Holiday Party Etiquette

With the start of October, the holiday season is upon us! If you are like me, the next few months are your favorite months of the year. I love the buzz of excitement as folks pick out Halloween outfits, organize Thanksgiving plans, and plan out their holiday gift giving. Christmas is by far my favorite holiday, closely followed by Thanksgiving (I mean who doesn’t love to eat), and Halloween is a close third for me.

But the holidays are not all about ABC’s 31 Nights Of Halloween, Hallmark movie marathons, and all the sweets and treats one could possibly want. The holidays are, quite plainly, a ton of work.

lunch table salad

Costume decisions and creation take dedication.Thanksgiving meals don’t make themselves. Christmas shopping and prep work is a nightmare. Add in all the events you are expected to attend or even host and you can be left feeling worn out even before the big days arrive.

In an effort to help you manage and conquer the upcoming holidays, I’ve tapped into the knowledge of one of my closest friends Deanna Sult, to give you some party etiquette basics. Why? Because y’all need some manners and more because with everything else the holidays throw at you, the last thing you need is to worry about whether asking to bring a +1 is kosher. And TBH, good manners can mean the difference between success and failure in many aspects of life.

Party Etiquette 101

In today’s world social etiquette is lacking. Simple niceties such as writing Thank You letters are all but forgot, especially by millennials (myself included). I’ve been raised in the South and even my etiquette has a tendency to stop after yes sir and no ma’am. No fault of my parents, more a fault of societies shift towards a more laid back view on life. I’ve personally made a resolution to do better at being considerate because having good etiquette is all about the respect you show towards others and yourself.

I’ve teamed up Deanna Sult, who spent some time working as a Program Coordinator for an Etiquette Expert, to bring you 10 tips for acing your next party. Sult, my resident etiquette expert and who has covered everything from corporate and networking events etiquette to everyday social etiquette, wants everyone to remember that each situation varies and following the rules to the T isn’t the most important thing.

It’s not just about knowing which fork to use at dinner, it’s about having confidence in every situation. When you go into an interview there are tricks to demonstrating a more powerful and confident version of yourself. When you are eating at a formal restaurant with your potential in-laws you want to make a good impression and knowledge of dining etiquette helps you make the impression you want.

The thing with etiquette is that there are guidelines but no hard and fast rules. When you know the rules you can make educated decisions on which ones to follow for your lifestyle. -Deanna Sult

woman preparing christmas table

10 Good etiquette practices to ace your holiday parties this year

  1. Invitations: With the introduction of Paperless Post and Minted paper invitations are now a way of the past. But sending some sort of invitation is the proper thing to do. Include all pertinent information like dress, rsvp and location. Facebook events are for casual get togethers but formal parties deserve an invitation. All invites should be sent out no later than 4 weeks before the party; earlier if you are trying to get something scheduled during the busy holiday season.
  2. RSVPing: When you get an invitation YOU MUST RSVP BY THE DEADLINE! Nothing drives me crazy more than people forgetting to RSVP when asked. Or committing to come and then not showing up or backing out of the event day of. A lot of planning goes into a party so do your host the courtesy of RSVPing. Don’t be ghosted your host.
  3. Gifts: Bring a gift for the host. This does not have to be anything extravagant, but abrown pinecone on white rectangular board nice bottle of wine, flowers, holiday candle or bag of coffee is a sweet gesture of appreciation.
  4. Timing: If you are throwing the party, timing is everything. Between the hours of 3 and 6pm you can probably get away with appetizers. Parties thrown after 6pm should include full dinner. If you are not serving a full meal late in the evening youneed to communicate that to your guests.
  5. BYOB: Throwing a party can get expensive and alcohol is normally the biggest budget item. I do not think it is inappropriate to ask guests to BYOB IF you are providing food. It’s a good idea to provide non-alcoholic drinks—especially water.
  6. Consideration: We live in a culture where people celebrate the holidays in different ways. If you are throwing a personal party you have every right to designate it as the holiday of your choice (ie, “Christmas Party”). If you are planning a party for an organization or employer you need to be sensitive to the organization’s stance on holiday identifiers.
  7. Drinking: Alcohol is a great social lubricant for awkward office holiday parties but be careful. No one gets promoted at an outing. Be wary of open bar tabs and remember that the office holiday party is a networking event, not the time for you to try every drink on the menu.
  8. Office Parties: Office holiday parties are not mandatory but you should strongly consider going. It is a time for people to network and get face time outside of the office. If you want to be considered a team player you need to go to the game. Take time to celebrate the year’s accomplishments with your coworkers even if the party location is not your ideal spot.
  9. Uninvited guests: If you are not throwing the party, you don’t get to choose the guest list. Think about the occasion before asking to bring the girl you’ve been dating from Tinder for two weeks: to your friend son’s 2nd birthday, probably not a good ideal. To your friend’s annual Christmas Bash where 100 people are invited, maybe. You determine how well you know the hosts and if it’s appropriate to ask to bring a +1. But normally the hosts know you well too and if they wanted to include your guest, they would have.
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    Kids at parties: If you are throwing an adult only party make sure to clarify that on the invite. Said invite needs to be sent out well in advance so parents have time to arrange for sitters. If you are including children in your festivities make sure that they have options for activities, food and drink.

Now take your new found etiquette and put it to work at your next holiday party, and let us know how it goes. Have an etiquette question? Comment on this post and we’ll send you in the right directions. Happy Holidays Folks!

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