November 16, 2015 / 11:12 AM / 4 years ago

Modern Etiquette: Keeping things light for the holidays

(Reuters) - According to a recent survey by the Pew Research Center, 86 percent of adult Americans said they planned to gather with family and friends during the holidays, and the same number say they planned to buy gifts for friends and family.

That means that the typical American will soon face a lot of spiked eggnog, awkward party talk and last-minute gift certificate purchases within the next few weeks.

However, just because the holidays come wrapped up with a fair amount of over indulging, familial stress and anxiety, there are many things you can do to keep things light and festive this season.

From limiting alcohol consumption to thoughtful gift ideas for your host or hostess, follow these standard etiquette rules to make your holiday memorable for all the right reasons.

- The Holiday Spirit(s): With the majority of home and office holiday celebrations involving alcohol consumption, there are legendary tales of the family member or co-worker who had one too many cocktails and rocked around the Christmas tree well into the wee hours.

Beyond the obvious concerns of driving under the influence or other medical concerns, there are many social reasons to limit your intake and keep your wits about you. In the workplace, having too many drinks can cause embarrassing behavior or inappropriate actions that go against accepted rules of office behavior. Limit your consumption, always imbibe on a full stomach or avoid risk by not indulging at all.

- Food for thought: Whether you’re attending a home or an office holiday party, you will most likely come into contact with an abundant supply of tasty treats. But no matter how tempting that tenth boiled shrimp may look, remember you are not at a buffet.

Your host or hostess has most likely prepared food for the number of expected guests. Also, remember that a buffet table is not your personal dining space. Always be sure to select a nice sample of items, and then move away from the serving table so other guests can enjoy.

- Gifting: If your offer to bring a dish to a holiday celebration was declined, make sure you bring a gift for your host or hostess. From a bottle of wine to a holiday ornament, show your appreciation for being included.

When it comes to office parties, there may be established customs such as White Elephant parties, Secret Santas or name exchanges. But no matter the custom, keep co-worker gift purchases in the moderate price range, never purchase anything off-color or inappropriate for an office setting and control the urge to “re-gift” an old present.

- Goodwill to all: Even though the holidays are considered the time to reconnect with family and friends, the shared time is often filled with stress and anxiety. It’s always best to avoid hot-button issues, keeping the conversation light. Even if someone repeatedly attempts to engage you in a controversial manner, take the high road and either change the conversation or walk away. Remember, this is the season where we celebrate peace on earth — and it’s a gift to share with everyone.

Editing by Michael Roddy

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