It’s that time of year when holiday parties abound—it’s a veritable minefield of etiquette mishaps. For those of you whom are perfectly behaved, feel free to forward on to those in your family and social circle you feel may need a primer. Just tell them you found it amusing to read and can you believe people do such things? Hint. Hint.
1. You bring your pet to someone’s holiday bash without clearing it with the host first. Fido and Fluffy maybe the love of your life – pets are now scientifically proven to reduce stress, anxiety and loneliness – but others may not share your (wise) choice of “plus one.” The hair! The humping! The indoor stooping and scooping! The platters of pate and sausage rolls unfortunately placed at snout level! Wagging tails sending goblets of rum-filled eggnog spilling onto Auntie Patty’s Persian rug! You get the drift. So if you want to bring your furry friend (we don’t mean your hipster nephew with the Duck Dynasty beard and man-bun) you must ask the hostess first. Don’t automatically expect a “yes,” because, see above. And respect the word “no.” Just like your well-trained dog does.
2. Speaking of little creatures with sticky paws… there’s the matter of your children and grandchildren. While the holidays seem made for the kiddies – Santa and his sleigh comes to mind – some parties are strictly adults only. Not because it’s an elf-inspired orgy but because a cocktail shindig means grown up chatter, champagne glasses clinking, high heels and late nights without the sound of “Let It Go” blaring on an iPad. Again, don’t assume every holiday party is kid-friendly but if you can bring the toddlers and tweens…
3. Don’t show up with your brood and expect defacto babysitters. Too often exhausted parents see other guests as nannies. They’re not. They too want to imbibe and relax and not chase after little Timmy and Tina. If you bring your kids please watch after them. Keep them away from sharp objects and prevent them using their little hands as scoops in dips and chip bowls. If they cry, pick them up and leave the room. If the crying belongs to an angry moping teen, lock them outside in the car. Kidding. That only works if you’re in Florida.
4. Be on time. And by on time I mean fashionably late, that’s 10-15 minutes after the time set on the invite. No one likes rude and selfish people, which the chronically late are. It’s his or her way of saying to others, “hey, my time is more important than yours.” During the holidays being late for a dinner party given by friends or family is especially egregious. Admittedly your family may put up with it because, well, you can’t choose your family. But rest assured when you finally do arrive they’re quietly resenting you the whole time, and have been bitching about you nonstop before you did. One thing for sure, do not expect the host to hold up serving dinner waiting for you, King or Queen, to grace the table with your presence, even if you brought presents. If you’re late, suck it up and smile as you’re served cold mashed potatoes with coagulated gravy and eat it with relish (or mustard). Of course there is one other thing that is worse than being late…
5. Being early. You know the type. He or she is a little OCD and always arrives when you’re still in your bathrobe and the candles aren’t lit. If this is you, even if you think you showing up early is helpful, I’m here to tell you it’s not. You’ve ruined the plans of the host and hostess and now they must accommodate you and entertain you when there’s still a millions things or just getting dressed for a start, to do. So if you find yourself about to ring the bell before the set time, either go for a seasonal walk around the block or sit in your car or nearest café and play Words With Friends until the fashionably late mark.
6. You never leave. We all know the ones… The invitations you sent said cinq a sept for fancy cocktail, yet why is Bob still on your couch at 2am drinking the last beer you had in the garage fridge because that’s all you had left? Go home people! These are the signs the party is over: lights are turned on, music turned off, the caterers are packing up in the kitchen, your hosts have gone to bed and finally, you’re the only one left!
7. You are a well-informed culture vulture and political obsessive. Bully for you. However, this time of year, especially in 2017, it’s safer to stay off current events unless you know, and I mean know your audience. It’s too easy to start an argument especially when there’s alcohol flowing freely as well as access to carving knives. Put it another way; no one wants a drunken bore at their holiday shindig. After that fifth mulled-wine you may think your point about Trump really being misunderstood is a revelation, but chances are unless you’re in a certain crowd you might find yourself dancing through the snow in your underwear.
Kim Izzo is the co-author of the international best-selling book The Fabulous Girl’s Guide to Decorum and its sequel, Code Red: The Fabulous Girl’s Guide to Grace Under Pressure. Both Available on Amazon.ca