Easy Etiquette - Baby Showers, Sprinkles and Sip n See’s, OH MY!

When I just barely bring up this topic of baby shower etiquette among my friends or family, it always sparks a large conversation filled with everyone’s anecdotes on something that happened to them, or some shower protocol (or lack thereof…) they weren’t quite sure how to handle.

With so many generations involved, as is often the case, with baby (and wedding) showers, it’s no wonder differing opinions or traditions come up. And with the addition of “sprinkles” and “sip n see’s” into the modern mix, it can just add to the protocol confusion.

I’ve taken the most talked about baby shower etiquette questions straight to the top of the pile, and here they are in no certain order:

Baby Shower Tricky Questions and Simple Answers!

Q.        I’ve been invited to more than one baby shower for my friend who is having her first child. Do I need to take a present to both showers?

A.         No, you are definitely not on the hook for multiple presents. The best solution here is to take your present to the first shower you attend, and for any subsequent showers after that feel free to take a nice card or some other small, sweet expression for the mother-to-be, like a small bouquet of flowers. Duplicate shower invitations sometimes happens among friends who are involved in multiple friend groups, and of course among family members too. You should absolutely attend, but never feel as though you should have a gift for each shower.

Q.        I’ve been invited to a baby shower where a group gift is encouraged. Do I have to participate in the group gift, or can I get a gift of my own choosing? If I participate, how much should I give toward it?

A.         The simple answer to both is, you should always do what you are most comfortable with, and what fits within your budget!

             Sometimes those hosting a shower use it as an opportunity to fulfill a more expensive registry item, like a baby stroller or car seat, and a group contribution can be a great way to do that. An appropriate contribution, should you choose to participate, is in the $20 to $25 range per person. If you are contributing as a couple, you might choose to do more – or less – again keeping your overall budget in mind. There should be no price point expectations for group gift contributions. And anyone hosting the shower should always convey the gift they are hoping to purchase so guests have a better understanding of how much they might want to contribute.

            In any event, you should always feel free to go on your own and get a gift of your own choosing if you prefer not to participate in a group gift.

Q.        My family is having a large baby shower for me, and the thought of opening gifts in front of all those people makes me nervous. I don’t like all the attention. Do I have to open them during the shower, or can I do it later on at home?

A.         This is a difficult one to be sure, but as etiquette is all about trying to do the most gracious thing, the answer is to do everything you can to open the presents during the baby shower. This goes for any shower of any size, baby or wedding.

            Here’s why – typically people really go out of their way to pick that special gift off the registry, or even give something that is personalized or an heirloom. They love and want to be able to share in that moment with you when opening. So if you’re nervous, pull in a friend, family member or the father-to-be to help take some of the spotlight off of you if you can.

Q.        I’m co-hosting a shower with some friends for a very good friend of mine. The problem is, I can’t afford to spend a lot of money on the shower. I want to participate, but I don’t want to break the bank doing it. What should I do?

A.         So many of us have been in this situation. Do not fear, there is a solution! It’s an honor to be a host, and your friend who is the mother-to-be is going to be thrilled with what you are planning, and not for the amount of money spent on it

            Co-hosting with others is a great way to share costs in a resourceful way. The key is to set expectations from the beginning. For instance, you might each agree to contribute $100 toward any shower costs, and not exceed that. With that in mind, you can develop a plan and stay on track. There may be instances where others want to take on a larger piece of the cost. If so, it’s okay to be upfront and honest with your limits, you don’t owe any explanations about it. Conversely, if others wish to contribute more – or less – be gracious and okay with that too.

Q.        I’m having my third child, and some friends want to throw a shower for me because it will be my first son. I feel silly doing it though since it is my third child. Is it appropriate to have a shower?

A.         These days, there aren’t many “rules” as it relates to showers for multiple children. People   love an excuse to get together and celebrate a baby!

If you’re uncomfortable with another shower, consider a “sprinkle”, which is a smaller, more intimate gathering of close friends and/or family with a smaller amount of gifts.

Or, you could ask your friends if they might consider a “sip n see” once the beloved baby has arrived.  A “sip n see” is a chance for people to gather to “sip” on something (punch, champagne, etc.) and “see” the new arrival. Presents may or may not be involved, depending upon the preference of the mom-to-be.

