"Changing the world . . . one common courtesy at a time."

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Holiday Tips For Hosts

Invitations.  They should be clear as to attire, time, date and whether a guest is allowed. Specify your latest RSVP date.

Special Diets.  Check for allergies or dietary restrictions.

Dueling Guests. 
Don’t let your guests get caught off guard.  Encourage all parties to settle any family   feuds or office animosity in advance.  Notify all parties as to who is and isn’t attending. 

Greet your guests as they arrive or designate someone to do so.

  Be a conversation starter.  Put people together by citing something interesting about each   individual.

Music.  Have holiday appropriate music playing - it’s festive and music sets the tone.  Make sure it’s at a   comfortable volume that doesn’t interfere with conversation.

Gifts.  Ask if a host gift is to be opened at the party or saved for later.  Acknowledge each gift with a verbal   thank you.  If you forget, follow up with a thank you call the next day.  There is no need for a hand written   thank you for a thank you.
* If giving out gifts or party favors, have extras on hand for surprise guests.

Seating.  Have a seating plan.  Sketch it onto a piece of paper.  For family get togethers, mix it up - kids,   adults, cousins.  If space allows, try to seat the kids with the adults.

Keep feuding parties at a distance.  For non family dinner parties, put guests together who will mix well,     have something in common, or may bring out the best in each other such as Chatty Kathy next to Shy Sam.

Conversation.  Steer conversation away from prickly topics such as religion, politics, someone’s parenting   skills.  If you notice that the conversation is becoming heated, take charge - change the subject, feign   assistance in the kitchen.  Some families and coworkers embrace controversial topics gracefully and   healthily.  Only you know your family or guests.  Best to discourage these topics if there is a hint of doubt.

Make a list and have family members or guests check off what they’d like to contribute in order   to avoid duplication.

Make it Fun.  Have trivia fact contests about each other, draw for a raffle, play bingo, have a story telling   contest.  Give away small prizes to the winners.  The winning number can be hidden under the coffee cup   saucer, under the chair, under the butter plate. 

  Cut off alcohol at least one hour before the guests’ departure time.  Call a cab or take away keys   if a guest is inebriated.  Know the laws in your area.  They vary jurisdiction to jurisdiction.  Do not serve    alcohol to a minor!

To combat alcohol intake, have snacks and water pitchers placed in clear view for easy access. 

Children.  You may discipline someone else’s children if you have been given permission to do so or the   situation is serious or disrespectful to your property or other children.  Best to get the parents first, if   possible.

Clean Up.  Don’t be afraid to accept a little help from your family members or co-workers.  If, however, this   is a formal event, save the clean up for later after your guests have left.

Good-byes.  Escort your guests to the door to say a proper good-bye.
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Thursday, November 18, 2010

Credit Stealers Beware! Don't Take My Ideas!

Do you have that co-worker who somehow ends up smelling like a rose because of all the great ideas that he or she brings to the table?  The only problem is - the ideas are yours!  In the acting world, we have a term called “scene stealers.” They’re the actors who repeatedly try to outshine the other actors. They do things that are distracting, things that always bring the focus onto themselves.

In the Etiquette world, I call these people “credit stealers.”  Every time you have a brainstorm of an idea, that idea somehow gets tossed about behind closed doors or (the audacity!) in open corporate forums with no credit given to you.  This is a great way for a co-worker to alienate him or herself from fellow co-workers and managers.  Only problem is - they don’t care!  It’s also a great way for baby to keep sitting in the corner.

To the bysitter, it seems that credit stealers get kudos and praise and even promotions while fellow co-workers suffer in silence, not knowing how to handle such a delicate situation.  Being the “office snitch” is not a good label either so  . . . eyes roll and the dilemma continues - how on earth do you stop it?

Sooner or later, the credit stealer is exposed for what he or she is but it may take years to see office justice. Sometimes, the wait seems unbearable, but does it have to be?  Do you wait it out or do you tackle it head on?  When is too soon?  Have you been with the company long enough to do so?  Where do you rank on the totem pole of corporate worth?  How about self worth?  Are you good with composure and articulation in meetings?  Hmm . . . better give this some thought. 

