IT has been the ultimate authority on business and social etiquette for generations. Now Debrett's is offering tips to help Brits navigate a covid Christmas.

Regarded as the leading authority on manners of the day, Debrett's has a long publishing history, with the first edition of John Debrett’s New Peerage published in 1769, remaining in print ever since. The 150th edition was published in 2019 to coincide with Debrett’s 250th anniversary.

Best behaviour?
In its publications - and at the Debrett’s Academy - coaching is offered in social skills and building confidence, with advice on how to handle various situations outlined in tomes ranging from the Wedding Handbook to Debrett’s “Netiquette”, a “definitive guide to digital dilemmas and how to deal with them”.

Examples of top tips include...
In Debrett's Handbook, nuggets from the etiquette experts state that it is, for example, “inconsiderate” to eat smelly food in a confined space, such as the tube or a bus. Using your phone while speaking to another person is also considered a big no-no.

As for a “Debrett’s Christmas”?
The company has just launched its “Guide to Hosting & Entertaining” and Lucy Hume, associate director of Debrett's, has highlighted how to get the best out of what is certain to be a festive season like no other.

It’s all about being adaptable?
With vaccines not yet here and Christmas sure to involve limited social contact, the Debrett's advice is that "by combining family traditions with new technology, wrapping up warm to meet outside and being ready to adapt to any new guidelines, it can still be a Christmas to remember”.

Top tips?
Sending Christmas cards and presents sooner rather than later to avoid any potential delays is among Ms Hume's advice, adding that it is important to allow recipients time to quarantine their presents if they so desire.

Al fresco?
Being adaptable in the light of the changing restrictions is advised, with people encouraged to consider meeting outside, saying: “Pack a Christmas picnic hamper for al fresco festivities with friends or family. Remember extra layers, a plastic-backed rug, wellies and a flask of mulled wine or hot chocolate.”

Remaining calm is key?
With no-one yet sure what will gatherings will be allowed - if any - over the Christmas period, Ms Hume stressed keeping calm at all times is crucial, as well as having “back-up supplies in the freezer” in case more guests are allowed to visit.

Dress up?
Ms Hume said: "We’ve been keeping it casual most of the year, so make the most of the chance to dress up, at least from the waist up if you’re on Zoom.” 

Pointing out our "zoom fatigue", communal online meals are not advised, with the Debrett's view being: "There is no need to watch each other chewing parsnips."

Advice for all seasons…
Debrett’s says that during this unprecedented year, “there’s a lot to feel tense about right now”, and to avoid disagreements, “ask yourself whether you’re annoyed” because someone else is in the wrong or because of your own feelings of frustration and fear, adding:  “If it’s the latter, take an hour or two to reflect and calm down. Similarly, give others extra leeway if they seem more prickly or sensitive than usual - it’s not you; it’s COVID.”