Now Go and Be Gracious!

Etiquette in the Workplace - Landing the Job

So you’re ready to land that first job, or maybe move on to another opportunity. You’ve spent an enormous amount of time getting your resume or C.V. together, in the various forms they come in these days (remember back when it was on paper??), and you’ve finally been invited to interview. Now is when it’s time to shine and showcase your polish and confidence. That first impression is when you make your mark:

Mind Your Social Media Manners – Don’t think twice that potential employers won’t first look you up online to quickly weed out if they want to take your resume any further. In fact, for some larger organizations, their H.R. department may be tasked with doing just that. Your potential employer is looking for someone who will be an exemplary representation of that organization, and if your online presence turns up any photos or words that are questionable, you can probably consider yourself out of the running. There’s a lot of competition out there, and you have to set yourself apart in a positive way.

P.S. This goes for life in general. Your online image and presence sends many messages about you, intended or unintended. Keep it courteous, respectful, civil and dignified, and you’ll find it will help you keep relationships and flourish new ones.

Prepare for the Interview – You should be doing as much advance work as your potential employer is! Review their Web site in depth so you can answer questions and pose thoughtful, educated ones. And, if possible, look up the person with whom you are interviewing so you recognize their face when you meet in person and possibly know a little more about them to add to conversation.

Dress the Part – You’ve likely heard the expression, “Dress for the job you want.” Well, it still holds up. It is always better to be overdressed than underdressed, especially when you are trying to land the job. You may already know that the organization has somewhat of a “relaxed or business casual” environment, but that does not give you permission to assume that is okay for the interview. Most would never fault you for, say, a suit and tie, or a lady’s business suit or dress, even if it’s a casual workplace. But, they just may note you didn’t bother to change out of your jeans and tennis shoes. Always err on the side of looking your personal best.

Be on Time – Be on time, be on time, be on time. Cannot overstate this enough. Going into an interview with a strike for lateness puts you at a tremendous disadvantage, and can taint the overall tone of the interview. It’s discourteous to the person interviewing you, who likely has a full day already and is short on time. Not to mention, you lose out on that time you could have been using to impress. CONVERSELY, don’t arrive too early. Ten to 15 minutes early MAX is an ideal time to arrive. Arriving 30 minutes early or more puts the interviewer in a position to have to figure out what to do with you, especially if he or she is tied up until the interview time.

Make an Impression – When the moment arrives, and the interviewer walks toward you to greet you, follow these rules:

·      Stand Up

·      Extend your Hand and use their last name i.e. “It’s a pleasure to meet you Mr. Jones/Mrs.     Smith”

·      Shake Hands (2 or 3 firm pumps) and smile!

·      Say “Thank You” for taking the time for the interview. You will say this again at the end.

Follow Up – When the interview is over, say “thank you” once again as you are leaving. Always end with that message of gratitude. Then follow up, immediately, with a “thank you” note. It will likely distinguish you from the others. If you feel compelled, you may also send an immediate follow up “thank you” email for same day timeliness. But still put that written “thank you” note in the mail too as it shows an added touch of effort, which just may make the difference.

 

Now Go and Be Gracious! 

 

courtney logo.jpg

Easy Etiquette - Approaching the Appetizer

Is there anything better than a meal of just appetizers? It’s not really a question, the answer is “no.” Appetizers and rose’, this is all I need. And half of those appetizers should consist of various forms of cheese plates, as long as I’m still planning my perfect meal.

If you’re like me, and you never host a dinner party without a few apps to start – or if you’ve ever eaten (or plan to eat) an appetizer – then these 4 Quick Tips are for you!

Here’s a quick debrief on what to do for those tricky appetizer encounters, whether you are the host, guest, or out to eat at a restaurant. And if it involves burrata, you should definitely get that!

1.    Use the Plates. Know those stack of plates your server brings to your table with that heaping bowl of spinach dip and chips? Well, go ahead and start passing them out to everyone at the table. Because no matter what the appetizer (yes, even chips and salsa/guacamole), you should put it on your appetizer plate and use it. Not the bread plate you may have already been using for, well, bread. And not your hand either that you’re using as a makeshift plate for that chip dip from the bowl in the middle of the table to your mouth.

