Ok, everyone, we’re mere seconds away from being catapulted into the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. Buckle up!
As I edge my way into one of my favorite times of the year, I know full well that if I don’t take a moment to plan ahead, my head will spin and anxiety will set in.
From holiday parties to hosting family gatherings, our plates are full – literally and figuratively. We all have loads of shopping to do, hard-earned dollars to basically light on fire, and a lot of human interaction to tend to.
It’s the perfect set up for a lot to go wrong. So I thought why not get some advice from the Queen of sophistication herself – Emily Post?
I dug through a couple of her etiquette tomes to get the best holiday tips and suggestions for smooth sailing these next several weeks.
Here are some ways to help you not freak out (while being polite) this holiday season.
Try not to combat rudeness with rudeness. There are plenty of Scrooge’s out there. Try to resist out-ruding someone who clearly drank “Haterade” for breakfast. Emily warns that you never know how someone may react to your response, even if warranted. It’s better to kill ’em with kindness or ignore their rude behavior altogether. (But if someone is aggressive to another human, step away and call 911. Duh.)
Regifting. I have respect for anyone who regifts. If it cannot be returned and will most likely be hoarded for years to come, instead of adding to a garbage bag, consider giving it to someone who may enjoy it or donate it.
Is it Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays?! Don’t you love those memes that read: IT’S MERRY CHRISTMAS! Well actually, it’s not. There are other holidays and it’s courteous to keep this into consideration during this time of year.
Etiquette experts suggest that if you know of one’s faith, address them accordingly. If not, consider Happy Holidays or even a hybrid, Merry Holidays. There is no harm done in acknowledging that Christmas is not the only holiday being celebrated amongst our very eclectic group of humans.
We don’t need to walk on eggshells as we greet one another, it’s just kind to be mindful, that’s all it is. Holiday mindfulness.
Don’t sh*t where you eat. Well, that’s how our dad would put it. Post would probably find that to be a very rude way of saying: it’s highly suggested to not overdrink at your company party. And she has a point, as fun (and free) as holiday company parties are, it’d be wise to strongly consider this one.
Smart Shopping Tips. Here are a few tricks to get you in and out of stores efficiently and politely.
- First, create your list. I like to use my reminder app on my iphone to keep me organized. Why wander around and waste time when you have a lot to do! Remember: in and out.
- Have your wallet accessible at the checkout. Remember: you’re on a mission.
- And lastly, don’t be on the phone while checking out. Give the human who is working their butt off some respect and acknowledge their presence. Remember: you’re not an a-hole.
Be honest with you. Be honest with yourself about your budget and what you’re capable of juggling/attending. Overspending and over-committing can make you go from festive to other “f” word, and we don’t want that. The more you plan in advance while taking all aspects into consideration, the merrier you’ll be.
What to not talk about it. This one is easy. Steer clear from subjects that may induce heated exchanges or suggest anything too personal. Why potentially ruin a holiday gathering by bringing up something that may upset someone?
Words and phrases to avoid:
- Still single? Why can’t you find a boyfriend?
- When are you having babies? Have you frozen your eggs? How old are you? When do you ovulate?
- Did you hear that (insert anything gossipy)?
- Trump and/or politics.
Write out your menu and gift list. Our mom did this every year. It’s a great way to avoid a major culinary disaster or accidentally forget someone on your gift list.
Check on your friends and family. You can say this one is coming straight from the heart.
It’s the holiday season and those who are caregiving, losing someone, or have lost someone or something (marriage/job) may be blue. If you’re up to it and down with emotion, a simple, “how are you doing?” creates a safe space for the individual to open up.
And, an extra tip, you don’t need to say much in response.
To listen to someone who is mourning is the most human gift you can ever give.
Holiday Kindness. Whether you’re the one receiving or giving the kindness, it can be a game-changer. You alone can change the trajectory of someone’s day just by holding the door, helping that old lady to her car, or shoveling your neighbor’s driveway. You know what to do.
Good news: what goes around comes around. Plus, helping someone else is a mood booster.
Consider an end of the year “tip” for those who help and provide service in your life. When going over your monthly budget, jot this down in holiday gift spending and sort out what you can give if you decide to holiday tip.
“Tipping is an end-of-year cash gratuity to a service provider such as your doorman, hairdresser, newspaper delivery person, babysitter, or dog groomer, to thank them for their consistent and outstanding service.”
– Emily Post
Send your invites out in a timely manner. No one wants to sit around wondering if Aunt Dolly is still hosting Thanksgiving after all these years or if someone else needs to step up to the plate. Give your peeps a heads up. Two weeks to two months for Thanksgiving. One month when it comes to Christmas.
Offer your schedule to your house guests. If you’re hosting out of towners this holiday season, Emily suggests you share your schedule with them so they have an idea of who’s coming and going. I think this is great actually. It offers respect for timing and if someone needs to take a shower (or a poop), they can do so with some privacy.
