Julie Lamberg-Burnet (pictured)

Julie Lamberg-Burnet (pictured)

Expert in etiquette has shared his tips on how to make Christmas special and what to avoid to dampen the festive spirit.

Julie Lamberg Burnet is the founder of Sydney School of Protocol. She insists that the 25th of December 2021 should be one for all time after Covid disrupted almost two years of our travel plans, work and celebrations.

Daily Mail Australia reported that she believes it’s important to include both traditional and modern elements when decorating, gift-giving, or festive foods, in times of uncertainty. 


You can say, “This is a sophisticated house” by decorating your home with Christmas decorations.

A classy appearance can be achieved by using simple and subtle details, as well as natural materials. For example, a Christmas tree as the centerpiece in your family’s dining room.

You should coordinate decorative elements, such as with a touch of gold or traditional bright colours, that include native plants and gum tree branches.

Avoid laser shows unless your street in particular is chosen to showcase the Christmas spirit

If your street has been chosen for the purpose of displaying Christmas spirit, avoid laser shows

reindeer heads and wreaths on your car are to be avoided

But decorating a tree in the living room is classy

You should coordinate decorative elements, such as a pop of gold or traditional bright colours, with gum branches, native and natural plants, and berries.

Take a poll

Are you a classy or tacky Christmas person?

  • It’s tacky and proud! 0 votes
  • Elegant 0 votes

‘Creating an Australian festive theme with large vases of cloud-grey wattle with gum blossom, red bottle brush and heads of Kangaroo paw is a classy way of decorating the house at Christmas,’ Ms Lamberg-Burnet said.

“Real pine trees are a great way to add the Christmas scent, or you can choose a high quality imitation that can be kept and used again.

If your street loves laser shows, avoid putting on excessive tinsel or baubles.

Ms Lamberg-Burnet also believes it’s bad luck to leave decorations up past the ‘twelfth night of Christmas’ or January 6.


* One feature signature item such as a large Christmas tree 

* Keeping decorative elements subtle and coordinated e.g. gold or traditional bright colourways  

* Creating an Australian festive theme with large vases of cloud-grey wattle with gum blossom, red bottle brush and heads of Kangaroo paw 

* Real pine trees add a subtle aroma of Christmas or alternatively choose a good quality replica that can be stored and reused


* Laser shows unless your street is selected to showcase the Christmas spirit 

* Car decorations-reindeer heads and wreaths 

* Tinsel and baubles ‘overload’ scattered over everything inside and outside the house 

* Leaving decorations up past the Twelfth Night of Christmas which is reputedly bad luck


When giving gifts, focus on appreciation and gratitude to help create a more friendly and caring atmosphere, Ms Lamberg-Burnet suggested.

It is important to give a thoughtful gift that speaks directly to the recipient’s passions and interests. 

“Homemade foods such as cakes, chocolates and dried fruits are better than bouquets of flowers because they last longer and are simpler to arrange, she stated.

A thoughtful gift voucher or gift certificate for an unforgettable experience is a great way to show your appreciation. 

She stated that homemade food products such as chocolates and baked goods wrapped in colourful ribbon, dried fruits, or potted plants over a bouquet are more durable, easier to place, and last longer.

‘As a guest always bring along gifts for the host and their family… they do not need to be expensive but thoughtful,’ Ms Lamberg-Burnet said.

Family members sometimes make mistakes and buy a lot of cheap gifts, such as souvenirs, self-help books and clothing.

She said that t-shirts with crude messages, in-jokes gifts, and gift certificates without much relevance are not advised.

Christmas party guests should send thank-you notes no later than 48 hours after their event, and bring small gifts to the house.

Gift Giving Ideas

* Homemade food items such as baking, chocolates, fresh or dried fruits wrapped with colourful ribbon, handcrafted pieces, potted plants rather than a bouquet of flowers last longer and easier for the host to position 

* Recalling a gift a family member has requested or expressed a desire to have and you have remembered 

* A thoughtful gift certificate/voucher for a unique experience suited to the recipient 

* As a guest always bringing along gifts for the host and their family – they do not need to be expensive but thoughtful 

Gift Giving Don’t 

* Self-help gifts which may be inappropriate

* Souvenirs

* Anything that looks cheap, like a poorly made piece of clothing

* T-shirts with crude messages on them

* Personal hygiene items

* In-joke gifts

* Over eagerness to rip open gift parcels while overlooking or failing to thank the giver

* Irrelevant gift certificates

* Not thanking the host 48 hours later 


It’s important to prepare your Christmas menu carefully if you are given the task of leading a festive feast.

