Navigating the holidays can be tricky when you start dating someone new. You're either faced with spending the holidays separately – each of you enjoying time with your own families – or spending time with each other's family. Depending on how serious your new relationship is, your partner may convince you to do the latter: meet their family for the first time.
While it can be a momentous occasion, it can also be nerve-racking. The "throw-you-right-into-the-fold" method of introduction can be anxiety-inducing. However, as intimidating as it may seem, if your partner didn't think you could handle it, they wouldn't even propose the idea. So, you will go – you must go! – and the following tips will ensure you survive the evening unscathed.
1.Dress for the occasion.
As we all know, the first impression anyone has of us is based on what they see. It's important to understand the occasion and follow the family's tradition when it comes to attire. You don't want to wear your favorite holiday dress if the family tradition is to wear onesies. Likewise, you don't want to be too dressed down if the family plans to serve you on their best china. The goal is to show how well you can mesh with the family – not necessarily stand out. When it comes to attire, it's important to follow your partner's lead. While you may not be the type to judge someone by what they wear, there are tons of aunties and cousins who will, so paying attention to attire is imperative.
2.Don’t arrive empty-handed.
There are few things more insulting to a hostess than arriving empty-handed. If you're going to someone's house for the first time – especially for an event as important as Thanksgiving – it's critical to bring something. Find out what the hostess likes – whether it's wine, Tito's Vodka, or Godiva Chocolates – to bring as a "thank you for having me" gift. Tip: play it safe and avoid bringing a food item; things can go south real fast if the family doesn't like the way you seasoned the turkey wings.
3.Offer to help.
It doesn't take much to wipe down the counter or set the table. Extending a helping hand can go a long way. Even if the family doesn't actually need help, offering displays selflessness, helpfulness, and a willingness to be independent from your partner to impact the greater good. It also shows that you're not afraid to roll your sleeve up and get to work, and that you're able to 'take care' of their beloved family member. They may turn it down, but offering to help will certainly leave a lasting impression.
4.Put the phone down!
It's a shame I have to say this, but nothing ruins a genuine in-person connection quite like a smartphone in your face. Minimizing your phone usage will allow you to better connect with the people you're there to meet. Interrupting dinner or disengaging because of a text conversation or social media debacle can be disrespectful and offensive. Enjoy time with your partner's family without constantly checking your phone.
5.Ask meaningful questions.
This step is critical. While it may seem that the benefit of meeting the family is for them to get to know you, it is also the perfect time for you to get to know them. Use this moment to ask questions about your bae's childhood and show interest in the people around you. Ask about their career choices and personal passions. Get to know their favorite memories and some of their greatest lessons. Displaying a genuine interest in getting to know them will allow them to want to get to know you more. And it'll put a smile on their face knowing that you actually care.
You want people to get to know you for you – that requires authenticity. You do not have to fake the funk to get them to like you. The point of them getting to know you, is to get to know YOU, not who you think they should know. Don't parade around to be someone you're not for the sake of their approval. Instead, honor the woman you truly are and showcase her. Show them why your beau wants to date you in the first place. Laugh at the jokes that you think are funny. Share your personal stories. Explain the work you do and why it's meaningful. You can even share about your own family who you probably miss at this point. The purpose is, allow yourself to be yourself. Don't put on a façade to impress anyone – mothers and grandmothers can see right through that. Instead, be you.
7.Don’t take anything personal.
In some extreme circumstances, a family may not be as welcoming as you'd expect. Often, that behavior has nothing to do with you, but with the family member themselves. Don't be down on yourself because of it. People will have their opinions; if the family is decent, they will at least repress those opinions until after you leave. If they don't, however, it's not you, it's them. Understand that there are family dynamics, histories, and past behaviors that have nothing to do with you. Don't pick up what they're putting down and get discouraged. Instead, pile through with the good spirit you had walking in.
This is just the first of what may be many meetings. They will not get to know all that you are on this day alone – not with all the football, cooking, and food comas that'll be going around. This is simply their introduction to you – and you, them. Don't stress yourself out about what this day will bring; instead, delight in leaving your bae's family and friends with a great first impression of you!
Featured image by Getty Images
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Zoe Hunter is the writer, speaker, and creator behind the women empowerment brand DEAR QUEENS. She uses vulnerability, storytelling, and spiritual development to empower women toward healthy decision-making. Stay connected to Zoe's work by visiting DEARQUEENS.com or following her on Twitter @zDEARQUEENS.
In xoNecole's series Dope Abodes, we tour the living spaces of millennial women, where they dwell, how they live, and the things they choose to adorn and share their spaces with.
Annisa LiMara has called this space her home for two years. Her Atlanta sanctuary, which she aimed to give the look and feel of something you'd see in the glossy pages of Architectural Digest, embodies her vision of "stunning, yet functional and cozy."
