Thursday, November 13, 2014

Holiday Etiquette--Parties, Attire and More.

Etiquette 101—Holiday Etiquette Rules


How-To Avoid the Holiday-Etiquette Fail


Happy holidays!  Welcome to the season of heightened and widely varying emotions and behaviors. Holidays should bring us closer; but distractions often hinder our efforts.  Brick and mortar stores make it easier and easier to shop-till-you-drop by opening earlier and earlier.  Now the populace can push, shove, and sling never-ending profanities when they should be enjoying their pumpkin pie with family.  Alternately, there is always that kind person paying it forward by purchasing a cup of coffee for the customer behind him.  The barrage of unkind and kind behaviors makes me a bit dizzy each year.  You too? 

Wouldn't it be wonderful if we had a set of holiday rules everyone is required to read?  It would be even better if we all agreed to follow these rules.  Better yet, we all agree to use these rules going forward.  Now that would make all my holiday dreams come true. 

We Are Not the Center of the Universe 

Surprise!  It is not all about us. Assuming others feel the need to give us gifts, invite us to their parties, or wish to please us is presumptuous.  Everyone has his and her own lives, needs, and problems.  We might not even be on his or her radar.   Consider this before hitting the send button; nix those email wish lists.  In addition, never attend other’s events without an invitation. 

An RSVP is Not Optional

An invitation to an event is special; we should receive it as such.  The host chose us.  Therefore, if the host requests a response, we should respond in a timely manner: RSVP ASAP.

An Invitation is Not an Open Door

Hosts list those invited on the invitation or envelope.  Just because we are invited, it is not polite to assume that our children or significant-other are as well.   It is also impolite to ask to bring anyone else, as it puts our hosts in a difficult position.  

When you call to RSVP, thank your host first.  Then state that you would like to attend, but do not feel comfortable leaving your significant other alone.  This might help you find out if an "and guest" is possible in the most polite manner.

Non-Parenting Parenting

Not all events are child centric, even for our perfect little jewels. Allowing our children to run about during a holiday event is not good parenting.  Active parenting includes teaching children to respect others and their property.  To achieve this, parents share expectations with their children before arrival and ensure those expectations are met—no running, use in-door voices, and always use good manners.

Gift Giving Gone Wild

Not everyone cares to exchange gifts and in some cases, it is best not to give one.  A gift could make the receiver feel awkward.  In the workplace, it could be viewed as inappropriate, such as giving an expensive gift to a boss, which could be viewed as apple-polishing.  So, first consider if giving a gift is appropriate.  Additionally, when giving a gift to someone for the first time, keep the gift simple and inexpensive.  Homemade cookies or five-dollar coffeehouse gift cards are good examples. 

Forgetting to be Thankful

A gift or invitation to a party is a generous gesture for which we should be thankful.  Therefore, we should remember to write those old fashion little thank you notes.  Yes, send snail mail, handwritten thank you notes, even if your handwriting is less than desirable. 

Dressing Too Revealing or Too Casual

There is nothing wrong with a little cleavage.  Problems arise when it is obvious and on display during the office holiday party or a family event.    Our attire speaks before we do.  For that reason, take special care in choosing the correct attire for every occasion.

For most holiday events, especially office parties, attire should be conservative.  That is not to suggest that attire should be drab.  Holidays are festive, so dress up in your holiday finest.  Just avoid nightclub attire, shorts, jeans, or t-shirts.  

How does it end?

Perhaps following these rules will help us regain that holiday spirit often portrayed in our favorite holiday movies.  Start with resolving to be kind to those pushing and shoving during holiday shopping.  Finish with a festive gathering with loved ones and all of your holiday dreams just may come true. 

Also published on The Davis Enterprise.


  1. Well done! My personal pet-peeve is when a person does not RSVP. Collectively, several no replies can really add up and make a huge difference with party / event planning, especially if it is held offsite and the location has a maximum capacity rule.

  2. I agree with Alicia! An RSVP is not optional, especially in this day and age when there are so many ways to respond. Great article, Rebecca!