Holiday Entertaining Dos and Don’ts

Any veteran of the holiday season knows only too well the importance of being prepared for the multitude of holiday parties and celebrations that can either lift our spirits or send us into hair-pulling fits of stress. In order to avoid the latter, we’ve compiled an indispensable guide to the impending festivities to ensure a smooth, stress-free, enjoyable holiday season. From party decorations to holiday attire, each individual host and guest is sure to glean a nugget of holiday wisdom from the list below. Pay close attention to the following holiday party Dos and Don’ts to avoid common hosting mistakes and party-going snafus.

Guests:

Do bring a gift—alcohol, mixers and specialty food items are all good choices. Note: wine comes in a bottle, not a box. Bonus points if you show up with a cask.
Don’t bring your dog or your children (unless you’re invited to do so). Or, for that matter the gift the hostess brought to your last party.

Do compliment the hosts on their nice decorations.
Don’t consider the decorations party favors and take them home.

Do clean up any spills.
Don’t cover it up and blame the host’s kids. (Unless you have a good alibi and no other suitable scapegoats are available. In that case, all systems go.)

Do take part in party games. “Charades” and “Apples to Apples” are fine choices.
Don’t suggest “Spin the Bottle” or “Truth or Dare.”

Do engage in polite conversation. Possible topics include plans for the holiday break, the pleasant aroma of the mulled wine, or a lighthearted debate over whether or not it will snow on Christmas.
Don’t go anywhere near the 2012 election, the bailout, Roe v Wade, Casey Anthony’s innocence, the recent Twitter fight between Lindsay Lohan and Britney Spears, season 3 of Jersey Shore or Sarah Palin’s bangs. Failure to do so could result in mass holiday party destruction.

Do elegantly sip holiday flavored beer, wine or egg nog.
Don’t down a combined gallon of all three and proceed to politely slur about the chance of snow on your birthday, profess your undying love for the hostess in front of her husband and get in a fight with their son about whether or not Captain Crunch should be all Crunchberries instead of mixed with regular cereal.

Do RSVP to th party invitation. An email or a call only take a couple of minutes.
Don’t just show up with a “few” friends, their significant others, and friends of their friends in tote.

Do offer to help your host clean up—who wants to be stuck with a pile of dirty dishes?
Don’t wait until the food is served, then say you have to leave because you’ll be late for your other party.

Hosts:

Do wait to dress the salad until just before serving.
Don’t take the same approach to apparel—you should be ready when guests begin arriving.

Do plan on attire that is both tasteful and reflective of your genuine holiday cheer.
Don’t go overboard on the holiday cheer. Steer clear of dresses with large bows, heels over four inches, earrings shaped like miniature menorahs, holiday sweaters featuring Christmas trees complete with detachable ornaments, reindeers, or bells, matching holiday sweaters amongst family members, holiday sweaters fitted for the dog…In fact, scratch holiday sweaters all together unless you’re over 75.

Do consider the diet restrictions of the host and guests (ask about allergies and vegetarians).
Don’t serve deep-fried butter unless there is a doctor on hand.

Do put out a welcome mat for guests to wipe their feet.
Don’t insist that everyone take their shoes off (unless you give enough advance notice for everyone to book pedicures).

Do give clear directions to your place, with instructions on where guests should park.
Don’t offer up neighbors’ driveways.

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