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The holiday season brings with it the packed social calendars of endless festivities. And whether it’s a dinner, holiday party or casual cocktail hour, it’s helpful to have a basic sense of proper social etiquette. In fact, Etiquette School of Oklahoma founder Jana Christian says those who practice good etiquette in their social interactions set themselves apart from those who are more cavalier with their RSVPs and arrival times.

“Contrary to what some people may think, etiquette is not a posh set of rules reserved for country clubs and special occasions,” Christian says. “Etiquette is an essential skillset based on respect.”

Although perfection is unrealistic to expect from any potential guest, it’s polite to follow a few simple rules when it comes to an invitation. First, Christian says to RSVP if the entertainer requests it.

“It is simply good manners to reply and let the host or hostess know if you will be attending,” she says. “It is usually best to reply as soon as the invitation has been received or as soon as possible.”

Second, make sure to dress appropriately for the event. If the dress code isn’t clear, ask the host. Christian adds, if it’s a work event, it’s important to stick to professional attire.

Third, arrive on time. Guests should arrive within a few minutes of the designated arrival time or not long after. “While we’ve been taught to arrive early to job interviews, weddings and other events, arriving early at a person’s home may be more disruptive than beneficial,” she states.

Lastly, mind your manners. When attending social events, guests should refrain from snooping, should keep conversations appropriate and inclusive, and should always thank the host/hostess.

Although these basic rules apply across the board with any social event, there is a big difference between, say, a work party and a friend’s birthday celebration. Christian says not to mistake the meaning of the word “party” when it comes to an office event. Just because it’s a celebration doesn’t mean we can overindulge at the open bar or take part in the latest office gossip.

As it stands, proper social skills and basic table manners are not a requirement, but Christian emphasizes how crucial is it to be considerate of others and their time.

“Today, more than ever before, etiquette should be continually practiced,” Christian says. “There are still many individuals who use good etiquette, and those are the ones who stand out in a positive manner.”

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