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Tis The Season: The Dos and Don’ts Of Holiday Entertaining

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By Mia Bolaris-Forget

The holidays can mean lots of fun and plenty of memories, but if you want them to be good ones you’ll want to proceed with “caution” and finesse.

With that said, here’s a list of holiday do’s and don’ts

1.Single out (newly) single friends Unless your friends are on good terms or there’s a good chance of them reconciling, most couples who’ve split prefer to not to run into each other, at least initially or unless children are involved. Inviting both parties, especially without their consent can end up in “disaster” making them and others uncomfortable. Instead, experts suggest planning separate soirees or making plans with each individually.

2. Put an end to your holiday cheer and hospitality: While serving others should be the focal point of the holiday season, you’ll want to make sure you don’t serve your guests more than they can handle, especially when it comes to alcohol. If you notice a friend that had too much, refuse to pour them another one. In fact, insist they drink coffee, tea, or any other non-alcoholic beverage instead, and recruit a trusted friend or family member to help you monitor and keep and eye on him/her/them. Don’t forget to ring up a cab for your guest or ask another (sober) guest to take him/her home. Or, if you’re comfortable enough, offer him/her a room for the night. Never let a guest drive off intoxicated and if you want to ensure everyone’s safety consider limiting the amount of alcohol YOU have available and serve or simply set a cut off point (time) when alcohol stop being served.

3. Practice thankfulness: After all isn’t that what the holidays are all about. Even if someone shows up with flowers you’re allergic to or a dessert that seems less than appetizing or appealing, now is not the time to let them know. Accept the offering graciously and simply put it temporarily in view but far enough out of the way.

4. Trim the “trimmings”: If you notice that you’re family is expanding (via new marriages and babies) and that holiday time is becoming a financial strain, speak to your family (and friends) about skimming back on gifts and spending. Maybe you can discuss buying only for the gifts and maybe parents or grandparents. Or, maybe you can suggest a Kris Kringle for friends and family members or simply put a limit on the amount each person is expected to spend.

5. Refrain from wearing you emotions of your sleeve: Exchanging gifts can open a veritable Pandora’s box for disappointment. In fact, you can expect to get gifts you don’t like and/or have no use for. Try to keep in mind that most gift-givers had good and pure intentions, so it’s best to simply smile and say thanks. But, what will you ever do with it? Well, for one thing, you don’t necessarily have to keep it. Wait until after the holidays and take it back and get something YOU like or can use. And, if you must let the person know, wait until others are not around.

6. Refrain From Doing Double Duty: Regifting is often seen as “tacky”, especially if the other person finds out. But, it can be done tastefully if you follow the rules. First you have to be sure that the gift is something that the party will want and can use. Next it must be bran new and in the original package. And last, but not least, it should never be something the original giver picked out just for you, or that the new receiver has seen you open.

7. Keep it personal: Keep readers in mind if you opt to enclose a holiday “newsletter” with your cards. And, above all keep the letter positive and upbeat. But, take head not to make it a bragging sheet either. In fact, its best to keep it low key and simple and to personalize each copy with a handwritten greeting and always sign your name. Finally, send it only to those you know are genuinely interested in your family news.

8. Do Unto Others: It’s not mandatory to a card back to everyone who sends you one. Still, unless, there’s been a falling out and you really want nothing to do with the person, it’s always a nice gesture to reciprocate. Just remember not to make it looked “forced”. Keep in mind that if the party in question won’t receive you card until after the holidays are over, you’re probably better off not sending one. And don’t rely on email either, since it may come across as insincere. Instead simply place a letter in the mail or make a quick call explaining the situation and thanking the person for thinking of you.

9. Get an early start: While you don’t want to rush the seasons or the holidays, you don’t want to procrastinate either. And, you’ll want to make sure you have enough time to do it “right” and to enjoy the holiday comforts of your home. Start decorating a day or two after Thanksgiving and pay extra attentions to detail. And, though sooner may be too soon, if you’re planning on getting away before the holiday season, you may need to give yourself a bit of extra time, especially if your “doing-up” the outdoors.

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