Creative Courtesy: Everyday Manners with a Modern Twist

Creative Courtesy: Everyday Manners with a Modern Twist

Setting Boundaries for the Holidays

By Marianne Reid Anderson

The holiday season may be the most marvelous time of the year, but it can also be the most busy, hectic and demanding. Usually, if we have ‘free” time during the holidays, it is time designated for getting ready, shopping, baking, wrapping, decorating or perhaps that most coveted evening of “down-time.”

Sometimes it’s great to get that spontaneous, last-minute invitation to a social activity and to go out with friends. But sometimes pressure to be involved and attend can be too much and at a sacrifice of other plans on our schedules, plans designed to keep us less stressed during the holidays.

One reader shared with us her favorite sayings to last minute invitations: “If I can be there, I certainly will be.” Or “Wow, that sounds like a lot of fun, please remember me for next time.” In both cases, these phrases set the boundaries while being pleasant. Remember, everyone is busy and already over-committed during this time of year. These sayings indicate that if time and schedules were not an issue, you can be everywhere doing everything but since there are only so many hours in a day, sometimes you just have to say no as politely as possible.

However, be careful of sending the wrong message. If you take out your cell phone to check your calendar, you may be giving the impression of consent to attending if your calendar is free. Let people know you will need to get back to them when you are sure your schedule is up-to-date before committing to an event and before bringing out the cell phone.

Wishing you the happiest of holidays. What are your thoughts on setting boundaries during the holiday season? Email us at


Cell Phones and the Holidays

By Marianne Anderson

Every time I throw a dinner party, I surprise myself with how much I am on my cell phone just before the time of the event, giving directions, looking up recipes, consulting check lists, etc.

Once most of the guests arrive and the party gets started, I eventually get ahead of all the last-minute texts and calls and then set down my phone–only to notice that my guests are still on their phones.

So, it prompts the question: How do you discourage guests from accessing their phones without being rude or appearing as the phone enforcer?

I try to have a musically-inclined friend showcase their talents, play a party game or use some “conversation starters” to distract guests from their phones. Conversation starters are perfect for smaller gatherings where everyone is sitting around the table. In this instance, you can take turns listening to each other’s answers to such questions as:

  • What are you most grateful for?
  • What New Year’s resolutions are you considering?
  • What was the best vacation you ever took?

You’ll be amazed at how quickly the phones get set down.

I am blessed to have many “tweens” and teenagers at my parties. There is no way to unhook them from their phones. So instead, the rules are no headphones, and I declare them to be my official “ones-who-look-things-up” (such as movie titles, actor names and other trivia). The tween or teen who is most engaged in helping to look things up is declared the winner and is exempt from helping to cleanup.

I believe these little tips of modern common courtesy can help you to connect personally instead of digitally and make the holidays more enjoyable.

What are your thoughts on cell phone etiquette? Email us at