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10 Holiday Party Dos and Don’ts

Each year, a swath of festive celebrations accompanies the holiday season; here's our advice on how to navigate attending them in style.

By: Logan RossDate: 2023-11-28

If everything manages to come together just right – and that can be a big if – then there’s nothing like a great holiday party. It can be a work event, a ‘Friendsmas,’ a traditional family get-together, a glamorous NYE jam with your significant other; whatever the occasion, this time of year presents plenty of opportunities to celebrate.

That said, with great opportunity comes great responsibility, and your reputation is simply too stylish to compromise with an unsociable faux pas. Stick to the guide below to ensure your holiday season partying goes as smoothly and enjoyably as possible.

Do: Gift Your Gracious Hosts

Unlike your average get-together, festive holiday parties tend to take quite a considerable amount of effort and organization to successfully pull off. Sky-high expectations of ‘the perfect New Year’s Eve’ are often needlessly heaved on hosts, for example, and the sheer number of balloons, baubles, and booze runs required to throw an enjoyable festive event can be daunting to any entertainer.

What can you do to return the favour considering all of your host’s hard work? Offer them something that communicates appreciation beyond a simple ‘Thank you’ or bottle of wine. You don’t need to break the bank to do better than a bouquet of flowers either – pay attention to who they are and spend on something meaningful to them.

Don’t: Wear a Clip-On Anything

So, you’ve gone the full nine yards with the tuxedo but when it finally comes down to the finishing details, you’re tempted to call it in and clip it on? No, that’s not you; you’re willing to invest the time, dexterity, and many failed attempts at tying what appears (on YouTube, at least) to be a simple knot.

The same rule applies to clip-on neckties, though if you’ve got one of those in your wardrobe, we’ve got far bigger fish to fry.

Do: Invest in a Classic Cocktail Jacket

The holiday season is perhaps only exceeded by wedding season in as far as the number of opportunities one gets to really dress up, and as far as black-tie or formal events go, a classic cocktail jacket is any man’s secret weapon.

If you're new to cocktail jackets and looking for your first, try your best to avoid trends and ephemeral flourishes that could quickly date it. Instead, take confidence in investing in high-quality, timeless design that will still look great six seasons from now as well.

Don’t: Cheap Out on Champagne

Everyone knows that champagne – not sparkling wine – is a necessity on New Year’s Eve but we have a hard time limiting one of life’s greatest pleasures to just one festive celebration. That said, we remain steadfast in our belief of quality over quantity, which means savouring over spraying once the ball drops.

Note: To some, ‘champagne’ connotes certain notions: expensive, frivolous, inaccessible; however, one brief look through a specialty wine store should be enough to prove none of these need to be true. A budget bottle of the good stuff can be had for as little as about $40, and the gulf in quality between authentic ‘Méthode champenoise’ and your run-of-the-mill $30 prosecco is noticeable no matter how attuned your palate is.

Do: Abide by the 15-Minute Rule

It’s true, nobody likes being the first one to show up to a party. In fact, even being among the first four or five guests to arrive is often considered undesirable. By default, however, someone must take the title of ‘first to arrive’ or else there would be no party whatsoever, and an entire guest list opting to attend ‘fashionably late’ is obnoxious and inconsiderate to your host.

We like to abide by the 15-minute rule. Do your best to never show up to a party any sooner than 15 minutes before the requested arrival time nor any later than 15 minutes afterward. That’s a half-hour window of opportunity to come up with the most fashionable entrance you’ve ever made that doesn’t include an obviously improvised, perfunctory excuse about your commute.

Don’t: Downplay the Dress Code

Parties during the festive season typically err more toward the formal side of things as far as dress codes go. At the office or with family you’ll want to dress on the tidier side of smart, and even holiday get-togethers with friends can have expectations of “formal” or “smart casual” clothing.

When in doubt, always eschew jeans and tees for button-ups or fine knits and tailored trousers. If the occasion calls for it, we never need a second invitation to take it one step further by adding a sports jacket or suit, and any reason to wear a tuxedo or cocktail jacket should be considered a blessing.

Do: Ask About Your +1

If it’s not written on the invitation or specified beforehand, never assume it’s cool to bring a guest with you to a party without asking first, especially if it’s a work event. This is considered general good manners but of course extends to the holiday season as well.

Got a new partner this holiday season? This is especially important – don't assume everyone’s merry about welcoming your surprise guest. Not every table has room for one more, and it’s always worth saving the embarrassment of many by simply clarifying first.

Don’t: Stay Too Late

New Year’s Eve parties are (obviously) intended to run past midnight. In fact, most parties go on a little longer after that. Considering the wholesome nature of the holiday season, however, it’s just not kosher to treat a holiday party like an after party.

Our advice is to approach holiday parties with pure intentions and good manners, which means clearing out of your host’s home at a reasonable hour.

This rule really applies to any party at any time of year, though it’s doubly important during the festive season when plenty of good rest is crucial to maintaining high spirits and coping with packed schedules. Do your hosts a solid and say sayonara before they start yawning.

Do: Wear a Coat

We get it – it’s the first run-out for your brand-new tuxedo and you want the world to know about it. However, it’s winter out and it’s no time to sacrifice warmth for style. No black-tie ensemble is stellar enough to warrant skipping out on a coat, at least until you’re inside.

If the forecast calls for a parka, then so be it. You should always be prepared to wait a few minutes outside for an Uber to arrive or, better yet, offer your big cozy coat to a shivering date.

Don’t: Forget the Follow-Up

Always return a kind message of genuine thanks to your hosts or event organizers for welcoming you – even if they’re just your in-laws. People want to know the party they’ve thrown was well received and deserve to know if their guests actually enjoyed all their efforts.

A brief email or text message is great, though if the occasion was particularly special, then have some flowers or a card delivered the next day. A touch of class and generosity around the holidays never goes out of style.