Local food vendors are a good option, especially since the Covid pandemic devastated small businesses. You can also buy produce at local grocery stores or have a finished-at-home meal made by a chef.

‘Serve food items on either dishes, platters or baskets, offer an array of tastes on individual small plates, offer plenty of glasses for celebratory cocktails, champagne, beer, wine and soft drinks,’ Ms Lamberg-Burnet said.

Serving takeaways from food chains, for example, an overcooked rotisserie chicken/turkey with a pre-prepared roasted vegetables and soggy coleslaw is not Christmas friendly

It isn’t Christmas-friendly to serve take-out food from food chain restaurants like a rotisserie turkey/chicken with pre-cooked vegetables and soggy coleslaw.

Don't give guests their drinks in bottles or cans but instead decant them into glasses

Do not give your guests drinks in bottles and cans, but decant the glasses instead

Indoor entertaining is easy with linen napkins, chinaware and glassware.

She suggested that guests should surprise their family members and include a gift along with the table settings. Be mindful of cultural and dietary requirements, and have extra food and gift items in case of an unexpected guest.

It’s not a good idea to offer a variety of dips and chips because people will double-dip. Also, bringing food to the table or creating buffets are considered unclassy.

You should not use plastic glasses or cutlery. Also, don’t wear sandals and a T-shirt if the family has made an effort to follow the dress code.


* Serving a selection of ‘dips & chips’ which attracts double dipping – not ideal for maintaining safe food handling 

* Serving takeaways from food chains, for example, an overcooked rotisserie chicken/turkey with a pre-prepared roasted vegetables and soggy coleslaw 

* Creating large buffet style spreads – there is a greater chance of spreading everything we have worked to fight against over the past two years

* Plastic glasses and cutlery, paper serviettes indoors – for outdoor use only 

* Offering drinks without glasses – do not expect everyone wants to drink directly from a bottle of beer, water or Champagne 

* Over indulging in the food and drink embarrassing yourself and other family, friends and guests 

* Regifting thoughtlessly with shabby items and not declaring it is a regift 

* Overlooking to present the home bathrooms in a presentable manner for guests to use 

* Expecting to sit alongside your family and guests at an indoor table with they have gone to the trouble to dress for the occasion when you are in a singlet and thongs 

* Sharing endless pictures on social media without others approval – keep it discreet and only post if relevant to your personal social media audience 


* A simple, flavoursome menu prepared with care 

* Purchasing food items from your local food suppliers – support local and extend that to Australian wineries & food producers who will welcome your online orders 

* A finish-at-home meal prepared by a local restaurant and beautifully presented is an option for busy families 

* Serve food items on either dishes/platters or baskets 

* Offer an array of tastes as individual small plates 

* Always decant food items into dishes, plates, boxed wine into carafes 

* Offer plenty of glasses for celebratory cocktails, champagne, beer, wine and soft drinks to avoid people sharing drinks 

* Use linen napkins, glass and chinaware for indoor entertaining 

* Use non-scented candles on the table to avoid the aroma overtaking the meal, placing your perfumed candles around the home including the bathroom 

* A individual side dish of nuts on the table can add to the informality 

* Give your guests and family a surprise and leave a small momentum gift with their table setting 

* Being mindful of dietary and cultural requirements 

* Be prepared with back up supplies of food items and gifts for unexpected guests  


Ms Lamberg Burnet offers a way to connect via Zoom, and create fun virtual dining experiences for those who are unable to attend the Christmas festivities.

“Remember your neighbours and close friends that may be alone at home. She suggested that you make a call and leave something behind. Both of these will be greatly appreciated by them, which could help to improve their day.

If guests or family members cancel after the event, such as if they were asked to withdraw from the gathering, please be understanding, despite any disappointment. Your best regards and greetings.