Skillful Socializing

Valentine’s Day Gift Etiquette

Posted by on Feb 13, 2014 in Etiquette | 0 comments

Valentine’s Day Gift Etiquette

 “Today is Valentine’s Day. Or, as men like to call it, Extortion day.”

—-Jay Leno

On this eve of Valentine’s Day, are you fretting over a gift? Don’t let the U.S. marketing machine behind Valentine’s Day get to you. Just take some time to give your Valentine’s Day gift some thought.

Valentine’s Day is a great time of year for businesses who are always looking for a way to sell a product or service in the middle of the winter. Consequently, we hear about getaways, flowers, and gifts through the media and are bombarded by red hearts in stores. But when it comes to Valentine’s Day, sincerity rules. Nothing is sweeter than a handwritten note expressing your feelings.

Talk About Expectations
If you are unsure about your sweetie’s gift or celebration intentions, ask about plans beforehand. Ladies, if you have dreams of your sweetie celebrating you with a grand gesture of love, you may find yourself disappointed on February 14. If you’d like that grand gesture, you might seriously consider telling him what you want and expect.

Keep It Simple
If you are rushed, remember a handwritten note, flowers, and a little chocolate go a long way. If you can take it one step further, have a nice candlelit dinner at home.

Expect a little less this Valentine’s Day and simply enjoy the love for your sweetheart, family and friends.

“I don’t understand why Cupid was chosen to represent Valentine’s Day. When I think about romance, the last thing on my mind is a short, chubby toddler coming at me with a weapon.”


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Super Bowl Party Etiquette

Posted by on Feb 2, 2014 in Etiquette | 0 comments

Super Bowl Party Etiquette

If there’s one thing you can count on at a Super Bowl party, it’s entertainment. Not the football or the commercials, but the party guest entertainment. Try not to be the entertainment. Some other guidelines for enjoying the game at a party:

Bring a gift or contribute. This is a long party and your host has likely gone to a lot of trouble. Bring a nice gift or a dish or bottle.

Find Your Room. The party host usually has televisions in two rooms. If you aren’t a more serious game watcher or like to chat too much, you’ll know where to go.

Similarly, if you are a vehement fan and know you will find the crowd annoying, watch with your posse of fans or at home.

Hands Off The Remote. Hands off the remote  if you aren’t the host. No rewinding for commercials or plays. Everyone has a different level of rewind derision, so let the host be the guide.

Help the host. This is a seriously long party for the host. Pick up however you can throughout the party.

Resist Arm-Chair Quarterbacking. Commentary and conversation yes, but leave the critical analysis of the game or advertising to ESPN and Madison Avenue.

Gamble. If the host has set up some kind of betting game, join in. It’s the one time it’s rude not to gamble.

Exit. When it’s over, head out the door. Everyone is exhausted and it is usually late.

For more guidelines, give it up for Tripp and Tyler.

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Budget + The Relationship Determine Holiday Tipping

Posted by on Dec 19, 2013 in Etiquette | 3 comments

Budget + The Relationship Determine Holiday Tipping

 “Doorman—-a genius who can open the door of your car with one hand, help you in with the other, and still have one left for the tip.” 

—-Dorothy Kilgallen  (American journalist and game show panelist)

Figuring out holiday tips can be tricky. From the dog walker to the nanny, the manicurist to the in-home nurse, there can be a number of people to consider tipping during the holiday season. With common sense as a guide, consider your budget and  relationship with service provider. Following are general guidelines:

  • For those who work with you daily like nannies, au pairs, cooks or butlers —- a week of pay, plus a personal gift from the children for nannies and au pairs.
  • House cleaners, hair stylists, manicurists, massage therapists, dog walkers, personal trainers and assistants, and very regular babysitters fall into a subset of the personal service category —- up to the equivalent of one visit.
  • Doormen can make your life much easier. Based on  the level of service and location (bigger cities = bigger tips) —- $20-$100.
  • Gardener and pool cleaner —- the equivalent of one visit or a $10-$20 tip per helper.
  • Teachers, tutors, instructors and coaches —- a gift card or gift.
  • Garbage/recycling collectors and newspaper carriers —- a smaller tip (e.g., $10-$20 per person) for each person.
  • Mail and package carriers and nursing care facility and in-home providers —- a small gift or gift basket that can be shared is appreciated. The U.S. Postal Service and as well as some other providers do not allow cash or gift card tips.

