It’s getting cold outside, and you’re ready to bundle up with someone special just in time for the holidays. That romantic connection you made online might be the perfect place to start, but how can you move them out of your messages and under the mistletoe? Whether you’re looking for a special plus-one to accompany you to holiday parties or a serious relationship that outlasts the holiday season, try these tips to bring your online date into your IRL social life.

Warm Up Online First

If you already have your eye on someone you’ve been talking to in a virtual space, you may be eager to meet them in real life as soon as possible. But before moving your chats offline, make sure you’ve warmed up and feel comfortable with one another first. This will help ease those first-date nerves.

One of the best ways to do this is by connecting through audio, not just text.

Join a voice chat room or attend live online events together to create a deeper connection that can translate to offline conversations later. And if you’re not sure what to talk about, holiday-related questions can be great icebreakers. Ask your online date about their thoughts on the holiday season, what traditions they love, or what favorite holiday memories they have from childhood. This can be a great way to learn about the other person’s values and how you each like to have fun.

Give the Gift of Honesty

Once you’ve recognized there’s chemistry and you’ve started to get to know each other online, it’s time to initiate an in-person meet-up. And there’s no need to beat around the bush (or, in this case, Christmas tree) once you feel ready to meet. It’s best to be straightforward and avoid delaying once you’re interested, especially as holiday festivities might be filling up your crush’s schedule. This way, you can secure a spot in each other’s busy calendars.

Taking your online connection offline can be a big step, but thankfully your message to initiate meeting up can be short. A simple, “It’s been so fun getting to know each other lately! Wanna meet up?” can be enough to get the ball rolling.

Be Flexible

For some people, dating and relationships simply aren’t a priority during the holidays. With gift shopping, family functions, and workplace parties underway, your online date may not have romance on the brain right now – and that’s okay. If they’re not yet ready to meet under the mistletoe, don’t push them. Instead, try initiating an IRL date once things have calmed down in a few weeks.

In the meantime, enjoy the holidays with the other special people in your life and keep in touch with your online match. Shoot them a message to wish them a merry Christmas or to ask how their holidays are going so you remain on each other’s radars.

Don’t Schedule Your First Meeting on a Holiday

Once you’ve confirmed that you’re both on the same page and ready to take things offline, decide when to spend time together carefully. In general, it’s best to avoid booking your date on a major holiday to keep things light and fun. Otherwise, you may feel pressured to conform to traditions like swapping gifts or meeting each other’s families.

Winter holidays can vary by culture and religion, so be sure to work around the celebrations you each honor. And even if you only have time to squeeze in a quick drink or small meal together between holiday festivities, that can be a less stressful option for your first date than meeting on a culturally significant day.

Have a Holiday-Themed First Date

Just because you might not meet up on a holiday doesn’t mean your first date can’t be sprinkled with a bit of holiday spirit. There are plenty of ways to celebrate the holiday season while sparking an authentic emotional connection. Take advantage of all the charming holiday festivities when planning your date, depending on your shared interests and personalities.

Active couples can try ice skating or strolling around town in search of Christmas light displays. Crafty and creative couples can take a holiday baking class or design handmade ornaments. You could also visit a Christmas market, listen to holiday carols, or spend time at a restaurant or cafe serving holiday-themed foods and drinks – or try making your own and pack them for a special wintertime picnic (but don’t forget to bring an extra-warm blanket!).

Celebrate Safely

A holiday date can be a comforting way to spend a cold winter day – but only if you feel safe with your special someone. In general, meeting people online, and taking your romance offline, can be completely safe, but there are a few tips to keep in mind to ensure you have a good time and each get home safely once the date is over.

First, while now might seem like the perfect time to invite your date to your home to watch Christmas movies together, it’s best to hold your first date in a public place instead. You can get equally cozy vibes sipping hot cocoa in a cafe or catching a showing of a holiday movie at a theater.

Make sure to tell a trusted friend about your date ahead of time, and keep your phone with you throughout the day. When you’re back home, update them so they know you’re safe and sound.

Finally, the holidays are filled with festive drinks, from mulled wine to eggnog cocktails. But to enjoy your date to the fullest, make sure to never leave your drink unattended or accept a drink from someone you don’t know (other than the bartender or barista, of course).

‘Tis the Season for Falling in Love

Just because it’s the dead of winter doesn’t mean you need to put your love life on ice. The holiday season is the perfect time to move your online date offline. Spend time cozying up on a festive date and you might just fall head over heels (in your snow boots, that is).

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