While we love a spot of Christmas shopping, we’ve never been ones for the hustle and bustle and stress of Christmas. In fact, we’re doing our best try to bring back some decorum and enjoyment to the season with our vintage fair and some good old fashioned traditions.
This got us wondering if we could pick up a few more tips on how to do Christmas properly. So, we turned to the experts of etiquette, Debretts.
Whether you fancy yourself as the perfect 1950’s housewife at Christmas, or feel you’ve gotten a little lax with your thank you cards in recent years, put your knowledge to the test in our fun quiz of manners over the festive period.
(Answers are at the bottom of the quiz – no cheating!)
- If you receive a last-minute Christmas card from someone you weren’t expecting one from, what is an acceptable way to handle the situation?A) Send a New Year’s card
B) Pretend you didn’t receive their card
C) Phone them to thank them for their card
- When hosting a Christmas party, on what occasion should there not be food served?A) When your invitation only states it is a drinks party
B) When there is expected to be dancing
C) There should always be food served
- What are good topics to talk to colleagues about at the Christmas party?A) The work they have to finish before Christmas
B) Current affairs
C) Their family, children and holidays
- Napkin rings are an essential for Christmas dinner…A) True
- What is a good tip for buying a Christmas present…A) Try to match the anticipated reciprocal value of their present
B) Where possible, try to give the most expensive gift to show your generosity
- C) Keep a list of past presents you’ve given to avoid gifting the same item twice
- How soon should thank you letters for Christmas presents be sent out?A) At your soonest convenience
B) Within 7 – 10 days of opening the present
C) Within a month of opening the present
- What should you avoid at the office Christmas party?A) Shots
- Christmas trees should only feature gold, green and red decorations…A) True
- It is polite to open a present in front of the gift giver…A) True
- Re-gifting is never acceptable…A) True
1. A) Send a New Year’s card. Debretts says: If you miss the post, or receive a last minute card from someone not on your list, then send a brief note, card or postcard with your best wishes. Alternatively, send a new year’s card.
- C) There should always be food served. Debretts says: As the host you need to ensure that your guests have plenty to eat and drink. Even if your invitation only states ‘drinks’, some food will also need to be served.3. C) Their family, children and holidays. Debretts says: Circulate and socialise, but keep it upbeat and general. Ask about families, children and holidays. Don’t gossip, spread rumours or confess your sins.
- B) False. Debretts says: simply place your folded napkins on top of the plates.
- C) Keep a list of past presents you’ve given to avoid gifting the same item twice. Debretts says: Generally speaking, the present should be appropriate to the depth of your acquaintance and to the reason behind the gesture. If possible, do some research to avoid making a basic error – the bottle of whisky to the teetotaller, or the chocolates to the dieter. Beware: present-giving is not a competition, and there is no need to go over the top. A competitive spirit undermines the action and a disproportionate show of wealth is likely to embarrass the recipient, and create a sense of reciprocal obligation.
When selecting presents for those close to you, think carefully about their tastes, hobbies, passions. Never fall into the trap of buying a present that you really want for yourself, and that you fully intend to use, borrow or adopt. Remember what you have given in the past. A repeat present suggests that you take the whole business lightly, so keep a list if your memory is poor. Try not to agonise over choice and never try to match the anticipated value of a reciprocal present. Giving and receiving are entirely separate activities, and this is not the time to weigh up the quid pro quo.
- B) Within 7 – 10 days of opening the present. Debretts says: As a general rule, a thank-you letter should always be handwritten and sent within a week to ten days of an event or receipt of a present. Thank-you letters are necessary to acknowledge presents given for Christmas, christenings, weddings, birthdays and anniversaries. Refer to the present directly and include some details to personalise the tone of the letter. Remember that in our digital age, a handwritten letter is always appreciated so, for maximum impact, make the effort to write promptly.
- C) Both. Debretts says: Steer clear of mistletoe and dirty dancing, and keep goodnight kisses innocent. Remember the basics: avoid shots, eat well, alternate drinks with water.
- B) False. Debretts says: Traditionally featuring (but not limited to) dark green, gold and red colours, make it your mission to decorate [your Christmas tree] in your own personal style.
- A) True. Debretts says: To receive a present graciously, always open it when the giver is with you. Always show enthusiasm and try and engage with the giver beyond a simple thank you. If appropriate, ask them pertinent questions about the present, or muse on when you will use it. Disappointment, distaste or just indifference must be hidden at all costs.
10. B) False. Debretts says: It is practical and admirable in this world of excess and obsolescence to recycle in this way; how much better to cut down on all the disposable detritus and make two, or even three or four, people happy into the bargain? The theory is marvellous, but the practice has to be watertight. No one must ever know: not the original giver nor the next-in-line receiver