The unwritten rules of the Christmas party

Enjoying a Christmas party is simple if you understand a few unwritten rules. So let's shed a little light on them.

If you're invited to someone's home for Christmas, the first rule is to let go of your own traditions. You might prefer to open gifts before rather than after lunch but your role is to follow your host's lead. Suggesting otherwise could be taken as a criticism.

Contribute. Of course you will bring gifts but liaise with your host in advance and offer to bring chocolate, wine or cheeses. They will certainly be welcome. And lastly, bring your best festive self: join in, help out and add to the spirit of the occasion.

When it comes to the office party the key word is 'office'! Have fun but strike a balance. Again, bring your best festive self – after all this is an opportunity to impress bosses with your social skills. But keep clothing appropriate and drinking to a sensible limit.

Whether it's an office party or a family lunch, one rule always applies: saying thank you. Hand written notes are becoming increasingly rare but they are always appreciated and they will make you stand out for all the right reasons.

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Adult etiquette