According to ‘etiquette experts’ (who you should or shouldn’t listen to), opening Christmas presents before breakfast is ‘vulgar’.
And, according to ‘me’ (who you should or shouldn’t listen to), their use of the word ‘vulgar’ more or less sums up everything about etiquette these days – it’s old fashioned.
Update your etiquette! Let people do Christmas however they want! Christmas is traditional but people have their own traditions within it. Some people will have bacon butties for breakfast, some people go straight for the champagne. Some people go to the pub, others stay in and don’t get out of their pyjamas. At the end of the day, who cares, you do you and all that.
However, the folks over at Tatler seem to think they know how to do Christmas better than you, and have advised on the ‘proper’ way of going about the holiday.
The etiquette experts say that, while it’s ok to tear into your stockings as early as you want, the presents under the tree should be left for later. I must admit, I can get on board with that, spreading the gifts out throughout the day sounds good to me (who you should or shouldn’t listen to).
They also say: “If you’re very grand, you may even wait until after lunch and a bracing walk,” though what their definition of ‘grand’ is is anyone’s guess.
To be fair to the magazine, I think they’re aiming their etiquette at the poshest of the posh, but when I saw their suggestions I was so surprised my monocle fell out.
The magazine also offers a few kind phrases to say upon receiving gifts that aren’t exactly what you were after. These include: ‘How fun!’, ‘This is too much!’, and ‘Useful presents are the best’.
So not only are they offering advice on when to open presents, but also how to lie through your teeth when you get one you’re not keen on.
Now, manners are great, I’m all for manners and think everyone should have some common decency. But etiquette? I know some hardline Brexiteers want to take us back to the 1930s but come on, let people do Christmas Day however they want.
It’s the one time of year when we can actually relax and try to forget what a sh*tstorm the past 12 months have been. So let us open our presents whenever we want. In fact, I’m going to the tree and getting a present right now. And I know exactly which one I’m opening.
Merry Christmas, you filthy animals.
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Charlie Cocksedge is a journalist at UNILAD. He graduated from the University of Manchester with an MA in Creative Writing, where he learnt how to write in the third person, before getting his NCTJ. His work has also appeared in such places as The Guardian, PN Review and the bin.