Over the past couple of decades, society has become much less formal. These changes have not only upended some long-standing etiquette guidelines but have undermined basic good manners, too.
In the spirit of this kinder, gentler season, Rebecca Gordon, executive director of the Friends of the Missouri Governor’s Mansion, offers these eight simple tips to help us graciously and more enjoyably navigate the holiday social whirl ahead.
#1. It’s as simple as ABC — R.S.V.P. When you receive an invitation, take the time to reply — and in a timely manner. Calling the day of the event to say you are coming makes you stand out, not in a good way.
#2. Best way to break the ice with someone you don’t know? Begin with a compliment. This is a great way to open a conversation and find common ground.
#3. Mingling can be a challenge. Before joining a group, read the body language. Jump in during a lull in conversation. I like to break into a group by saying, “You all look like you’re having a great time; do you mind if I join you?” Then, introduce yourself. To break the ice, see #2 above.
#4. Joining is 10 times easier than exiting a conversation that has run its course. There’s always that one person who just won’t let you go. Kind but direct is best: “It’s been so nice to catch up. If you will excuse me, I need to speak with _____.” This allows you to graciously move on.
#5. I don’t care what you do or say on Facebook or Twitter. Religion and politics have no place at social or business functions. Period.
#6. There’s simply no other way to say this: texting, browsing or posting to social media during a party or event is rude. Put that cell phone away.
#7. Watch your alcohol intake. The holidays are a great time to enjoy food and favorite beverages but you don’t want to be remembered as “that person from last night.” Your job and reputation could depend on it.
#8. Bring a hostess gift. I like to stock up on bottles of wine, holiday ornaments or other small items so I have them on hand to take to parties.