Thursday, May 28, 2009

Dining Manners 101

My friend, Debbie, a talented interior designer, invited me to lunch today and yes, etiquette experts make mistakes. We dined at Gale's restaurant in Pasadena and I was salivating over the menu. I always tell my clients not to order anything difficult to eat or with a lot of sauces should it end up on your shirt/blouse/dress. Did I follow my own advice? NO! I wanted to order the lasagna because I had heard it was fabulous and it was incredible (as was the salad before it). The delicious sauce immediately ended up on my expensive blouse. However, I was smart. I had worn a gorgeous shawl my colleague Linda had given me and was able to cover my mistake. Did Debbie notice? I hope not.

Rule #1 - Don't order difficult/messy foods if you're trying to make an impression
Rule #2 - Always bring a shawl/sweater just in case!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Invitations - mistakes

What is wrong with using the following on an invitation?
(1) Please RSVP
(2) hors d'oevres
(3) At the home of Susie and Rick Martin, 110 Upland Terrace, Riverdale, Michigan 59043
(4) Regrets only
(5) 476-0000

(1) It's redundant. You're saying "please please." Use please reply or RSVP. It is French for Repondez s'il vous plait (please respond). If you don't hear from the person and it's three days before the party, it's perfectly proper to call them and say "Caroline, I hope you're coming. I have to give the caterer the final count." Usually the answer is yes!
(2) It's spelled incorrectly. Do you know the correct spelling? This is incorrect on 75% of business and social invitations I see.
(3) If it's a local party/event/fundraiser, you don't need the state UNLESS you're inviting people from other states. You never put a zip code in the body of an invitation.
(4) Never use this! You'll never know how many are coming and honestly, it's like saying "I don't care if you show up or not!" Just say please reply because this way you have to hear from everyone. If you feel you have to put a date to reply by that's up to you but I wouldn't.
(5) Always put an area code.

Note: I like to vary my guests at parties I give so I don't invite the same people every year. The second year I hosted one particular theme party, a former guest called me to say, "Pamela, I didn't receive an invitation to your party. Did you forget to invite me?" I, of course, said "Paige, I hope you can come. It's......" She brought me a fabulous hostess gift so it all worked out.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

How do you remember names?

I forget. Seriously, it takes work to remember someone's name; names are very, very important. People have always told me that I'm very good at remembering names so I'll share with you the tips that work for me.

(1) When someone introduces themselves to you, repeat their name immediately.
(2) Try to make a mental image of their name when they say it, i.e. Susan Capwell, SC. Now, if there is a roomful of SC alumns it could be a problem.
(3) If someone is walking toward you, smiling like they know you and you have NO CLUE who they are, hold out your hand first and say, "Hi, Pamela Hillings" and 99% of the time they will say their name. Repeat their name immediately.
(4) What about that 1% who don't say their name (I just walk past them). If you don't try to find out who they are then you'll never know the next time. Just say "I remember seeing you at the awards dinner for Paul Johnson. Please tell me your name again?"
(5) When you do find out their name, use it in the conversation a few times. It's very powerful.
(6) Never walk up to someone and say "I bet you don't remember who I am?" I'm inclined to say, "You're right, I don't. Next." But that's not very polite. People would do this to my mother in receiving lines when she was a Congressional wife. But she was very gracious and handled the greeting beautifully.

Just remember: don't forget.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Can I e-mail a thank you note for a gift?

I'll give you a hint and it's two letters: NO. If you receive a gift, you should handwrite a note; it's much more personal. If you tend to procrastinate, at least call the person or send a quick e-mail thanking them and then follow up with a note. Exceptions: for hostess gifts (they are thanking YOU for the dinner/party) or again for a gift where people are thanking you, i.e. you took over dinner to a sick friend and they had someone drop off flowers for you. Call them - always acknowledge receipt of a gift. People will come up to me at my seminars and say "I read that you have a year to write a thank you note for a wedding gift." You could be divorced by then! Write it as soon as you can. The last page of our book says "Be unique, write a thank you note. Be more unique, mail it."

Friday, May 15, 2009

Graduation gifts

It's that time of year to honor members of your family or friends who are graduating. While a gift is never required, a card is a nice gesture if your budget doesn't permit buying gifts at this time. You can always send a gift later. However, if you want to send a gift, find out the graduate's favorite store. Or, send a check. If you prefer to give something rather than money or a gift card, have an item personalized or select a piece of jewelry. For the college graduate, a monogrammed leather business card holder is always appreciated. Even if the college grad might not have a job at the moment, they can create a business card with their information for "networking" purposes. Regifting? If you must, make certain it doesn't have the year you graduated on it!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

National Manners Week

Have you returned that phone call today?

Have you written that thank you note (don't you want a gift next year?)

Have you paid someone a compliment today?

National Manners Week is May 11-15 but you can be polite after that, too.