Consider the length and level of service. For example, if you are a flower-show level gardener who works closely with your gardening team, you tip much more generously.

Cash Is King

When Cuba Gooding, Jr.’s character burst out “Show me the money!” in Jerry Maguire (1996), he was speaking for most people. Thoughtful gifts are great, but cash is king. Most of us have no idea how others manage their money. Many use tips to pay for holiday gifts, bills or rent. When cash is not appropriate, consider a credit-card gift card or store gift card.

You might be surprised to find how much people tip. Regardless of others’ tipping patterns, it’s a personal choice based on common sense, budget, relationship and length of service.

“Number one, cash is king… number two, communicate… number three, buy or bury the competition.”
Jack Welch  (former chairman and chief executive officer of General Electric)

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How To Make Hosting Thanksgiving Easier

Posted by on Nov 24, 2013 in Etiquette | 0 comments

How To Make Hosting Thanksgiving Easier

“Thanksgiving dinners take eighteen hours to prepare. They are consumed in twelve minutes. Half-times take twelve minutes. This is not coincidence.”

—-Erma Bombeck

Thanksgiving hosts have the opportunity to think through the big bird event to make it go smoothly.

Schedule Your “Breakdown” Day—-Hosts deserve a serious rest day after a big event. Clear the schedule and give yourself a chance to rest and put away the party tools.

Game Plan—-If the group is active or has a tendency to be contentious (or become contentious after a few too many drinks), plan a post-dinner walk, game (e.g., football, basketball or even Monopoly), a tennis match or swim. Plan to have one of the hosts lead the activity(ies). Let your guests know ahead of time if they need a change of clothes.

Dietary restrictions—-Aunt Myrna is now a raw macrobiotic vegan who only eats organic. After you plan your meal, let her know what you are serving. Ask her to bring a dish that she likes and finds that others enjoy (e.g., something other than the often loathed Brussel sprouts). She can also supplement her meal beyond her dish and what you are preparing.

Beforehand Food Prep—-Think through your dinner: what dishes can you prepare in advance or set in serving dishes? The less you have to do during the party, the more you can enjoy your guests.

Clean-up—-If you have amazing guests who help with clean-up, then you are golden. Take them up on it and know you will help when you go to their homes. If not, consider how you can stash the food in the fridge easily and then use the dishwasher and stack the rest so you can enjoy your guests after dinner.

Pre-Party Review—-Review the guest list and schedule with your partner and children so they know who is coming, what to expect, what they might talk about and who to especially to look out for (e.g., person who doesn’t know the group or is a little more quiet).

Review topics to avoid and bring up to switch gears, if needed.

Seating—-Always feel free to create a seating arrangement, even if it’s not your norm. Otherwise, you may be asked to come up with your seating plan on the spot.

A seating plan gives you the opportunity to help introduce people as well as separate warring factions within the family. An added bonus of the plan is that guests like to know where to sit because it’s one less thing for them to worry about.

Generally, you seat male-female and place spouses separately or across from each other to mix things up.

If there is one person so you can rely on to keep the conversation going, place him or her next to a quiet person or the person who doesn’t know the group. If your go-to person is a close friend or relative, ask her beforehand to help you with this task.

Upon Entry—-Take coats, dishes and purses, and then work on the drink. Tell your guests what you are serving and if it is a big group, tell them to help themselves. This is also the time to set the stage for what they can expect. “Please enjoy the football game while we finish cooking. We plan to eat about 3 o’clock.”

Happy Thanksgiving.

“My cooking is so bad my kids thought Thanksgiving was to commemorate Pearl Harbor.”
—-Phyllis Diller

Photo: Was it Harry Truman or JFK who first pardoned the turkey?

