Phew, where has the year gone? Time sure flies fast, and here we are, at the start of the busy holiday season once again. Like most people, my husband and I will either be hosting a party or attending one or two in the next few weeks. It is always a joyous occasion to be with friends, family and co-workers to mingle and enjoy the meaning of the season. This time of year can also be stressful for some. Just ask my mom, who hosts a Christmas dinner every year! There are plenty of trips to the store just to fight for the last ham or loaf of bread and making phone calls to try to accommodate those coming from out of town. One of the reasons why my mom is so successful at this fete is because she understands her role as a host (and of course, she prepares some delicious food!). But no matter if you are the host or the guest, we must keep in mind some holiday etiquette to bring with us to the party.
A Happy HostBeing a host is one of the most gracious things that can also turn into a nightmare if not handled properly. Below are some tips for making it through the evening. Provide an inviting atmosphere: Make sure the dinner table or buffet table is accessible. Having a nice flow of walkway and mingling space makes for comfort so that guests don’t feel cramped and awkward. Also, keep the mood positive and light by greeting everyone with a smile and joining in conversations. Do not stress out about the small things: Nothing changes the mood more than you stressing about spilled wine or food. Part of deciding to be a host is knowing that things like this are more than likely to happen, so protect furniture and floors ahead of time if you’d like. Accept all gifts graciously: When your Aunt or neighbor brings fruit cake, do not roll your eyes. Instead, accept all gifts with a thank you and a smile. Do not drink too much: Leave this part to the guests. Just keep an eye on those who may cross over the line and know that it is okay to call it a night for them. Let them know privately and then arrange for a driver or a cab. Plan your attire: I always try to match my attire to the food being offered. If it is a casual dinner with lots of finger foods and carbs, I will dress a little more on the casual side with a sweater and a skirt or even a pair of khakis or black pants. If the dinner is more elegant with wine and a five-course meal, put on something dressier. Make sure whatever you wear, that it is both appropriate and comfortable. How to end the evening: Lead your guests in knowing when to retire for the night. Do not let the evening drag on into the wee morning when you might have to start accommodating guests. Be conscious of the time and plan when to start the clean-up process. More than likely, guests will follow suit.
A Gracious GuestKnow the dress code: This time of year brings many different gatherings and events. Be aware of the ones you will be attending and if there is any dress code requirements. If it does not say on the invitation, check with the host to make sure. Do not bring the uninvited: If the invitation says plus one and your plus one is either not an acquaintance of the host or if he or she may have had a falling out with the host, please consult to see if it would be a problem. There is nothing like an unwanted guest to bring instant negativity to a room. Bring a small gift or dish: It is courteous to offer to bring a small appetizer or dish to share. If you are not the cooking type, bring a nice bottle of wine for the host to pass or enjoy later. Not only is this considered good manners, it also shows how appreciative you are for all the work they’ve put in. Not a free-for-all: Keep in mind that this is not a wine and food buffet. Be courteous and respectful of others — try to refrain from scooping up all of the hors d’oeuvres or mom’s famous macaroni and cheese. Above all, remember to have fun, get to know everyone and enjoy the meaning and blessings of the holidays: being in the company of wonderful friends and family!
Shelley Davis Mielock
Shelley Davis Mielock is a certified business image coach and the founder of Mieshel Image Consulting, a Lansing-based firm that specializes in image development for individuals and businesses. She is also a co-host of In Her Shoes, a a weekly women’s talk radio show. To ask Shelley an image question, please e-mail her.