Julie Lamberg-Burnet (pictured)
An etiquette expert has revealed how to make your Christmas classier than ever – and how to do away with ‘basic’ behaviour that will only dampen the spirit of the day.
Founder of the Sydney School of Protocol Julie Lamberg-Burnet insists that December 25, 2021 deserves to be one for the ages after Covid disrupted our travel plans, work life and celebrations for almost two years.
‘At times of uncertainty it is nice to bring both traditional and natural elements into the decorations, festive food and gift giving,’ she said.
If you’re looking for a way to say ‘this is a sophisticated household’ look no further than how you decorate both the inside and outside of your home for Christmas.
You can achieve a classy look by keeping things simple, subtle and using natural materials – such as having one featured signature item such as a Christmas tree in the family dining room.
Decorative elements should be coordinated, perhaps with a splash of gold or with traditionally bright colours that integrate native plants and berries.
Avoid laser shows unless your street in particular is chosen to showcase the Christmas spirit
Decorative elements should be coordinated, perhaps with a splash of gold or with traditionally bright colourways, that integrate gum branches, natural and native plants and berries
Ms Lamberg-Burnet said: ‘Real pine trees add a subtle aroma of Christmas or alternatively choose a good quality replica that can be stored and reused.’
Avoid laser shows unless your street in particular loves to showcase the Christmas spirit, reindeer heads and wreaths on your car, and going overboard on tinsel and baubles.
Ms Lamberg-Burnet also believes it’s bad luck to leave decorations up past the ‘twelfth night of Christmas’ or January 6.
* One feature signature item such as a large Christmas tree
* Keeping decorative elements subtle and coordinated e.g. opt for metallic gold or traditional bright colourways, such as red
* Real pine trees add a subtle aroma of Christmas or alternatively choose a good quality replica that can be stored and reused
* Laser shows unless your street is selected to showcase Christmas spirit
* Car decorations-reindeer heads and wreaths
* Tinsel and baubles ‘overload’ scattered over everything
* Leaving decorations up past the Twelfth Night of Christmas which is reputedly bad luck
When giving gifts, focus on appreciation and gratitude to help create a more friendly and caring atmosphere, Ms Lamberg-Burnet suggested.
A thoughtful gift is a relevant gift; one that reflects the recipients’ passions, loves, hobbies, and life.
‘Homemade food items such as baked goods, chocolates, fresh or dried fruits wrapped with colourful ribbon, handcrafted pieces, potted plants rather than a bouquet of flowers last longer and are easier for the host to position,’ she said.
It’s ‘classy’ to remember a gift a family member has requested or expressed a desire to have, while purchasing a thoughtful gift certificate or voucher for a unique experience goes a long way.
‘Homemade food items such as baked goods, chocolates, fresh or dried fruits wrapped with colourful ribbon, handcrafted pieces, potted plants rather than a bouquet of flowers last longer and are easier for the host to position,’ she said
‘As a guest always bring along gifts for the host and their family… they do not need to be expensive but thoughtful,’ Ms Lamberg-Burnet said.
Unfortunately family members can get it wrong and end up purchasing a number of not so classy presents in the way of self-help books, souvenirs and ‘cheap’ looking items of clothing.
‘T-shirts with crude messaging on them, toiletry items, gift certificates with very little relevance and in-joke gifts are also not recommended,’ she said.
Guests at a Christmas party should also send a note of thanks no later than 48 hours after the event and bring a small gift to the home.
GIFT GIVING DOS
* Homemade food items such as baking, chocolates, fresh or dried fruits wrapped with colourful ribbon, handcrafted pieces, potted plants rather than a bouquet of flowers last longer and easier for the host to position
* Recalling a gift a family member has requested or expressed a desire to have and you have remembered
* A thoughtful gift certificate/voucher for a unique experience suited to the recipient
* As a guest always bringing along gifts for the host and their family – they do not need to be expensive but thoughtful
GIFT GIVING DON’TS
* Self-help gifts which may be inappropriate
* Anything that looks cheap, like a poorly made piece of clothing
* T-shirts with crude messages on them
* Personal hygiene items
* In-joke gifts
* Over eagerness to rip open gift parcels while overlooking or failing to thank the giver
* Irrelevant gift certificates
* Not thanking the host 48 hours later
FOOD AND DRINKS
When you’ve been put in charge of a Christmas feast it’s best to keep things simple and flavoursome by preparing your menu with care.
