Monday, September 13, 2010

And She Wore White

One of the etiquette questions that came up this summer for friends of mine was the idea of not being the bride and the rules of wearing white. The scenario was a bridal luncheon that we were attending as bridesmaids. One of my best friend’s had packed two dresses, one was a solid-white sundress and the other was just a backup plan. She brought both on the trip hoping that the bride wouldn’t mind her wearing the white dress (which she didn’t). While we were getting ready my friend asked my opinion of her wearing the white dress. I quickly responded that I wouldn’t wear it, but others thought if the bride didn’t mind then to go ahead and wear it. Ultimately, she didn’t wear the white dress because she was going back and forth so much with her decision. I’m sure in the end the bride would not have cared, but I’m sure it would not have gone unnoticed by others and it eliminated all the worrying my friend had making the decision.

The next day at the wedding we all immediately noticed one of the family member’s of the groom wearing a white dress and debated further. We all could argue both sides: it is so hot who cares what she is wearing OR how could she have the audacity to wear a bleach-white dress! It sparked my interest and I decided to do some research.

Turns out that everyone is giving conflicting information. I came across this article from April 2009 that polled a number of well-known experts and some said don’t wear white and others said it didn’t matter. Surprisingly, Peggy Post said that wearing white is acceptable. Here is the link Would You Wear White To Someone Else's Wedding? | The Frisky.

Well, all I can say is my opinion and provide a few guidelines for you to live by. Of course I’m more traditional and conservative than most, but I always consider others feelings, which I think is most important when you’re attending an event such as a wedding, bridal shower, baby shower etc.
You don’t want to take the spotlight off the guest of honor, bottom line.

If you are attending a wedding leave the white dress at home. This is the bride’s one day where it is completely about her. Wear your cute white dress out to dinner with friends and other social gatherings all you want, but leave it behind when you’re attending weddings. If the dress is primarily white, off white, or cream leave it out of the running for your wedding-day outfit. White accents on a dress are fine, but if your “debating” if it is appropriate or not it probably isn’t. I always found that if I’m dressing for something and I’m not feeling completely sure if it is the right outfit it probably isn’t.

I tried to find some pictures of dresses that I thought could be looked as appropriate, but really probably are not.

What is your opinion on wearing white dresses to weddings? I’d love to hear some of your stories/experiences.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

I'm Back

Hi Readers! I have no good reason to have stopped writing for months on end but I'm back and ready to roll. I've had a wonderful summer of family gatherings, bachelorette parties, bridal showers, and weddings. As always the summer months went entirely too fast.

I have to say that I've had several readers ask me to get back on the bandwagon of writing so thank you for the encouragement. I've had several personal experiences over the summer that have been good "blog" ideas. Real-life situations that I've experienced include spotting women wearing white to weddings as a guests, how much to spend on a wedding/shower gift if I know I'm not attending the actual wedding, to pet-walking etiquette (thanks Beth G and Ashley S)! Have you had any questionable etiquette dilemmas this summer? Send ideas my way and we'll explore it all together.

This is a picture of my good friend Stacie (who is engaged and getting hitched in June) and me. We were in our friend Molly's wedding in boiling hot Georgia. We had a wonderful time and the wedding was beautiful.

Happy Autumn Readers!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Tech-savvy Travlers

Hi Readers! A friend posted this article on their Facebook page and I thought it was so timely with my last blog post. Here is the link - check it out! Click here to read.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Cleared for Departure

I’m getting back on the traveling theme tonight in the spirit of a business trip coming up next week. Flying, no matter for what occasion, always gives me anxiety. I’m not scared to fly, but the whole event of packing, going to the airport, checking in, going through security, and waiting for the inevitable delay always puts me on edge. I’ve got flying down to a science though. I know exactly where to go, and if I don’t I’m just looking for the next sign to point me in the right direction. I don’t dillydally; I try and get through it all as quickly as possible. My husband can attest to the fact that I just have no patience with the “novice/clueless travelers” who don’t know where they are going, aren’t organized, and most importantly get in my way.

