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Sunday, November 09, 2008

The Four P’s to Perfect Holiday Etiquette

By Guest Blogger: Grace Oforiokuma, Director, Style & Grace

When most of us think of the holidays, we generally think of festivities, indulgent eating, the giving of gifts, warm wishes and time spent with family and friends. Whatever the ‘holidays’ mean to you, for the majority of us they are a time to relax and have fun. However, in all the merriment it is easy to let our guard down and our manners along with it!

When it comes to good holiday manners I it's wise to observe the four P's:
  • People
  • Places
  • Politeness
  • Presents
Where people are concerned always remember cultural and religious differences. Not everyone celebrates Christmas and Thanksgiving. Appreciate and show consideration for other consecrated, religious and commemorative days, in addition to those you recognize. In accordance, it would be inappropriate to give a cooked ham as a gift on a Jewish or Moslem holiday!

The place or location of holiday festivities should be respected. If you are invited into someone’s home to share the celebrations try not to drop your food on the carpet, spill your drink or stub out cigarettes in the potted plants.

Politeness is critical to harmonious interactions during the holiday periods. Holiday gatherings in close quarters can sometimes lead to tension and arguments between family members. Keeping your cool will allow you to respond to even the most irritating relative (we all have one!) with respect, thereby diffusing a potential holiday blow up.

Politeness also bears relation to the manner in which you conduct yourself, for example eating most of the expensive Belgian chocolates all by yourself, or bringing up the contents of your stomach on the front lawn (due to excessive alcohol consumption) is not just impolite, it is plain rude!

Holidays often call for the giving of presents. Try to buy appropriate gifts for each person, especially where cultural or religious differences exist. Take your time to choose something that each person would actually use or like to have. Don’t buy gifts that are more suited to you than to the receiver. A thoughtful gift, even though inexpensive, will be more appreciated than the most expensive thoughtless gift.

A fifth ‘P’ must be added to include pleasure. While bearing in mind the points above, it is absolutely essential to have an enjoyable and pleasurable time during the holidays. Let your hair down, but not your manners!

Grace Oforiokuma is the director of Style & Grace, a leading etiquette and protocol services company based in West Africa, dedicated to the global empowerment of corporations and individuals through personal development. Grace has many years of international work experience, assimilating social and business etiquette and protocols in diverse countries including the USA, Chile, the UK and Nigeria.

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