Why it's still important to keep things personal for the holidays

(USA Today) Holiday wishes are plastered across more platforms now than ever before, leaving people overwhelmed with what to do or not do before Christmas arrives. 

Cards? Gifts? Photos? Wrapping paper? Social media wishes? What's expected?

It depends. But, the swath of social media messages and quick gift buying options probably won't get you out of traditional expectations. Here's what Daniel Post Senning, great-great grandson of etiquette legend Emily Post and voice on the Awesome Etiquette podcast, has to say about modern holiday etiquette. 

Handwritten cards aren't dead

A holiday Snap isn't the same as a handwritten Christmas card. While we have more tools to connect, traditional ones might still be the best way to show someone you care.

"I definitely still think there’s a place for handwritten cards," Senning said. "They are special, and in some ways, they mean more today than they ever have." 

Handwritten notes are appropriate for immediate family and/or very close loved ones you might not see during the holidays, Senning said. 

"Handwritten" doesn't mean that page-long family newsletter your Aunt Dina used to send your mom back in the day listing every ailment in the family. Keep it to three or four sentences tops and feel free to share but not overshare or brag. Think: "We are so proud Jimmy got a promotion at work." instead of: "Jimmy's promotion means he's making six figures now!" 

A card created online, maybe with a family photo, is best for friends and family outside your closest circle, Senning said. These are likely people you interact with often. Senning suggests taking a look at your phone's contact list, and maybe starting with 10 people. There isn't an obligation to send a card to someone who's sent you one, he said.

Instead of just hitting 'buy,' personalize it

"Making an effort to personalize gifts is important," Senning said. But, it's tricky to personalize a gift that's arriving on a friend's doorstep.

For some gifts, Senning suggests sending them to yourself, wrapping them. Then, sending them to the recipient. 

"I recognize that’s a step that’s not going to be practical or feasible for a lot of people," Senning said. So, he recommends finding some way to make more of an effort: Fill out the gift message, select gift wrap, follow up with a phone call and a handwritten card. 

Set screen time limits on the holiday

Meals and gift exchanges aren't a time to be scrolling through newsfeeds or texting friends. Senning said it's important for emotional health and wellbeing to carve out time to spend with the people you are physically with. If you want to send along holiday wishes through text, social media or calls, set time aside to do that and communicate your plan with those you are with.

"Honor the relationships and people in your life," Senning said. "That will never change no matter what technology we have in front of us."

© 2018 USATODAY.COM


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