Thursday, July 8, 2010

RSVP - Do you?

DO YOU RSVP? What does it mean?

RSVP is French for respondez s'il vous plait meaning "please reply." This is the #1 complaint I hear all the time: people don't respond to business or social engagements or volunteer meetings.

Be unique and let someone know if you can or cannot attend. RSVP means you contact the host to let him/her know whether or not you will be there. "Regrets Only" means you call ONLY if you cannot attend (NEVER USE THIS PHRASE! You will not get an accurate account of attendees.)

Remember, look at the e-mail or invitation to see who is actually invited; never show up with an uninvited guest.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Wedding guest etiquette

Are you attending any upcoming weddings? Yes, there is wedding guest etiquette.

Respond to the invitation as soon as possible. Do not ask to bring a friend. Look at the envelope carefully and you'll know exactly who was invited.

Arrive at least fifteen minutes early before the ceremony.

Do not take a gift to the wedding or reception UNLESS it is at the home of the new bride or groom. Gifts become lost, the cards fall off, sometimes gifts are stolen or they are dropped. Send it ahead of time or even after. (Whoever started the rule that you have up to one year? The couple could be divorced by then; send it soon.)

A man does not wear black tie before six o'clock in the evening.

A wedding gift is addressed to the bride and sent to whoever issues the wedding invitation.

It is in poor taste to carry a drink when going through the receiving line. Also, this is not the time for a lengthy conversation with the bride and groom!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Punctuality - to be on time or not to be on time

It's the new year. Make a habit of being on time.
  • For business meetings, arrive at least 10 minutes early and give your business card to the receptionist so that the person knows who you are. Ask for his/her name and repeat their name
  • If you're going to be late to any appointment/meeting/service - always have your contact's cell phone number with you and call even if you're gong to be 5 minutes late.
  • Arriving at a restaurant: if you'll be late, call your contact's cell phone number. If you don't have it, call the restaurant. If you arrive before your guest, don't sit down "unless" you're the host.
  • Bottom line: you're more confident if you arrive a few minutes early. THE EXCEPTION? A party! Don't show up early but never be more than 15 minutes late "unless" it's a drop in open house.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Companies with Class

I have worked with hundreds of companies throughout the years and I have always noticed firms who have class. They pay special attention to their employees, their clients and customers, follow up with communication, make you feel as if you're their only client or customer, go the extra mile and so much more.

Last month I had the opportunity to present a business etiquette luncheon seminar to interns who were selected for a summer internship by a leading independent asset management firm headquartered in Los Angeles. It is truly one of the most coveted and prestigious internships in the country.

The luncheon was held in the corporate dining room and the attention to detail with the place settings, seating arrangements, incredible menu and agenda was an unbelievable experience. The Public Relations Department prepared exquisite place cards, menus, handouts and name tags. It was truly a professional, informative and fun experience. The interns were so appreciative to have been able to attend and they all mentioned to me how much they've made incredible contacts through their internship with this outstanding firm.

My main contact at the firm was unbelievable. She returned phone calls and e-mails immediately, went above and beyond the call of duty to assist me with my requests, was extremely organized and when I arrived was incredibly welcoming. I felt like I was her only client. The other staff members I worked with were also efficient. This firm follows through on their mission statement and they are, without a doubt:

The #1 Company with Class

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Who pays for the restaurant bill?

It's a dilemma. You go out with co-workers or friends and you order something inexpensive and drink iced tea and they order steaks and beer or wine. How do you split the bill?

#1 Who ever does the inviting pays. If you invite a colleague, friend or relative to a meal YOU PAY.

#2 A group of your co-workers decide to go to dinner after work. You split the bill evenly and you only had a small salad and water and they ordered steaks and wine or beer. You're out of luck. Bring plenty of money.