Purchase produce from local food suppliers – especially after the Covid pandemic decimated small businesses – or try a finish-at-home meal prepared by a restaurant.
‘Serve food items on either dishes, platters or baskets, offer an array of tastes on individual small plates, offer plenty of glasses for celebratory cocktails, champagne, beer, wine and soft drinks,’ Ms Lamberg-Burnet said.
Serving takeaways from food chains, for example, an overcooked rotisserie chicken/turkey with a pre-prepared roasted vegetables and soggy coleslaw is not Christmas friendly
Use linen napkins, glass and chinaware for indoor entertaining and non-scented candles on the table.
‘Give your guests and family a surprise and leave a small gift with their table setting, be mindful of dietary and cultural requirements and be prepared with back up supplies of food items and gifts for unexpected guests,’ she said.
Unfortunately it’s not so classy to serve a selection of chips and dips because it attracts double dipping, while bringing takeaway to the table and creating large buffet style spreads is also considered unsophisticated.
Plastic glasses and cutlery are a firm no, as is dressing in casual clothes when the rest of your family have put in effort for the dress code.
FOOD & DRINKS DON’TS
* Serving a selection of ‘dips & chips’ which attracts double dipping – not ideal for maintaining safe food handling
* Serving takeaways from food chains, for example, an overcooked rotisserie chicken/turkey with a pre-prepared roasted vegetables and soggy coleslaw
* Creating large buffet style spreads – there is a greater chance of spreading everything we have worked to fight against over the past two years
* Plastic glasses and cutlery, paper serviettes indoors – for outdoor use only
* Offering drinks without glasses – do not expect everyone wants to drink directly from a bottle of beer, water or Champagne
* Over indulging in the food and drink embarrassing yourself and other family, friends and guests
* Regifting thoughtlessly with shabby items and not declaring it is a regift
* Overlooking to present the home bathrooms in a presentable manner for guests to use
* Expecting to sit alongside your family and guests at an indoor table with they have gone to the trouble to dress for the occasion when you are in a singlet and thongs
* Sharing endless pictures on social media without others approval – keep it discreet and only post if relevant to your personal social media audience
FOOD & DRINKS DO’S
* A simple, flavoursome menu prepared with care
* Purchasing food items from your local food suppliers – support local and extend that to Australian wineries & food producers who will welcome your online orders
* A finish-at-home meal prepared by a local restaurant and beautifully presented is an option for busy families
* Serve food items on either dishes/platters or baskets
* Offer an array of tastes as individual small plates
* Always decant food items into dishes, plates, boxed wine into carafes
* Offer plenty of glasses for celebratory cocktails, champagne, beer, wine and soft drinks to avoid people sharing drinks
* Use linen napkins, glass and chinaware for indoor entertaining
* Use non-scented candles on the table to avoid the aroma overtaking the meal, placing your perfumed candles around the home including the bathroom
* A individual side dish of nuts on the table can add to the informality
* Give your guests and family a surprise and leave a small momentum gift with their table setting
* Being mindful of dietary and cultural requirements
* Be prepared with back up supplies of food items and gifts for unexpected guests
For those who cannot join the Christmas celebrations with family and friends on the day, Ms Lamberg-Burnet suggests connecting via Zoom and creating some fun and virtual dining experiences.
‘Consider neighbours and friends who may be staying at home alone. Make a phone call, leave something at the door, both of which will be thoroughly appreciated and may make a difference to their day, she said.
‘If guests and family cancel at the eleventh hour, for example they have been asked either to self-isolate or are not comfortable about a social gathering, be gracious despite the inevitable disappointment. Send your regards and best wishes.’
Source: Daily Mail UK