What Are Some Of The Social Do's and Don'ts Of The Holiday Season?

Dec 20, 2017

Pei-Lin Yu, an anthropology professor at Boise State University, submitted the winning question for the holiday edition of our Wanna Know Idaho segment.
Credit Matt Guilhem / Boise State Public Radio

The holiday season is replete with parties, get togethers and acts of generosity, but navigating it all can be difficult. For this seasonal installment of Wanna Know Idaho, we asked listeners about holiday etiquette.  

Boise State University anthropology professor Pei-Lin Yu's question was selected. She wants to do something nice for people we might overlook this holiday season.

She asks: “What is the right kind of gift to give to people who help you constantly and who you sort of benefit from on a daily or weekly basis, so a mail carrier or a barista or your favorite bartender or even the people who come and pick up your compost?”

To get to the bottom of her question, and touch on some other holiday quandaries all of us face this time of year, we invited a pair of etiquette experts, Ruth Romero and Susan Evans, along with Pei-Lin, to the station for a tea.

Both Romero and Evans are adamant etiquette isn’t just a bunch of rules ranging from arcane to fusty. Each of them say it boils down to kindness and making others feel comfortable.

With the spirit of the holidays in the air, the easiest and most universal tip to navigate the functions of the season is something all of us already know: be nice.

While we kept specifically on the topic of navigating social situations this holiday season on air, the discussion over tea spanned the better part of an hour. During the conversation, Susan Evans asked each of us what we thought etiquette meant. It led to a broader discussion of the topic and reflections on the importance of how we present ourselves. Listen below.

This story is our latest installment in our “Wanna Know Idaho” series and came from Pei-Lin Yu, who wanted to know if there's a perfect gift for folks who help us every day, like mail carriers? Have a question you've been curious about? Submit your question below!

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