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Public Body Etiquette: Keep Your Hands To Yourself

Posted by on Nov 3, 2013 in Etiquette | 0 comments

Public Body Etiquette: Keep Your Hands To Yourself

Maybe we can blame the Santa Ana winds and dust for giving us the sniffles. I would like to think that is why so many are putting their fingers where they don’t belong lately.

If you are reading this, you care too much to pick your nose at stoplights (we still see you through car windows), soccer games (this guy could barely stop the dig to cheer on his son), at dinner tables and during presentations. We the people around you would like to invite you to take this business to the privacy of your bathroom where you can freely mind your own beeswax.

On that note, is an ear dig okay? If it comes from an orifice, it’s time for a visit to the bathroom.

Toothpicks? Teeth picking? You can be assured friends and colleagues don’t want to watch a mouth swab of any form in public. There is a reason toothpicks aren’t de rigueur among fine dining establishments.

Some may think tooth pick usage is okay depending on your location. Plaque is disgusting regardless of geography.

What is next for society? Toes and belly buttons? Is it okay if no one notices? Let the public be clear: We see you and it is ick.

So thank your gentle soul for not just keeping your own hands out of your ears, nose and teeth, but also for keeping your partner on track, not to mention your children.

Photo: Ron Burgundy (get your hand out of your mouth)

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Personal Care Service Professional Etiquette

Posted by on Oct 13, 2013 in Etiquette | 0 comments

Personal Care Service Professional Etiquette

Are you sure you want to break that appointment?

“I’ve never had my hair cut by anybody, I do it all myself.”
—-Keith Richards

For those who value good grooming or spa treatments, there are few more important to you than your hair stylist or colorist, manicurist, aesthetician and/or massage therapist. Keith Richards may be able to get away with hacking at his own hair, but then again, does he really?

Following etiquette with personal care service professionals can make it a lot easier to get an appointment and enjoy great service:

Twenty-four hours notice for appointment cancellations: Unless you are sick, give plenty of notice when changing or cancelling appointments. That way someone else can be placed on the schedule. If your hair stylist isn’t working, she isn’t getting paid.

Don’t be the nasty girl. Show up somewhat clean. Dirty hair when you see the hair stylist is fine. Other than that, smelly and unshowered person equals gross. Sweaty I-just-took-a-run hair: disgusting. If you are getting a massage or face or body treatment, get to know your soap and razor beforehand.

Tip. Do you depend on this person? Then tip well regardless of whether the person is the owner or rents the salon chair or spa room. Think 20%.

Be kind. It goes without saying to follow the golden rule; feel good about following it with everyone you encounter.

Enjoy your treatment!

“If you don’t look good, we don’t look good.
—-Vidal Sassoon

Photo: Brigitte Bardot

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Neighbor Etiquette: How To Make A Request

Posted by on Sep 8, 2013 in Etiquette | 0 comments

Neighbor Etiquette: How To Make A Request

“Be at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let every new year find you a better man.” 

—-Benjamin Franklin

“Love thy neighbor”? “Annoyed by neighbor” is often more the case thanks to drums pounding, dogs barking, screaming children, lack of upkeep and teenagers in general. The list of annoyances is endless, even if with  a large property. Sorry so cynical Mr. Rogers, but the neighborhood is a jungle.

Like it or not, these are the people you live with. Sure, you can scream at children, call the police or sue. But then you might end up being mysteriously vandalized or worse. So complain to your spouse, mother or BFF and then jump on the high road.

First, don’t ever make good on the urge to take down your fence. Jokes aside, you likely have no idea about the annoying neighbor’s situation. Your neighbor could be depressed or broke, dealing with pain, or  have just lost his job or father.

Pass the side of judgment and go for a helping of clear, polite expression. As long as you aren’t dealing with a truly scary individual and expect to meet the end of a loaded pistol, call or tell him in person what’s troubling you, offer some suggestions (if appropriate) and be grateful for his help in resolving the situation.

“Love thy neighbor—-and if he happens to be tall, debonair and devastating, it will be that much easier.”

—- Mae West

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