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Two Simple Rules for Happier Holidays

Rule #1: Honor your limitations.
Look, if you don't want to go to Ohio or have overnight guests or eat spiral ham or whatever, admit that. Doesn't mean we're always going to get our way—but we should include ourselves in the equation. As I'm fond of saying, "I'm not first on my list, but I'm on my list." Or to quote my former co-worker Tim, "I don't want to say grace over a plate of nachos." The holidays are almost here. What is it you most want to do or don't want to do?

Rule #2: Honor your loved ones' limitations.
The other day during a lighthearted discussion on Thanksgiving etiquette, someone said, "Don't bring the dogs!" Right away, I knew her point: We can't go around imposing our pets or food allergies or other personal issues on unsuspecting loved ones. We can ask—for example, most hosts will happily accommodate a dietary need—but we shouldn't presume. Presumption leads to drama.

My own feeling is, the best antidote to drama is respect—respect and communication. Respect for ourselves, respect for the other person (even those we're not naturally drawn to) and smiling insistence on respect in return.

11 Ways to Show Respect/Get Respect at the Holidays

Special thanks to Tiffany, Jeff, Pam et al. for their contributions to this list, via Facebook:

  1. RSVP in a timely fashion.
  2. Ask "What can I bring?" then follow through according to your host/hostess' wishes.
  3. Bring a small gift for the host/hostess. Something they can enjoy later—a bottle of wine or sparkling cider, for example,or a small box of chocolates.
  4. Show up when you're supposed to. Find out the expected arrival time, not just the actual dinnertime. You don't want to be wheeling into the driveway just as the biscuits are going on the table. It's disruptive. It also says you're just there for the food, which of course is not the case.
  5. If for some reason you are going to be late (say, by more than ten minutes), call. Skip the backstory and just say what time you'll be there.
  6. Stick to pleasant topics.
  7. Let one of the elders say the dinner prayer. And please, can we all just leave our phones out of reach?
  8. Go easy on the alcohol or abstain altogether. Let others do the same.
  9. Compliment the cook!
  10. Ask your host/hostess, "Will you let me help with cleanup?" They don't hear that too often. All the more reason your helping hand will be greatly appreciated.
  11. Assume all of these rules apply to you.

Want More Tips on How to Be a Good Guest?
Enjoy this helpful, humorous segment from FOX5 San Diego (featuring yours truly) on Holiday Etiquette. Happy Thanksgiving!

The best antidote to drama is respect. #UltimateReminders #Holidays

Gina DeLapa

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Gina DeLapa is America's Ultimate Reminders® Coach, a sought-after speaker, and the proud creator of the Ultimate Reminders® book series. Her wise and witty reminders ("Beware the organization whose response to a burning building is to form a committee") will make you laugh, stir your soul, and inspire your best. If you're not already getting her free Monday-Morning Pep Talk, be sure to sign up now at