Don’t want people to make this face? Follow these tips.
Don’t want people to make this face? Follow these tips.

SocietyDecember 19, 2019

How not to be a dick this holiday season

Don’t want people to make this face? Follow these tips.
Don’t want people to make this face? Follow these tips.

It’s the holidays! We’re all stressed, and we can all be kind of on edge. So here’s a few easy tips to not being a dick to those around you, and also not being a dick to yourself.

Was there ever a point in time where the end of the year didn’t bring stress? And yet every year, we get excited for it. Or we get excited for a few weeks off work, to catch up on that show everyone has been binging, or that book you’ve had next to your bed forever.

Somehow, we forget that while December also brings a whole lot of stress. Seeing loved ones! Seeing unloved ones who don’t know they’re unloved by you! Buying gifts for people you care about! Buying gifts for people you don’t care about! Actually realising that not working for a few weeks means working super hard for most of December so you can actually comfortably rest!

It’s very hard, and when times get stressful, people can be a little bit unkind. They can be, you know, dicks.

So I’ve assembled a few tips, after consulting a few of the people who we’re likely to be unkindest to (retail staff, hospo staff) that will hopefully do the two-pronged job of relieving stress and also relieving stress you might give others. By being dicks to them.

On with the tips!

Are you a benevolent or entitled consumer this Christmas? (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)


  • Don’t turn books around. Come on. It’s not an act of protest, you’re not Rosa Parks, you’re a troll. You’re just making life harder for booksellers.
  • If you’re told that something is out of stock and you want to order it in, believe the staff when they tell you that they’ll do their best to get it in for you. Also believe them when they say they can’t make promises! You’re the one who left buying that obscure biography until December 20, not them.
  • When you’re at the supermarket and you decide that hey, you don’t want your frozen turkey any more because turkey is unambiguously terrible, take it back to the freezer. Nobody wants their sampler box soaked in turkey run-off, and you’ve wasted a perfectly awful turkey.
  • If you need to do anything beyond just buying a thing from a store (exchanging, returning, signing up for a membership, refunding et cetera), it can almost definitely wait until the new year. Or if it absolutely can’t, then at least be polite about it, and try to go at an off-peak hour. So not 7pm on December 23.
  • Click and Collect! This is honestly the biggest hack there is. It saves time, it saves stress, and it saves you face time with other people who are also lacking in time and have a huge excess of stress.
  • Online shopping – see above. There’s still the stress of waiting for delivery, but if you know for a fact that online shopping works for you and your address, go for it. Especially if you know you get stressed out in malls.
  • On that note, if malls stress you out, try a non-mall outlet. It might mean you need to go around a few places, but chances are those non-mall outlets are less busy than the mall ones.
  • Give yourself more time than you need! Check opening hours. A lot of stores will be open outside of their normal hours – aka the general 9-5 grind – well before the Christmas rush actually starts.
The Puffin wine bar in Wellington (Photo: Hannah Wells)


  • Patience is a virtue, and a necessity. The wait staff know you are there. They will get to you. They don’t want to keep you waiting either.
  • If you don’t know what something is, just ask! If you send back a martini complaining that it’s too strong, you should be thrown straight into jail. This is not necessarily related, but something I would like to be brought into law.
  • The staff are there to facilitate you having a nice time, but if you go into your dining experience as an absolute dick, that’s the energy you’re going to get out of it. It is no hospitality person’s job to turn your frown upside down, unfortunately.
  • Don’t try to prank or confuse the wait staff. You’re not as funny as you think you are, which is a good rule generally, but especially if you think it’s funny to prank wait staff. Nobody is there to be tested by you.
  • Leave more time than you think you need. You have no idea if the place you’ve booked has also booked out half of their restaurant for a rowdy Christmas party.
  • If you’re having a big, boozy, rowdy Christmas lunch, the staff are accommodating, and you rack up a considerable bill, consider tipping! It’s a nice thing to do, and it makes everybody feel a little bit better, I promise.
Don’t be this guy at the Work Christmas party.

