Friday, December 19, 2008

Give the Gift of Good Manners

/PRNewswire/ -- The holidays this year are all about getting back to basics: Appreciating quality time with friends and family, enjoying home-cooked holiday meals, and pampering ourselves in small ways when the going gets tough.

With the extra stress of the economy affecting just about everyone, etiquette guru Peggy Post of the Emily Post Institute suggests we add one more "basic" to our holiday to-do lists: Treat those around you with courtesy and respect-from your closest friends and relatives to the check-out clerk at the grocery store.

"Many of us can be a little on edge during the holidays, and this is going to be especially true this year," says Post. "Giving the gift of respect has a lasting and positive effect on both the giver and the receiver, and that's something that can't be underestimated at a time of year when we can all use a little extra courtesy."

Whether you are visiting someone else's home or inviting others into yours, remember the following holiday etiquette tips in the coming weeks:

For hosts:

-- Decorate-even in the bathroom! A recent study by the maker of Quilted Northern Bath Tissue found that most of us love to decorate our homes for the holidays-including 40% of us who deck out the bathroom!(1) "Decorative towels or scented candles can add the holiday spirit to the occasion, even in the bathroom. And don't forget the quality premium bath tissue, which communicates that you care about the comfort of your guests."

-- Extend the invitation at least a month in advance, longer for those who might be traveling. "If you're inviting out-of-town guests, set a beginning and an end for the visit. Three days is usually the optimum."

-- If a guest asks to bring along a friend, try to make it work. "The more the merrier! Extend the invitation to as many as can you can fit around the table or in your home."

-- Assign tasks, including greeters, hors d'ouevres passers, 'bar tenders', 'circulators and introducers,' servers. "Even though most guests may be family members, give them the red carpet treatment!"

-- Turn off the TV during the meal or party. Focus your attention where it belongs -- on the lovingly prepared food, your family and your friends. "When the dishes are done, everyone can enjoy the games or holiday specials on television(or the chat in the other room!)"

For guests:

-- Let your host know right away if you can come or not. "Don't wait until the day before to RSVP, and avoid showing up with uninvited guests. There is usually room for one more at the table, but discuss it with your host ahead of time."

-- Offer to contribute to the meal, especially in these economic times. Your best bet is to make your offer open-ended and follow your host's direction. "If you or someone in your party has special dietary needs, it is very gracious to offer to bring a dish that meets those needs."

-- All hosts love a surprise gift-including your mother and aunts. "It can be as simple as a bottle of wine or a scented candle; just don't show up empty handed."

-- Family or non-family, this is one day where it is a great idea to pitch in, even if it's just loading the dishwasher or packing up the leftovers. "If you make the offer to help and the host firmly declines, back off -- some people really don't want guests in their kitchen."

-- Say thank you. "A phone call or, better yet, a hand-written note of thanks to your hosts shows your appreciation for all their hard work."

For a chance to win a little plush for your friends and family, visit .

(1) "Why Women Need Push" study conducted on behalf of Georgia-Pacific, maker of Quilted Northern

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