging meaningful gifts, cozying up by the fire with hot cocoa, sharing long-standing traditions and childhood memories — the list of nostalgic holiday date ideas goes on and on.
As thrilling as it is to spend your first Christmas with your boyfriend or girlfriend, it can also feel a bit nerve-wracking and unfamiliar. “[Your first Christmas together] can also kick up a little anxiety,” relationship expert Susan Winter tells Elite Daily, especially if you’re crossing a big milestone like meeting your partner’s family. “The key to maintaining your cool is to understand that you have a partner who supports you and really wants to share this special occasion with you. This holiday can be a warm and intimate experience that signifies the closeness you’ve developed.”
For some couples, Christmas means splitting time between each other’s families' houses so that everyone has a chance to see their loved ones. For others, however, this simply isn’t realistic or desirable. Maybe your families live too far apart to make that possible, or maybe there are strained relationships that make it difficult to see people from home. Alternatively, it might not be financially feasible for either or both of you to travel for the holidays. Whatever your reasoning for doing so, spending Christmas with just your partner comes with plenty of perks, but you may need to prep yourself for some adjustments in terms of how you spend the holiday. So, how can you make your first Christmas together one to remember?
Respect Each Other’s Traditions
“When it’s just the two of you, you’ve got a profound time and space to set your own personal traditions,” relationship and etiquette expert April Masini tells Elite Daily. “Decide what you want to keep from your respective family traditions, [what you want to] toss out, and what you want to do that is new to both of you.”
According to Masini, one of the most important things you can do to make this first Christmas together go smoothly is to set some expectations in advance. “If you and your partner have different traditions or even different religions, respect and inclusion are crucial,” she says. “Don’t slough off someone else’s culture ... Agree to celebrate both traditions.”
Since you may have celebrated the holidays very differently growing up, it’s important to discuss what’s most important to you in terms of getting into the Christmas spirit. That way, neither of you feels slighted or disappointed. “If one of you comes from a family where gifts are considered gauche, and volunteering and spending time together is the thing to do, you’ll save yourself a lot of embarrassment by discussing this with your partner ahead of time,” explains Masini. “Or, if you’re going to be taking your partner to church, and [they have] never been to church, prep them. Talk about what it will be like, what might be new for them, and what you would like to have happen.” This way, neither of you will feel surprised or uncomfortable with anything you’re planning to do together.
Make New Traditions Together
By the way, spending your first Christmas together presents an opportunity to launch some new traditions as a couple. That could mean making a gratitude list of all the positive things in your lives on Christmas Eve, or sending out Christmas cards to your family and mutual friends with a festive photo of you both on the cover. Masini suggests taking a Christmas morning hike, making a non-traditional holiday feast together (Christmas pizzas, anyone?), or trying out a Christmas tradition you’ve never done before.
Since Christmas is all about giving, it’s also a great way to discover your philanthropic side and do something for others as a couple. Masini recommends volunteering to any couple spending their first Christmas together, as it can help redefine your priorities and values as a unit. “Whether you’re donating or volunteering your time and company, you can make a difference in the lives of others together,” she explains. “This is a great way create your identity as a couple.”
Think of it this way: No matter what it is, any “first” together is significant in your relationship because it ultimately brings you closer. Seeing how you both handle a new situation can show you a lot about your partner — and yourself. “A first holiday together is going to set the tone for the rest of your relationship,” adds Masini. “So make it count.”
What To Get Your Partner For Christmas
It can be a little intimidating to figure out what to get your girlfriend or boyfriend for Christmas. You may be scratching your head over what will make them feel most appreciated, or how money much is appropriate to spend. It’s worth communicating expectations ahead of time so that you’re both on the same page about your budget.
“All couples need to know how to manage their finances individually, as well as together,” Winter tells Elite Daily. Discussing finances is all part of being in a relationship, so it’s best to have conversations about money and spending as soon as you feel comfortable doing so. Before you start browsing gifts, have an honest conversation with your partner about your expectations and limitations. “The trick to being on-point with gift giving is to assess what’s too much, and what’s too little,” Winter tells Elite Daily. “You want to match your partner’s gift level. This can either be [through] direct conversation, or you can use your instincts to guide you.”
Once you feel comfortably settled on a budget, it’s time to get creative. Since nailing the perfect Christmas gift is more about the thought you put into it than the thing itself, you may want to factor in your partner’s love language while you’re doing your Christmas shopping. For example, if your SO values physical touch, a massage (perhaps with your own two hands!) can go a long way. If their love language is words of affirmation, don’t underestimate the power of a thoughtfully written card. If quality time is their thing, then consider buying tickets to an event, whether that means a sushi-making class, an indie rock concert, or ice skating session. “Do something fun and uniquely tailored to your partner’s interests,” Winter suggests. “You know your partner, so you can best choose how to spend your time with them in a way that’s experientially meaningful.”
Masini echoes this. “These are ways to bond, build on your experiences together, and bring you together as a couple,” she says. “They’re also a really nice way to veer off from materialism that runs rampant around this time of year.” No matter what you’ve decided to spend, there are plenty of ways to show your love and appreciation for your SO this Christmas season.
While you may want to share some of your childhood traditions and favorite holiday activities with your partner, don’t shy away from embracing new ones as well. Your first Christmas together means starting a fresh chapter — one in which you both can practice your gratitude and generosity together, and not just on Dec. 25. Keep these things in mind, and who knows? Your first holiday season together might just help you both to rediscover the real meaning of Christmas as a couple.
Susan Winter, relationship expert and author
April Masini, relationship and etiquette expert
This article was originally published on