Q: My fiancé and I have been dating for eight years, but our families have never met. We’re getting everyone together in three weeks for the first time. Is a simple dinner okay, or should we plan more of a to-do?
A: No need to stress out or get too fancy: “A simple dinner sounds perfect—emphasis on the simple,” says executive editor Eleni N. Gage. The goal is to have your families feeling relaxed enough to mingle and chat freely. One way to do that, says Eleni, is by making the meal something of an activity, which can help break the ice (think barbecue at an Argentinian restaurant or dim sum at a Chinese one). You could also extend the length of a traditional supper so people have more of a chance to talk—suggest a round of appetizers to share or dessert for the table. If you’re hosting at home, set out cheese and charcuterie before bringing out the lasagna (again, keep it simple—no sweating over soufflés for the first in-laws encounter). And if both sets of relatives are coming from out of town, hand them a list of fun things to do in the area as a nice gesture. Adds Eleni, “Who knows? By the end of the evening, they might be planning excursions together!”