There is power in numbers.  If you decide to move forward by addressing the subject, you may want to wait until you have several examples to reference.  However, if there was only one credit stealing incident, yet that one turned out to have a significant impact on the company (a novel innovation, a decent revenue booster, a project that was well received by clients), then you may want to summon the courage to discuss the matter with your superiors now.  No one but no one can make this decision for you.  Each credit stealing situation is different.  Each manager is different.  Think carefully.  Weigh the pros and cons.  And then prepare.  Prepare to be professional.

If you decide to ask for a meeting: Presentation is key.  Rehearse.  Practice the salient points you wish to make.  Keep it short and to the point without becoming defensive. The old cliché of “it’s not what you say but how you say it” has a lot of merit.  Be diplomatic. Tell your manager that you thought long and hard before deciding to come forward, that it wasn’t an easy decision, that you realize this is risky.  State how your “idea” or conversation began and how it progressed.  Stick to the facts and insist that you are not angry but are indeed “disappointed.”  "Disappointed" gets higher marks than angry.  Shake hands, thank your manager(s) for their time.  (Oh, by the way . . . this is a great opportunity to ask for special assignments to demonstrate your capabilities.  Never pass up an opportunity!)

Now, what if the credit stealer is your manager?  Whoa.  It does happen - more often than one might think.  First and foremost, will a sit down with that manager change anything?  Is it worth a try?  How do you know if the manager is not taking credit behind closed doors?  At some point, you will have to make the decision as to how to broach this prickly situation, should you choose to do so.  Once again, eventually credit stealers are ‘found out’ but also once again, if you feel violated, feel that your ideas are repeatedly being ‘borrowed,' if you feel that the lack of credit is preventing you from deserved promotions and acknowledgment, it may be time to have that face-to-face with the higher ups.  You may be viewed as a dissenter . . .  or a genius.  It's a risk you take.  

If you politely and professionally address the concern using the tips above and state that you just want this noted, you have less of a chance of appearing jealous and malicious, and a greater chance of being taken seriously.  It’s all in the presentation.  

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Thursday, November 11, 2010

Thank A Veteran

As You Salute Our Flag, We Salute You!

Today, all around this great nation, there are choruses of "America The Beautiful" and "God Bless America,” echoing from sea to shining sea.
Tiny pockets of Americana are ringing their bells in tribute to those wonderful men and women who fought and continue to fight for this great land and the many freedoms we enjoy as a result of their selfless dedication and service.

Their faces, a mix - some worn and wiser, each weathered crease hiding a story of perhaps unspeakable visions.   Others who seem just too young to have witnessed the atrocities of war. So many words that are never spoken, words that never will be . . . the innocence of youth stripped away.

They served and continue to do so in whatever capacity but they serve . . .  and they do so without bellyaching, without illusions of grandeur.  They just do it.  They do so with pride and humility.
Let today be a gentle reminder of the great sacrifices they made and continue to make.  Sacrifices such as precious time away from loved ones - time that can never be recaptured; endless anxious, sleepless nights where a bunker is sometimes a bed; living conditions and climates that we spoiled outsiders could never fathom.

We got to see our little boy take his first steps.  They didn’t.  We sat proudly in the audience as our daughter accepted her honors award. They didn’t. While we were feasting on steak and wine, they were dining on ‘whatever’ and they liked it. We rested our heads on a feather pillow.  They put theirs down on a rock.  While our mother was ill and we got to say goodbye, they remained ever dutiful to us and forfeited that chance of closure.  They never complained - they just did it.  They continue to do it.

I am honored to be in your presence.  I am honored to know you.
And so today, I call upon each and every one of us to make a phone call or send an email to someone we know who has served or is presently serving our country and simply utter two words . . . Thank You.

Make a call today or tonight and say. . . thank you. Thank you for doing what so many of us take for granted.  Thank you on behalf of my children, my grandchildren, my parents, my colleagues, myself . . . thank you.

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Friday, October 22, 2010

Sherry's Baked Sugar Snap Peas

Sherry's Baked Sugar Snap Peas

Sugar Snap Peas are a cross between garden peas and snow peas. They are low in Saturated Fat, Cholesterol and Sodium and are a good source of Riboflavin, Vitamin B6, Pantothenic Acid, Magnesium, Phosphorus and Potassium, Dietary Fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Thiamin, Folate, Iron and Manganes . . . but take heed, they do, as their name indicates, have sugar. Check your diet restrictions.


