So you’ve finally met someone special, and it’s time for your first Christmas together. You probably have all of these expectations — his parents house or yours? Christmas presents on Christmas Eve, or Christmas morning? — and want everything to be perfect.

Slow down, sister.
The first Christmas with a significant other has to be handled very carefully. Play it too eagerly, which is the mistake most ladies make, and you run the risk of acting like a Bridezilla, but for Christmas. The harder you push, the faster your man will turn into the Grinch, and the sooner your holidays will end in tears as you try to explain to your boyfriend why, exactly, it was so important that you hold hands in matching holiday mittens as the Chamber of Commerce guy threw the switch on your town’s enormous holiday tree.

With that in mind, here are the rules for your all-important first Christmas together.

1. Don’t push the family stuff.
The quickest way to send a guy running in the other direction is to start talking about how your mother always makes pecan pie, and of course he’s going to help your dad chop down the tree, and your sister’s baby is so cute!!!

Honey, it hasn’t been a year yet. Your boyfriend’s still getting used to the idea of dating you. As many dating guides note, you need four full seasons together before you start discussing long-term type arrangements. That includes Christmas with your family. Your boyfriend doesn’t need to be worried about being part of your family yet, so let him be.

2. You are allowed one cute couple gift.
Although you are probably tempted to give your man multiple gifts with secret, significant meanings, like “here’s the rock from when we first walked on the beach together, and here’s a bottle of the wine we drank on our first date,” you can’t go overboard. You are allowed ONE gift that symbolizes your new life as a couple. This year, for example, I’m going to design custom sweatshirts for me and my new squeeze. (Mine has a heart-shaped lock, his has a heart-shaped key.)

Beyond the single cute couple gift, all of your other gifts have to be about your man as an individual. Pay attention to what he does in his spare time, and get him those types of presents.

3. Nothing embarrassing.
No sitting on Santa’s lap together. Let’s just leave it at that.

4. You can decorate the tree with him, but you can’t force the magic.
There’s this thing women do, where they see something magical on TV and assume that they’ll feel similar “magic” feelings when they do it themselves. Like decorating a Christmas tree, when the boy teasingly throws tinsel in your hair and then the two of you laugh and everything goes into soft focus.

Of course, by the time you’re in your 20s or 30s, you’ve decorated a lot of trees. Adding a new boyfriend to the mix doesn’t make it magical, it just makes it a task you are doing together. He is probably less interested in the romantic symbolism of your first Christmas tree together than he is in getting the job done and moving on to something more interesting. Truth be told, it would be better for you as well if you adopted that mindset.

5. Ask him what he wants.
Often, the only way to find out what would make it a merry Christmas for both of you is to ask. Does he want to go skiing, or curl up with Die Hard? You don’t know until you ask. Christmas, like the rest of your relationship, is about finding something that suits both of you, and Die Hard with Christmas cookies may be just the thing.

How about you? Do you have any first Christmas horror stories? Let us know — the funnier the better!