The holidays present some pretty special milestones for your relationship. There’s your first Valentine’s Day, your first Thanksgiving, and your first New Year's — but TBH, nothing beats your first Christmas together. Picking out a tree and decorating it with ornaments you’ve collected along your travels, exchanging meaningful gifts, cozying up by the fire with spiked cocoa, sharing long-standing traditions and childhood memories — the list of activities with nostalgic potential goes on and on when you're spending your first Christmas with your boyfriend or girlfriend. If you’re celebrating this holiday together solo for the first time, you may need to prep yourself for some adjustments in terms of how you spend your holiday. So, how can you make this first Christmas together one to remember?
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 in one or both your family relationships. Alternatively, it might not be financially feasible for either or both of you to travel home for the holidays. Whatever your reasoning for doing so, spending Christmas with just your boo comes with plenty of perks.
“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, 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 because it’s not a shiny blowout like yours is. 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 he or she has 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.”
Searching for the perfect gift can obviously be a real struggle, especially if this is your first Christmas together. You may be scratching your head over what will make them feel most appreciated, or how 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. And as for finding that perfect present, you may want to factor in bae’s love language while you’re doing your Christmas shopping. For example, if your boo values physical touch, a massage (perhaps with your own two hands!) can go a long way. And if their love language is words of affirmation, don’t underestimate the power of your 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 sesh.
“These are ways to bond, build on your experiences together, and bring you together as a couple,” adds Masini. “They’re also a really nice way to veer off from materialism that runs rampant around this time of year.”
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 Xmas 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 from another country.
Since Christmas is all about giving at the core, 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.
“Veterans Administration homes need help, and 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 ultimately, it brings you closer. Seeing how you both dealt in 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.”
While you may want to share some of your childhood traditions with your SO, don’t shy away from embracing some 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.