I have to give airports credit – these days they do make it much smoother for us “expert travelers.” The first time I saw the new security-line system I was ecstatic. For those of you who don’t know what I’m referring to they have three lines now – one for families that are traveling (i.e. strollers), one for casual travelers and one for expert travelers. Why it took nearly 40 years for that to happen is beyond me, but I digress. In addition to the new lines you have the sky caps outside to check your luggage, avoiding all sorts of chaos inside, you don’t have to check a bag (heck it costs money to do so anyway), and you can already have your boarding pass with you before you even enter the airport – nirvana! This means the time actually spent in the airport can be minimal before arriving at your gate. I’ve made it through in 10 minutes at Midway in Chicago (I also know about the security check points “hidden” off to the side)!

Now, there is proper etiquette to follow when traveling. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if everyone read this blog so they would make our traveling experiences more enjoyable? Here is the skinny from Peggy Post on airport etiquette and some general guidelines to follow.

  • First off, lower your expectations before even heading to the airport – expect the worst and maybe it won’t be so bad.
  • Be pleasant – the airport workers aren’t the ones delaying your flight or changing the weather.
  • Follow the rules – if you break any then you’re only going to hold yourself up and others.
  • Check with the airline’s web site on bag size and weight limits before you pack. Also, find out how many carry on items you can have. (I literally saw one woman emptying her suitcase in the middle of the American Airlines check in space with her clothes all over the floor because her bag was too heavy– did I mention there were about 800 people in line behind her!! AHHHH!!!)
  • Make a habit of writing out a checklist of everything you need to pack before you start: wardrobe, toiletries, personal or business documents, tickets, and your ID.
  • Be alert when going through the security line. Have your boarding pass and ID out and ready.
  • As soon as you can take off your shoes, jewelry, and other small items (also remember to wear an outfit on travel day that is easy to travel in – i.e. lose the belt if you can, wear slip on shoes, little or no jewelry etc.).
  • Take out your laptop from its case beforehand so you don’t have to fumble with it on the security line.
  • Retrieve you items from the security conveyor belt and get out of the way to reassemble everything – don’t’ be a bottleneck.
  • When you arrive at your gate find a seat and don’t put your bag in another empty seat – you could be taking up spots for other people.
  • Be polite when using your cell phone – keep conversations short if possible and walk away from the congested area – no one wants to hear your conversation.
  • When boarding stand clear of the gate – only walk up when it is your turn.
  • BE ORGANIZED - bottom line - be prepared, have everything with you, know where you're going, be alert and aware of your surroundings, and be respectful of those around you.

There is much more to talk about but I will wait for future posts to delve deeper into other aspects of flying the friendly skies. I'll even give advice on how to politely avoid the chatty seat mate.

What are your tips for happy and stress-free traveling? A drink at the bar beforehand? Headphones? Share your nightmare stories and tips!

Thanks for reading.

Click here for an article that talks about the dreaded security check point.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

I received a comment on my last blog post regarding office gift giving. I'm not sure how this person found my blog, but I'm certainly glad she did. The founder of shared her personal experiences and solutions to the ever-tasking group-gift-giving dilemma.

I visited to see what it was all about. This web site, though charges a small fee for usage, allows people to organize a group gift seamlessly. I actually didn't order/execute a gift but the web site seemed very intuitive. I urge you to share this with your colleagues and consider it the next time you need to organize a group gift. This would be great for group wedding, shower, office, birthday, anniversary, Christmas, and any other holiday gifts.

Check it!
Happy group-gift giving readers.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Group-office Gifts

This topic was a request by a friend who frequently has office parties where her department is asked to financially contribute to a group gift. For anyone that has worked in an office environment you know exactly what we’re referring to: wedding and baby showers, significant anniversaries and birthdays, retirements, and possible deaths are all reasons for coworkers to give a group gift.

