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Newport Manners & Etiquette: Holiday Office Party Rules, Holiday Tipping, Mistletoe Kiss & Gifts

Wednesday, December 13, 2017


Holiday office party etiquette is modernizing, so be in the know before kissing under the mistletoe. Holiday tipping is always appreciated, and how to make gift giving easier were questions to Didi Lorillard at NewportManners this week. 

Holiday Office Party Rules and Protocol for Professionals

Q. With the winner of the Time person of the year the collective of women who have spoken out and are still speaking out about sexual assault and harassment, I feel a certain chill has come over Christmastime merrymaking. Meanwhile predators are speaking up in denial sending a huge mixed message that some can get away with it while others cannot. What should we know when attending a Christmas office party?  AD, Hoboken, NJ 

A. Keep in mind the fact that the office holiday party is not the last time you will be seeing everyone in the office -- bright and early the following morning.

To play the game of office politics, you have to know the rules. To win respect you have to remember the protocol.

You must

  • dress appropriately, meaning dress festively.
  • remember that the holiday party is ruled by the good manners of the office.
  • have good hygiene, you're not off the grid.
  • turn off your cellphone.
  • keep track of your alcohol intake.
  • behave in a professional manner at all times.
  • keep the vibes convivial, it is not the time for petty grievances, revenge, gossip or political debate.
  • never bring a plus-one, SO, or spouse unless the invitation specifies that you can bring a guest. Guests don't bring guests -- and remember even at an office party, you are a guest.
  • be sure to wear your name tag on the right side, because it will be more visible.
  • try to keep your glass in your left hand to allow your freed right hand to shake hands.
  • remember that people will be watching and taking notes, which is why you keep your hands to yourself.
  • before departing, thank your host.
  • remember that you never want to be the last person standing.
  • report any sexual assault to #MeToo or #BalanceTonPorc.


You must never

  • miss the office party or arrive too late -- even if you have to pay a babysitter extra or miss finishing a report.
  • grope, grab, slap on the back, kiss or hug, without saying, for instance, "Can I give you a hug?"
  • talk and eat at the same time because food can go shooting out of your mouth.
  • drink too much.
  • discuss work matters, unless your boss asks you a direct question.
  • make a fool of yourself.
  • take a call, but you can look for messages and go outside the party to text or return the call.
  • forget to thank the host.


A recent survey of 150 human resources representatives found that the number of office parties will be the same this year, however, only 47.8 percent of employers will be offering alcohol -- down from 62% in 2016.

  • Holiday gatherings are taking a low-keyed turn toward focusing on team building such as volunteering to work on community projects. Others are limiting the amount of alcohol by providing no more than two tickets for alcohol cocktails.


Tips on Holiday Tipping

Q. I find the whole idea of tipping at Christmas confusing and bad ass difficult to figure out. There are people who support my life that I really need to tip because if they didn't like me, I would have to find someone else to do what they do so well. But there are those that you're stuck having to tip. Who do I tip and how much?  HG, Miami, FL

A. It sounds as though you may have several categories where you tip individuals during the holidays. Remember that a tip is never necessary or required. Although some apartment buildings send residents a list of the building's employees, which you may want to acknowledge with the suggested tip, if you want continued good service throughout the year.

Weekly Worker

Housecleaners and housekeepers are the best compensated because they not only know your secrets and bad habits, but they pick up after you when you're too busy to do certain things for yourself. The median may be to tip $50, but you have to evaluate the tip by how many hours a month they spend taking care of your home. If you pay $15 an hour and she works for four hours a week, her Christmas tip should be at least $120, two weeks salary, for a year's worth of taking care of you. 

  • What does the service of a full time domestic, such as a nanny, personal caregiver, cook, butler, housekeeper, mean to you? It could be worth anywhere between a week and up to a month's salary, plus a small gift.
  • Although, if you're just tipping because it is expected, apparently you can squeak by with a $50 holiday tip.
  • When there is a long running history of care, loyalty and devotion, then $250 would be appropriate.


Daily Worker

Dog Walker, Nanny and Caregiver, or any other daily domestic help, would receive, again, a tip equal to two weeks of salary.

Other professions typically receive a gift card for $20, or just that in cash.

Cash is always preferred. Gift cards are always appreciated, but if there is a problem with it or it has expired, then the worker is stuck in the embarrassing situation of having to explain that they were not able to use your gift card. Then you have to hem and haw and make good on the card or give cash to make up for the mishap.

Boxed and wrapped gifts are not so popular. Unless the worker has specifically asked for an electric tea pot, but when there is a problem returning the gift, the worker is put on the spot.

To get back to the cash, make the gift look nice and festive by placing the cash in a holiday card, with handwritten words of thanks. 

