We’re huge fans of Grant Harrold, The Royal Butler, so thought we’d share his yule rules.
As the ‘Big Day’ approaches, I have compiled my top 24 Etiquette Tips for Christmas. Some of them are old traditional tips, while others have a modern twist, but used as a combination they will hopefully help enhance your Christmas experience.
1. Christmas Social Media: Dress in something that will not haunt you later on other people’s Facebook pages or social media profiles! Your chum might be sliding down the bannisters in their underpants thinking they are riding Rudolph through a winter wonderland, but please don’t post photographs unless you have their blessing! Avoid Jingle Bells ringtones on your phone, you are not the local shopping centre.
2. The Spirit of Christmas: Show goodwill to others. Take your children to meet Santa Claus. Extend Christmas invitations to all of the family, even if it is like the gathering of the United Nations, stay strong! Allow the children to help decorate the Christmas tree, no matter how unstylish the result may be, it will be a fun experience for one and all.
Ladies and gentlemen, let’s also remember do not rearrange your host’s baubles, once they have been placed on the tree they stay there until the decorations come down.
3. Mulled Wine: Always make your own or if restricted with time then you can now buy some very good quality mulled wine, but let’s not let the children get hold of this otherwise they may resemble elves from your worst nightmares and not Santa’s little helpers. You can buy non- alcoholic mulled wine, or mull some grape or apple juice.
4. Christmas Wrapping: Gift wrapping should be an enjoyable experience! Put on some carols and take time and care in doing this, you’re not wrapping a joint of beef in the local butchers!
5. Christmas Jumper Etiquette: Let’s remember when Aunt Peggy comes around wearing ‘that’ jumper, we still tell her how lovely she is.
6. Christmas Presents: If you want to keep it safe, I recommend giving gifts of scented candles, or a potted plant. A nice bottle of wine or something fizzy never goes amiss. Remember to always show appreciation for a gift. If you don’t like it be prepared to put on an acceptance speech fit for the Academy Awards.
7. Shake, Rattle and Roll: Remember, we don’t shake presents as you may break a family heirloom. Let’s not forget that it’s better to give than to receive. No matter how much you may disagree with that view, a warm smile and a sweet thank you goes a long way. The other dilemmas with presents are when and if you should re-gift! You don’t want to give your mother-in-law that lovely scarf she gave you last Christmas which has been lurking in your cupboard ever since. Also, remember to take the price tag off the gifts, especially the 99p ones!
8. Christmas Crackers: Let’s not peek inside, or swap the crackers around. Hosts may know which cracker has the toe clippers inside, so let’s not give these to your brother or sister and keep the silver notepad for yourself! At your Christmas dinner don’t pull the crackers too early, wait until after the starter at least.
9. Christmas Day Etiquette: Never complain about a family member to others, be it the overbearing mother-in-law or the deaf grandfather who keeps chatting up the new nanny. Ensure the fireside armchairs are left free for the older generation’s post-lunch naps! It is the season for generosity, so make sure you don’t run out of wine or turkey – or party games! If your hosts watch the Queen’s speech then we all enjoy it. Or perhaps you could suggest a Christmas walk?
10. Christmas Drinks Party: Don’t become intoxicated, remember to behave with grace and decorum. No licking fingers after eating a canapé (and don’t double-dip), we always use a napkin! Keep your glass in your left hand so that you can freely shake hands for introductions. No grabbing at strangers and kissing them under the mistletoe, no matter how gorgeous they are!
11. Be Complimentary: Remember to compliment your host on their Christmas decorations, even if it is like a scene from A Nightmare Before Christmas, and thank them for inviting you.
12. Carol Singing: Don’t be rude and remember to embrace this tradition, even if your carol singers sound like the local neighbourhood cats, do cherish the moment. Have a supply of mulled wine and mince pies on offer. If you are doing the singing and knocking on people’s doors, remember that they may have small sleeping children, and some may have dogs or cats that will bark along!
13. Gifts & Thank You’s: Don’t leave your Christmas thank you letters for longer than two weeks. Write the letter with care and put feeling into it, you’re not writing your weekly shopping list.
14. The Big Day: Know when you will open presents have a timings plan for the preparation and serving of the main meal, schedule nap times, and if a family fall-out is likely, you may wish to implement an escape plan!
15. Visiting Santa: Remind your children to say please and thank you, and never ‘I want’. Remind them that if they are rude to Santa, then he may not want to visit them on the 25th!
16. Decorating The House: Consider spending a day in the great outdoors with the family gathering some holly and ivy, which can be used around picture frames and down the staircase bannister, this looks very effective for a low budget. But remember, we’re not creating The Lost Gardens of Heligan!
17. Christmas House Parties: Consider your guest list, catering options. and dress codes. If you are hosting a children’s party make sure there are a few adults to supervise. Guests, make sure you have on clean socks with no holes, just in case your host wants all shoes removed.
18. Christmas Rituals: Always remember Christmas traditions are vital for the perfect Christmas. For example, when the man in the red coat comes to visit, leave a few mince pies and glass of milk for him, or in case he’s having a bad night perhaps a glass of sherry or a dram if you live in Scotland, and let’s not forget a carrot for the reindeers. If we don’t have a fireplace then stockings should be placed on the ends of the bed.
19. Post-Christmas: During the period between Christmas and New Year, I suggest we regroup, clear up and get ready to start all over again for Hogmanay, or if you are partied out you may prefer to leave the country.
20. Be Prepared: Always have a good selection of drinks in the cupboard, especially mulled wine ingredients, something fizzy and a selection of non-alcoholic drinks ready for unexpected guests. I would also suggest you keep a supply of canapés and some mince pies in the fridge (or freezer) so you will be a fully prepared host even at short notice.
21. Present Cupboard: I recommend you accumulating a selection of gifts over the year which you can give anyone should an occasion arise that you unexpectedly require a present. Also, make sure that you always have sellotape, scissors and a selection of wrapping paper.
22. Christmas Cards: Make preparations for when to send them and to whom. Don’t send cards before the 1st December and post no later than the 21st December. Always put the correct postage stamp on!
23. Smells: Cooking smells and damp coats aren’t always the most pleasant, so keep some citrus oil and cotton wool balls handy. Just apply a few drops onto the cotton wool and place behind the radiator. This is an excellent aroma for the home at Christmas, and there are plenty of other lovely essential oils available.
24. Merry Christmas! Enjoy your day, it’s the most wonderful time of the year!
After many requests, Grant Harrold, The Royal Butler has just finished writing a new book, due out in 2018 – For pre-orders, please firstname.lastname@example.org