While these are certainly important events to celebrate, and is a sign of respect for the office to acknowledge these personal-life happenings, they can add up. The size of the office is key to considering how much/often these instances can comfortably take place. Large departments may find themselves having parties more than once a month. You can imagine that this could become an expensive practice for some, especially those lower on the totem pole (sorry for the corporate slang…it is a habit I’m trying to kick).

Peggy Post does speak to office gift buying extensively in her book, “The Etiquette Advantage in Business,” second edition, but doesn’t get too specific about setting contribution caps. After reading Peggy’s advice on the broad topic I came up with a few guidelines you can take back with you.

Group Gift Guidelines:

  • Create a committee for your department/group that is in charge of organizing these types of events. This committee will then communicate to the greater group the details.
  • Set a specific dollar amount for the group-gift contribution (I recommend $5 and with a $10 limit).
  • If you are doing food items either use a portion of the gift money or ask for the committee to have a corporate budget for which this can be funded.
  • Committee should buy one card for all monetary contributors to sign.

Following these guidelines will set a standard for the department so no one feels like they are getting more or less than the next person. Also, one committee in charge usually takes away from anyone being “forgotten.”

If you are closer to someone that is facing their life milestone you can either contribute more than the asked donation or you can get them a gift separately. If you are someone’s direct boss or they are your number one client etc., getting them a separate card and/or gift is appropriate. On the flipside, if you don’t have a relationship with gift receiver, don’t feel obligated to give. If you do not contribute, do not partake in the food and drink portion of the celebration.

What is an “appropriate office gift” is a whole other topic that we will touch on another time.

Please share your thoughts on office-group gifts and experiences.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Engagement Parties

We were recently invited to an engagement party for good friends of ours in Chicago. This of course sparked my interest as a blog topic. Despite being a Professional Bridal Consultant, I myself have only been invited to two engagement parties. I’m still trying to wrap my arms around the Midwestern custom of engagement parties, but considering I’ve only been invited to two then I’m beginning to think they aren’t as popular. Hailing from the northeast (tri-state area N.Y., N.J., Conn.) I know that the custom during the engagement period is to actually send a gift. When my husband and I got engaged we got some very nice gifts from the east coast group, while the Midwest side wanted to throw a party. Readers, where are you from and what is your regional custom?

Before attending the most recent engagement party, I had to pull out my Peggy Post books to read up on what is the proper practice for throwing engagement parties and attending engagement parties.

The hosts. According to Peggy the bride-to-be’s parents usually host the engagement party, but any family member or friends may do so. When family lives in different parts of the country parents of the bride and groom may host separate parties in their hometowns.

What type of party? Cocktail and dinner parties seem to be the most popular, but there is no standard format. Sometimes, engagements are announced at surprise parties. Casual brunches to formal receptions, all are possibilities as long as it fits the couples taste.

The guests. Generally the guest list is limited to family and good friends. The size of the guest list is up to the hosts and engaged couple, but please keep in mind that whoever is invited to the engagement party should be invited to the wedding. Actually, it is in bad taste to invite people to any type of pre-wedding event and not invite them to the actual wedding.

Invitations. Any type of invitation is acceptable, depending on the type of party. The more formal the party, the more formal the invitation. Email invites, postcards, and simple emails are all options these days.

Gifts? Do you bring a gift or not? “It depends” is the answer Peggy gives us. Gift instructions are not to be included on the invitation, but if the couple feels strongly that they would not like gifts they can spread that by word of mouth through the hosts. Ultimately, your decision should be based on your local custom, your relationship to the couple, and your budget. Often close friends and family members do give a gift. An engagement gift is really a good-hearted gesture and does not need to be expensive or elaborate.

Ideas for engagement gifts:

§ Picture frame (wedding themed if possible) with photo of couple that you took

§ Wedding Planning/related book(s)

§ Gift card to couple’s favorite restaurant

§ Bottle of wine/liquor

§ Cookbook

Opening gifts at the engagement party is not appropriate unless everyone brought a gift to the party. Reminder that if gifts are received a thank you note must be sent, despite having thanked the couple at the event. Reminder: send that thank you note promptly after the party. If a thank you is sent too late then it becomes lackluster.