At the end of the year, it is all about how dearly you appreciate the quality and frequency of the service, your relationship with the recipient, how long you've been using their service, and your budget. 

  • Then factor in your location, because workers commuting in dense urban locations are apt to have a more lengthy and expensive commute.


Also under consideration:

  • Homemade gifts, such as propagated plants, baked goods, or homemade jam, are charming and show your sincere appreciation when your budget doesn't provide for end of the year tipping.
  • Already readily tipping your hairdresser, manicurist, masseuse/masseur, or trainer per service? Then your holiday tip doesn't have to be as generous.
  • Mail carrier, paper deliverer, garbage collectors, etc., who may or may not be the same person every day or week.
  • Doormen and building janitors are usually tipped once a year by the resident and not on a daily basis


Handwritten notes of thanks are always appreciated no matter how generous the gift it accompanies. They show a lot of about your style and grace.

The haves and have nots at Christmas

Q.  My mother, by proxy from my dad, makes all the decisions on gift giving. They have sixteen grandchildren, half of whom have working highly paid parents who can afford to shop to their heart's content. 

Mom asks us two months in advance what Christmas gifts they should send our children. We let her know and send her the links. But often the toy, article of clothing, or book is SOLD OUT and mom goes off on her own sending gifts that they don't like. So when they ask the four-year-old grandchild, "Do you like your toy guitar," we're embarrassed. Point of fact, she didn't like it, we sent it back and found something else.

How can we help mom and dad spend their money more favorably? 

 HT, Peoria, IL


A. Try having each family send your parents a list of two presents for each child, with the links. If that doesn't work, it would be OK if your parents purchased each grandchild a gift card that works at a box/online store, such as Barnes & Noble that stocks books, CDs, and toys. The gift cards are sent to the parents who then attach the envelopes to the Christmas tree or put it in the Christmas stocking.


Q. For our holiday parties we've always fastened a sprig of mistletoe in the doorways between the rooms we use during the party. Would it be political incorrect suicide to hang mistletoe in the age of #MeToo?  Allison, Brooklyn


A.  The tradition where any man is allowed to kiss any woman standing underneath the mistletoe stems from cultures that associated mistletoe with fertility and vitality. If a woman is unwittingly caught standing under the mistletoe, ask before you kiss. 

The superstition is that it is bad luck to refuse to be kissed while standing under the mistletoe. If your mistletoe is live, and not plastic, with each kiss a berry is plucked from the mistletoe and when the mistletoe is bare of berries the kissing must stop.

Didi Lorillard researches manners and etiquette at NewportManners for her forthcoming book.


Related Slideshow: 50 Ways to Give in Central MA This Holiday Season - 2017

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United Way of Central Massachusetts

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United Way of Central Massachusetts helps many local organizations gain funding to help community efforts.

Each year they post a wish list for their organizations that easily allows you to choose where to donate or volunteer this holiday season.

Photo: United Way of Central Massachusetts

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Girls inc. of Worcester

125 Providence Street, Worcester

For 100 years, the Girls Inc. of Worcester has aimed to dedicate themselves to empowering young women, ranging from ages 5 to 18 to achieve their goals and dreams. The organization supports these women to become healthy, educated, and independent figures. 

Points of emphasis that are translated from Girls Inc. of Worcester faculty to its clients include, appropriate ways to confront challenges, resisting peer pressure, and viewing college as a tangible facet in their lives

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African Community Education Program

Denholm Building 484 Main St. #355, Worcester

The African Community Education Program is a community-oriented educational program targeted toward African refugee and immigrant children living in Worcester, Massachusetts.

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Veterans Inc.

69 Grove Street, Worcester

The mission of Veterans Inc.’s is to help veterans re-gain control of their lives in order to eliminate homelessness among veterans.

Veterans Inc. was established in 1990.

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Why Me Inc.

1152 Pleasant Street, Worcester

Founded in 1985, Why Me Inc supports families that are dealing with childhood cancer.

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Goddard Homestead Inc.

1199 Main Street, Worcester

For nearly a century Goddard Homestead has served and cared for elders. Most recently, the home was converted from a boarding house to high style private residences.

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Greater Worcester Community Foundation

370 Main Street, Suite 650, Worcester.

The Greater Worcester Community Foundation is a model of philanthropy which is dedicated to improving the community, now, and in the future.

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Worcester Art Museum

55 Salisbury Street, Worcester

The Worcester Art Museum provides various forms of art to view as well as classes for adults, kids and people of all ages.

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Worcester Campus Services

333 S St, Shrewsbury

Worcester Campus Services Inc. is a Educational Institution Supporting Organization in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts.

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VNA Care Network Inc.

