Keep your swine flu to yourself this Christmas

Mon Nov 23, 2009 9:08am EST
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LONDON (Reuters Life!) - Tis the season to be jolly -- as well as pass your flu germs to others at Christmas get-togethers unless you're careful.

That's why etiquette advisers Debrett's have drawn up a list of dos and don'ts when it comes to kissing under the mistletoe alongside customary advice on avoiding a social faux pas this year with the threat of swine flu so prevalent in the headlines.

The first thing Debrett's says is that if you are feeling ill, the sensible thing to do is avoid Christmas parties.

The advice also says a kiss hello is a more hygienic greeting than a handshake. So if you take that approach to greeting or if you just would like to a steal a mistletoe 'kiss', the most hygienic way to do so is to briefly touch cheeks with the other person.

"It's medically proven that a peck on the cheek is much more hygienic than a handshake," Debrett's etiquette adviser Jo Bryant said. "People carry billions more germs on their hands so cheek-to-cheek kissing, French-style, is a healthier greeting by far."

Below are Debrett's Nine-step guides for the holiday season.

The 9-Step Guide to Dos

1) BE CONSIDERATE - If you're feeling unwell at the Christmas do, just stand back and observe or, better still, make your apologies and go home rather than risk spreading the lurgy.

2) THE CANDIDATE - Make sure you pick a willing target and that you won't make them feel embarrassed or uncomfortable by asking for a kiss.   Continued...

<p>A man gets a H1N1 flu vaccination at a hospital in Budapest November 20, 2009. REUTERS/Karoly Arvai</p>