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The Guys' Guy's Guide to Holidays

Robert Manni - Friday, November 22, 2013


The holidays. They're the best of times and the worst of times.

Whether it’s working like mad to finish up year-end work projects or trying to come up with a gift idea for Uncle Jerry, for many, stress reigns supreme at this time of year. But doesn’t that defeat the concept of celebrating with your colleagues and loved ones? Guy’s Guys take things one step at a time and do our best to savor the fun from mid-November through the New Year. Whether you're single or married, if you’re invited to your partner’s family or friend’s home, there are ways of easing the pain. Same goes for finessing those tricky business parties where it’s too easy to get sloppy after loading up on the free booze.

Over the years, your Guy’s Guy has made his share of mistakes during the holidays, so please accept these tips as lessons from one who has learned the hard way. In no particular order, here are my Guy’s Guys tips for handling the holidays.

Arrive On Time.

"On time" means within a half hour or so of when you are expected. If you're meeting your new partner’s family for the first time at Thanksgiving, you don’t want to be standing around in the kitchen while a frenzy of cooking is taking place around you. And you don’t want to plop down in the living room glued to the Lions-Packers game while others arrive and wonder who the guy is that is eating all the chips and salsa. If it’s a corporate party, if you show up too early it’s too easy to get a head start on the cocktails. In an hour or two, this can backfire. Keep the thirty-minute rule in mind when planning your arrival and you should be okay.

Manage Your Intake of Alcohol.

We’ve all seen chumps who drank too much at the holiday party while the head of HR stood by taking mental notes. That can be tough if you work in advertising where I’ve seen tray after tray of shots attacked by a thirsty mob. It all depends on your company’s culture. If you are buzzed and see the crowd thinning out, grab your coat and leave. It’s that simple if you want to protect your professional reputation.

When it comes to visiting your partner’s family or friends, same rule. Watch your drinking, eat moderately and leave with the others, especially or when you’ve had too much wine and have had your fill of your partner’s drunken uncle that insists Obama is from Kenya or something equally polarizing. You don’t want to get into a heated argument at this time. You’re a guest and it’s just not worth it.

Bring Something for the Host.

Of course this refers to gatherings of friends and families, not the company party. It’s hard to go wrong bringing a bottle of wine at the holidays unless you are entering an alcohol-free household. If that’s the case, dessert (cookies, cup cakes, pie) or a homemade appetizer is always welcomed. Unless you're asked, avoid bringing entrees. That’s the host’s domain.

Make Small Talk.

 For me, the perfect Thanksgiving used to be a quick greeting, three hours of non-stop eating and drinking before watching the Dallas Cowboys and falling asleep on the couch. As a single guy with all married relatives, I got pretty good at this over the years. In my family, no one asks how I am doing anyway. Might as well put on the feedbag while listening to everyone else’s problems. I’d ask a question or two between bites, but that’s it. Now that I’m married and have an infant child, we’re more integrated and the attention is on the baby. That said, I learned (slowly) to focus on the others and their lives. It takes away the burden of thinking about myself and gives me insights into how they see the world.

Know When To Go Home.

I’ve stated clear warnings about making your exit if you drink too much at a gathering. But, even if you're stone cold sober, there is a proper time to move on. First, do something to help the host clean up; even it is carrying a few plates into the kitchen. Enjoy your coffee, try those cookies your niece brought, and be mindful of when people are leaving. If you’re at your parent’s house, of course you can hang around, but if you are visiting someone else’s home for the first time, you do not want to overstay your welcome. Just pay attention and you’ll be fine. Drive defensively while driving home to catch the fourth quarter of the game.

This week’s Guy’s Guy of the Week are all the travelers that brave the stress of trains, planes and automobiles to visit their loved ones over the holidays.


Will you manage the holidays this year or will they manage you? 

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