Personally, I love this time of year. We Southern Californians get a touch of cold weather and clear skies and we can actually drink hot chocolate without melting. All is cheerful and festive. What I don't subscribe to, however, is the stress and chaos that seems to go along with this time of year. The list is never-ending from the holiday cards, to the gifts and parties, not to mention the family, school and work obligations, it is a wonder we make it through alive. To make the holidays nicer for all, here are 9 quick etiquette tips to guarantee a stress free and joyous holiday season!
1. Eat, Sleep & Be Merry. A hungry stomach or a tired body is a recipe for holiday party disaster. Schedules tend to be packed during the holiday season leaving little or no downtime to recharge batteries. Avoid any pitfalls by making sure everyone gets plenty of rest and eats a light snack before attending any holiday celebration.
2. Dress for Party Success. Dress appropriately for the occasion. If your family is attending a party at a ski chalet then a pair of clean jeans, a parka and Uggs will suffice. However, if the holiday gathering is a more formal affair then party attire, in the form of a dress or a nice pant suit, is a wise choice.
3. On the Road. On your way to the party, make sure to review any rules such as the type of holiday party you will be celebrating, who will be attending, what kind of food will be served, and any special activities your family may be asked to participate in.
4. Arrive on Time & Bearing Gifts. Your hosts are looking forward to your arrival so avoid being late and make preparations ahead of time. Select your attire beforehand, make sure all gifts are wrapped and a proper note has been written, map out your route and write down a contact phone number in case of an emergency.
5. Essential Holiday Table Manners. (a) Wait to be seated until everyone has arrived at the table. (b) Follow the lead of your host or hostess for everything. (c) Place your napkin on your lap. (d) Pass all trays of food to the right and all condiments in pairs. (e) Make pleasant table conversation with the person on your right and your left. (f) Chew with your mouth closed. (g) Wipe your mouth before taking a drink. (h) At the end of the meal, place your utensils in the finished position on your plate and your napkin loosely on the left side of your plate. (i) Ask to please be excused.
6. Clean-Up & Be Invited Again. If you are attending a sit down dinner celebration with family or with friends, offer to pitch in. This will guarantee future invitations.
7. Gracious Gift Receiving. Graciously accept all gifts whether they already have them or not. Focus on something positive to say. For example, if you do not like a gift, you do not need to say they do. You can simply say "thank you" or "how nice of you to think of me". Being polite always pays in dividends.
8. Departures. Designate an agreed upon beginning and end time with your family to prevent any misunderstandings when it comes time to leave the house or return from a party.
9. Thank You, Thank You, Thank You! A phone call or, better yet, a hand-written note of thanks to your holiday party hosts shows your appreciation for all their hard work. If you've thanked someone in person for a gift, a thank-you note isn't obligatory. But, it is never wrong to write a thank-you note. If you receive gifts from family members that you won't see to thank in person, write them a thank-you note-both to let them know their gift arrived and that you liked it.
The best way to alleviate stress from the holidays is to do something charitable. Look into your local organizations to see how you candonate your time to those in need. Offer to serve a holiday meal, hang decorations, bake cookies, read stories or sing holiday songs. Set a good example for your children while doing something fun and inspiring for the whole family. Take a moment to realize how lucky you are and be thankful for all that you have.