It wasn't until recently that I realized how unique family is. Not everyone's family is always around, always loud and very, very Italian. 

I bring my friends over from time to time on Sundays for my family's infamous Sunday dinner. Without a doubt, each friend I bring gets more and more overwhelmed. Here are some things to remember if you're ever thrown into an Italian Sunday dinner.

1. Lots of hugs and kisses  

When you walk into an Italian Sunday dinner be prepared to take the first half hour of your time just saying hello to each and every member of my enormous, extended family.

From grandparents to aunts and uncles and cousins, there are hugs and kisses all around. You definitely do not want to be that person who forgets to say hello to my great aunt, but if you get it right soon, they'll treat you like a part of the family.

2. Sunday dinners start at lunch time 

Why this is the way it is? I will never understand, but like clock work, the phone rings early Sunday morning with the weekly invite to dinner. I get the low down on who's coming, who's house, what's for dinner and most importantly what time. 

Usually, it ends with "4:00 pm, don't be late!"

3. Antipasto

Not really hungry? Well, you better make some room because my grandmother does not take no for an answer. Antipasto is the meal before the meal and is definitely not optional.

Why do we need to eat food before eating more food? I don't know, but I don't question it.

4. The mother and grandmother never actually sit

No matter how many times you hear, "Ma' sit down", my mother and grandmother almost never actually sit down to enjoy the meal they prepared. With so many people around the table, there is always something left to do and never enough cooks in the kitchen.

I know they wouldn't have it any other way, but I'm going to enjoy my time sitting comfortably at the table while it lasts.  

5. Having to dip the bread in the extra sauce 

Extra sauce? More bread. Extra bread? More sauce. It's simple. 

5. Too much of whatever is being served 

This one might seem obvious, but an Italian Sunday dinner takes too much to a whole new level. No matter how many times I warn my friends about what they're about to walk into, they're never ready and usually go home with a stomach ache.

6. Get ready for dessert 

Just when you think you're done, think again. No meal in my family is complete without dessert and trust me, there will be plenty of it.

And you thought it was only about the pasta.

7. Lots and lots of sitting and waiting

Between courses, there's some waiting time while my grandmother is running around the kitchen preparing even more. Whether it is sitting around the table talking (or arguing), get ready to get to know my family a whole lot better. 

8. Wine 

In a big Italian family, there are 3 things you can count on: everybody knows everything, everybody eats and everybody drinks. The wine selection is arguably as important as the dinner itself and that is really saying something.

It's a given that nothing goes better with a home cooked, Italian meal than wine. 

9. Endless Questions

How's school? Do you have a boyfriend? Where are you working this summer? Are you eating enough? 

Besides the food of course, Italians are good at one other thing: talking. They can talk for hours and hours about any topic and nothing is off limits. Watch out if you are a new comer to the family because by the time dinner comes out, they'll know your deepest darkest secrets.

10. Lots of love 

It's hard to believe, but there is more love around the table at Sunday dinner than there is food. We take our eats pretty seriously, but at the end of the day it all comes back to spending time with family. Once you are let into the craziness of an Italian family, they have your back because family always comes first

They may be crazy and they may be loud, but I wouldn't trade my Italian Sunday dinners for the world. Use these tips and be prepared to walk in with an empty stomach and an open heart. I promise, both of them will be full when you leave.