Unwrapping Holiday Etiquette

By Deborah King

The holiday season is breeding ground for stress, and this year, with so many facing economic hardships, the stress is even greater. The pressure to outdo the previous year’s gift giving, card sending, dinners, and parties may have finally come to a close. For too many years, the focus of the holiday season has been on things, instead of relationships. This focus caused many to overspend and overdo resulting in a financial and stress hangover that often lingered months into the New Year.

This holiday season let’s revisit the real reason for the season. Why do we hang the lights, purchase the gifts, send out cards, and attend parties? For me, it must be rooted in relationship – my relationship with God and with others. Each year looks a bit different than the year before, but every year is based on kindness and respect – for me and for others. This is the foundation of what good manners are all about.

Holiday Cards

Each year fewer cards are sent in the mail, and often those that are, are printed, labeled and signed electronically elevating them slightly over junk mail. I love sending and receiving cards during the holidays, but they should be personalized unless sent by a business. This may require limiting your list to those you don’t see often. Invitations

To be included on someone’s guest list is an honor. Treat your host with thoughtfulness and respect.

R.S.V.P! An invitation received requires a prompt reply. To not do so is simply rude.
Hostess Gift – If you are not bringing food for the event, bring a hostess gift. This may be a box of chocolates, a music CD, candles, or tea or coffee. Flowers are great as long as they are already in a vase.
Gift Giving

Carefully plan your gift list:

  • Gifts should be selected and given based on relationship.
  • Gift giving should never become a meaningless habit or done out of sheer obligation.
  • Gifts should always be within your budget.
  • Gifts received unexpectedly simply require a sincere thank you.
  • Re-gifting has many pitfalls and is best avoided.

Thank You.

Expressing gratitude can be done verbally, by email, or a handwritten note. The first two methods are more casual and are fine for many situations, but nothing replaces the thoughtfulness and personal touch of a handwritten note.

  • A handwritten thank you note should always be sent for gifts received.
  • A thank you note should be sent within a week.
  • A thank you note should identify the gift and how it will be used or enjoyed. With cash, or a gift card, you should mention how you will spend it.

Maybe the greatest gift we can give this holiday season is the gift of kindness. A kind word, or kind deed, will outlast most purchased gifts, eliminate stress, and improve the health of the both giver and receiver.

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