Tell me about your engagement party experiences and local customs.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Tipping for Taxis and Such

This topic was a request by one of my readers. Thanks to my readers for sending in requests, that definitely is a great way to get your questions answered.

I can’t remember my first taxi ride but I know it was when I was a teenager. My parents never took taxis in NYC because it was too expensive. We walked or took the train/bus when we could. Taxis are costly, but now that I live in Chicago I take them all the time. On a recent trip to NYC I was amazed at how frequently locals took them to get around too. They sure do add up and remembering to tip the driver is important. I usually round up the total amount to the nearest whole dollar and then add an additional dollar if I’m feeling generous and happy with my trip. I was curious too as to what Peggy Post had to say.

A tip to a taxi driver is generally about twenty percent of the fare, but in large cities you should tip a minimum of $1. If a taxi driver helps with your luggage or packages, a slightly larger tip is always in order; in general, add fifty cents for each bag. Try to avoid using big bills, especially during short rides.

For a car or limousine service, the easiest way to tip is to tell the service to add the gratuity to your bill; do it when you request service. In larger cities, the standard tip is about twenty percent; in smaller cities, fifteen percent. When a gratuity is included in the fee, there’s no need to tip more.

A tip for you when traveling by cab/car service to and from airports and to downtown areas is to ask how much it costs to get to that destination. Usually there is a flat fare to the city’s major airport or downtown area and if you don’t ask they could make up a higher charge and take advantage of you. If there is a meter in the cab, make sure they turn it on. I’ll never forget all the gypsy cabs in Orlando, Florida charging a variety of rates for the same distances day after day. Be aware and also know where you are going if you can. This day in age a lot of people have maps accessible on their phones. Take the time to look up where you are going and the general route to get there. If you’re distracted and looking like you don’t know where you are going then that driver could easily take you around circles for a good $10.

When I enter a cab I usually suggest a route to the cab driver when I enter and they usually have another suggestion – we compromise then move one. The driver now knows I know where I’m going and won’t take advantage of me…even if I really have no idea I say the cross streets and exact address and pay careful attention to the roads which they are taking.

Be a smart traveler…know where you are going and of course do no forget to tip.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Cruise Ship Tipping

So after my last comment about Cruises and tipping on them I got really curious as to that specific topic. I’ve been on a cruise before but I was a teenager and didn’t pay much attention to what my parents were leaving at the end of the week. All I remember is the really cute boy I met during that trip…hehe.

A handful of friends have recently told me about their planned cruise vacations, which surprised me because I thought cruises were mostly geared toward retired couples and families. I think part of it is the great deals people are finding, so rock on cruisers.

Peggy Post actually has a lot of information to share about tipping on cruise ships…so maybe that trip wasn’t so affordable after all? Yikes…read on.

Most cruise ships know that people are confused so some provide envelopes and guidelines to their guests. Other cruise lines add a substantial service charge to the fair, in which case only extra-special service calls for a tip. To be sure you know what’s expected, discuss tipping amounts and procedures with the travel agent or cruise line agent who books your trip. Tipping customs can differ depending on the nature of your trip, but in general tips will add fifteen to twenty percent to the cost of your cruise.

Take that fifteen to twenty percent of your fair and divide about half of this allowance between the cabin and dining room stewards and distribute the rest to others who served you. Put tips in separately addressed envelopes and hand them to each person at the end of the cruise, with a note of thanks if you wish.

  • Lounge and bar stewards are tipped fifteen to twenty percent of your bar bill at the time of service. It’s preferable to pay and tip order by order, but if you run a tab and pay periodically, you tip when you pay.
  • Wine steward should receive fifteen percent of the total wine bill each time you use his/her services.
  • Hairdressers, manicurists, and other service people are tipped at the same rate as on land.
  • Dock porters should receive at least $1.00 per bag.

