Ash Pollard is best known as one of Australia’s most gifted home cooks. But underneath those signature spiral blonde curls, the television personality and radio-host has a noggin full of knowledge that she’ll be sharing exclusively with Be.
Over the next 12 weeks she’ll be sharing her top tips on how to tackle life’s trickiest situations— from what to do during an awkward encounter with an ex, to surviving a dreaded social media slip-up.
This week, she’s telling us how to survive meeting the parents!
Okay, so you’ve met someone you’re really into and the feeling seems to be mutual because you’re off to meet the parentals!
Stacks of people have meltdowns at the prospect of meeting their potential in-laws for the first time, but why all the fuss?!
I’m one of the lucky ones who have never found it frightening. I think meeting the parents is like riding a bike – which is why I’m perfectly placed to give you the heads up on the dos and don’ts, and make sure you’re not FTFO ;)
First up, you need to plan your outfit.
Meeting the parents is exactly like a job interview, you want to make your first impression the best, as it’s going to last (unless you’re rude and have horrific manners… your outfit won’t get you anywhere!).
If you’re a bloke, you’re not gonna want to rock up in a pair of thongs with a truckers singlet and ladies, keep your bazookas outta sight. Stay classy!
One thing I stress (that my parents taught me from the get go) is to never arrive at a strangers house (or a friends) empty handed. Especially if it’s at your new partner’s parents place.
Come with a bottle of wine, some baked goods, a bunch of flowers. Anything. Just don’t ever, ever arrive empty handed. Got it? Good!
I have been known to whip up a batch of my famous peanut butter balls as a cheeky means of winning some brownie points! I usually present them upon arrival, wrapped with absolute precision and perfection (cos I’m really pedantic about presentation) and without doubt my strike rate has been 100% success thus far. I've shared the recipe for you above.
Such a gesture shows your thoughtful and not too much of a try hard.
I’m telling you, they will absolutely love it!
Whatever you do… don’t go overboard, this isn’t the time to try out that that three-tiered extravaganza you’ve been eyeing off in my e-book – so step away from the Kitchen Aid and get a grip. Ha!
Now that you’ve got your foot in the door, it’s time to chat!
When it comes to your behaviour and conversation topics, take the family’s lead. Everyone’s fam is different. Some like to take the mick out of each other, while others will be more demure and low key.
If your new flames family bond in a jovial and jesty way, by all means join in. But if they’re not into sarcasm and friendly teasing, perhaps your jokes need to take a back seat.
So pay attention, watch and listen to their antics and behaviour, follow their lead.
You might find, like me, that you may need to tone your personality down a little. I know full well I’m abnormally loud and utterly vivacious, so sometimes I have to reign that in a little (don’t wanna scare them off straight away).
In a nutshell, ease into it. The aim is to be active in the conversation without being overbearing.
And definitely try to curb the swearing. I know swear words can sometimes slip out (oops!) and if they do, just apologise. You’re only human.
When it comes to sparking conversation, the best thing you can do is ask questions.
People LOVE talking about themselves! So if you pay a genuine interest in somebody else’s life they will naturally warm to you.
The key here is not to be fake. Parents can sniff it a mile off. Find out what interests them, a hobby or their work, pose questions that will get them talking (easier for you too… less chat about yourself).
Not everyone however, is easy to deal with and I know that some parents will not give you much.
If they’re awfully difficult to get on with perhaps take your partner aside and ask for advice… Your other half is there to give you a bit of moral support, so this is the time to lean on them.
No doubt you’re all going to sit down for a meal together at some point, so be mindful of your table manner.
People these days have shocking habits at the table and they don’t realise it’s such a huge turn off!
Chewing with your mouth open, talking when eating food, not holding your cutlery correctly are all mistakes you must avoid. Also, if there is alcohol around make sure you’re drinking responsibly. Now is not the time to get loose!
You can watch my video below for a full guide on how to ensure your table manners are tip-top.
When clearing up, be helpful. Nobody is ever going to dislike a person who gets involved with the clearing away and washing up.
Pick up plates, wipe the table down, dry some things if need be. It’s a really attractive quality when someone shows a willingness to help.
There are a few no, nos we need to cover too.
Don’t talk about exes or compare your partner to an ex in front of the parents. It’s just not on.
If your bf/gf does something annoying, then BITE YOUR LIP. And obviously, don’t ever speak negatively about your partner to their parents.
And if you really want to lock him down after the big meet, I have THE.BEST.TIP.EVER!!
Send the parents a handwritten thank you note. Nothing too OTT, just a simple thank you, it was a pleasure to meet you etc. I’ve done it, it works wonders!
Lock it down! Good luck!