Debrett’s 2017 guide to Christmas etiquette: How to avoid festive faux pas

'You can’t go wrong with a bottle of booze'

Rachel Hosie
Thursday 30 November 2017 01:00 GMT
It’s party time and important to be generous towards your hosts
It’s party time and important to be generous towards your hosts (Getty)

It’s the most wonderful time of the year but it can also be a social minefield.

Is it essential to send handwritten thank you letters? Are e-vites acceptable? Will tinsel make people think you’re tacky or ironically kitsch? How novelty is too novelty when it comes to Christmas jumpers? Is snapchatting at the Christmas party OK? And is it frowned upon to wear glitter to work? (We’re going with no.)

After all, if you want to be invited back to all the best shindigs and soirées, it’s essential to make a sparkling impression. Whether that involves actual sparkle or not is open to interpretation.

Thankfully, the etiquette gurus at Debrett’s have revealed their guide to sailing through the season without making any festive faux pas.

Advice includes: sending a thank you text isn’t sufficient, don’t boast about your presents on Instagram and always bring a bottle for the host – but don’t expect to drink it yourself.

Teaming up with Sainsbury’s, Debrett’s hopes the guide will teach the public how to be the perfect host and guest.

It’s also discovered what the public consider to be the worst social faux pas, one of which is apparently posting pictures of presents to Instagram (which three million of us will do this year).

A further 33 million people will shun stationery for a thank you text message and four million Brits will deconstruct hampers to re-gift their contents.

If you want to be almost certain your present will be well-received, however, stick to food and drink, as nearly half of those surveyed think it’s the safest choice for the widest array of people (49 per cent).

Posh chocolates and whisky were revealed to be the most popular presents.

But if you’re one of the 73 per cent of people who’ll expect to drink the wine they bring for their host this party season, listen up: Debrett’s says that while it’s perfectly acceptable for a host to serve a bottle given to them by a guest, it’s also their decision to do so, and guests mustn’t feel offended either way.

Sainsbury’s and Debrett’s have created a 10-point plan to help guide anxious shoppers through the socially perilous season.

Sainsbury’s and Debrett’s Guide to Christmas Gift-Giving:

1. Saying ‘thank you’: The handwritten thank you letter may be on the decline but that doesn’t mean you can get away without a show of gratitude – if there’s no headed stationery available, then digital thanks are better than no thanks at all

2. Bringing a bottle: Don’t expect to drink a bottle you bring to a party, but do be prepared to open one you’re given

3. Social strife: Posting presents on social media is bad form, as well as unseemly gloating you could also risk outing a re-gifter

4. Re-presenting: A hamper you won’t eat all of? Unfortunately, a re-gifted paté or jar of piccalilli just won’t cut the mustard when it comes to good gift-giving etiquette – splash out and buy them their own biscuits, luxury oils or box of chocolates

5. Sweet treats: Christmas, sadly, doesn’t mean a free-for-all on confectionery for everyone. It’s polite to check with parents before unloading sweet treats on their children

6. Alcoholic alternatives: You can’t go wrong with a bottle of booze, but make sure to put some thought into the choice – with cocktails on the rise, spirits can make a fun alternative to wine or whisky, but stick to port for those traditionalists

7. Bearing gifts: Always come bearing gifts. A bottle of wine or a box of chocolates are customary but if it’s a longer stay over Christmas think about something more substantial

8. All wrapped up: You should wrap food and wine to elevate it from a practical contribution to a thoughtful gift

9. Making a match: You can have a go at matching the wine to a meal if going over for dinner, but more importantly, just make sure you bring a bottle

10. Culinary contribution: Do offer to make a culinary contribution, but stick to mince pies or biscuits – bringing your own lasagne might cause your host to take offence at the insinuation that their own food isn’t up to scratch.

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