The festive season may be a time for goodwill and cheer, but Christmas can often be blighted by family politics and unwanted gifts. So to ensure this year is without any festive pitfalls, etiquette expert Grant Harrold has revealed his top 10 ways to put the cheer back into Christmas this year.
From Christmas card protocols to awkward office parties, Grant has compiled a list of traditional tips, as well as ones with a modern twist, which will hopefully help enhance your festive experience.
1. Christmas Party: Remember to behave with grace and decorum. No licking fingers after eating a canapé (and don’t double-dip), we always use a napkin! Keep your glass in your left hand so that you can freely shake hands for introductions.
2. The Big Day: Know when you will open presents, have a timings plan for the preparation and serving of the main meal, schedule nap times, and if a family fall-out is likely, you may wish to implement an escape plan!
3. Christmas House Parties: Consider your guest list, catering options. and dress codes. Guests, make sure you have on clean socks with no holes, just in case your host wants all shoes removed.
4. Christmas Day Etiquette: Never complain about family members to others, be it the overbearing mother-in-law or the deaf grandfather who keeps chatting up the new nanny. Ensure the fireside armchairs are left free for the older generation’s post-lunch naps. It is the season for generosity, so make sure you don’t run out of turkey – or party games! If your hosts watch the King’s speech then we all enjoy it. Or perhaps you could suggest a Christmas walk?
5. Be Complimentary: Remember to compliment your host on their Christmas decorations, even if it is like a scene from A Nightmare Before Christmas, and thank them for inviting you.
6. Gifts & Thank Yous: Don’t leave your Christmas thank you letters for longer than two weeks. Write the letter with care and put feeling into it, you’re not writing your weekly shopping list.
7. Be Prepared: Always have a good selection of drinks in the cupboard, especially a selection of non-alcoholic drinks ready for unexpected guests. I would also suggest you keep a supply of canapés and some mince pies in the fridge (or freezer) so you will be a fully prepared host even at short notice.
8. Christmas Cards: Make preparations for when to send them and to whom. Don’t send cards before the 1 December and post no later than the 21 December. Always put the correct postage stamp on!
9. Christmas Jumper Etiquette: Let’s remember when Aunt Peggy comes around wearing ‘that’ jumper, we still tell her how lovely she is.
10. Shake, Rattle and Roll: Remember, we don’t shake presents as you may break a family heirloom. Let’s not forget that it’s better to give than to receive. No matter how much you may disagree with that view, a warm smile and a sweet thank you goes a long way. The other dilemma with presents is when and if you should re-gift! You don’t want to give your mother-in-law that lovely scarf she gave you last Christmas which has been lurking in your cupboard ever since. Also, remember to take the price tag off the gifts, especially the 99p ones! Also remember to always show appreciation for a gift. If you don’t like it, be prepared to put on an acceptance speech fit for the Academy Awards.