The time has arrived.  The guy you have been seeing has finally popped the question.  No, not a proposal (yet) but that other monumental question that brings a relationship to the next level: he’s invited you to meet his parents.

But with meeting the parents comes a barrage of concerns.  You want to impress them, you want them to like you, you want to like them, you hope they don’t put you in the hot seat, etc., etc., etc.  Enough worrying, because these tips (followed properly) will help you ace the first meeting.

1. Find out if any topics are off limits. Is there something that you shouldn’t be bringing up?  It’s always great to check in with your partner before visiting his family to find out if there are certain topics of conversation to avoid, so you don’t make others uncomfortable or worse, put yourself in an awkward situation.

2. Ask him not to leave you alone. Sure he might have to go to the washroom, and no, he shouldn’t hold it in (nor should you follow him like a puppy dog and wait outside the washroom) but it’s not out of line to request that he do his best to stick by your side when you’re meeting his family.  This means not leaving you alone at the dining room table while he goes to do the dishes in the other room, and also means that he shouldn’t get into deep conversations about inside joke family stuff, without including you in some way.  If you request he be aware of these things before, you can take rest assured that you two are in this together, for better or for worse, as a team.

3. Don’t try to impress, but instead be authentic. People see through an act.  You need to be yourself right off the bat.  Don’t agree with his family on everything they say if you don’t agree.  Don’t finish your plate of food if you’re too full or you don’t like it.  Don’t dress in a way that isn’t your style.  All these little things will hold you back from feeling like your most confident self, because they are foreign to you.  Value your authenticity, and they will no doubt see that you’re the kind of lady who can stand on her own two feet.

4. Don’t show up empty-handed. Before meeting the family, ask your other half if there’s a particular house wine they always drink, what his mom’s favourite flower is, or a dessert they absolutely love.  Then with this insider knowledge, use that to guide you on what hostess gift to bring.  You can bake cookies or a side dish for them to serve at dinner, which shows them you are willing to take the time to do something thoughtful, or can pick up wine or flowers.  Just don’t go overboard.  This means no huge bouquet, and no bottles of expensive champagne.  Those say “I’m trying too hard.”  Keep it simple.  It’s more about the thought than anything else.

5. Be aware of your alcohol intake. Having a couple drinks over a big holiday dinner is understandable; in fact, it’s encouraged, but know your limit.  It’s one thing to have a couple drinks to take the edge off, but this isn’t the time to get drunk.  When you start to feel a bit tipsy, or you start to notice you’re loosening up a little too much, have some water, reach for a bread bun or something on the table and don’t refill your cup.  And yes, this still applies even if everyone one of his family members are slurring their words.

Jen Kirsch is a relationship expert, columnist and blogger. For quick tips and tricks, follow her on Twitter @jen_kirsch. Read her posts every Tuesday on Slice.ca.