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10 Things You Should Never Post on Social Media During the Holidays

Updated: Jan. 25, 2024

The holidays are a prime time for collecting those Instagram double-taps. While some celebrations are exciting for your online pals to share in, other events are better kept within your family or close to your heart. Here's what the experts say you should never post on social media during the holidays.

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The gift you didn’t like

‘Tis the season to exercise gratitude instead of rolling your eyes or complaining when you don’t get quite what you want. Even if you had hoped your partner would have bought you something different or you’re annoyed your mom knitted you yet another sweater you’ll never wear, it’s better to keep it offline and remember the value of family instead of the value of what was under the tree. “Do not post petty comments about gifts you didn’t like or who was cheap in your family,” says author and family and couple therapist, Deb Castaldo, PhD. “Those types of comments, even if you don’t name names, can be very hurtful and provide the fuel for more family conflicts.”

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Bragging about all the gifts you got

While it might have been cool to compare notes about your latest Barbie Dreamhouse or rad bicycle you got when you were a kid, as an adult, sharing your extravagance and thus, privilege, with the world isn’t flattering. In fact, it could make you appear to be selfish and ungrateful for the blessings you’ve been bestowed or the luxuries you can afford to give to your family. “It can be fun to talk about what you’re going to buy your kids, partner or friends, especially when it’s extravagant, but remember others are not as fortunate as you and the holidays can be a reminder of the overdue mortgage, living paycheck to paycheck, and what won’t be under the tree this year. Be grateful and enjoy what you have, yet be sensitive to others lack of,” says Sarah Mandel, RN, LCSW. Another reason to keep those gifts off online? You run the risk of grabbing the attention of criminals, Mandel adds. “Tweeting or posting photos of your extravagant gifts can be an invitation for robbery. This is the time of year when crime is up and thieves look for that new 55″ flat screen TV or new loaded laptop to steal,” she says. Make sure you check out these gift-giving etiquette rules for the holiday season.

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That fight with your significant other

Okay, okay, so your husband had one job and one job only—to pick up the hickory-smoked ham—and he forgot, and now you’re scrambling to find another alternative before your in-laws get into town. As tempting as it is to update your status with a snide meme about husbands or a sarcastic post that degrades men, Courtney Geter, marriage, sex and family therapist, says to take a deep breath and refrain for the sake of both your relationship and your community. “Often times, we go to social media to get support from our friends or family. However, the fight you had with your significant other was not witnessed by anyone else. When you reach out, your friends are going to be biased toward you and want to support you. Although their intentions are to help you and make things better, it could create more tension in your relationship. Also, if your friends are mutual friends with your significant other, they may feel divided in wanting to support you but not ruin a relationship with your SO,” she says. Here are 9 more social media mistakes that can hurt your relationships.

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The drama within your family

While our stockings might be hung by the chimney with care, in the closet down the hall, there might be some skeletons sippin’ on eggnog. All families have secrets and you’re bound to not like every single person you’re related to. But if you want to bash your cousin or reveal some drama about an estranged great aunt, you might only create a giant elephant that’ll be felt across the dinner table. “Social media is not a place to resolve family conflict. In fact, social media could create more conflict or hurt feelings. It may create a divide among other family members or friends who know your family members. It may also ruin an enjoyable family event since a majority of your other family is also on social media. Even if you make a message private, remember that others could see it if a mutual friend is tagged in the post or if a mutual friend shows someone else your post,” Geter says.

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'I Voted' sticker on the black background.

Your political viewpoints

Regardless of who you voted for, try to let political viewpoints and discussions pause during the holiday season. As it’s a time to celebrate, focus on your families and being of service to those in need, instead. “The holidays can be a time of peace for all, to bring our country together in celebration, and create a celebration toward our futures,” says Dawn Michael. So if you are wanting to continue the negative feeling about the election, take a break and keep the holiday spirit positive and joyful,” she advises.

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Photos of others without checking first

While it’s definitely the age of sharing each and every little thing that we do, from selfies in bed with coffee to what you ate for brunch, the only person you truly have permission to share a photo of is yourself. More often than not, your family members and hometown friends won’t mind if you share a (ahem, flattering) photo of them, it’s always a good idea to check first. “Just like some parents prefer not to post pictures of their children online or prefer to monitor which photos are posted online, some adults also don’t want their lives made public,” Geter says. “Although you might want to share the memories of your family event with others, check first with others in the photo before tagging them or even posting the picture. If someone knows the picture will be posted online and made public, they may choose to opt out and take a private photo with you later.” Don’t miss these 11 other photos you should never post on social media.

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Anything that puts down other religions

With all of the different celebrations around the world happening this time of year, it might be tough to keep up with which of your friends celebrates which special day. And vice versa: those you might not know so well could wish you the wrong “happy” or “merry,” but this isn’t the time to dismiss their likely well-intentioned gesture. “Don’t get offended if someone wishes you a ‘Happy Hanukkah’ and you keep ‘Christ in Christmas,'” Mandel says. “The bottom line is that these are all well wishes with good intentions unless someone tries to proselytize and pressure you into believing their religious beliefs. It can be difficult to keep up with the many holidays we celebrate in this country but don’t let the pressure of being PC keep you from enjoying your traditions.”

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Anything you wouldn’t want your boss to see

Even if you keep your profiles on strict lock down and have privacy settings, friends-of-friends could still see—and possibly say—something to your employer. Learning to censor yourself when you’ve had a bit too much of that mulled wine or want to declare your New Year’s resolution is to get a better job is a smart move. “We have become so comfortable with the internet that we often forget that the whole world has access to our posts. And yes, photos can be copied before you know what hit you,” Dr. Castaldo says. “You may want to be a viral social media superstar, but do you really want to end up there because your photo was captured while you were in a drunken stupor?”

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A bunch of selfies

What’s way more attractive than filtering away that zit on your chin from one-too-many peanut butter cookies or posing with your hand on your hip in front of your tree? Taking a photo with those you love the most and capturing the magic, love in the air between your family. Dr. Castaldo says we should focus on sharing more group shots in general, but especially in a time when gathering together is celebrated and made a priority. “Although many people are now addicted to posting their best staged selfies and photos of perfect meals and home decor, relieve yourself of the pressure of keeping up. How about switching it up and posting what really matters: a group shot of you and your loved ones enjoying each other’s company,” she says.

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Always being online

Less than a decade ago, having your phone handy while sitting at the dinner table would have seemed the height of rudeness. As much as you can, stay focused on the moment so you can truly experience this special time of year with cherished company. “Yes it is fun to share the excitement of the holidays on social media. So go ahead and post your fun times, gifts, and meals. But keep it to a minimum and just remember your social media posts are now part of your permanent personal and professional ‘resume’ and a snapshot into you values, morals, and relationships,” Dr. Castaldo says. This season, she suggests an experiment: Put your device away and see what fun you can have connecting in real time with your loved ones! Next, check out this guide to gift-giving etiquette.