Self-care tip for the hosts.
“Your mood sets the tone. Take a few minutes to relax before your guests arrive.”
– Emily Post
How many of us forget to do this, say I!? I!!! What a brilliant and kind suggestion. Here’s more on hosting self-care.
A toast! Why not share a little love and warmth with everyone who has gathered in your home? There is nothing more hygge than filling your home with your people. A quick word and clink from the host is a great way to get dinner started. It is considered the host’s responsibility to toast to the guests, however, if they decline a guest is welcome to raise a glass and thank the hosts.
Personally, I think toasts add to the merriment.
How to get your guests to leave once the party is over. I love Emily’s suggestions here. Yawn – repeatedly. Be direct and tell your guests (or lie) that you have an early morning. Start turning out the lights. And lastly, my favorite way to get your guests to leave….go to bed.
Been there, done that.
Got allergies? Ask your guests in advance if there is anything in the house or the dinner that may make them pass away. This is especially good to do when children are joining the festivities.
Know your guests drink of choice. I once asked my best friend what his mom, who we all thought of as our local Emily Post, would consider the most essential hosting etiquette tip and that was it. Why not have what your guests will be hankering to sip on?
On a budget? Encourage your guests to BYOB. There aint no shame in the BYOB game. OR – know alternative cocktails preferences.
Hosting is an art, people.
Host Ensemble Tip: Hosts and hostesses, prepare your outfit (every detail of it) one week in advance. It may sound high maintenance, but I’ll tell you what, I’d rather have a moment of being high maintenance than a pre-party moment of being a hot mess because I don’t have anything to wear.
Remember: your mood sets the tone and guests can sense your energy.
Consider bringing a hostess gift as a thank you to the host. Here’s the deal, you don’t need to bring an extravagant gift to every home you enter. Is it thoughtful to bring a votive candle to your mother-in-law who worked her ass off for three days? Absolutely. Should you bring something small to a home you’ve never been as a thank you to the host? Not a bad idea.
It’s not about giving material items. Even a beautiful, thank you card left on the counter would be appreciated.
Répondez S’il Vous Plaît: AKA RSVP. Did you know that’s what RSVP stood for? I had no idea.
This one is simple, let the host know whether or not you can make their gathering so they can plan ahead.
Phone etiquette. Technology has turned humans into zombies. This year, consider yourself unavailable while at your holiday gatherings. Post suggests either to leave your phone in your coat pocket/purse, place it on DND, and/or try to use it as sparingly as possible.
If you find you can’t help but stare at your phone, try engaging in real conversation with other guests or offer to help the host.
Suffer from social anxiety? Take a few deep breaths and time to yourself before the holiday shindig you’re attending. If you’re nervous about saying something you’ll think about for days to come, good news! Listening and letting other people chat away is considered quite polite.
If all else fails, have a shot of tequila.
Water closet etiquette. It’s advised to leave the bathroom neat so the next person doesn’t have to straighten up after you. Let’s be honest, a crumpled-up hand towel thrown in the sink is kind of annoying.
Hosts – have matches and Poo-Pourri for your guests…just in case.
Thank you for hosting. Mentioned above, a letter of thanks to the host a day after the party is highly encouraged. I do not practice this myself, but I have received letters like this. It is so appreciated and this year I will be implementing this.
OOPSIES. If you or your kid break or spill something, let the host know, and offer to help clean. As embarrassing as it may feel, you’re human and it’s a freaking accident.
Don’t be that creep that wraps it in a towel and puts it in the garbage only for the host to cut themselves the following day.
I once spilled red wine, RED, all over our friend’s aunt’s white upholstered dining room table chairs. You bet your ass I was embarrassed as hell. I apologized profusely, and the gracious host barely made a peep. Now that’s a pro host.
I bet she was cursing me all the next day…or month.
Unique host gift idea. Croissants and jam, donuts, or bagels and cream cheese for the following morning. I read this idea and loved it so much.
Yes, leftovers are great and all, but there is nothing like enjoying a scrumptious pastry while sipping on a hot cup o’ Joe.
Pre-meal prayers. In the event your hosts say a prayer before a meal and you do not follow the same faith, it is considered polite to join by bowing your head out of respect for your hosts and fellow guests. If a hand is offered to hold, it is also considered polite to oblige because, if anything, it’s a sign of community and kindness. It doesn’t have to mean you are indicating you share the same beliefs.
To take your shoes off or not to take your shoes off, that is the question. Some hosts will insist you keep them on, others request you remove them. You know what to do if you’re coming in from a snow storm.
If your shoes are an intricate part of your ensemble, wipe on doormat and hope for the best!
If all else fails, keep these five etiquette tips in mind this holidays season:
I sure hope these tips and suggestions help you navigate your holiday season.
Per usual, we would love to hear back from you. Please send any tips, ideas, and suggestions back our way.