The holidays are full of good tidings and joy, however, they also are a perfect opportunity to encounter a checklist of uncomfortable situations.
How we handle the awkward moments makes all the difference to Santa when he’s deciding who to visit this year.
Here are a few scenarios and some polite ways to overcome them.
So many parties and so little time.
You are invited to a party and respond “yes” to the RSVP. A week later you receive another invitation to the “holiday event of the season” and you really want to go. Can you conveniently “forget” you accepted the first invite and plead momentary ignorance if you are called out?
No, you are not holiday-bound to uphold your commitment to your first RSVP. Your host is counting on you to be a wonderful guest at their party and looking forward to seeing you on the date you confirmed. If time allows, or there is a small overlap, you might be able to juggle two parties but certainly not more. Time your arrival and departure to NOT interrupt the ongoing party or dinner. Keep in mind, a noticeable departure may offend the host of the first event so let them know in advance you will be dashing out a little early.
You arrive at the dinner table and you absolutely detest the main course – pheasant. Now what?
Unless you have a dietary restriction or religious reason not to eat the foul, you can “play” with your food and eat the side dishes. It’s always a good idea to eat a small snack before you arrive at a cocktail or dinner party so you won’t find yourself famished if there is not food you are comfortable or able to consume. It’s bad form to ask the host what he or she plans to serve unless you are interested in bringing a complimentary side dish for everyone to enjoy. This would be the courtesy you would extend if you had a severe food allergy.
You accidentally spill something on your host’s beautiful dining chair cushion. Should you attempt to clean the soiled cushion?
Yes and no. As discreetly as possible, remove the food product from the chair cushion immediately. However, don’t make a big production of it. Unless it’s a delicate fabric such as silk which you should not spot treat without guidance, get some clean water (not your lime spritzer) and gently blot the material to remove the food. Use a paper napkin to catch the scraps or crumbs. Let the host know and ask if there is anything special she would like for you to do. She will graciously get you another chair or place a towel on your chair for you to sit and enjoy the rest of your meal. The host will most likely treat the stain with soapy water after you leave.
The host’s dog has the run of the house and you are terribly allergic to dander. Should you say something?
Yes. You can politely let the host know you think her dog is wonderful, but, unfortunately, you break out into hives when you are around any type of pet. Depending on the extent of your allergy, you may have to skip dessert to go retreat to your home to take an antihistamine. First and foremost, you are responsible for your health. Your host will understand a severe allergy and will certainly want to make you as comfortable as possible during your visit. If not, under the circumstances, you can exit quickly and graciously.
For more of Diane’s etiquette tips, you may enjoy Holiday Gift Registries. Read her posts on Inc., subscribe to her articles on HuffPost, “like” The Protocol School of Texas on Facebook, and follow her on Pinterest, Instagram and Twitter. Buy her new book, Modern Etiquette for a Better Life.