120 Thomas Street, Worcester

Founded in 1891, VNA Care Network has helped people of all ages cope with illness or injury while living at home. Our exceptional visiting nurses; physical, occupational, and speech therapists; social workers; and other professionals have helped us earn accreditation by The Joint Commission.

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Worcester County Horicultural Society

11 French Ave, Boylston

The Worcester County Horicultural Society is home to Tower Hill Botanical Garden. The garden is living museum of plants, a garden paradise on 132 acres

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Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children

335 Chandler Street, Worcester

Since 1878, the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children is dedicated to leadership in protecting and promoting the rights and well-being of children and families.

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Eastern Orthodox Managment Corporation

300 Barber Avenue, Worcester

Holy Trinity is a non-profit facility serving individuals who require a broad range of social, nursing and rehabilitation services in an atmosphere of quality care and Christian love, without regard to a person's race, color, religion, creed, sex, age, national origin, disability or Veteran's status.

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Worcester Center for Performance Arts Inc.

2 Southbridge Street, Worcester

The missions of the Worcester Center for Performance Arts is to foster a love and appreciation for the performing arts in audiences of today and tomorrow.

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Worcester Natural History Society

222 Harrington Way, Worcester

We all know it as the EcoTarium and for all the fun and education.

Founded in 1825, the Worcester Natural History Society is a great place to play outside, play on the imagination playground and learn about the natural history of Worcester.

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Y.O.U., Inc

81 Plantation Street, Worcester

Y.O.U Inc. is dedicated to providing  services that help put a bright and productive future within every family’s reach.

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Bridge of Central Massachusetts

4 Mann Street, Worcester

Founded in 1973, The Bridge now serves over 1,200 individuals in residential and community settings.

Supports compassionate, evidence-based human services for those with mental health challenges, developmental disabilities, acquired brain injury and complex family problems.

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Worcester County Mechanics Association

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Mechanics Hall is the premier event venue and concert hall in Central Massachusetts. Renowned for its elegance and sound qualities, the Hall's cultural significance, its stunning décor and architectural detail have earned it a listing on the National Register of Historic Places

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Worcester Historical Museum

30 Elm Street, Worcester

The Worcester Historical Museum is home to exhibits that display all parts of the histroy of Worcester. The museum includes an Alden Family Gallery, an artifact collection gallery and a salisbury mansion gallery.

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Girl Scouts of Central and Western Massachusetts Inc.

81 Gold Star Boulevard, Worcester

The mission of the Girl Scouts is to build girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place.

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Boys and Girls Club of Worcester

65 Tainter Street, Worcester

The mission of the Boys and Girls Club of Worcester is to help youth develop the qualities needed to become responsible citizens and community leaders, through caring professional staff who forge relationships with our youth members and influence their ability to succeed in life.

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The Jimmy Fund

10 Brookline Place West, Brookline, MA

The Jimmy Fund is always looking for people to donate blood and platelets for those undergoing cancer treatments and trauma victims. 

You can also become a dedicated volunteer for Jimmy Funds many councils and promote their mission by hosting fundraising events.

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Reliant Medical Group

100 Front St., Worcester, MA

Reliant Medical Group is an organization focused on improving the health and well-being of everyone in Central Massachusetts. 

Donate to volunteer or participate in a 5k to help support the many other non-profits that they are engaged in.

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AIDS Project Worcester

85 Green St, Worcester, MA

AIDS Project Worcester provides housing for those who are HIV positive and in need of financial assistance. 

They also provide educational services to teach the community about AIDS and STD prevention.

Volunteer to help with their educational outreach or donate to support their cause. 

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Broken Tail Rescue

160 Alewife Brook Parkway, Cambridge, MA

Broken Tail Rescue saves dogs and cats from euthanasia at their rescue center.

They need volunteers to foster rescues and donations for care and goods. 

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Central Massachusetts Housing Alliance

6 Institute Road, Worcester, MA

Donate gently used home goods to Central Massachusetts Housing Alliance to benefit the homeless and  at-risk.

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Why Me and Sherry's House

1152 Pleasant Street, Worcester

Donate your car or volunteer to help support families affected by childhood cancer at Why Me and Sherry's House.

You can even help provide a family with meals or emergency childcare during their hardship. 

Photo: Why Me and Sherry's House

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Ascentria Care Alliance

14 East Worcester St., Worcester, MA

Ascentria Care Alliance is one of the largest community service organizations in the area and allows you to reach out in many different ways. 

Volunteer as a tutor or skills trainer to help members of your community reach their full potential.

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Big Brothers Big Sister of Central MA

484 Main St., Worcester, MA

Become a mentor for an at-risk child in your community through Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Massachusetts/ Metrowest. 

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JHC Assisted Living Corp

629 Salisbury Street, Worcester

The Jewish HealthCare Center is one of New England’s most respected HealthCare facilities, providing innovative long-term care, short-term rehabilitation, hospice services, home care services, and Alzheimer’s care to the community since 1916.

