We went over this last year at the beginning of February, but I thought I’d bring it up a little earlier this year, for reasons that will become obvious.
I’d like to once again review our standard nationwide protocols when it comes to saying, “Happy New Year.”
As a general rule, you’re pretty safe just shotgunning “Happy New Year” out into the world until around today, the 10th of January. With friends and family, you’ve got a much more relaxed timeline, depending on the first time you see or talk to them after New Year’s Eve. A close family member or a really good friend can comfortably receive a HNY well into January.
With work, you’ll want to keep the 10th in mind as a good guideline. Even before the 10th, however, you’ll need to exercise caution in the workplace. Hopefully you took heed after last year’s discussion and have done so.
It can be a major business faux pas to wish the same colleague a HNY more than once in the office or on a Zoom call. Similarly, wishing a client or vendor a HNY for a second time on a call can lead to awkwardness. You’ll either want to keep a list of all the people you’ve wished a HNY to, or have an earlier cut-off date.
I would suggest the earlier cut-off date, since someone else finding your list can lead to more awkwardness during your embarrassing explanation, or a trip to HR if you refuse to give a plausible one. It makes people nervous when Bob in accounting has an unexplained list of officemates with some of the names crossed off.
If you are on the receiving end of an embarrassingly late or doubled-up HNY at the office, you have a few options. You can go with the friendly “Right back atcha,” or the more formal, “And also with you.” Whatever happens, try your best not to embarrass the ill-timed HNY’er. Maintain decorum, plow forward with the conversation, then casually send them this column in about a week.
Wishing a HNY to the clerk at the grocery store, the person behind the counter at the coffee place, or your server at a restaurant needs to end right around the 4th or so. You might still be in the holiday mood and want to be friendly and wish them a HNY, but they’ve had the HNY exchange six thousand times by then and they’re just done with it, so have a heart and let them off the hook.
If you’re a friendly sort, and like to wish random passersby on the street a HNY, stick with the 10th as your guideline. Anything past that and it’s getting weird. If you want to say HNY at the end of January, it better be to your immediate family members, and even then they’re going to think you’re being weird.
And for the love of Pete, under no circumstances should a HNY come out of your mouth or land in a text or email after January has ended. This is the official, 100%, no wiggle room, cease and desist, cut-off day.
February is a strict HNY no-fly zone. No one wants to hear it. It’s cold, many people have started their taxes, and pretty soon we all have to figure out what to do about Valentine’s Day.
Happy New Year!
Copyright © 2024 Marc Schmatjen
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