Social kissing is a potential minefield and is usually dependent on situation, age, background, profession and your relationship. As a general rule, don’t kiss people you don’t know. Don’t kiss colleagues. Do kiss close friends and dates. The key is to make your actions clear to avoid embarrassing confusion.
Usually it’s right cheek first, but prepare to change direction at the last minute. Pull back decisively (but not abruptly) if you are just giving one kiss. Be cautious with those you are less familiar with – two might seem over the top. If confusion occurs over one-kiss-or-two, take charge and go in for a second. Humour is useful in deflecting embarrassment over the meet-in-the-middle mix-up.
Just holding cheek against cheek feels insincere, but there is a fine line between an acceptable peck and an overly affectionate smacker. Cheek skin must make brief, light contact; sound effects, air kissing and saliva traces are to be avoided at all cost. If you’d prefer to shake hands, be sure to hold yours out before any kissing manoeuvres begin but, if you’re part of a group introduction, don’t be the only non-kisser at the party.