"My home is a reflection of my brand, The Creative Peach Studios, and I am the 'Creative Peach,'" Annisa explains. "It was so easy to reflect who I am and my personal story in my space. When you walk into my home, you know that it is Annisa’s home. I’m so proud of that. So grateful."
On the journey to becoming a homeowner, Annisa looks back on her experience as a "rough one," detailing that she officially started house hunting in March 2020. It had become so expensive to rent, and the 30-something lifestyle influencer decided she would rather invest the money she spent renting into owning a home. However, nine days into house hunting, her search was put on hold for a year. The following year, in 2021, the process of finding the right home and going under contract took a total of four months.
"The resell route didn’t work out, so my realtor suggested a new construction home, which turned out to be the better option," she tells xoNecole of her experience. "Although it requires more patience, it turned out to be a much easier process and a lot easier to maintain since it’s brand new."
As it turns out, the open floor plan three-bedroom two-and-half-bath would prove to be a blank canvas for Annisa to flex her creativity and design skills.
As a new construction, she watched the townhome get built from the ground up, and due to the "cookie-cutter" nature of new builds, Annisa knew immediately that she would change everything about it. The best part about it? All of her updates were cosmetic, so transformation could occur without having to do major renovations to achieve the look and feel she desired.
"The first things I updated were all the lighting, adding built-ins around my fireplace, and installing wallpaper in my bedroom, office, and dining room! I also had board and batten installed in the upstairs loft to make a statement and the kitchen island," Annisa details.
"Lastly, we painted the loft a soft blush pink, the kitchen island is a gorgeous terracotta, and added contrast with black on the doors, fireplace, and stairwell banisters."
In total, she spent $15K in renovations (plus the cost of furniture and decor). And although she says the second level of her home is a "work-in-progress," two years in, she considers the transformation nearly done.
Annisa defines her decor style as "organic modern meets midcentury modern with a touch of boho," and with thoughtfully placed touches like plants, warm tones, and organic textures, her perspective can be felt throughout. "I found my point of view as a designer in my work and as I worked on my home, so it all came together organically based on what I was naturally drawn to."
"The organic modern meets midcentury modern with a touch of boho' is definitely my signature style. You’ll always see greenery, warm tones, brass, and rattan or wicker in just about every room. My color story is based on my brand [The Creative Peach Studios] colors: blush pink, ivory, olive and sage green, terracotta, and nudes," she adds.
It was her brand colors that would be the jumping-off point for her approach to decorating and styling her space. That, and a picture she had of what would become her sofa from Albany Park. She recalled her decor decisions, "It was their olive Park Sectional Sofa, and I knew instantly I wanted it, and it aligned with my brand colors naturally, so it was a no-brainer."
By drawing inspiration from Pinterest, favorite design brands like CB2, Arhaus, and Souk Bohemian, and through her work, Annisa allowed herself to be guided by her signature style as well as her instincts when making decor and color choices for her own home. "Sometimes there is no rhyme or reason; it just feels right."
Some of the aspects of her home that she regards as her favorites include her bedroom and its little nook where her bed is positioned, the open upstairs loft, and the open concept because "it really allows you to see all of the details I put into the design all at once." Another of her favorite finds is a purchase she copped from the thrift store years ago.
"I have this little brown and gold chair that I picked up for $6 at a thrift store in Jersey six years ago. I couldn’t afford much in my little studio, but the chair was beautiful and unlike anything I had ever seen."
In addition to accent walls featuring blush pink and terracotta tones throughout the space, her gallery wall is another element that immediately draws the eye of any guest who enters. Annisa recalled a fond memory of a fine art piece she purchased from a Black woman artist when she first moved to Atlanta that she now prominently features in her living room. "It was a Black villager from her travels in Africa, and I fell in love with it because it felt like an ancestor I never met. I later found out that she was the sister of one of my very first design clients two years later," she shares. "Talk about a full-circle moment!"
Cultivating a space takes time and patience, and that is a sentiment Annisa echoes when advising people who are looking to infuse more of themselves into their own dope abodes through design. "It is not a race, and you’ll spend more money if you rush into designing without really being intentional about the vision for your space," Annisa concludes. "You just need creativity and patience to do it! And most of all, make sure you feel like it’s an oasis for you!"
For more of Annisa, follow her on Instagram @annisalimara.
Tour Interior Designer Annisa LiMara's Modern Meets Midcentury ATL Home | Dope Abodes
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It’s always a good time to start saving. Whether you have a few bucks or hundreds to set aside every payday, putting away a little amount of funds over time can lead to financial security later down the road.
