The Gentleperson’s Guide to Christmas

In the hurly-burly and constantly changing world we live in, it can be difficult to know exactly how one is supposed to behave in a given situation. Fear not, dear Gentleperson, as this guide will help shine some small but illuminating light upon the tempestuous night-time waters of modern etiquette.

As the year draws to an end, you may be invited by family or friends to join them in celebrating that festival of giving and companionship, Christmastime. But how precisely should one behave at a Yuletide feast? Read on, dear Gentleperson, for some helpful and decorous advice.

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When invited into someone’s home at this Festive Season, it is always thoughtful to arrive bearing some sort of gift, no matter how small, in order to show your appreciation. While bringing wrapping paper to wrap one of your host’s own possessions and then presenting it to them has a certain spontaneity, it is perhaps better to stick with a box of chocolates or a bottle of wine.

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There are many splendid drinks made only on this occasion to mark the season. If your host is going to the trouble of concocting their own special recipe of a traditional Christmas drink, such as mulled cider or eggnog, it is customary to display a little patience and to avoid consuming the ingredients before they are combined.

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After a fine feast and many jolly toasts, you may find that all that good food and drink has had a somnolent effect and you are now becoming heavy with gentle sleep. Indeed, in many households it has become a custom to nod off while all sitting together comfortably and watching some festive television. While there is no shame in indulging in a passing nap in such situations, it is often seen as less acceptable to make your post-meal bed in more unorthodox locations, such as on the table on top of the leftover potatoes.

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In many parts of the world, the sweet sound of music and song is customary at this time of year, and carols can bring some brightness to even the most darkened streets. If you are fortunate, you may encounter groups of all ages devoting themselves to giving voice to the seasonal spirit. When receiving such carollers, try not to be overly critical of their abilities, and in no circumstances treat child carollers as if they are failures on some sort of talent program by berating their incompetence at length and with great disdain. Studies have shown this is very bad for the child’s development.

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The Christmas cracker is a source of humour and harmless japery, and all about the table can enjoy the excitement of sharing a cracker and the delightful jokes inside. The pulling of crackers and reading of Christmas cracker jokes, however, is not a cue for you to perform your own party material, and while you may argue that there are perhaps some similarities to the act of two people tugging apart a cracker to get at the joke within, demanding that your fellow Christmas revellers pull your finger for something really funny is not in the best of taste.

GentleChristmas5By following these simple pieces of advice, you too can have a Merry and Gentle Christmas, and someday your hosts might even invite you back.