Holiday Etiquette is about Selflessness

The holidays are once again upon us. It is a time to entertain and socialize with friends, family, and business associates. So, what is holiday protocol?

Etiquette is about what we do to make people feel comfortable in our presence. It requires us to put our own wants, needs, and desires aside and think of others first. It is unselfish. That is why many reject protocol because it doesn’t allow us to determine what is acceptable for situations and environments. Social settings and others determine what is considered acceptable.

There is a time and a place for everything. The key is to be able to recognize these situations when they present themselves. This holiday season see if you recognize the situations and environments that require a particular behavior or dress code. Look for opportunities for appropriate gestures, gifts, and timeliness.

For example, Company parties require appropriate behavior and attire. It is a time to have fun with co-workers but it is also a time to show some restraint. That may not be your first choice on how to behave with an open bar, but it can affect future opportunities.

Holiday parties in someone’s home require a hostess gift and possibly an hors d’oeuvre.

Corporate gifts require protocol because you need to give a gift that is proper and expresses gratitude — something that is professional but looks like you put some thought into the right gift.

RSVP’s for parties are part of holiday protocol. A RSVP should be extended within three days of receiving the initiation. If you wait too long to respond, it gives the illusion you are waiting for another offer and is very rude. People need to plan for food and beverages, and they don’t want to do it last minute because you haven’t responded yet.

This year take the time to recognize situations that require holiday protocol. The last thing you want to do is offend someone unintentionally. It is a time of giving and kindness. This year give the gift of appropriate behavior and gestures to those around you.

Happy Holidays.


Colleen Harding is a certified etiquette and protocol instructor and the founder of the Cleveland School of Etiquette and Corporate Protocol. Programs and packages available for children and businesses.