As life would have it, there’s always something that we’re striving to obtain that may take a little more than the everyday cost to cover. No matter if you’re saving up for the deposit to your big girl apartment, putting money aside for a girls' trip, or simply wanting to start a new financial discipline, establishing a savings account dedicated to our financial goals can help keep track of your progress and ensure that funds are aside for when you need them the most.
While spending money is fun in the moment, committing to the habit of making regular contributions to our savings account is a practice that will delight your future self. And setting realistic savings goals is the best place to start. “One of the easiest ways to set realistic savings goals is to start by knowing how much money you're bringing in,” Dr. Melody Wright, P.D. AFC, tells xoNecole. “That's going to be how much income you have and how much money is actually going out in the form of expenses. Based on what you have left when you subtract your expenses from your income will determine how much to put into savings.”
How To Set Realistic Saving Goals
Setting savings goals can feel like a daunting task, depending on how much you seek to put aside and how much cash flow you’re currently working with. That’s why when it comes to creating your savings plan, Dr. Wright says to consider what you can mentally manage first.
“Let's say you have a goal to save $10,000. For a lot of people, that large amount is going to overwhelm them because they're only going to be focused on saving that $10,000,” she explains. Instead of allowing the big, end-goal numbers to fluster you, breaking the amount down into your first $500 or $1,000 and tracking your progress from there can make the goal feel more manageable.
There are various options for savings accounts, and having the right clarity on what separates a traditional savings account and a high-yield savings account is an important distinction to make to ensure you’re getting the best return on your savings. “Whenever you're thinking about opening a savings account, you want to make sure that it has no minimums, has little to no fees, and is FDIC insured,” she says.
The FDIC provides deposit insurance to protect your money in the event of a bank failure, allowing your deposits to be automatically insured to at least $250,000 at each FDIC-insured bank.
Traditional savings accounts, commonly found in brick-and-mortar banks, typically offer an average annual percentage yield (APY) of around 0.30%. In contrast, high-yield savings accounts, depending on the type, can yield significantly higher returns, sometimes over 15 times more, with rates reaching as high as 5%. The key factor is that the higher the APY, the more money your funds will earn while they sit in the account. This increase in earnings is attributed to the power of compounding, where the money in the account generates returns and begins to work for you.
What is a Roth IRA?
The mention of a Roth IRA is a common term in financial planning discussions. A Roth IRA is a type of individual retirement account with distinct features. “IRAs come in different flavors,” Dr. Wright explains. “Two of the main flavors that you'll see are traditional IRAs and a Roth IRA. With a traditional IRA, you're putting money in that hasn't been taxed. However, when it's time to take that money out, you're going to get taxed on that money.”
Unlike a Traditional IRA, contributions to a Roth IRA are made with after-tax dollars, meaning they are not tax-deductible. However, qualified withdrawals, including earnings, are tax-free in retirement. Roth IRAs provide tax advantages, flexibility, and a unique approach to retirement savings within the framework of individual financial planning.
It’s important to note that there are stipulations when it comes to setting up a Roth IRA, which is why the traditional option is available. Roth IRAs come with certain income limits, and based on whether you are married or single, if you make over a certain amount, you won’t be able to invest in a Roth IRA.
Organizing sinking funds for short-term savings goals involves establishing a systematic approach. Sinking funds are useful for saving towards specific objectives like a trip or wardrobe revamping. The key to effective organization lies in the planning process.
“You want to set the sinking funds up based on priority and how soon you'll need that money,” she says. “Once I establish which fund I’m going to need to use first, then I start to put more money into it. When you think about it, you want to prioritize them based on how soon you'll need that money and how much money you'll need to be saving.”
Consider categorizing sinking funds, determining contribution amounts, and creating a dedicated account for each fund. This structured approach ensures that funds are allocated appropriately, making it easier to track progress and meet short-term financial goals.
Overcoming Limiting Beliefs Around Money
For those feeling intimidated or overwhelmed by the prospect of planning their savings accounts, one thing to keep in mind is that even taking the first step towards saving is a commendable one. Whether you’ve had a savings account that you’ve had to use, or starting from scratch, Dr. Wright reminds us that saving is something you can start and restart anytime.
“A lot of times, we feel like we have to put a lot of thought into it, but the idea is that you want to start saving as early as possible and as much as you can,” she says. “If all you can save is $5 or $20, start saving that because as you continue to save those amounts, they’re going to build, and it’s going to be earning money for you.”
Dr. Wright often tells her clients to “prepare for famine while they're feasting,” because we don't know what tomorrow is going to bring us. “When life is good, and that money is flowing in, you want to make sure that you're putting some money aside for those times when that money is not as abundant or when those seasons are a little bit drier so you can have that to fall back on.”
She continues, “The goal is for you to start putting money in that savings account and not touching it unless you have a true need so that money can grow for you.”
Remember, financial planning is a journey, and progress is more important than perfection. Happy saving!
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