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Children's Friend

21 Ceder Street, Worcester

Children's Friend benefits children and families whose lives have been affected by difficulties including abuse, neglect, family instability, death, substance abuse, and mental, emotional and physical problems

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Worcester County Food Bank

474 Boston Turnpike, Shrewsbury

Donate food, funds or volunteer your time at the Worcester County Food Bank.

Worcester County Food Bank (WCFB) is the region’s leading anti-hunger organization distributing over 5 million pounds of donated food and grocery product

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Key Program Inc.

670 Old Connecticut Path, Framingham, MA

Key Program Inc. in Framingham seeks to assist troubled youth and their families. 

The organization is always looking for food items, apparel, bikes, and gift certificates from donators.

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10 Prince Place, Newburyport, MA

Fraxa Research Foundation is on a mission to help to find a cure for Fragile X - a disease that affects intellectual abilities, and makes sufferes hyperactive, hypersentitive to light and noise and prone to seizures. 

You can donate or tribute a gift in honor of someone suffering from Fragile X. 

Photo: Fraxa Research Foundation

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Pet Chance

PO Box 448, Northborough, MA

Pet Chance allows you to fund medical services for animals in shelters who need care.

Families who cannot afford medical services for their pets can also apply for funding on the site.

Help someone's furry friend heal this holiday.

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Horace Mann Educational Associates

8 Forge Pkwy, Franklin, MA

Donate your vehicle, electronics, gift cards and more to Horace Mann Educational Associates.

The organization is responsible for serving nearly 3,800 children and adults with developmental disabilities. 

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Seven Hills

415 Main St., Worcester, MA

Seven Hills aids the disabled, impoverish, and those dealing with trauma get back on the road to wellness and recovery.

To donate or volunteer for one of thermally training programs visit their site. 

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Nativity School in Worcester

67 Lincoln St, Worcester, MA

Donate boys’ uniforms, sports equipment, and art supplies to support the academic programs of the Nativity School in Worcester.

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Worcester Chamber Music Society

9 Irving Street, Worcester, MA 01609

Worcester Chamber Music brings world-class chamber music to intimate Greater Worcester venues. WCMS nurtures the community through a unique combination of affordable concerts, education and community engagement.

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American Red Cross Central MA

2000 Century Dr., Worcester, MA

American Red Cross of Central Massachusetts is always looking for volunteers to donate blood, organize fundraisers, and donate non-monetary items like credit card rewards and goods. 

The Red Cross prevents and relieves suffering to those in the community including military families in need. 

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StandUp For Kids

114 Main Street, Worcester, MA

StandUp For Kids offers volunteer opportunities every second Monday of the month.

Volunteer to help outreach efforts and help those suffering from youth homelessness in Central Massachusetts.

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Operation Homefront

21 Franklin St., Quincy, MA

Organize a fundraiser to benefit the families of soldiers through financial relief efforts, and caregiving to wounded warriors through Operation Homefront. 

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Center for Living and Working

484 Main St., Worcester, MA

The center for living and working assists the disabled with independent living, the deaf and hard of hearing and provide personal care management to over 1000 people in Central Massachusetts.

Photo: Center for Living and Working 

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Advocates Inc.

One Clarks Hill, Framingham, MA 

Advocates Inc. assists the disabled and elderly with home ownership and sustaining satisfying work and personal relationships. 

Intern, or donate online when you do your personal shopping on Amazon, overtime you shop Advocates receives a percentage of your total purchase - making it easy to give and receive.

Photo: Advocates, Inc. 

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Auburn Youth and Family Services

21 Pheasant Ct, Auburn, MA

Tutor a student or participate in Auburn Youth and Family Services’ Holiday Giving Program. 

Adopt a child or family to donate food, and gifts to be delivered to needy families this holiday.

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Jeff’s Place

34 Deloss St., Framingham, MA

Donate a useable laptop, paper goods, and financial gifts to Jeff’s Place and help them facilitate healthy grief journeys for children and families experiencing loss.   

Photo: Jeff's Place

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Young Womens Christian Association of Central Mass

One Salem Square, Worcester

YWCA is dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all.

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Be Like Brit

66 Pullman St, Worcester, MA 01606

From a terrible tragedy emerges a massive effort to help children in Haiti. The mission is "to serve the children of Haiti by establishing a safe, nurturing and sustainable orphanage in an environment where they can grow, learn & thrive."

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YMCA of Central MA

766 Main St, Worcester

It is where the community comes together. The Y offers programs for youth development, to promote healthy living and to promote social reposibility.

Four locations throughout the region

Boroughs Family Branch

Central Community Branch

Greendale Family Branch

Montachusett Community Branch


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