Christmas can be a time filled with joy, laughter, family and friends but it can also be a time when we forget the niceties in life. Especially when faced with the crush of a last-minute Christmas shop or the stressful preparations for a trip to visit the family.
Susie Wilson, a Melbourne-based etiquette expert and founder of the Antoinette Champagne Finishing School, says there are ways people can show good manners and be the perfect guest during the festive season.
Susie recommends sending a Christmas card to all your nearest and dearest.
“I’ve sent mine already and people have been really wowed by them. Actually I’ve seen it all over Facebook about how they’ve received a lovely card which has been lovely,” Susie says.
“People aren’t sending cards as often they used to. There really is nothing nicer because it’s a keepsake.
“You should send them to everybody near and dear and if you’re in business you should send them out to colleagues and clients,” she says.
Susie says cards should always be signed – especially from businesses to show that time has been spent filling them in and has been given some thought. It means people are not treating clients and colleagues like they’re “generic.”
“When you receive a gift whether you like it or not it’s really all about gratitude. Always receive a gift gratefully and don’t let them know it’s not what you want or need,” Susie says.
While it’s not bad manners to re-gift, you need to be careful who you re-gift to in case you return the item to the person who gave it to you in the first place. Susie also suggests not re-gifting something that has a date on it.
Susie says donating unwanted items to charity is a wonderful way to give back and will ensure something you might not need is given to someone who may.
“I personally donate to charity – I don’t regift,” Susie says.
Selling things online can also be an option but Susie says give it some time before putting our gifts up for sale – and always be discreet so the gift giver doesn’t find out.
“It’s good manners to always write a thank you note after receiving a gift. It’s the honourable option even if it’s a gift you don’t particularly like it,” Susie says.
“A thankyou letter or card is like a mirror – it reflects your character and really says a lot about you.”
If you’re invited to dinner over the festive season Susie says avoid taking flowers to the hosts.
“It’s the practicality of it – they’re busy so they may not know what to do with them while they are preparing a meal,” she says.
Instead, Susie recommends dinner guests take a small and thoughtful gift like a bottle of wine or some nice chocolates.
“It’s a token gesture for the meal, the kindness and the time they have shared with you,” Susie says.
Susie says good manners and etiquette mean sending a thank you card within a week of the dinner.