Four holiday etiquette dos and don'ts

From re-gifting to office parties, the holidays can be fraught with tricky situations. Make sure your manners are up to snuff with these tips from Daniel Post Senning, spokesperson for The Emily Post Institute.
(Photo by Corbis) Corbis

1. Is it okay to re-gift? This is a precarious topic, one that Emily Post herself was actually torn on (traditional thinking is that you should absolutely not do it). I think it’s okay — you just need to be tactful. Here are three tips to keep in mind:

  • Make sure the gift isn’t personalized in any way (i.e. monogrammed).
  • Only re-gift if you genuinely think the recipient will like it. Re-gifting shouldn't be about getting rid of last year’s unwanted holiday gifts.
  • Don't re-gift within the same circle of friends. If the truth comes out, you should be able to take responsibility for your actions.

2. Do I have to send holiday cards to everyone I know? Whether you should send a card, an email or a Facebook message depends on how you usually speak with that person. It’s always good to go one notch up, so if you usually correspond through email, send a holiday card!  There’s no better time to show that you’re making the extra effort than the holidays.

3. Do I have to go to the office holiday party You should attend if you can, but always be on your best behaviour! One of the “Big Five” rules at the Emily Post Institute is to watch yourself during the office party.  Even if it’s held off-site, it’s a business social: Remember to act as though you’re still at work.

4. What should I do if I receive an unexpected gift?  Just because someone gets you a gift doesn’t mean you have to reciprocate. Gift giving is a very personal choice, but a thank-you is absolutely expected.  And thank the gift-giver twice: in-person as well as with a handwritten note. The personal touch means a lot more.


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