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It’s OK to love your nephew’s girlfriend more than your sons’ wives, just don’t let the others in on the secret.
When the girlfriend mentions how she helped her mom clean house, finish up the holiday shopping, and cook the big meal, don’t remark in front of everyone, “Oh I wish I could call you my daughter. I can’t believe what I got stuck with.” A great way to burn bridges.
Whether your child is bringing their new boyfriend or girlfriend home for the first time, or there is an unexpected drop-in guest on Christmas day, sometimes there will be an extra body around watching everyone open presents.
It happens all too often — the family cat hops up on the coffee table, lured by the intoxicating aroma of smoked salmon and caviar. The dog, catching the scent of chocolate wafting off the yule log sitting on the sideboard table, jumps up with two paws and devours half of the dessert just as guests are arriving.
Just because you’re first in the buffet line doesn’t mean you get to dig into large portions of all your favorites without regard for anyone else.
Dining with kids or elderly guests? Help fix a plate for grandparents, and let parents make plates for the kids and get them settled before the adults serve themselves. And don’t even think about going back for seconds before everyone else has gotten firsts.
Be careful of who you seat at the kids table and who gets to sit at the adult table. Don’t stick the two oldest cousins who are over 23 with the adults, and then the 19-year-old with the rest of the cousins who are 14 and under.
And don’t ever mix one preteen with the nine-and-unders — unless you want a sulky guest putting a damper on the night.
OK, it’s probably wise to have one drink before you pile potatoes into a pan of hot oil, just to loosen you up a bit.
But holding a glass of whiskey on the rocks in one hand while tending the hot oil in the other? Not recommended. Liquor, fat, and open flames don’t mix well.
In most families, there is a designated carver. While it’s often the host or the person who cooked the dinner, sometimes it’s a senior family member.
Should a conflict arise when the roasted dinner comes out of the oven, be the bigger person and cede responsibility to the person who is most capable of carving. But while Uncle Joe might have wielded the electric carving knife for the past couple of years, it’s not wise to have him carve if he’s already had too much to drink come dinner time.
There is a reason you ask for things to be passed to you when sitting around the dinner table. Don’t go reaching for that salt and pepper across the table or you might wake up the next day with a bit more than a hangover — a burned shirt or singed hair.
Whether your oven thermometer is to blame or not, no one wants to serve raw meet to their family on Christmas.
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This is where a knife and a broiler or microwave come in handy. Slice ‘er up thin, place the meat on a platter, and zap or broil it until just cooked. Santa just might give you a gold star for saving the day.
Sure, throwing a big New Year’s party with fabulous music and free-flowing champagne is expensive, but promising a band and booze and then asking guests to bring platters of food, skimping on the live music in exchange for an iPod, and charging guests for their share of booze is just plain wrong.
Just because you’re single and have no date for New Year’s doesn’t mean the neighbor's holiday open house is the place to linger under the sprig of green all evening long to solve your holiday date dilemma. If anything, you just look desperate.
Be social and don’t try too hard! If you’re friendly and play your cards right, you could end up under the mistletoe after all.
Along with holiday meals comes family tension, stress, and a difference of opinion.
Don’t be the person who ruined the meal by arguing over every little disagreement. And don’t awaken the sleeping giant by pushing your cousin’s buttons — you don’t want to be an instigator, either.
Just because you love that age-old, booze-filled holiday treat doesn’t mean everyone else does, too. Why not something more universally appealing, like hot cocoa mix? If you're going to gift fruitcake, don’t ever buy fruitcake from the store, dress it up to look like it’s homemade, and then say you made it.
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Do we really need to explain why? (That's why it never hurts to have a blanket, better yet a sleeping bag, casually stashed in the trunk.)