Stress less and be the boss of your holiday social scene

With Thanksgiving’s arrival comes the season of celebration — and potential festive faux pas. Before you start smooching strangers under the mistletoe or crooning crass karaoke at the office shindig, check out a few holiday dos and don’ts from party people Wanda and Wayne.

DO: Bring something to eat/drink to holiday get-togethers.

Wayne says: Don’t be a Grinch. It’s the season of giving, not taking. Showing up empty-handed to a party is like Santa arriving without his sack of presents. Even if the hosts insist you don’t need to bring anything, bring something.

Wanda says: But listen for cues and be sensitive to requests and boundaries. For example, if the host has made it clear they’ve got dinner covered, and have put a lot of time and energy into it, don’t bring a competing entree or surprise side dish. Opt for a bouquet of flowers or small gift instead. And never, ever offer to reimburse someone or “pitch in” some cash. It’s totally tacky and tone deaf.

DON’T: Talk politics at holiday gatherings.

Wayne says: Nothing kills a party faster than a big argument between family members or friends over politics and policy. Well, except maybe running out of eggnog. But you’ve got all year to play pundit. Turn off the commentary and turn up the “Peace on Earth, goodwill to men” time.

Wanda says: For real, it’s not the time or place. The holidays create a safe and sacred space for families to circle their wagons and reflect on their own traditions and connections. There’s no better time to block out the divisive noise of the outside world and make nonpartisan memories.


DO: Get your partner a thoughtful gift.

Wayne says: A gift doesn’t need to be expensive, fancy or elaborate to be a hit. It helps, of course. But no matter if you’re richer than Ebenezer Scrooge or poorer than Bob Cratchit, it’s truly the thought that counts. So put some thought into gifts for your partner. What do they love? What do they need? What have they been saying they’ve wanted all year?

Wanda says: And for goodness' sake, give yourself a break. Feeling pressured to pick out the perfect gift creates an inordinate amount of pressure during a time of year already rife with stress. It’s just a gift, and in the grand scheme of things, inconsequential, compared to the bigger things in life — like love!

DON’T: Propose to your partner during the holidays.

Wayne says: Come on. The holidays are already packed with big events, special moments and even pressure. Don’t shift the focus and the vibe to make it all about you and your big proposal. What’s next, having your New Year’s Eve wedding? Boo.

Wanda says: Sorry Wayne, but I - and the majority of Americans - disagree. According to statistics site Statista, December remains the hottest month to pop the question, and it makes perfect sense. It’s a sentimental time of year when we think deeply and gratefully about those closest to us. Isn’t it natural that people are driven to act on that with a proposal that could be considered the greatest gift of all? Don’t be afraid to take the marital knee if so moved, peeps.

DO: Attend your company holiday party, even if you don’t want to.

Wayne says: I know: these parties are the worst. You spend enough time with these people already. Now you have to get all dressed up and burn a weekend night pretending to have a good time with them away from work … Yes, you do. Because you’re an adult and this is what adults do. So suck it up, have a nice meal, have a couple of laughs (even if they’re forced) and at least wait until the door prizes are drawn before you sneak out the back door.

Wanda says: Especially if you’re higher up in the ranks, making an appearance is a must. But, if you’re higher, an early departure is also permissible. After all, the hard-working sailors can’t really cut loose until the captain leaves the deck.

DON’T: Get drunk at your company holiday party, even if you want to.

Wayne says: Booze will numb the awkwardness, right? And make you a better dancer? Sure. But if you get trashed at the company party, you can take all the points you scored by showing up and flush them all down the toilet, then deduct 100 more. Don’t be the person who everyone talks about for the next two months. Don’t be the person who killed the holiday party for everyone. And don’t be the person who got fired for posting drunken holiday party pics on Instagram or for acting a fool IRL.

Wanda says: Agreed. Get drunk after the holiday party with your real friends. You’ll save face come Monday — and likely have a way better time.

Share your thoughts and holiday hysterics with Wanda and Wayne at

Wayne and Wanda

Wanda is a wise person who has loved, lost and been to therapy. Wayne is a wise guy who has no use for therapy. Send them your questions and thoughts at