Your Complete Guide to Holiday Etiquette, From Re-Gifting to Tipping and More

For anyone with a packed party schedule or countless family get-togethers on the horizon, the holidays can be downright daunting, when it comes to navigating the potentially rough waters of the season. Short on gift inspo? In a post-party shame spiral? Lucky for us, Beverly Hills-based etiquette expert Lisa Gaché has taken the wheel to guide your sinking ship to safety. From gift-giving dos and don’ts to exiting gracefully while the party is still in full swing, Gaché answers all of the season’s puzzling predicaments so you can get your party on, stress-free. And that is the best gift of all.

Creeping your friends on social media is okay

“If you are stumped on a holiday gift idea, a quick search of someone’s social media feeds can provide valuable insight on their interests, style and taste,” says Gaché. A co-worker whose IG feed is full of food photos may love a gourmet vinegar, while the cousin who goes OTT in his excitement for the new  Star Wars on Facebook trailer is sure to love a Star Wars collector’s book.

Re-gifting is perfectly acceptable

Cue the Hallelujah chorus! Haul out that scented candle or that scarf that’s never seen the light of day—re-gifting is officially on the holiday gift giving menu. “Only re-gift an item if you genuinely feel it is a great gift for that individual,” says Gaché. “The item must be brand new, never used or show signs of wear-and-tear.” Also, you’ll want to re-package this prezzie in something shiny and new—you know, just to cover your tracks…

Tipping doesn’t have to break the bank

Hairdresser, dog walker, nanny—when it comes to the world of tipping it’s customary to pony up the most cash to the person (or people) that you deal with the most during the year. But don’t just think money, honey. “In some cases a gift may be better than money, and it doesn’t have to be extravagant as long as it’s thoughtful,” says Gaché. “Exquisitely packaged gourmet hot chocolate, a leather-bound journal or spa products really demonstrate your appreciation.”

Be the party guest everyone wants to invite

You’ve RSVPd to the holiday party, have your outfit ready and blow out booked. Now it’s time to think about a host or hostess prezzie since good-as-gold party guests never show up empty handed. “A bottle of wine is a no-brainer, but a host may appreciate something more personal or unique like a beautifully illustrated cookbook or a gift for their much-loved pet,” says Gaché. “If you bring flowers, arrive with them arranged in a vase or if you bring dessert have it presented on a serving piece. The items can be easily placed out and the vase or serving piece becomes a thoughtful gift left for the host.” As for last minute casual gatherings or heaving holiday fetes, gifts aren’t necessary so stash that cash for cab fare.

Arriving fashionably late isn’t fashionable anymore

Only an A-lister can get away with swanning into an event an hour late—the rest of us need to get our asses there on time. “Arrive no more than 15 minutes after start time and leave no earlier than 30 minutes before end time—you don’t want to set off a domino effect,” says Gaché. If you have to peace out early, make sure to slip out without interrupting the merriment. “It’s called the French leave and it’s perfectly acceptable,” says Gaché.

Like filing taxes, attending the annual office party is non-negotiable

We get it, you see the same faces every. single. day. But the office party is not the time to play Grinch and be a no-show. “This is one time of the year where upper management and employees mingle and you want to be seen as a team player who is jazzed about your job,” says Gaché. Enough said.

Hangovers, moral or martini, are brutal but channel your inner Gloria Gaynor and survive

Okay so you acted like a complete idiot—you got drunk, you got loud, you made out with your younger brother’s friend, whatever. Stop the shame spiral now. “Put your game face and erase all memory of bad behaviour from people’s minds by acting like nothing happened,” says Gaché. “If someone brings up your holiday party humiliation, quickly apologize and then distract and deflect attention by bringing up an entirely new subject.”

An old-school “Thank You” will always be in style

Forget the emails, the tweets, the emojis—when it comes to sending a personal message of thanks, it’s all about the slow jam. “An old school handwritten note sent via snail mail,” says Gaché. Start stocking up on stationery now.