Holiday etiquette usually entails party hosting protocol and proper tipping amounts, but this year the biggest etiquette questions revolve around COVID. People are wondering how to graciously turn down a holiday gathering invitation or how to ask someone to wash their hands or keep their distance without being awkward. As always, DoSayGive is here to give you gracious “what to say” and “what to do” responses!
First, a word of encouragement. Our country has just about made it through a tense election (barely!) and we are almost through the roughest year of many of our lifetimes (goodbye, 2020!).
Emotions are high are all around so as we make plans for the holiday season, we want to do our best to preserve our most precious relationships with friends and family. And that means always entering into conversations with grace, understanding and humility.
When asking questions about a gathering:
It’s perfectly okay to ask questions about how many people will be attending or whether the event will be inside or outside. However, don’t ask in a pointed way. Graciously respond to an invitation, “Oh that sounds so fun and festive! Of course we would love to be with y’all, but do you mind me asking a few questions before we commit?”
When turning down an invitation for a family gathering or party:
1. Communicate clearly, graciously, and in a timely manner.
“It breaks our hearts to miss out but we are going to stay home this year.”
“We are so sad not to be able to come, but this is the best thing for our family right now.”
2. Make it about your decisions and not about their decisions so as not to sound condescending or judgmental.
“We still don’t feel comfortable gathering in larger groups so sadly we aren’t going to be able to come this year.”
Although it’s not expected you can offer context: “I know you’ll understand that our immediately family just can’t risk anyone getting sick. If our children are even just exposed they will have to quarantine for two weeks and I don’t have childcare for them.”
3. Remind them it’s because you care deeply about them.
“I have to work up until the day before Thanksgiving so we won’t be able to quarantine beforehand and I would never forgive myself if I unknowingly got you sick, Mom.”
“We love you too much to risk getting you sick.”
4. Offer an alternative.
“I am so sad we can’t be together this year but let’s definitely set a ZOOM time to all cook together or play a virtual game together. We are still going to be “together” even if we can’t be together in person!”
5. Send a gift!
A gift goes a long way to soothe hurt feelings or disappointment. Even if you can’t attend, still consider sending a hostess gift with a thoughtful note. To a party, think about sending fun drinks with Drizzly or Foxtrot.
When you are hosting and want people to follow certain safety measures:
It is considerate to phone guests ahead of time and let them know what to expect when in your home. Do you want people to wear masks until eating? Do you want people to take off their shoes? Anything that might catch people off guard you’ll want to communicate beforehand so as to avoid awkward conversations or family tension.
As the host, you have every right to make these requests. As guests, they have every right to graciously decline if they so desire.
When asking someone to keep their distance:
Use humility and even self-deprecation if needed: I am sure you think I am overly paranoid but do you mind keeping a little distance. I just would feel terrible if I was unknowingly carrying the virus!
When you attend a small gathering and realize you aren’t comfortable:
You don’t have to give a COVID reason. Just graciously give your regards and leave.
When you want someone to wear a mask at a gathering you are attending:
The host determines the atmosphere of a gathering. It’s not the place of a guest to make requests of other guests. If you are worried that a gathering might make you uncomfortable, it’s probably best to ask questions ahead of time or just decline altogether. Again, preserve those relationships for 2021 and don’t drive a wedge through them with an argument or judgment.
What other questions do you have for etiquette this holiday season? Be sure to follow @dosaygive on Instagram as each week we take questions for our Holiday Hotline and answering all your burning what to do, say and give questions!