On Long Cruises – Two Weeks or More

Peggy Post tells us that if you’re traveling on a cruise for more than one week you should tip weekly, generally on Friday evenings. The rate will vary according to whether you’re traveling first class, cabin, or tourist class:

Tips to…

First Class



Cabin steward

$25 per week

$20 per week

$15 per week

Deck steward

$20 per week

$15 per week

$12 per week

Dining-room steward

$25 per week

$15 per week

$15 per week

Chief DR Steward

$20 per week

$15 per week

$12 per week

Assistant DR Steward

$10 per week

$7.50 per week

$6.00 per week

Busboys (tips shared among them)

$6-$8 per week

$5-$6 per week

$4-$6 per week

Who Not to Tip on a Cruise

Never tip the ship’s officers, but do thank them for their courtesy if you cross paths with them near the end of the trip. Also, don’t tip the ship’s doctor if you’ve consulted with them while on board. You’ll probably receive a bill for medical services. You aren’t expected to tip a bridge instructor, children’s activity director, aerobics instructor, or similar ship personnel, although doing so is perfectly okay.

Have you been on a cruise lately? Please share your tipping experiences!

Remember, these are just guidelines to follow. If you're traveling with less or more people then remember to adjust accordingly.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Traveling? Don't Forget to Pack Singles

No, not your single friends...your single dollar bills!!!

I'm currently on the road and have been traveling for the past two weeks. With all the recent traveling it was clear what my next blog post would be...tipping the hard-working, under-paid folks who help make my traveling experience a more enjoyable one. I am referring to maids at the hotels I’ve stayed in, the cab drivers who shuffle me to the airports and hotels, Skycaps at the airport who help me avoid the scary and long lines inside the terminal, bell hops at the hotels, the concierge who receives my packages…and the list goes on and on.

When you travel for anything - business or pleasure - it is so important to tip your "servers." [I'm going to use servers as a general label for all the aforementioned list of people.]

Let’s break it down…

Now, I usually just leave $2.00 per day in my hotel room, but that is mostly because I'm a clean, organized person traveling alone. If you have four or more people staying in a room, the room is large, your using a kitchen etc. you should increase the tip accordingly. It is important to leave a tip each day because you do not know if you have the same maid/server day-to-day. When my husband, Matt, and I went on our honeymoon we were fortunate enough to stay in a suite so we left $3-4 dollars each day. Another example is we had to live in a hotel for 10+ days when our condo was under construction – since we had more than the usual amount of things in the room we left $3-4 again.

There are exceptions of course; on a cruise ship you leave a lump sum at the end of the trip because you do in fact have the same person serving you day-to-day. I’ve heard couples tell me they’ve traveled on cruises where they notice no tip being left by their tablemates on the final night (gasp!). I’m just going to say this…when you’re planning a vacation be sure you can not only afford the trip but afford to tip the servers, it is a crucial line item in every traveling budget! Servers make less hourly wages because it is assumed they make most of their income from TIPPING!

While I was checking out of my hotel today I didn't have any more single bills to leave in my room (I always write a note to leave next to the money so the maid knows it is for her, so this time I told her I would leave it at the front desk.). I asked the front desk clerk to break a twenty for me and see that the maid gets it. The front desk clerk thanked me for doing that and went on to tell me that people always forget (or consciously don’t) tip their maid. She then went on to tell me a story about a large group of people (probably a wedding) came and took up 70 rooms - not one person left a tip. What a shame. Would you want to clean hotel rooms as a job? I don't think next time you travel please consider your maid!

Side note: I knew I was going to write this blog so I wanted to do a little experiment. The first night I was checked in I didn't leave a tip the next morning (GASP!) because I wanted to see if there was a noticeable difference in quality of cleanup. The room looked fine when I returned the next day. Day two rolled around and I left a tip ($2.00, my standard) and much to my surprise the maid had definitely done much more! She organized my bottles on my sink and placed them on a towel, whipped the counter clean, folded my pajamas and lined up my shoes. None of this had been done the previous day. Now of course this could mean I had someone different, but I'd like to think it was because of the tip.

