Santa sees you when you’re sleeping, and he knows when you’re awake, but when you opt to do something stupid during the holiday season, everyone’s quick to judge.
But just because you commit an act that might be misconstrued as naughty doesn’t mean you aren’t genuinely nice deep down! Explore this list of the most pervasive yuletide don’ts so you’ll know what to do when the elves threaten you with coal:
- Don’t buy friends and family fragrances or lotions they didn’t explicitly ask for or hint at recently.
While fancy fragrances and expensive lotions might seem like an elegant last-minute gift for those grasping at ideas, these goods send mixed messages (and aggravate allergies) at best. Unless you’re confident that the recipient will enjoy the specific scent—for instance, they’ve expressed interest in the fragrance before, but complained they couldn’t handle the price tag—your gesture might actually seem rude. Are you trying to offend them by implying that their odor offends you? Because an economy-size bottle of body wash will achieve the same result (and save you money, too).
- Don’t allow your children to run amok in the mall while you stand idly by on your smartphone.
Modern parents seem incapable of teaching their children to behave like civilized human beings in public. They allow their kids to chase one another and touch the merchandise unsupervised, while they talk on the phone or browse the Web. Don’t you realize that your children reflect who you are as an individual? Oh, and if they somehow manage to injure themselves, don’t even dare to sue the establishment. After all, Santa knows when you’ve been bad or good—and so does the security footage.
- Don’t ship your company’s goods in packaging that blatantly advertises the brand for all to see.
Brands regularly slap their name or logo all over the packages they ship throughout the year. But, during the holiday season, this form of free advertising no longer seems like the smartest sort of product marketing. Families often live in the same house, after all. What if the recipient returns home before the gift giver can hide the package from sight? What if, by putting the name or logo on display, the company has ruined the surprise? Also, “porch pirates” are more prevalent than ever. Your company might as well attach a neon sign that says “TAKE ME” at that rate.
- Don’t hit your fellow shoppers with your enormous bags as you barrel through the busy stores.
With heavy coats and bulky scarves galore, people tend to take up more space during the winter months. Yet, while overcrowded corridors and overstocked stores might be enough to trigger even the slightest case of claustrophobia, we all have the power to alleviate stress by simply being more aware of our surroundings. When walking forward, look straight ahead to ensure that you don’t collide with your fellow shoppers. Don’t stop suddenly to check your cellphone or correct your course. And above all else, account for your abundance of bags. They’re now an extension of your person. If they hit me in the gut, I’ll assume they’re carrying out your orders.
- Don’t plaster your family’s Christmas card with photos of your children or your pets.
When friends and family send “greeting cards” that are really just 5×7 glamour shots of their children or pets, you’ve got to admit that you instinctively roll your eyes at the sight. Everyone understands that snide comments abound upon opening said envelopes, as they’ve done it themselves, yet people still send these unwanted portraits to even the most remote relatives. Don’t try to convince me that this option allows your nearest and dearest to observe your family’s growth. If that were the case, you’d simply slip an actual photograph inside the cards of those who care. Except we all know better—these cards were invented by those who love to brag.
(This post originally appeared on Storia.)