Spooning a reasonable amount of the dip, sauce, etc., on to your plate and then using a utensil to get the conduit (i.e. chips, bread, veggies) on your plate serves many beneficial upsides: the food is now closer to your mouth so less chances of embarrassing yourself by dropping on the table halfway, less germs are shared by a communal appetizer bowl, and you decrease the chances of the gross broken chip left by another person in the queso bowl by 100%.

Conversely, if you are entertaining at home, set out appetizer plates for your guests. For quick one bite options, feel free to use plastic disposable tooth picks (they make really cute ones now), or even tiny little individual cups for nuts. There are so many clever table hosting options these days. If you find yourself in a situation where plates aren’t available, use a napkin instead. Always remember the First Rule of Etiquette – Be Gracious! Never make a fuss when someone else is cooking for you, make do and appreciate what they are doing for you.

Other appetizers this section also applies to:

·      Pita and hummus

·      Cheese plates

·      Buffalo wings

·      Shrimp cocktail

·      Oysters

·      Endless jalapeño poppers/mozzarella sticks/toasted ravioli

·      And every other appetizer you can think of or have tried (In the U.S. anyway, remember other cultures have other customs. You should always defer to the customs of that culture, including in other people’s homes.)

2.   Seconds, After Everyone else First. You know when you’re really hungry, and you can already tell dinner is going to take awhile, and there’s only a few slices of bruschetta left, and everyone else has had one except your wife/wife’s friend who is busy gabbing to the host about her centerpiece? (Right now my husband is nodding his head “yes”.) You want to get another piece of that delicious tomato and mozzarella heaven, but you know good manners precludes you from doing that. But, what if someone else does it anyway, and then it’s all gone?!

Follow your instincts and good manners. Instead of giving in to the voice of your grumbling stomach, pick up the platter of heaven, and take it over to your wife/wife’s friend and offer her a plate (or napkin) and a slice of the bruschetta. Once she accepts, or declines, then you are free to take it back to the table and help yourself to another serving. As always with your good manners, don’t go crazy, just take one. It’s likely some other starving husband (or wife) has been eyeing those last few pieces too.

Same goes for restaurant etiquette, take a reasonable portion of the appetizer, and then pass it along ensuring there is enough for everyone at the table to have the same portion. And don’t forget, for those odd-portioned or large-sized appetizers, cutting items in half to ensure there is some for everyone is not only gracious, it’s just plain good manners.

3.   Pass to the Right. Once you’ve sliced those mouth-watering beef short-rib sliders in half so there’s enough for everyone at the table to have one, go ahead and start the platter by passing it to your right. Same rule applies at any “Family Style Dinner” setting i.e. Christmas, Thanksgiving, etc. You always pass to the right. And while I’m at it, I love a person who forgoes their own first selection to pass it to the right and then claims theirs at the very end. This is not necessary! I just love the thought behind it.

4.   “Finger Foods” for a Reason. A quick word on utensils and appetizers – it’s completely okay to eat “finger foods” with your fingers. Once you’ve gotten those truffle fries and aioli on your plate, go ahead and dip away with your fingers. If you’re a person who prefers to eat their pizza with a knife and fork, you may also be one who prefers to use a fork for all finger foods as well. This is completely okay. The best rule of thumb in any situation, if you’re unsure of what is and is not a finger food, is to look to your utensils setting and/or your host for what they are doing. For instance, if you have a tiny fork among your setting and your host is using it for the smoked oysters, go ahead and do the same. In all instances, make sure you utilize your napkin, whether in your lap or under your plate while standing at a cocktail party, to wipe your hands. If need be, make a quick dash to the restroom to wash up after particularly messy appetizers.

BONUS TIP: The Barefoot Contessa says all you really need for a great appetizer spread at a dinner party is a (preferably silver) bowl of salty nuts, some shavings of really good Parmesan cheese and some nice baked crackers along side. Two things you can buy, and one you can make if you desire. So simple and so elegant. Now go plan a party:)

Easy Etiquette - Airplane Etiquette

Air Travel Do’s and Don’ts - CF Etiquette on "Better Kansas City"

All of your burning etiquette questions for air travel answered below! If I missed some, email me at cfetiquette@gmail.com. Would love to hear your questions!

Honestly, is it okay for me to bring my lunch onto a plane? I see so many people doing it.