Festivities (Work Christmas Party)

  • Just because you’re at a bar you’ll never go back to – because it’s not Longroom on a Saturday night at 2am or Father Ted’s on a Wednesday – doesn’t give you an excuse to act up and be a dick.
  • Similarly, just because you’re drinking on the work credit card also doesn’t give you an excuse to be a dick. Know your limits better than you know the work credit card’s.
  • If you’re arranging a scavenger hunt, try to avoid places of business unless you’re planning on spending money there. And even then, I’d recommend against it. Nobody wants people in outfits who are maybe a little buzzed on morning mimosas messing around their merch.
  • Look after your workmates! If someone is getting a bit too blotto and you know they’re not a regular at the Friday booze-up, maybe keep an extra eye on them when the seasonal booze is flowing.
  • Nobody wants to hear you play on an acoustic guitar. Again, this one works more generally.
  • If you’re lucky enough, your work will sort you out at a Christmas party at a bar that’s a bit fancy! This is, once more, not your chance to act like, as my bartender friend would say, ‘an absolute donkey’. Treat everyone with respect and they won’t kick you out. 
Look at how happy and unstressed they are!

Festivities (On the Day)

  • Never ask someone why they’re not drinking. It’s none of your business. I guarantee you nobody wants to be asked why they’re not drinking, and if they want you to know they’ll volunteer the information themselves.
  • If you’re inviting someone who’s vegan for Christmas, please be kind enough to ensure that there’s some kind of snacks to keep them going. Rice crackers, hummus, salted nuts, carrot sticks, maybe a poultice or two.
  • If you’re a vegan or someone with any other dietary requirements that might be out of the norm, check in about the food situation beforehand! Make sure they know, and maybe offer to contribute. (I’d also suggest that you still offer even if your dietary requirements are non-existent!)
  • If you can’t cope with other people eating what you’re not comfortable with at Christmas lunch, maybe skip it? You’re not gonna have fun evangelizing, and neither are the people on the other end.
  • Nobody has ever convinced anybody to change their beliefs over Christmas lunch/booze. This is not the year they’re going to start. Feel free to call people out on their bullshit, but do not expect the shit to come out of the bull any different.
  • Be especially patient with anybody who happens to be working this day. Nobody really wants to be working on Christmas – does anybody want to ever work? – and if you’re not a dick to them, they won’t be a dick to you. Give people the grace that you’d want them to give you.
I don’t think this represents self-care, I just think it’s very funny.


Not being a dick to yourself is as equally important as not being a dick to others. We often forget this, so here’s a few pointers on how to be kind to yourself. I also feel these work more generally, but are especially important at this time of year.

  • Set expectations for yourself and those closest to you. You know your limits better than anybody and know what you need! If you need to be around people, let people know. If you need to be by yourself, do the same. It’s a stressful day for everybody, whether you’re hosting it, participating in it or actually working it. 
  • Give yourself time. Give yourself rest. Give yourself space. It’s a holiday, remember! We wait the entire year for this, and we’re allowed to take a break from things that are stressful or laborious for us. Like, you know, actual labour.
  • You did not ‘ruin’ Christmas. 
  • Truly, I say this one again, for posterity: You did not ‘ruin’ Christmas. Not if you didn’t get someone that present they really wanted. Not if you overcooked the ham. Not if you cooked ham at all! Not if you disagreed with someone for something. Christmas is a concept, and it happens every year. It will withstand, and so will your relationships.
  • Finally, once more, for the people at the back: Whether you are organizing Christmas, attending Christmas or choosing to sit festivities out for whatever reason, you are not ruining Christmas. 
  • Honestly, it’s just another hour, another day, another year. You have permission, from me, and then hopefully from yourself, to chill.
Mad Chapman, Editor
Aotearoa continues to adapt to a new reality and The Spinoff is right there, sorting fact from fiction to bring you the latest updates and biggest stories. Help us continue this coverage, and so much more, by supporting The Spinoff Members.Madeleine Chapman, EditorJoin Members

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