Holiday Gathering Survival Guide


A Holiday gathering can be a joyful and momentous occasion if done right. Family, friends, and other loved ones gather for food, drink, gifts and merriment over an elaborate spread and meticulous decorations. But some holiday gatherings can leave us scratching our heads and full of regret that we didn’t just stay home in our pajamas streaming Netflix and drinking boxed wine. Here are some holiday dos and don’ts to ensure your gathering doesn’t make you a social pariah, a laughing stock, or have people side-eyeing you for years to come…
If you plan on exchanging gifts, do pay attention to your loved one’s preferences and the things they indulge in, talk about and seem to enjoy the most, and gift accordingly.

Don’t, however, buy them a gift you would like or re-gift them the Secret Santa present you got at work and don’t want. That’s just tacky and thoughtless. Plus, if you don’t want a White Diamonds perfume giftset from Walgreens, what makes you think your sports-loving cousin, Dre, wants it?

Whether you’re hosting a large group of folks, or just planning an intimate gathering, do plan ahead and put some thought into your menu and set-up. Don’t wait until the last minute and send your significant other to Popeyes for a last-minute 16-piece Bonafide Meal and appeal to your neighbors to let you borrow their plastic lawn chairs for a few hours.

If you’ve been invited to someone’s house and you plan on pitching in or bringing something, do ask the host/hostess for suggestions or what they’ll think they will need and keep in mind that some folks may have allergies or special dietary needs. Keep your contribution classic and recognizable. Don’t assume that because you love it, everyone else will appreciate it. Just because you’ve tried, and enjoy, that tuna and Jell-O pie, or think your lobster mac-n-cheese is off the chain, doesn’t mean others will. Also, do leave the preparation of main dishes to the host/hostess unless they’ve specified the gathering is a potluck or request something specifically from you.

Don’t show up empty-handed or with Tupperware in tow. Preparing to horde food to take home is just tacky and gross. If you aren’t keen on making/preparing a light food item, the surest bet is always a neutral beverage, or a delicious dessert or pastries from your favorite bakery. So, do bring a good bottle of wine that’s not Moscato or Wild Vines— (Ask wine shop employees for suggestions. That’s what they’re there for.) and place a special order at the bakery.
Don’t come drunk or under the influence of any other substances. That should go without saying. Nobody wants your drama, sloppy behavior, and unresolved issues at their gathering. Stay home.

Do bring good cheer.

Ever brought a large dish of potato salad or macaroni and cheese to prior holiday events and ended up bringing it back home, untouched? Save yourself the trouble and do leave those items at home. No one likes it. It ain’t as good as you think it is.

If your significant other hasn’t met your family yet, and the holiday gathering is where they plan on making their debut, do debrief them so they know what to expect and how to interact accordingly. Especially if you’re in a cross-cultural or interracial relationship.

Do leave the judgment, proselytizing, and overall critical and hateful behavior at the door. People are gathering for fun, to ring in the holidays, and to celebrate one another. Your oppressive belief system and fervent religious clucking need not apply. Stay HOME if being around your gay cousin and their partner or your aunt’s new white husband irks you so much. You’re annoying.

Are you a Trump supporter? Good for you… Do also stay home. Don’t nobody want to hear all of that. Make your nasty attitude great again and grow up.

If the host/hostess has made it abundantly clear that it will be just a small, intimate gathering of close friends and/or family, please don’t drag the person you just met at the club or at the gas station along, creating an awkward situation.

Do watch your shady cousin around your valuables.

As the host/hostess, it’s your responsibility to create a safe and welcoming space. Do leave troublemakers and characters of ill-repute off your invite list, and don’t be messy.

Last, and more importantly, do have fun and enjoy one another’s company. Be creative and a gracious host/hostess, but don’t overextend yourself… Keep it light and casual and don’t forget to enjoy the fruits of your labor.