Buenos Modales: Put Your Best Foot Forward This Holiday Season

Knowing what to do -- and what not to do -- this holiday season will keep things cheery and less stressful for everyone! Here’s what you need to know.

La Invitación
When making the invite list for your own party, it’s okay to leave off recently divorced couples. No need to be uncomfortable at Christmas. But if you still want to include them, you should call each party to let them know that their former partner is coming. The goal is to let them know they’re wanted at the gathering, but to give them the opportunity to bow out.

Comer y Beber
When it comes to eating and drinking, the policy for both guest and host is to be a “Moderate Maria.” Never enter a guest’s home empty handed. And don't over drink, even if Tia Gloria’s sangria is to die for. 

Conversely, if you see someone getting inebriated, make sure they have a designated driver and offer them some of your specialty café con leche. Never let a guest drive away drunk, even if you have to embarrass them. Better safe than sorry!

Los Regalos
In case one of your invitados shows up “plus one,” keep some extra “neutral gifts” a mano. Some neutral goodies -- such as candles, spa sets, etc. -- will make you look prepared.

And if you’re on the receiving end of getting something that doesn't fit or is just truly awful (like an ugly bedazzled sweater!)? Just grit your teeth, smile, y de las gracias. You can throw out that bad boy later!

When it comes to cell phones, leave a basket at the entrance and ask everyone to leave their devices there. Another idea is to post a sign for a “Tech-Free Zone.” There’s honestly little chance people will totally comply. But at least they'll think twice about texting at the dinner table.

Photo: Corbis Images