5 Holiday Etiquette Dilemmas Solved
We tackle your most pressing holiday-etiquette dilemmas, from how to choose the perfect hostess gift to how to politely enforce a dress code at your festive soiree.
The holidays are full of occasions where we need to reference our etiquette handbooks and avoid tinsel-laced missteps in order to be invited back next year. We delve into five holiday dilemmas and their solutions to get you through the holiday season scot-free.
How do I get my party guests to leave at a reasonable hour?
We’ve all been there. Hosting a house-warming or holiday soiree; its 2 a.m. and there is still two couples lingering, appearing to be in competition with each other to see who can outlast the other. They’ve finished all of the red wine, even the cheap stuff you usually keep around for cooking. One of your guests is casually dabbing her finger at cookie crumbs on a platter that has been empty for hours. You’ve tried to telepathically send social clues – i.e. you’ve taken off your shoes and have already run the dishwasher and put away all of the glassware. Yet, still they cling to the evening as if they have nowhere else to be. So, how do you politely excuse them from your home?
Pre-emptively what you can do is include a reasonable starting and ending time for the shindig on your invitation and hope that people stick to your timeframe. Don’t be overly accommodating when the party should be winding down; start putting away food (if there is anything left by that point) and don’t pour any more drinks. If it is already too late and you’ve got now un-welcome houseguests, simply ask them if you can call them a taxi. Another good tactic that usually works well if you are co-hosting with your partner is for one of you to go to bed. It makes people feel awkward knowing that someone in the house is trying to get to sleep. Blatant awkwardness should do the trick!
What is the perfect gift to bring to the host or hostess?
One of the hardest trials of the holiday season is amassing a stash of acceptable hostess gifts for all of the holiday house parties you plan on attending this year. Luckily the task is easier than you may think. Instead of trying to be unique for each and every host and hostess that greets you over the season, pick out one great gift and buy it in multiples so you can just grab and go when you leave the house.
The simplest holiday gift you can bring is something green. Tiny pine trees tied up in burlap and Christmas ribbons are an easy uncomplicated gift option – they smell great, look great and are seasonally appropriate. A cool alternative is to pick up a terrarium filled with easy-to-care-for succulents.
If you want to feel more like Oprah when you dole out your gifts, pull together a parcel curated with all of your favourite things. From locally roasted coffee from Phil & Sebastian to a Village Ice Cream scoop all the way to lunch-sized gift card to Clive Burger – the possibilities are endless. Just make sure to plan a budget and stick to it.
How do you enforce a dress code through your party invitation?
You are planning out your holiday party invitations and guests and consequently you want to make sure everyone knows it is not an ugly sweater party. This year your desires include injecting a bit of elegance into the evening. But how do you let everyone know without sounding like an overbearing Grinch-like dictator?
Designing an invitation that looks a bit more formal than a Facebook event is one simple way to encourage your guests to gussy up a bit for the occasion. You can also include a simple dress code message such as “holiday glam” or “cocktail party attire.” If the tone of your invitation is a bit more humorous, you can even jokingly include “No Ugly Christmas Sweaters” as a disclaimer near the RSVP. Chances are you may still end up with one or two guests who didn’t get the memo, but you can only do so much.
If you are sleeping over at the in-laws for the holidays, should you wait for everyone else to get up on Christmas morning?
This is a tough one since many families have long-standing traditions that began decades ago. If it is your first year spending time with this family, definitely hold back with your partner and get the lay of the land before you start brewing coffee at 7 a.m. The more holidays you spend with your in-laws, the more you’ll be able to introduce your own holiday traditions into the time spent there. But for now indulge in hitting snooze until you smell the bacon cooking.
Did you receive several holiday cards from colleagues and friends already? Should you reciprocate?
Holiday cards can be a very time-consuming (and sometimes expensive) activity especially if you already have many other holiday commitments. But when the holiday cards start rolling into your mailbox (and inbox) you may feel a certain urgency to hit up Canada Post with your own stack.
Don’t feel pressured to send cards to everyone. One excellent tactic is to alternate who you send to each year. This year send to work and school colleagues and next year focus on family and friends. You can also go the e-card route; while the ephemeral quality might be missing, this in-expensive option allows you to send a card to every single person in your contact list in no time at all.
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