Do This, Don’t Do That: How To Be On Your Best Behavior for the Holidays

December 11, 2012  |  

Manners don’t take a break for the holidays. Even if nonstop boozy holiday parties make you lose your composure, your lunch, even your pants once or twice, there are some formalities that we can never do away with.

For that, we turned to our friend Stephanie Hunt, director of Swan Noir, a company specializing in etiquette classes and programs. Below are Hunt’s five etiquette rules for making it through the holiday season. Have you broken any yet?

1- Say “Thank you” 

If the gift is not handed to you personally, do not forget to send a thank you email, call, or, even better, send a handwritten note expressing appreciation and discussing how you will use the gift. The point being, please do not let someone have to seek you out to make sure that you received their gift.

It is OK to roll with technology, just be creative and expressive. A “thx” text is not creative nor expressive. Most people just want to feel appreciated for the things they do for others, whether the gift is big or small. So, got a bright red sweater from Grandma? Tweet a pic of yourself to your network and send a pic to Grannie. Your smiling face wearing that sweater can be sweeter than words to some.

2- Giving Cash

To some who may be traveling or extremely busy at holiday time, it may be downright convenient to give cash. Should you give cash to someone who is unemployed? It depends on the relationship. Not everyone who is unemployed is strapped for cash. But, if you know the person is really suffering and doesn’t have much savings, by all means give cash. Gracefully, of course, no strings attached. Privately give a card with a caring message and cash inside if you think giving the cash gift in front of others will cause any embarrassment.  You could always give anonymously as well.

3-  Should we say Grace at the meal? 

If you know that you will have a few guests of different faiths or some that are nonbelievers then you can preface Grace with, “If you wish to share in grace, please join me if you feel comfortable.” You can skip Grace and your guests can say what they are grateful for, or you can make a nonreligious statement thanking them for their friendship, love, or generosity.

4- Give a gift or a Tip? Here is the short list for who to tip and who should receive a gift during the holidays:

Tip- Doorman, Building super, Handyman, Paperboy ($10-$50 dollars)
Gift- Assistant, Teachers, Home health aide, Nanny, Day care staff (Stay away from intimate gifts. Gift cards are best. Or gifts made from your children are great for nanny’s and teachers)
Either a Gift or a Tip- Hair dresser, Dog walker, Trainer, Cleaning lady, Babysitter (One week’s pay or amount of one visit)

5- Re-gifting

Keep the gift in its original packaging. The packaging shouldn’t be worn or torn, faded from sunlight, etc.
Never re-gift something broken, used, has a part missing or doesn’t work.
Never re-gift to the person who gave it to you.
Never re-gift something personal or intimate.
Never re-gift an item that is out of style or off the market.

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