·      The short answer – yes, of course – but with a huge caveat.

·      Your first rule of etiquette is to always do what is considerate. So make a considerate lunch choice that will not create a smell others may not care for.

·      Skip the tuna salad sandwich for a turkey sandwich instead, or go for a salad instead of something hot.

·      Be sure to give your trash to a flight attendant as soon as possible so it is no longer lingering in your row.

·      And as always, the same rules of consideration apply as if you were at a dinner table i.e. chew with your mouth closed and don’t talk with your mouth full.

What if the person next to me is eating something that I cannot stand to look at or smell? What do I do?

·      If it is not feasible for you to politely move to another seat (as planes are often completely full), the best thing to do is take your mind off of it by putting on your headphones and diving into a book or work.

·      It wouldn’t be considerate to make the person feel uncomfortable about their food choice, even if it is bothering you or others around you.

·      Once they are finished eating, you can politely offer to hand their trash to the flight attendant or “throw it away” while you are up.

·      If the situation becomes unbearable for any reason, you can discreetly discuss it with a flight attendant, who may be able to offer some remedies. They have certainly seen it all!

Can I recline my seat?

·      Unless you are on a very long cross-country or international flight, the best etiquette rule of thumb is not to recline your seat.

·      There is very little space these days for leg room, and reclining seats just takes that much more away from the person behind you.

·      If you are on a very long flight (i.e. international flight) and will be reclining your seat for sleep or otherwise, make sure the person behind you is not in the middle of eating their dinner on the tray table before you recline.

·      You can even take that extra step of consideration, and ask them if its okay if you recline your seat for awhile.

Who gets the armrest? Is it whoever gets there first? And what about the person in the middle?

·      Since the middle seat is typically least desirable, the etiquette armrest rule of thumb is that the person in the middle gets both of the inside armrests, the aisle passenger gets the aisle armrest, and the window passenger gets the window armrest

I always seem to sit near someone talking on their Bluetooth or hands-free phone, is that acceptable on planes now? It drives me crazy, what can I do?

·      Under the etiquette principles of consideration and respect, it is definitely NOT okay to speak on your cell phone in a hands-free setting on the plane.

·      It invites everyone else into your conversation, even when they would prefer not to be.

·      If you must talk on your cell phone on the plane, be brief, and keep the volume of your voice at a minimum.

·      If you are seated next to someone talking loudly on hands-free, you may feel free to politely talk to them when they are not on a call, and ask if they wouldn’t mind talking a bit more quietly as you are trying to read, baby is asleep, etc.

·      People are usually unaware of how loud they are talking, and don’t really mean to!

How do I escape a conversation with the person next to me? I don’t want to be rude, but I’d like to read during the flight.

·      It’s a polite thing to exchange pleasantries when you sit down next to a person on a plane. In fact, it’s just plain good manners to make eye contact and say “hello” to them.

·      However, if it evokes a conversation that begins to go on a little longer than you might like, a polite way to excuse yourself from the conversation is to say something like, “I’m so enjoying talking with you, but my apologies I have a deadline for work I’ve unfortunately got to get working on now. Let me know if my typing bothers you!”

·      No matter what you say, though, make sure it is honest. The person next to you will easily be able to tell if you are playing solitaire on the computer as opposed to writing a work email.

I once had a passenger tell me my bag was in her overhead compartment space, and that I need to move it. Is there assigned overhead bag space?

·      No, overhead bag areas are first come first serve.

·      The polite thing to do is to put your bag directly over your seat, but if that space is no longer available, you may feel free to try and locate another space near your seat, or ask a flight attendant to find a space for you.

·      The key is to find a place for your bag that is the least disruptive to other passengers when you are trying to disembark.

Best Rule of Etiquette for Air Travel – Use the Flight Attendants! You don’t have to be the one to address the issue. They are trained to do it in a polite way, and know how to handle it if a situation were to escalate in grumpiness!

Talking Tough Etiquette Dilemmas on KC Live!

Just talking money, religion and politics with the hosts of KC Live this morning;) Really enjoyed answering tough etiquette dilemmas from Michelle Davidson and Joel Nichols! What do you do when a political conversation becomes awkward? How do you handle guests who are always late? What about that co-worker who frequently shares a little too much? Great questions this morning! Thank you!