Puckering Up for Party Season - What are the social etiquette boundaries around social kissing? Thursday, October 31, 2013 @ 13:26:13


A few Christmas party invites have started to float in the door at Dentiform this past week, so with the silly season approaching its got me thinking about meeting up with friends and colleagues and some of the rules around that very fragile topic...social kissing.

For me its one of those moments I kind of squirm about...you know the scenario, you arrive at a party or any social gathering and immediately you’re greeted with kissing, theres lips everywhere, often coupled with “you look amahhhhaaaazing darling” and often its hard to know who to offer your cheek to first.

Unless its a close friend of course, is it just me or do most of us cringe as the inevitable smooch is approaching...inside I’m screaming, “noooo, I just saw you this afternoon in Coles, you didn’t go in for a kiss then” or “hey Paul (I think that's your name), you work in my building but I have successfully avoided you until now.”

There’s the one or two cheek kiss, the air kiss (hate that one), the kiss and follow-up hug, the missed kiss where you misfire and end up kissing someones neck or shoulder (awkward), and then there’s the lip kisser...the worst kind. I’m sorry but kissing on the lips should be reserved for your partner or your kids when they’re very little, otherwise its just strange. I once had a friend who kissed every female friend he knew on the lips at every given moment...so trying to escape his lips touching mine and converting it into a cheek kiss usually ended up in a head bobbing competition like two pecking emus engaging in some kind of odd mating dance.

We’re not friends anymore.

We need to be careful, the party greeting kiss is a potential minefield and can easily result in mixed messages, hurt feelings and inappropriate saliva residue.

Social etiquette experts suggest a few general rules to get you through these situations...like;

  • Don't kiss people you don't know. 
  • Don't kiss colleagues. 
  • Do kiss close friends...but never on the lips (I added that last bit).

I guess the key is to make your actions clear to avoid embarrassing confusion, so follow these simple rules and you’ll make it through the party season unscathed;

  • Usually it's right cheek first, but prepare to change direction at the last minute. 
  • Pull back decisively (but don't be too abrupt) if you are just giving one. Be cautious with those you are less familiar with - two might seem over the top. 
  • If confusion occurs over one-kiss-or-two, take charge and go in for a second. Humour (always good) is useful in deflecting embarrassment over the meet-in-the-middle mix-up. 
  • Just holding cheek against cheek feels insincere, but there is a fine line between an acceptable peck and an overly affectionate smacker. Cheek skin must make brief, light contact; sound effects, air kissing and saliva traces are to be avoided at all cost. 
  • If you'd prefer to shake hands, be sure to hold yours out before any kissing manoeuvres begin but, if you're part of a group introduction, don't be the only non-kisser at the party. 

Hope this helped...and PS - for any colleagues reading this, I’m a one-kiss-on-the-right-cheek-no-hug kind of a girl ;)