In plastic bag, combine Olive Oil, Thyme, Minced Garlic

Place in baking sheet

Sprinkle with Sea Salt


Make several different varieties.  I buy a big bag and divide the pan into threes.  1/3 is cajun, 1/3 is basil and parmesan cheese, 1/3 is with thyme. 

You can add whatever suits your fancy.

Bake at 450 degrees for 10 minutes.

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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Halloween Etiquette and Safety Rules From Palm Beach Etiquette

Children should know the etiquette of Trick or Treating.  Review with them the manners and safety rules of Halloween.
Younger children should always be accompanied by an adult.  Always.

Say thank you each and every time someone gives you ‘treats’. Never say, “Eww, I don’t like that.”  Simply say ‘thank you’ and be on your merry way.

Ensure that all costumes and accessories are flame retardant. Make sure that the length is not too long in order to avoid tripping all evening, in the dark.

Check props - knives, staffs, rods, should all be dull with rounded edges.

Wear comfortable, walking shoes.  The wrong shoes can be a Halloween party pooper.

Teach kids to stay away from fire - lighted pumpkins, lanterns, etc.

Stand outside to collect any ‘treats’. Do not go inside a stranger’s home!

Don't trample flower beds, vegetable gardens or walk all over someone's grass.  It's impolite.
Carry a flash light so as to alert cars of your presence.

Make sure your cell phone is charged and is with you.

Walk on the sidewalks, not in the street.  It is difficult to see Trick or Treaters who are dressed in black and other dark colors. 

Teens should walk together in groups.  There should be no one leaving the group.

Trick or Treat within your comfort zone - neighborhoods that you know, churches, shopping malls.

Don’t ring the doorbell over and over. If there’s no answer, move on.

If there is a light on, this is usually a welcome sign.

Take 1-2 pieces of candy only.  No gluttony please. Don’t stuff a pillowcase full.  Think of others.

No rolling (toilet papering) houses or cars, throwing paint, overturning trash cans, leaving dead, black flowers.  No ringing bells and running. The police take these things seriously.  Make it fun!  A night in the clinker is no one’s idea of fun.

Check the candy before allowing your child to eat it.  Try to stick to tightly packaged candies. Throw out small candies that are choking hazards.  Throw away homemade foods and fruit, unless you personally know the donors.

Hide the candy from all pets.  Many a Fido has become ill from to much sugar and the chocolate is a danger to them.

Now . . . pour out all that candy, separate what you like and don’t, and have a huge trade party with your family and friends.  It’s a great excuse to continue celebrating Halloween!

Happy Safe Trick or Treating Everyone!

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Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Sherry To Serve As Etiquette Expert For Barber Foods Twitter Party - Join Us!

If you've never been to a Twitter Party, you don't know what you're missing and if you've never eaten Barber Foods chicken dishes, well  . . . get thee to the supermarket. Prizes will be awarded and the night will be fun!  Join us.  Live from Florida and Portland Maine.

On October 14, 2010 from 7:30 - 9:00 p.m., I will be answering Table Manners and other Etiquette questions for the fine folks at Barber.  Click the button below for more information. 

Monday, October 4, 2010

DATING ETIQUETTE - Picking Up Your Date

Parents, you’ve survived the “hanging out” and “hookin’ up” (not what you think, I learned from my teens) stages and now it’s on to the more formal rituals of “dating.” 

Like it or not, parents analyze every single characteristic or “flaw” of someone who is courting their offspring.  Review with your daughter or son the rules of date pick up.


1) Dress appropriately.  Let your date know in advance where you will be going and give her an idea of the dress code. This way, no one is embarrassed by being ‘overly’ or ‘under’ dressed.

2) Arrive on time - not too early and not a minute late!

3) Don’t arrive with music blaring.  Show respect for the parents and the neighborhood.

4) Never blow the horn and expect your date to come running out to meet you. The same applies to a text or phone call.  You must enter your date’s home, properly introduce yourself, say hello to her parents and family.

