While sharing a meal with family and friends can be the highlight of the holiday season, navigating the unspoken rules of these gatherings can also be stressful.
Enter Arden Clise, founder of Seattle-based Clise Etiquette and author of Spinach in Your Boss’s Teeth: Essential Etiquette for Professional Success ($15.95; Silver Fern Publishing), who offers expert advice on the do’s and don'ts of holiday gatherings.
How early should a host send out invitations?
Get invitations out at least three weeks in advance to ensure good attendance; an emailed invitation is best (texts and Facebook are discouraged). When guests reply, ask about food restrictions so there are no surprises.
Do you have tips for organizing seating?
I like to be intentional and use place cards to break up spouses since they already know each other, and alternate female and male or quiet and chattier next to each other.
How can a host keep the conversation flowing during dinner?
Ask your guests questions like “What is your favorite holiday memory?” or “What dish does your family always serve at holiday dinners?” and follow up with additional questions. Keep it light and fun so everyone can participate.
Should guests bring a gift for the host?
Bring a gift if the dinner is not a potluck. I like to bring cocktail napkins, wine charms or wine stoppers. Avoid bringing cut flowers as the host has to step away from guests to put them in water.