Manners Matter: Brian Gluckstein’s Guide to Good Holiday Etiquette
A packed calendar is not unusual in December — make your best impression at every engagement with these timely tips from Canada’s hosting expert.
A successful party is one where both host and guests are having fun and feeling at ease. Brian Gluckstein’s speaks to iconic decor ideas and simple etiquette suggestions to ensure both of these objectives are met.
Cocktail Party Hosting Tips
- When having a group of people over for a party during the holidays, it’s a good idea to pre-set a bar cart with a small selection of drinks. Whether it’s a few types of wine or some pre-mixed cocktails, having the option for guests to serve themselves will allow you to focus on making your rounds and introducing people. It’ll also assure that no one’s left standing around with an empty drink.
- Ask a close friend or a shy, less connected guest to help you handle coats and drinks during the evening. This will help take some of the stress off you, and it will likely make a shy or less connected guest feel more at ease and encourage them to interact with those they haven’t met.
Be a Good Dinner Guest
- Showing your appreciation of the invite is important. Reply promptly, express a quick note of gratitude to your host upon entering and leaving, and be sure to bring a thoughtful gift. I like to bring a framed photo of the host and I, a set of wine glasses or a plant. If the host doesn’t remember to raise a toast before dinner, feel free to do so with a quick, “Thanks so much for having us all together tonight, here’s to the holidays.”
- If you notice the host looks swamped in the kitchen or extra busy refilling drinks, offer to step in and give a hand. They’ll appreciate the help and it will keep the atmosphere stress-free and the evening going smoothly.
- This one may seem a bit obvious, but it’s important to stay off your phone. No one likes a guest who’s glued to a screen all evening, so if you do need to send a text or make a call, step away from the table. It’s normal these days to take a few snaps for social, but it’s polite to ask your host before posting, especially if there were certain people in the social circle who weren’t invited.
- Cash can be an appropriate gift in certain situations. Teenagers can be nearly impossible to shop for, and almost any of them would prefer cash. It’s also appropriate to give cash as a year-end gesture to service providers such as your newspaper boy, cleaning person or hairstylist. That said, I like to keep a record of what I gave each holiday season so that I can match it the next year.
- I don’t like re-gifting, but if you do receive something that you absolutely won’t use, put it aside and give it to someone who will enjoy it. The key is to identify it as a gift you received, and not as their gift for the holidays. Another great option is to pass the gift on to a suitable charity.
— Brian Gluckstein
Follow Brian on Instagram @BrianGluckstein for more design inspiration and tips.
Photography credits (from top): Hudson’s Bay, David Pike courtesy of Brian Gluckstein, courtesy of Brian Gluckstein, Hudson’s Bay