#3 You invite friends to celebrate a birthday luncheon for a friend or co-worker at a restaurant. Let them know ahead of time that you're all splitting the bill evenly. You can do several things:
* Let them know the menu ahead of time and figure out the cost so you can tell them exactly how much money to bring. Collect it graciously as my sister-in-law says. Don't call attention
to the bill paying. If you're the guest, just keep talking and pretend you don't see the money received. It's inappropriate to collect money in front of your guest. Have them give it to you BEFORE the meal. When the bill is presented, excuse yourself from the table and pay at the front desk.
* If the above doesn't work, excuse yourself and go to the front desk to calculate how much everyone owes. Write it on a slip of paper and when you return to the table you pass it subtly to the people. Then they have to give you the money. This is awkward and not recommended.
* Entertain at your club so no money is exchanged and they send you a check. The problem is if you're not a member of a club it will cost you a lot of money to join. It's less expensive to take care of the situation at a restaurant.
* Always bring extra money because no one is good at math and you always end up short. Don't count on that vacation to Hawaii.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

The art of conversation

The secret is four words:
Ask questions.
Be interested.

I sat next to Henry Kissinger at a White House dinner party when I was 21 and I think I was a good conversationalist because my father taught me to "ask questions and be interested" in what the person had to say. Don't ramble on about yourself; your dinner partner will love it if you extract interesting information from them and are genuinely enthusiastic. My friend Kim is unbelievable because she knows how to get people talking about themselves; plus, she's so engaging that people want to talk to her!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Hostess gifts for summer parties

Summer entertaining is fun because it's relaxed, casual and by the pool, beachfront, patio, deck, garden or even a kitchen party. When you're invited, remember to bring a hostess gift; it does NOT have to be expensive. Last week we had a welcoming party for relatives who live in Europe and throughout the U.S. for dinner on our patio. My sister-in-law is absolutely the best at gift-giving; goes to great lengths to give the perfect personalized gift. She lives in St. Louis and brought Bissinger Chocolates - popular in that city - and she knows I love chocolate. And, because I enjoy cooking she also brought special spices from Penzy. She was our houseguest and brought gorgeous serving pieces for entertaining. The other thing that is important is the presentation: how it's wrapped. I do not wrap; I should hire my sister-in-law. My house is filled with gifts from her from etiquette books she's sent me, monogrammed stationery, pottery she has made personally for all of us, personalized jewelry, etc. That's the only reason I married her brother. I like gifts from her. She's invited back.

Other summer hostess gift ideas
Here are my favorite stores:
Julienne Fine Foods and Celebrations, San Marino, California
Motif, Pasadena, California
Vroman's Bookstore, Pasadena, California
Crate and Barrel
Pottery Barn

Always ask to have the gift wrapped or at least a bag with tissue and ribbon.

(1) Monogrammed cocktail napkins from Motif in Pasadena, California (already wrapped and everyone needs cocktail napkins - have them put tissue in their beautiful store bag). They also have a personalized wine stopper (already available with the host's initial) that I have given to clients and a monogrammed cheeseboard with knife which is very unusual. Allison is my personal shopper and she always knows what my needs are and has the best suggestions. She also mentioned the San Pasqual dressing they have which I love and you buy the candied walnuts to accompany it; they're from Marstons restaurant, Pasadena.
(2) Fun apron if your friends/clients grill a lot (we call it a barbecue in California but my relatives elsewhere call it grilling).
(3) Trays or glasses and pitcher for lemonade/iced tea. Non-breakable is great for outdoors.
(4) If it's a party at their home at the beach a cute frame with shells around it - take a picture that night of all of you and e-mail it to them for the frame
(5) I once gave beach towels for the family with each of their names on it and it was a hit
(6) If your guests are from out-of-town, a book on where you live. I have given a lot of copies of "Hometown Pasadena" written by Sandy Gillis and other writers. When you have visitors it's a great gift to guide them around the city.

What if someone invites you at the last minute?

(1) Ask if you can bring something for them to serve that night, i.e. a bottle of wine or dessert. If they say no, which I have said to guests (and my neighbor Caroline never lets me bring anything but of course I do) then just show up on time, enjoy the party and write the thank you note!
(2) If you want to bring them fresh flowers from your garden that is a very nice gesture but bring them in one of your vases already arranged; otherwise, they have to take time out from their guests and prepare them in a vase.
(3) Run to your nearest bookstore and get the Zagat Guide on the area they live in (Washington, D.C., San Francisco, Boston, New York, etc.)
(4) Go to your nearest market to get an hors d'oeuvres - even a vegetable tray but arrange it on a nice platter. Stop by Julienne and get their fabulous terrines with crostini to take.

Don't arrive empty-handed! And remember, write a thank you note!