Gifts from Etiquette Central

(This gorgeous photo is from social media: chelseatea.r on Instagram)

Darling, what could possibly be a better gift than perfect advice, much needed as we are all doing pandemic holidays on video-calls which open up whole new continents of potential perils.

* Your manta: Video-calls AFTER a little caffeine and BEFORE alcohol. No booze before the difficult relatives, no matter how much you need it. Put on hot-buttered rum lipgloss and Ranger up.

* Everything you eat on a video-call is made with spelt (“No, these are made with dried arugula, not green food coloring, and the white stuff that looks like frosting is made from whipped mushrooms! Yum! And that full wineglass over there, that’s beetroot and parsnips with some black pepper and ginger, funny, I guess it looks a little like Merlot, but it’s darker than a Merlot, and who would think of wine at 10am?”)

* DO NOT OPEN PRESENTS WHILE ON A VIDEO-CALL unless you are truly dealing with a troll. Only 1% of presents opened are safe for video-calls (Darling, in-person present opening is so much safer b/c there is so much going on: noise, alcohol, not enough sleep, sugar highs, TV,  etc. that no one is watching that closely – but grandparents who miss grandchildren are putting a LOT of psychological weight on seeing the little rug-rat open that package of dark blue wool socks and the result can be so catastrophic, the grandparents might close the college-savings account and buy themselves jet-skis.) Open everything, then stage photos of people holding up item and smiling. If it is truly a troll and no chance of your being included in the will, feel free to put a much nicer item on the child’s lap, the troll’s present in their hand and ask them for a ‘fake smile’ – kids are pros at fake smiles!

* Record your doorbell (leave your phone on ‘record’, walk to outside, close the door, ring doorbell – then go save that audio file), always helpful to play when you are stuck on a video-call, especially around the holidays – it can give you a five minute break (REMEMBER TO COME BACK TO THE CAMERA WEARING A MASK to look realistic). If you live in a small place, record a whole muffled conversation BEFORE the video-call, then play the doorbell sound, then the muffled conversation while you take a breather.

* If you live in an area with snow, record the sound of a snowball thrown against the window. If anyone brings up politics, play the sound, yell “Oh my goodness, a bird just hit the window” and escape for a few minutes.

* Wear shorts/ pants/ a skirt if there is any hint of a video call happening – you do not want to hear a suspicious ‘thump’ that sounds like a pet wrestling with an item of poultry, stand up in haste and display a black lace thong to the in-laws.

* Up- lighting, yes it works. Two minutes of preparation stops 10 minutes of people asking you why you look tired. Put a light behind, lower than and to the side of the computer, so you have light shining up towards your face. And stain your lips a little with maraschino cherry juice. Then, since you have opened the jar, you will have to finish the cherries off by making 8 pina coladas. Merry Christmas indeed!

* Be good to yourself, be as good to others as you can and hang on, better days are coming (and remember that better days come faster to those who write thank you notes and listen to the Queen’s speech!).