5) Before leaving, ask the parents what time you should have her home.

6) Respect the parents’ curfew and honor your word.  This is comforting to parents, instills a sense of trust, and makes you look good!
7) Walk her to the car and open the car door for her.

8) Do not peel out of the driveway.  You have just blown your chances of being approved!

9) Upon return, walk her to the door and do not leave until you see that she is safely inside with the door closed.


1) Dress appropriately.  Know how you should dress ahead of time so as to avoid embarrassing yourself and your date.

2) Be on time.  It isn’t “socially acceptable” to keep him waiting.  It’s rude.

3) Do not allow a text, a phone call, or a honking horn summon you to his car.

4) When your date arrives at the door, invite him inside to meet or say hello to your family. He may be uneasy as he is the one on the hot seat.  Make him as comfortable as possible.

5) Start the conversation by telling your parents something interesting about him.

6) Offer your date a small drink of something.

7) Ask if he needs to use the restroom before leaving.

8) Do not laugh or make light of him peeling out of the driveway.  It isn’t cute.  It isn’t funny. This says a lot about him. This should be your last date with him.

9) Honor your parents’ curfew.  Parents do not sleep well, if at all, until their children are home safely.  It will make also make your date look bad as your parents will think he is being disrespectful.

10) Regardless of whether you had a good time or not, write a simple (not overly gushy) thank you note for the evening.  It shows how you were raised. Both he and his family will be impressed.

And girls, if you are the one picking up your date (barring special circumstances where you have a driver’s license and he doesn’t) the EtiquetteQueen has a lot to say about that if it’s a first date, but  . . . we’ll save that for another day.

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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Developing The "It" Factor

The University of Salamanca teaches Protocol and Corporate Image as part of their curriculum.  The rationale is simple - give the students the academics but arm them with the social graces, the interviewing skills, the confidence that they need for the real world, the corporate world. By doing so, the EtiquetteQueen says you build great leaders.  

The University is regarded by some as one of the four greatest universities in the world, alongside Oxford, Paris, and Bologna. It was founded by royalty, King Alfonso IX and is the oldest university in Spain.  Do they know something that we don’t?
Often, I’ve said that stuffing our students’ brains with wonderful information is simply not enough.  Etiquette and Life Skills belong in mainstream education.  Their lessons enhance academics.  The combination is powerful!
Visualize this - a boy has a high GPA in math and science.  We know that he’s headed for an impressive engineering school, but he has no social or presentation skills.  He can’t give a speech or command attention to save his life! He sits in the corner at parties because the thought of walking up to someone and saying hello is paralyzing to him.  A young lady is valedictorian but is known for having a potty mouth, gossips all the time, and has never learned a proper handshake.  She can’t put two sentences together without using the word “like” as a filler over and over.
These students, in the real world, have less of a chance of being taken seriously and being viewed as strong leaders.  They will often be overlooked for project manager positions, promotions and will find that the road to the Boardroom is tough.
The way we enter a room, the way we speak, our eye contact, our handshake all become part of our signature.  An individual needs a signature.  No, we don’t want robots who all look alike or speak the same way - that’s where individual personalities take over and make each of us so unique - but rather we’re discussing an individual who projects a favorable, confident image.  He’s the one that everyone wants to be around. He’s the one that others turn to in crisis because there’s a trust there.  She’s the gal who has an invisible magnet on her forehead that instantly causes others to hover around her and solicit her advice.  The undertones of that type of personality are huge!  It’s called the “it” factor.  No one knows how or why someone has “it” but they know that “it’s” there.
Casting directors, be it for a television commercial or movie role, tell me that they knew “it” the minute “it” walked into the room, sometimes well before the audition began.  And yes, the “it” factor can be developed.  It comes to some naturally but with proper coaching and small adjustments here and there, it can absolutely be developed.
There’s the argument that manners and introductions and handshakes and how to host a party and email etiquette should all be addressed at home.  Well, they aren’t!  Plain and simple, they aren’t - much in the way that geometry isn’t taught in the home. The alternative?  Make Etiquette and Life Skills a part of the education system beginning at an early age continuing through college.

Image and Presentation are powerful and can lead to great things in life.

