Metro-East Living

How to follow good Christmas etiquette

It ain’t easy being Santa

So you think Santa Claus has it easy until Christmas Eve? Watch kids (of all ages) react as they visit with Santa at Crabtree Valley Mall in Raleigh, North Carolina - and be sure to catch the end!
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So you think Santa Claus has it easy until Christmas Eve? Watch kids (of all ages) react as they visit with Santa at Crabtree Valley Mall in Raleigh, North Carolina - and be sure to catch the end!

Q. I’ve been invited to a friend’s Christmas party and it says to “Bring Your Own Booze.” I don’t drink any kind of alcohol, but should I still take a bottle of wine?

A. No, you do not take a bottle of wine, but you do take a six pack of your favorite soft drink.

Q. If I take a bottle of Vodka to a party to which I am supposed to bring my own drink preference, can I bring the bottle back home with me if there is still some in it?

A. Two requirements: First, make this comment to the host: “I will leave this for you.”

This statement, not a question, gives the host the opportunity of saying “Thank you”, or please take it with you because I/we don’t drink Vodka.

Secondly, check the rules for how to legally transport an opened bottle of liquor in your car, and then follow those rules.

Q. Since drinking bottled water seems to be “the thing” with a lot of people, do I need to have cold bottles of water at a Christmas party my husband and I are hosting, or can I just provide a pitcher of water on the bar along with glasses and ice?

A. You are correct in that bottled water seems to be “the thing” with a lot of people. Even if you have a pitcher of water on the bar, inevitably there is going to be someone who drinks water only out of a bottle. Therefore, have both available.

Q. Our family made a decision at Thanksgiving to purchase gifts for only the small children (for Christmas) and put names in a hat for all adults for a gift exchange with a designated amount of money to be spent. My question is this: at what age do children shift into the “adult” gift exchange? I have a co-worker and their family switches them after they graduate college. I have a sibling who thinks it should be after they graduate from high school. So far we kept them in the children category because we don’t have anyone going to graduate high school until next Spring. We’re going to take a vote after Christmas dinner this year. I think after graduation from college because kids in college don’t have a lot of money even if they do have a job while going to college. Therefore, if their name is in the adult gift exchange, their parent would wind up buying the gift for them to give. Besides that, I think college kids would enjoy still getting more than one gift because they never seem to have any money. Am I in the right ballpark on this one or am I missing something?

A. I agree with your “ballpark” way of thinking; however, the overall majority response will be the deciding factor. Hopefully, there will be ample opportunity for you and others to state your opinion before the vote is taken.

Q. Our kids want to have a 50th Anniversary party for us in 2019. I think they want to have an open house at one of their homes. While we appreciate the thought, we don’t want, or need anything at all in the way of anniversary gifts. I know everyone thinks they have to bring a gift when they are invited to this kind of party, but could we just somehow ask the guests to make a donation to their favorite charity instead? Is that being too forward?

A. Although it is considered appropriate to take a gift or send a gift when receiving an invitation to a wedding, birthday or anniversary celebration, the ultimate choice of the gift is, and should be, the choice of the person giving the gift. Making a “suggestion” in some form on the invitation or inside the invitation, is actually a solicitation for a gift which is considered inappropriate.

In some cases, the invited guest knows exactly what kind of gift they want to give, but in other cases, they do not. If the latter is the case, they may appreciate a suggestion which is, in more recent years, the inclusion of a note in the invitation with suggested stores where the couple has “registered” their gift needs, referred to as a Gift Registry. The invited guest may then choose an item or items from this gift registry and the store maintains a record of the gifts which have been purchased to avoid duplications of gifts.

While this practice of a “Gift Registry” is helpful, including the information along with the invitation, does give the impression the couple is soliciting a gift which is inappropriate. It also gives the impression that the gift to be received is more important than having the presence of the invited guest at this special day in their lives. Information regarding Gift Registries should be provided to the family and they can relay that information to those who request it.

Another approach to aid the guest in deciding what gift to give, especially when invited to an anniversary celebration, is to contact a member of the family; i.e., daughter, son, daughter-in-law, and ask them if they have any ideas on possible gifts for the couple. This is the opportunity for this family member to relay the wishes of the couple to be celebrated, or perhaps their family’s collective wishes. For example, perhaps their children would like to purchase a surprise vacation trip for their parents and a donation would help make that possible. The donation would then be made ahead of time directly to the children rather than the couple being celebrated. The amount given, however, would then be known, of course, to the children. For some gift givers, this choice may make them feel uncomfortable.

Perhaps the children know their parents would appreciate a donation to a particular charity or charities rather than a personal gift. Or the children know of a popular restaurant their parents frequent to which a gift certificate would be appreciated. The caller then has more information on which to base their decision. It is critical, however, that the sender of the invitation to whatever the event may be, has a candid discussion with the gift recipients to understand their wishes.

Dianne Isbell: