the etiquette of social kissing

Social kissing… the tradition of exchanging kisses when saying hello and goodbye to family and friends. This maneuver—which more accurately involves touching cheeks and kissing the air near the other persons ear is known by the french as faire la bise.

How to faire la bise?

Gently touch your cheek to the recipient’s while pursing your lips and making a kissing sound. Always offer your right cheek first to prevent the embarrassing moment—when forced to change trajectory halfway through to avoid wayward lips.

In small social settings, you fait la bise with everyone when you arrive. As subsequent people arrive, they will do so as well. In large social settings, you don’t have to circle the whole party doling kisses, but be prepared to do it when you greet individuals in the group.