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Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Dress Code For The Corporate World PART I

When in doubt, dress conservatively.

In corporate America, you simply cannot go wrong by dressing conservatively. You can, however, put yourself at great risk by daring to dress provocatively, sloppily, or in a manner that signifies that little thought has gone into your grooming.

While there are casual office environments, for the most part, one should dress differently when going to work than they would for a backyard BBQ. Look around. How are the leaders in the company dressed? Follow their lead.

Sure, there are exceptions. If you own your own business, you can do as you please, but if you're concerned about your future and climbing that corporate ladder, the ladder you don't own, you need to be cognizant of how you're perceived.

Good grooming tells a lot about an employee. It does not mean wearing designer clothes or buying the latest, most expensive bottle of perfume. Visit outlet stores, go to sale racks and accumulate a few basic items that can be shaped for many occasions, creating numerous different looks. An accessory here, a scarf there can change the entire look of your corporate outfit.

You can set the corporate attire standard if one hasn't already been set. I watched one office completely change their dress code approach as a new hire set the bar a bit higher than what existed. Good grooming signals personal pride and for managers, that train of thought translates into possible pride in your work, attention to detail, and good organization skills.

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Sunday, September 5, 2010

Garbage Etiquette

How often do we throw out garbage without a thought to possible serious repercussions of unsecured refuse? Garbage often contains jagged, sharp lids from canned goods; plastic bags (that in the hands of a child can lead to suffocation); and broken glass - a cornucopia of health and safety hazards. Simply put, it's unsanitary and unsightly.

As part of being a good neighbor, secure your garbage first and than place it into a closed container. When moving or doing spring cleaning, anchor the empty boxes as best you can with a heavier item to prevent them from blowing away. Leaving garbage exposed and open to the elements invites trouble.

Open, exposed trash draws rodents, pests, animals and scatters about the neighborhood creating further health hazards and an unsightly presentation of your living area. A few extra moments of practicing good garbage etiquette is all it takes to preserve the neighborhood and do your part to avoid injuries or accidents that may result from carelessness.

And don't forget - place your garbage outside as close to pick-up time as possible.

Take pride in you neighborhood. Practice good garbage etiquette. You live there too!

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Saturday, September 4, 2010

Teens and Peer Pressure – Making Tough Choices

The ability to stay on top of our teens is a difficult task, to say the least. If parents aren’t addressing respect and discipline at home, and if schools aren’t reinforcing what the parents have done, what’s left?

Teens tend to mimic what’s around them. It isn’t easy being a teen – so many choices, so many rules, sooo many temptations. At the risk of rising up and taking a stand, comes the risk of losing position in the hierarchy of status among peers. What teens don’t realize is that the one who takes a stand against the pressure is often viewed as a leader.

Etiquette and Life Skills should be reviewed regularly at home. When your teen agrees to share a portion of his or her day with you, they are flattering you as the parent. Sharing should not make them regret doing so.

A great way to drive home life lessons is by discussing the news. Reference something that a teen did recently (such as holding onto the back of moving car while riding a bike or having a baby very early in life) and point out the repercussions from that behavior. The news gives us an opportunity to present real life situations without too much argument. Because it was on the news, it really happened, right?

Talk to your teens about split second decisions to do drugs and how quickly the police can suddenly appear. Have them take care of a pretend baby (a doll) over the week-end set the timer for intervals of two hours all throughout the day and night for diaper changes and feedings. Explain that one moment of stupidity can affect the rest of their life. Show them pictures of car crashes from a drunk driver and detail what happened. It must be done gingerly – almost in a nonchalant, matter- of- fact manner in order to garner more interest. No screaming, preaching, or criticizing. Presentation is important.

Role play with your teens. Just like you would rehearse for stranger danger situations, practice with your teen as to what words to use when faced with tough choices regarding parties or situations that may have drugs and alcohol present, or better yet, practice how to politely decline those invitations. The more practice, the more comfortable a teen becomes with releasing those words and with feeling empowered with the decision.

Like it or not, we the parents, are the ones who must constantly monitor our teens by knowing their friends, their friends’ parents and being aware of activities on and off school property. By allowing your teen to open up to you, much of this information can be gleaned.

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