Mind Your Manners... A Season to Practice the Art of Etiquette

From Foothills Magazine, December 2011-
Better living | Holiday Ideas

The holidays are fraught with a minefield of etiquette challenges: who to invite to what event, how much to spend on gifts, what to do with that nasty bit of fruitcake now resting in your mouth. Some choices are not always obvious.

Thankfully, people such as etiquette authority Maura Graber of Ontario are around to help, providing valuable knowledge in the manners department. For more than two decades, Graber has taught social graces to everyone from school children to heads of major corporations. She even hosted  a dinner at her home one year for domestic diva Martha Stewart. Here, Graber offers a few helpful hints for the upcoming season.
Maura Graber transforms the "Kids’ Table" into the "No Adults Allowed Table" and makes it more welcoming to the younger set that cringes upon being placed at the "Kids' Table".  PHOTO BY THOMAS R. CORDOVA 
Holiday decorations should not go up any earlier than Thanksgiving weekend, Graber says. “Let’s celebrate one holiday at a time. It drives people nuts when they go up earlier and earlier.” And, she’d wait “at least a week into December” before getting the house all aglow on the outside.  She suggests turning any lights and sounds off by 9:00 or so every evening. “You can’t have things blaring at all hours. People need to be considerate of their neighbors.” 

On the other end, she likes to have all her decorations taken down and put away by Dec. 30, to begin the new year with a clean house. “It starts getting tacky to have the lights and everything still up well after the first of the year,” she says.
Manners maven Graber says “re-gifting” is OK, but it must be done carefully.

“Make sure you’re not re-gifting in the same circle of friends as the person who gave it to you or you’re going to find out about it,” she says. Anyone who decides to re-gift should make a point of removing any original gift-giving tags and wrapping. Re-wrap it beautifully before giving the gift.


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