Verily we are in the thick of it, and the worst may very well have passed - for this year.
Because most of us only attend several holiday parties each year, it can take decades to finally figure out some of the hard lessons learned by not following the propper etiquette, whether it's work, family, friends, or any combination thereof. So for those of you who may struggle with the dos and don'ts, please allow a career waiter who has now witnessed upwards of a hundred this season, and likely thousands over my lifetime. I have definately seen the ugly end of some of these tips, and encourage you to heed my advice in years to come :) Some are more applicable to home, others to a restaurant environment, but extrapulate what you will.
Do NOT be the one to walk in and ask for an adult libation right off the bat, if not everyone is drinking. Even if offered a coctail or beer, or glass of wine, initially decline if most of the party is starting off slowly. There is no need to be the person to "get the party started, right". If you start earlier than your company, and most importantly, your host, chances are that you will be remembered by all - and not for any good reasons.
Don't make yourself too "at-home", unless you've been encouraged to. Suppose your host to be a good one, and if you need to store anything, or want something from the fridge, or want a tour - let them be the ones to initiate.
Don't order anything too expensive if you're not the one paying the bill. If everyone else drinking wine in the fifteen dollar per glass range, and the bill has three glasses at fourty dollars a glass, (or scotch, or tequilla, or anything, really) - the host will notice, and know it was you. It is truly poor form, unless you genuinely don't like the host, and can't believe that you were actually invited, and don't care to be invited again in the future. Someone's holiday party is not a great time to try that 40-year tawny, unless you're buying two on your dime - one for you, one for the host.
Check your volume. If you find yourself getting loud, or closer to other guests than you were when you got there, lay off the 'nog and chug some holiday water. It is truly mindblowing how enibriated people get when they don't have to pay for it. Enjoy the vibe, but a reputation as a bad drunk is a hard one to shake.
Bragging is lame. Holdiay parties shouldn't be the time to try to one up your new friends, or make others feel worse about themselves. Just enjoy the party. If people are sharing stories, swap away, keeping even score. But if you are the one telling all the stories, there's a distinct possibility that you are not, indeed, making everyone's night glorious.
Decorations. Less can sometimes be more. Don't bring the cheer in the form of glittery confetti type glitz that will become someone else's clean-up nightmare. If you are the host and it fits your vision of the event - great.. if not, maybe let the host determine how festive the party should be.
And an obscure one - be careful of bringing poinsettas to residences, as cats are allergic to them. I made this mistake this year, proving that we all still live and learn.
In summation, don't take advantage of people's generosity - it can really detract from the purpose of the season. If partying with people that you need to drink to enjoy, maybe come later and leave earlier, or find some way to drink just a little less, rather than a little more. I am quite certain that if people could see themselves being as drunk as they get, that some people at least would find a way to slow down, if only a little.
Most importantly, however, treat one another with respect and love. Tis the season!! Happy holidays, may your Channuka, Christmas, Quanza, and pagan worship be merry and joyous!
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