The holiday season is supposedly the most wonderful time of the year—and that’s even more true if you’re single and looking for love. According to recent statistics, peak online dating season is between December 26 and Valentine’s Day, meaning that more people are actively looking for a partner during this time of year than at any other point.
Dating someone new during the holidays, however, can be tricky. If you’ve recently met someone you may be asking yourself some tough questions: Should you bring this person to family gatherings or your company party? What are the rules—and expectations—about gift giving? Are you really into this person or are you just feeling lonely because it’s the holidays?
The following tips will answer all of these quandaries, and more, so you can fully embrace this festive season while embarking on a potential relationship.
1. Be upfront about the holiday situation
The best way to address the fact that you’re dating someone new during the holidays is to acknowledge this fact with the other person. If you have any expectations or prior commitments that should be addressed—whether it’s a desire to go ice skating or a long family vacation already planned—let the person you’re dating know.
2. Fill your social calendar as much as you want
Yes, you’re dating someone new but that doesn’t mean you need to miss holiday gatherings with friends, family and coworkers to devote all of your time to this potential relationship. It’s all too easy to get swept up into the spirit of the season and fast forward into romance territory during this time of year. Give yourself permission to continue with your plans as scheduled and even go on other dates if you’re not exclusive with anyone.
3. Take advantage of the season’s festivities for date ideas
One of the best parts of dating during the holidays is that you’ll never run out of fun things to do. From sipping festive cocktails to going out for hot chocolate, watching holiday movies to attending an ugly sweater party, there are so many activities to enjoy with each other.
4. Pick a non-holiday for your first date
While dating someone new during the holidays means that you’ll likely have a plethora of options for date ideas, you should probably steer clear of going on a first date on an actual holiday. Not only will some businesses close those days but the ones that stay open may be crowded (or have set menus if you decide to go out to eat). The only exception to this advice is New Year’s Eve—a first date on this holiday is a fun choice, plus that midnight kiss will tell you a lot about where your potential relationship is headed.
5. Attend a festive party together
If you’ve been out with the person a few times, consider inviting them to one of your holiday parties. A casual work affair or gathering at a friend’s house can be a great barometer for seeing how this person gets along with others in your social circle and gives you a chance to spend time together in a fun environment. You may even move your relationship along a little as you bond by sharing more about your career goals or your relationships with your friends.
6. Consider meeting each other’s families in a casual way
For many of us, the holidays mean spending time with our families. If you feel like the person you’re dating could be a forever partner, you might bring up the idea of spending time with your respective families together during this season. While you may not be ready to invite the person for Christmas dinner, you could consider including them for another family tradition, like volunteering at a soup kitchen or taking a trolley around town to see Christmas lights. You’ll definitely want to evaluate your relationship before deciding when and how to bring this person into the mix. Consider how new the relationship is, as well as where you think it’s headed.
7. Be an awesome guest
If you’re invited to spend time with someone’s family over the holidays or you’re their plus one for a holiday party, be sure to put your best foot forward. Bring a gift for the hosts, like flowers or a bottle of wine. Be engaged with and friendly to the people you meet, whether you’re introduced to coworkers, friends or family members. If there’s an opportunity to help out or be of service, offer to lend a hand stirring the gravy, playing with the kids or calling the Uber at the end of the night.
8. Don’t overindulge
Do your best not to drink too much if you do get invited to someone’s holiday gathering. It’s one thing to be the life of the party and regale guests with your interesting stories, stellar dance moves or karaoke skills, but it’s another to be completely unaware that you are slurring your words, flailing around or drunk screaming into a microphone. In short, you could ruin a good thing if you don’t keep tabs on your intake.
9. Don’t stress if you’re not their plus one
If you’re dating someone new during the holidays and you don’t get invited to the work party or any holiday gatherings, don’t read too far into things. The holiday season can feel like a lot of pressure to some people and it may be too soon in the relationship from the other person’s perspective. In some cases, the person you’re dating may not even enjoy the holidays and doesn’t want to feel pressure to celebrate or be “on” until they know you better.
10. Excuse the cheesiness
Not everyone is full of holiday spirit this time of year. That said, if the person you’re dating is really leaning into all things festive, and you’re only lukewarm on spreading holiday cheer, don’t hold it against them. And if you’re more into the holidays than the person you’re dating is, that’s fine too. While you ultimately want to end up with someone who has similar values as you do, don’t let someone’s excitement, or lack thereof, about the holidays turn you off.
11. Enjoy the fun of starting a new potential relationship during this time of year
The holidays can be a lonely time of year if you’re single, with Christmas Day specifically being the loneliest day of the year for those who are unattached, according to research. If you find someone you’re interested in, lean into the excitement of having this person think about, and spend time with, this holiday season.
12. Avoid falling into the snowglobing trap
That said, feeling lonely during the holidays can sometimes cause people to accelerate the trajectory of a relationship or fall prey to “snowglobing,” where a person appears to want to become more serious with you only to cool things off when the holidays come to a close. While you don’t need to overthink your every move, or continually question someone’s motivations, do pay attention to red flags. If they’re pushing you to meet their family even when you’ve said you’re not ready or always orchestrating sweet moments with you so that they can create envy-inducing Instagram content, they may be snowglobing you.
13. Discuss the gift-giving situation
You don’t need to exchange gifts with someone you just met or recently started dating. According to a survey, 66% of people believe that the amount spent on gifts should depend on how long a couple has been together and 71% said they wouldn’t spend any money on gifts if they had been with someone for less than seven months. Instead of buying physical presents, consider doing something festive together and sharing in a fun experience.
14. Learn about—and participate in—each other’s traditions
If you’re dating someone new during the holidays who doesn’t share a similar cultural upbringing or faith you may be celebrating different holidays this time of year. While some people may be less flexible in this area if they’re dating to find a long term partner, others may welcome the opportunity to add more traditions to their existing ones.
15. Wear the color red
According to research, men are more attracted to women who wear the color red. Given that this color is one of the more prevalent hues of the season, it may be worth donning this shade when you go on dates. The science shows that women can wear any red item of clothing—a red t-shirt will suffice—and men will not only be more drawn to them but also assume that they are more open to physical intimacy as well. (Do what you will with that information.)
16. Keep the lines of communication open
When you’re dating this holiday season, don’t be afraid to ask questions and be upfront about your needs. Inquire about the dress code before you attend a gathering. Be honest about how long you can spend at a cocktail party before feeling totally depleted. If you need to cancel or change plans, do so clearly and honestly. Help your budding relationship thrive with clear communication.
17. Give each other space
On that note, understand that you may need to give someone you’ve recently started dating space during the holidays. This is a busy time of year with many obligations and to-dos. While you may be picturing a Hallmark movie highlight reel of all the things you’ll do together, reality may not match that fantasy. In any case, it’s always better to take things slow in the beginning anyway.
If you’re interested in finding someone with whom you can spend many holiday seasons, consider working with a matchmaker at Tawkify. Together, you and your matchmaker can prioritize what you’re looking for in a partner, narrowing your search to those who will complement—and fulfill—your relationship needs.