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Modern Manners: The Holiday Edition

Modern Manners: The Holiday Edition

Written by The Strategy

Canadian Thanksgiving is long over, American Thanksgiving is just around the corner and our inboxes are filled with sale alerts and gift guides. The holiday season is officially upon us. And with it, a full calendar of dinners, parties and gift exchanges. To make sure your invite doesn’t get lost in the mail next year, we once again sat down with Leanne Pepper of The University of Toronto’s Faculty Club for a refresher on the do’s and don’ts of modern manners this holiday season.

Répondez s’il vous plaît!

As a host, there is nothing worse than not receiving RSVPs. Sure, there may be a ‘respond by’ suggestion on the invitation, but the sooner we know numbers, the better!

As a guest, be sure to reply in a timely manner and don’t wait until the last minute. Instead, Leanne suggests replying as soon as you get the invitation. This way, the invite doesn’t get lost on your desk or in your inbox, and your host can sleep easier the nights leading up to the event.

Hey! I hope you don’t mind that I brought a friend…

If your invitation asks for you and guest, then feel free to bring a plus one! However, if the invitation is only extended to you, but you could really use the company of your partner, wingman (or woman) or BFF, then call and ask your host when you RSVP. Make sure they give you the okay in advance so you don’t create an awkward situation in the foyer.

I’m gluten free, dairy free, and vegan.

As a host, always ask your guests in advance if they have any dietary restrictions. This way, you can prepare for a special meal or arrangements to be made for them.

As a guest, speak up and let your host know! Try to do this when you RSVP or in advance of the event.

How late is ‘fashionably late’?

If you’re attending a party at someone’s home, don’t arrive right on time or earlier than the time they invited you for. That’s when your host is typically taking care of all the little details around the house. 5-15minutes after the start time is the best time to arrive. This way, you can be the connector between guests as they arrive after you. An arrival any later than 15 minutes is not fashionable.

The guy beside me wants to talk Trump…

A traditional taboo any etiquette coach will tell you, is that you don’t talk politics or religion at the dinner table. But, in today’s political climate, it’s hard not to talk politics. So go ahead and converse! If someone is saying something that you’re not comfortable with, it’s best to say something right away. A simple, “Maybe we should change the topic” is all that needs to be said.

Thanks for the lovely evening!

Any host who has you over should receive a quick thank you (preferably in a hand-written card form), thanking them for a lovely evening and hoping to see them again soon. A handwritten thank you note for gifts you receive is also a nice acknowledgement. It lets the gift giver know that you appreiate the gift you received from them. It never hurts to show a little gratitude. It’s what your personalized Smythson stationary is for!


Leanne Pepper is the General Manager of University of Toronto’s Faculty Club, as well as a Certified Etiquette & Protocol Consultant, and Imaging Coach. To learn more about mastering etiquette, we suggest you check out Leanne’s book, From Backpack to Briefcase.

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