a short holiday etiquette guide

since we’re fast approaching one of the biggest holiday of the year, allow me to share a small guide on holiday etiquette.

during this fine holiday season, you will no doubt be invited to some, if not many, gatherings during Christmas.  unless you’re just a complete ashhole who is shunned by everyone.  in that case, move along, nothing to see here.  as a guest, some very basic things will ensure that you stay in your host’s good graces.  after all, your host is cooking your food for you.  return the kindness.

Φ  please, please do not show up empty-handed.  and please, please don’t bring cheezy-a~* stuff for your host.  do not two-buck-chuck your host.  do not bring stuff you don’t want and pretend it’s a fine gift.  bring something you’d want to drink/eat/use yourself.  if you’re bringing that holiday spirit (pun intended), there are many decent wines around the $10-$20 range, sometimes even around $7.  if you know jack s~* about wine, go to your local winemonger and pick his/her brain.  if you feel comfortable, look online for wine ratings.  heck, go to your local bevmo if you want, but put a little effort into your selection.  your host will thank you.  if you’re really not comfortable with wines, bring some hard liquor and have a party.  vodka, tequila, scotch, there are no shortage of choices.  if no booze, bring a good dessert.  you can make it yourself or get a nice pie or cake from your local bakery; not hard to do.  and no, your local supermarkets don’t qualify as a bakery, so don’t even try.  find an actual bakery and maybe sample their goodies first.

Φ  do not be a demanding guest.  don’t make the host go out of his/her way just to please you.  if you have food allergies, communicate ahead of time or consider declining the invitation.  it sucks when your host goes out of his/her way to make a great meal, only to have you say “oh, i can’t eat that.”  total mood killer.

Φ  keep your personal comments to a minimum.  it’s not a bad idea to sit quietly and eat your food, especially if there are people at the party unfamiliar to you.  yes, words can start a war.  you want peace during Christmas.

Φ  don’t offer to do something then not do it.  if you don’t want to help out, just hide in the corner and sip your wine; otherwise you’ll look like an ashhole.

Φ  don’t go crazy with the booze.  sip slowly.  barfing all over your host’s living room is NOT cool.

Φ  take your leave after the meal, unless your host specifically asks you to stay.  you may be invited, but your host may want to spend some alone time with his/her family.

of course, the host has a set of duties as well.  shall we?

Φ  same rule applies with the holiday spirit––don’t two-buck-chuck your guests.  i think it’s okay to ask guests to bring wine as long as it’s asked beforehand.  if you’re going to supply wine, get something affordable but decent.  online, local wine shop, you know the drill.  or just bring out the tequila.

Φ  Christmas is not a time for you to run your test kitchen.  if you haven’t gotten that turkey down or you just suck at cooking, make reservations right now and let the restaurant worry about the food.  bring your own wine and cake if you want, but ask the restaurant about corkage and cake-cutting fees so you don’t get a sticker shock at the end of the meal.  going dutch?  just make sure everyone knows.  communicating clearly ahead of time will solve a LOT of problems before they even become an issue.

Φ  don’t turn your guests into slave labor.  don’t ask them to cook for you or go fetch things for you unreasonably.  (“hey um bob, can you go grab three bags of ice from the market?  while you’re at it, can you also pick up two cans of cranberry sauce?  we’re out.  oh, and two cases of beer if you don’t mind.”)  again, if you’re feeling lazy, have your meal at the restaurant and everyone will be happy.  (no dishes!)

Φ  don’t feel entitled to make comments just because you’re hosting.  you cooking a great meal does not give you the right to make weird comments on your guest’s family, appearance, or background.  that’s just f~*ing rude.

stay civil, stay genuine, and above all, put others’ concerns above yours.  of course, if you do encounter ashhole host/guest, you can always leave/ask the person to leave.  have a great Christmas season everyone!

2 comments on “a short holiday etiquette guide

  1. Your first point of showing up empty handed – sometimes people just don’t want stuff, like us, we get crap and then we then we have to figure out how to store the crap or how to regift it in a Yankee Swap. The most polite thing to do is ask the host and ask if you can bring something. If they say no, a bottle of wine, like you said is good. But keep in mind that some people don’t drink, but don’t worry, it will be regifted in time. I like your idea of hard liquor, you can’t go wrong with showing up with cold Vodka.

    Food allergies – I always make sure that the host knows that hubby is allergic to tomatoes. If all they are having is spaghetti and meatballs, it’s kinda sucky that hubby can’t eat anything while everyone is eating. If the host can just make one dish without tomatoes, it is very appreciative. Everything else can be tomatoes for all he cares.

    Personal comments – this also brings up the topic of drinking too much. Drinking too much may cause to loose lips and inappropriate comments. I usually don’t drink if it is a client’s company party where you don’t know 80% of the people. But if you know a more than 80% of the people and are “friends” with them, one or two drinks is ok.

    One more thing, always offer to help. If the host looks frenzy, offer a hand. Let the host know that you are more than willing to help. Say it once, and that’s it. The more you say it, the more annoying it is for the hosts. And try to stay out of the kitchen. Hang around the perimeter, but the kitchen is a war zone during parties.

    And for the hosts, try to ask people you are inviting (the ones you really care about) whether they have any dietary restrictions and food allergies and try to accommodate them. If it is not possible, let them know ahead of time. Some food allergies can be deadly.

    • that’s why i said that if a guest brings something, it should be something he/she would want to enjoy also. it sucks when someone brings junk he/she wants to get rid off and disguise it as a gift. no class.

      as long as the host/guest communicate early i think a lot of problems can be avoided. food allergies or diet restrictions should never be sprung on others as a surprise! i don’t think it’s rude at all if a person declines an invitation due to dietary/medical reasons with a little explanation. a good host will understand.

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