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Tania is currently the Founder & Editor-in-Chief of The Hudsucker, and Senior Editor at the Nashville, Tennessee based PopCulture.com. With past writing and editing credits with Womanista, Quietly, the International Women's Media Foundation (IWMF) and NBC Newsvine, she is currently a member of Indianapolis based, Society of Professional Journalists — one of the oldest organizations in the U.S. that promotes and represents journalists. She is an avid Indianapolis Colts, Elvis Presley and baseball fan as well as a lover of pancakes and fine cheeses, film, and music. Tania is a Hoosier at heart with a passionate wanderlust for always traveling and giving back to those in her community. She is currently studying at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. Follow Tania on Twitter: @westlifebunny.

Celebrating the Season: Tips on Modern Holiday Etiquette

{Image Credit: Getty Images}

{Image Credit: Getty Images}

Tis the season to celebrate holiday dinners, wining and dining with friends, and gifting loved ones. However, social gatherings also tend to become another way to highlight poor holiday etiquette, trapping many of us in a sticky situation. So what are we to do?

Essential for co-existing and no matter the time of year, etiquette is the basic behavior that is accepted as gracious and polite in social situations. Having good manners and showcasing them can mean a major difference between success and failure in many aspects of life. As The Emily Post Institute shares, proper etiquette practices a sensitive awareness to the feelings of others. With this knowledge in mind, we share a few tips for modern holiday etiquette designed to help move gracefully through frequent seasonal dilemmas and not commit a festive faux pas.

What’s the best way to greet people over the holidays?

Whether it be Christmas, Hanukkah or Kwanzaa, this time of year sees many faiths celebrating their own religious holidays. Wishing friends, co-workers and even extended family can sometimes be a troublesome if you’re not sure how to greet them. In keeping with the etiquette guidelines from Emily Post, try to customize your greetings to the person you are talking to. If you know they are celebrating Christmas, wish them freely.

If you’re not sure, the most sincere and kindest way to share your festive love is to wish them “Happy Holidays!” If you’re really curious though and want to get it right, ask them what they’re doing for the holidays and most times, they will bring up something that ties to their specific celebratory customs.

What if someone brings a meal to a dinner I’m hosting?

Ah, yes, your inventive Aunt Martha brings over a pineapple-tomato tart filled with a gelatin center, topped with some sort of festive nut. You’ve already baked up a storm for your guests, so what do you do with her abominable dessert? In what might induce a wave of 90s sitcom audience oohs, you graciously accept without eye-rolling. It’s as simple as that. A good host must always respond to the unexpected or unwelcome with poise. No matter how much of an eyesore unappetizing as it might seem, thank your aunt and include her creation of whatever it is along your dining spread.

What do I do with a gift I don’t like at all?

{Image Credit: Inspired Home Ideas}

A ceramic collector’s spoon from the Gulf Shores? Golly gee, what was your mother thinking, right? That said, you can definitely come up with something kind to say like, “How thoughtful of you! Thank you—I wish I could have made it out too!” However, being kind during the holidays doesn’t mean you’re obliged to love it. You have two options: Gift receipt or re-gift. With a gift receipt, don’t feel nervous to exchange the item and then be up front about it when asked of its whereabouts. Be honest and say, “I loved it but already owned a similar set. I actually exchanged it for these plates—thanks for making my dining table look even prettier!”

Your second option: Re-gifting, which really should be done very rarely. While our buddies, Brooke White and Summer Bellessa of The Girls with Glasses parodied the concept last Christmas making it look easy, make sure you re-gift with someone who has no connection to the original gifter. Can you imagine how awkward that would be? If the truth ever came out, not only would the original gifter be hurt (seeing as you didn’t value their choice), but the recipient would be hurt too, thinking you took time to find them something special. Whomp, whomp! Holiday lies are the worst. Just think of what you’re re-gifting too. Wine, good. Crystal vase from your mother-in-law’s Bermuda trip, bad. Evaluate, then carry on.

That said, if the item is homemade and from your adorable niece—like a macaroni necklace—chances are you should wear it with pride just to show them how thoughtful the gift is. Obviously you would never wear it out and to a gala event, but the small token of kindness you present will prove that the act of giving is one to truly be thankful and appreciative of, no matter the gift.

How should family drama and awkward talk be handled during the holidays?

While there are several ways to tackle this dilemma, the number one way to avoid any drama is to not invite both members of a divorced or separated couple to your holiday party unless they are civil with one another. Most people who have split up have done so for a reason—they don’t want to see each other, at least initially, so why make the holiday season the time for them to work it out? Not only can this spike discomfort levels during conversation, but it can really make things awkward. Instead, plan to see them separately over the holidays. Sure, it’s more time-consuming and feels like a hassle between the bustle, but it’s definitely worth the effort if you want to stay friends with both parties—or if it’s your parents, just make things more calm. Instead, plan to see them separately over the holidays. That will be more time-consuming, but it’ll be worth the effort if you want to stay friends with both parties.

It was last month that Saturday Night Live joked about holiday drama in a sketch that proved Adele can bring everyone together and eliminate that yuletide tension. However, that’s not always the case and doesn’t always work, especially if your Uncle Russ is known to get loud, drunk and spewing hate about everything under the sun. (Sorry, Adele!) Roll your eyes all you want at them for complaining or cribbing, but know there is a way to solve this. You can either change the subject in a passive aggressive manner, or be direct and reiterate the reason for the season. Be direct and say something like, “I know this is important to you, but in the spirit of the holidays, I feel it would be wise to revisit this later and give it the attention it deserves.”

What should I do if I can’t make it to a holiday party at the last-minute?

Between festivals, events, parties and family gatherings, the holidays can be an extremely busy season! With this time of year though comes cold and flu, and unfortunately it can get the best of us. Since it’s never nice to bring to bring germs to a party, it’s wise to cancel. But if you’re thinking of canceling because you’re just too busy, feeling tired or not in the mood, you’ve got two very mature options! You can either stop by and say hello, while staying for a bit, or cancel completely, but make sure you drop by at a later date with an awesome gift for the host and an apology note!

* * * * *

Happy holidays! What are some of your festive etiquette manners? Share with us in the comments below.

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  1. Holiday Reading Round-Up | The Hudsucker - December 25, 2015

    […] Celebrating the Season: Tips for Modern Holiday Etiquette: Tis the season to celebrate holiday dinners, wining and dining with friends, and gifting loved ones. However, social gatherings also tend to become another way to highlight poor holiday etiquette, trapping many of us in a sticky situation. {Continue reading…} […]

  2. Celebrating the Season: Tips on Modern Holiday Etiquette | westlifebunny - December 29, 2015

    […] Continue reading… […]

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