Be a welcome guest this Christmas…A personal note from Helen.

Festive Seasons are usually marked with back and forth invitations to/from your Relatives’ and Friends’ homes. As a guest, it is important for you and your Children to behave in certain ways, else you may not be invited again. In short, you need to mind your manners…

Some simple rules to being a welcome guest…

 If you have been invited, you need to acknowledge the invitation and state whether you will be coming. Please do not take along more people than have been invited – and if you must, do ask permission first.

 If you decide to visit someone uninvited, do tell them you are coming. Do not show up at someone’s door ‘in the spirit of Christmas’ without first telling them. Do not also tell them when you are already on your way. A two to three day minimum notice is just fine.

 So now you are headed to your Host’s place…Hmmmm… Please go with a gift clutched very tightly to your bosom. It is a season of give and take after all. Nothing major, but it should be thoughtful. In these parts, examples of thoughtful gifts to arrive with are a Hamper if you can afford it, a bottle of wine (non-alcoholic is preferable unless you know your friend or relative to be someone who’s not embarrassed to show they drink), a full cake or a dozen cupcakes, a bottle of good quality (Wesson) frying oil, already made Chinchin, a little bag of rice, a baaing live goat if you fancy the dramatic, bottled water, ‘soft’ drinks, nicely fried meat (in our suspicious society where most people usually suspect the other is out to get them, or stunt their destiny – whatever that means, please only give already prepared food to those with whom you enjoy a mutually trusting relationship). Of course, I cannot emphasize enough that your gift must be well wrapped/packaged. Remember, your gift is a reflection of you! So, no stale food, no gift which expiry date reads a shelf life of only two weeks remaining, no indigenous broth unless you know the person to like it also, etc. Being thoughtful is key.

 At your Host’s place, do conduct yourself in a responsible manner. You are also responsible for how your children behave. So, do have a little meeting with your precious little ones before you leave home. What will you be telling them? Greet your Hosts audibly with your best smile, respect the traditions of the home you are visiting, say yes, please and no, thank you with a smile and eye contact, do not refuse food but do not ask for it either, do not over indulge – ask for second helpings only if the Host invites you to, do not rummage through the tray looking for the biggest piece of chicken or cake, eat properly, do not pick fights with the Host’s children, etc. The Parents duties? Always keep an eye on what your children are doing, do not discipline, hit, spank, yell at, or abuse your child in Public – have that meeting before you leave home: it helps!

 You and your Children should not roam the Home. If everyone is in the living room downstairs, you should be also. Do not sit in a corner brooding or frowning.

 Do not come to the party with the aim of sharing your personal problems with the other guests or your Host. That is selfish, as you will ruin everyone’s happiness too.

 Offer to help clean and wash up, and let your Host say no.

 Use the toilets in the home with respect. Flush and clean up after yourself and remember to wash your hands.

 Do not overstay your welcome. If your Children get bored and start acting out in ways we know Children do, then it’s time to take your leave. Something really important I also need to share is this – remember there is Life after Christmas. School bills to pay, etc. Keep money aside for those first, before splurging for Christmas. Remember those who do not have a lot of money. They are the only category of people you should give Cash gifts to – Cash should be in a Christmas card or envelope where possible.

From Manners and Grace to you, I say with love, Merry Christmas!