Good manners and proper etiquette are appreciated throughout the year, but even more so during the holiday season when expectations are at an all-time high. This is a special time to bond with family, share in special activities, help one another, be charitable, and tolerant. To make the holidays nicer for all, here are 9 quick 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 for children to recharge their batteries. Avoid any pitfalls by making sure your children get plenty of rest and eat a light snack before attending any holiday celebration.
2. Dress for Party Success. Encourage your children to 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 children 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. Lay out the children’s suggested 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. Teach children to graciously accept all gifts whether they already have them or not. Focus on something positive to say. For example, if they do not like a gift, they don’t need to say they do. They can simply say “thank you” or “that was so nice of you”. Tell them that being polite pays dividends.
8. Departures. Designate an agreed upon beginning and end time with your family to prevent any potential major meltdowns 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 required; however, it is certainly a courteous gesture. If you receive gifts from family members that live long distance, write them a thank-you note to let them know their gift has arrived and to acknowledge their thoughtfulness.
The best way to alleviate stress from the holidays is to take the focus off of oneself and do something charitable. Research local organizations to see how you can donate 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.
Proposing a Toast
Always take time to prepare and write down your toast. Make it fun, keep it brief and simple. Speak sincerely and from the heart. Add humor, if applicable, and keep the toast short and sweet, about a minute in length. Conclude by inviting everyone in unison to raise their glass to toast the recipient.
Attempt to obtain everyone’s attention by using a projecting voice and saying the words, “May I have your attention please.” If you must, you may pick up a clean knife from the table and use it to gently tap the side of your glass as a way to alert people that you are going to begin your toast.
Remember to stand, make good eye contact with the recipient and end the toast with an endearing phrase such as “Cheers, Here, Here, Here’s to You,” along with the recipient’s name.
The Recipient of the Toast
Always remains seated throughout the entire toast.
Never raises their glass along with the others when they are being toasted. One never toasts oneself.
Politely smiles and graciously says “thank you.”
Contrary to popular belief, it is not necessary to clink glasses when toasting. The ritual of clinking glasses dates back to the 18th century where the gesture was performed to ensure the safety of the drinks and make sure no poison was exchanged.
Lisa Gache is an Etiquette Expert Expert and the Founder of Beverly Hills Manners. She has been featured on CNN, NPR, KTLATV and “The Today Show,” and in popular publications from USA Today, NY Daily News and the New York Post to Woman’s Day magazine. She is also the go-to manners expert for theLos Angeles Times’ “Ministry of Gossip” column. Her online contributions range from AOL to The Huffington Post, and she has been a guest expert on a number of reality shows including VH1’s “Charm School” and “Living with Ed”(Discovery Channel). For more information on Lisa Gaché, please visit http://www.beverlyhillsmanners.com or her blog at http://90210manners.blogspot.com
This article is excerpted from the Holiday Gift Guide for 2011. Be sure and check it out and read other articles about the holidays. It’s also great to add to your online shopping experience! While you are at it check out these two incredible stocking stuffers in this year’s gift guide: