In case the obnoxious mall decorations haven't tipped you off, the holidays are right around the corner. And if things are going well with your woman, it may be time to meet her parents—maybe, if you’re really lucky, she’s already bugging you about it. Nervous about making a stellar first impression? Don't be. This cheat sheet has everything you need to know to win them over—without coming off like an insincere jackass.
When you go out to dinner
DO discretely ask the maitre d' to slip you the bill at meal's end. Covering the cost will make her parents see you as a provider (which is still a big deal to many people that age). Plus, you'll avoid the awkward pissing contest that ensues when grown men fight over a check.
DON'T order for Mom and Pop. Even if you know the snapper's superior to the sea bass, nothing screams arrogant SOB like a guy who thinks he knows better than mid-lifers about what they want to eat. For that matter, don't choose food for your girlfriend, either. If you can't respect her taste buds, her parents will wonder which other body parts you disrespect.
When you go to her family's home
DO find out about their favorite bottle of vino or scotch and bring it with you. Wrap it nicely--or ask a talented pal or sibling to do the honors. If the parents are anti-alcohol (may God have mercy on your soul), inquire about her mom's favorite flower and bring a bouquet of those--which may require ordering ahead if she prefers a plant that's not poinsettia.
DON'T shy away from chatting up Grandma at the dinner table. Whether she's in perfect health, hard of hearing, or slightly senile, she'll relish attention from a young stud like yourself. And your girlfriends' parents will take your willingness to get to know all members of the family as a sign of your commitment to their daughter--a major coup.
When you invite them to your place
DO frame at least one nice pic of you and your girlfriend (but not so many that your pad looks like a stalker's shrine) and leave it in plain sight. When her parents inevitably ask about a photo, share a story behind it that reveals something you love about your lady: "That's from my friend's wedding. Jen had just made the ring bearer's day by dancing with him. She's the best."
DON'T ask her parents to lift a finger while they're over. You cook, you serve, you clean up—and if you live with your girlfriend, it's still wise to do the lion's share of the work. The idea is to show her parents that you're not some spoiled brat who expects others to do everything for him. You can wipe your own ass, thank you very much.