There are times when you're greeting people with whom you are on good enough terms to call for something more than just a handshake or hug, but it's just not appropriate or comfortable to plant a kiss directly on their cheek. In these cases, giving them an air kiss, where you brush cheeks and kiss the air near their cheek, is a good display of social decorum. Made popular by celebrities, who must often mingle and make nice with people they barely know, it's most common on formal social occasions and among friendly, well-mannered acquaintances.
- 1Know when to air kiss. Consider both the occasion and the nature of your relationship with each person you greet. Typically, a formal event (such as weddings, formal parties, and official ceremonies) that brings together people who are on good terms, but who otherwise don't see each other, is the common setting for air kisses. Less formal occasions (family get-togethers, neighborhood barbecue, and casual lunches) may warrant the traditional hug and lips-on-cheek kiss, especially if you see the person you're greeting on a regular basis.
- 2Observe how other people are greeting each other. This will give you the opportunity to gauge the formality of the occasion and confirm your judgment about whether this is an appropriate time to air kiss. For example, if you're approaching an entrance and the host is at the door greeting people, see how they are behaving. If your cousin, who's in front of you, gets an air kiss, and you're no closer to the host than your cousin is, then you're probably going to be expected to give an air kiss.
- 3Read their body language. As you approach, reach out with your hand, whether to touch or grasp their upper arm, elbow, or hand(s). If they recoil or tighten up in any way, it might be wise to consider defaulting to just a loose hug. If they seem relaxed and return your contact, an air kiss is probably in order. And if they embrace you affectionately or touch your face, prepare to kiss and be kissed, traditional style.