As I was returning home today from Sacramento I got in line to check my suitcase with the Skycap (thank god for Skycaps – especially for impatient travelers such as myself). As I waited I checked to make sure I had a few singles for a tip. Emily Post says you only need to tip a dollar per bag, but I always feel really cheap to just give one dollar…especially in this day of age. I got to the counter, checked my bag and thanked the Skycap while handing him the tip. Boy did he look appreciative! I thought to myself, do all people not give him tips? The neeerve! My father-in-law and I had a long conversation a week earlier about tipping Skycaps and he has an interesting theory…he takes really good care of them tip wise because you never know where your bag could end up if they don’t like YOU! Also, I’ve found that the weighing of the bags can be a crucial component of your tip. We had a bag that was clearly more than 50lbs, the weight limit for bags on most airlines these days and there were no questions asked with a tip – but the gal next to us had a bag that weighed 51lbs, no tip – she was charged the hefty baggage fee. Live and learn…live and learn!

Bottom line – don’t be a cheap skate because it may come back and bite ya in the toosh. Treat your servers well and you will be treated well…plain and simple.

More to come on tipping!!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Can't Leave Ya Hanging

I'm currently training for my new full-time job just outside of Sacramento, California, so I don't have a lot of time to research, write, and post. I don't want to leave my avid readers hanging (laugh, cough, sigh) so I thought I would share an article I came across today.

This is a topic I've wanted to touch on - gym etiquette. Now, this article takes a different approach BUT it still offers some decent thoughts.

Enjoy and thanks for your comments and attention! When I'm back in Chi-town I promise to delve into more details about tipping!

Thanks ya'll.

9 ways the office is like the gym

Friday, January 15, 2010

The Big, Bad Topic of Tipping: Part One - Restaurants and Bars

First off I want to thank everyone for their comments, questions, and suggestions for topics. I love hearing from you so keep it coming.

One recent request was to discuss tipping. I’ve been somewhat afraid of this topic for a couple of reasons: A: it is a personal topic and B: there are endless things to discuss; from maids to garbage removers…there are just dozens to discuss. Never fear though…I’ve read up, pondered, procrastinated, and provided. Here is part one of my tipping posts. This first post is dedicated to restaurant staff.

Peggy Post was kind enough to break it down slowly for us and provided a few guidelines that are straightforward:

[These are verbatim so I’m giving my credit to Emily Post’s Etiquette 17th Edition]

  • When in doubt about tipping, ask in advance. If a department store has scheduled delivery of some new furniture, call and ask someone in the department whether tipping is customary; in a hair salon, ask the receptionist. In other cases, ask how much to tip and even whether you should tip at all; in some situations, tipping is not only discouraged but could be seen as demeaning.
  • Tip on the pre-tax amount of the bill, not on the total.
  • Tip discreetly. Tipping is a private matter; don’t play the big spender who likes to flash bills.
  • Money is the tip of choice in most cases, but sometimes a small gift, usually given during the holidays, can be substituted. Peggy says that a gift is a good way to “top off” the tips you’ve given over the year—to your hairdresser or barber, for example.

Restaurants and Bars

Differences in tipping rates vary less by region than by whether you’re in a large city, small town, or rural area. The minimum standard for acceptable wait service in restaurants anywhere in the United States is fifteen percent of the bill before tax, not on the sum total. In large cities such as New York, Chicago, Boston etc., fifteen to twenty percent is standard.


When the restaurant is self-service – ten percent is sufficient for the server getting your beverages, answering questions etc.

When the waiter has been exceptionally accommodating – consider topping your tip off by a few dollars

When a gratuity has been already added to the bill – you can decide to leave something additional if you feel service has been exceptional

When your stay at a crowded restaurant is lengthy – the wait staff hopes the tables turn quickly so if you stay longer than normal consider adding an additional fifteen percent to your tip as a thank you

When your meal costs far less than the restaurant’s average – When you’re eating light this may mean a lower day’s take for your waiter. The same happens when you use a coupon. Thoughtful diners will leave a tip commensurate with a full-course meal.

Hosts, Hostesses, and Maitre d’s

Tipping a host/hostess is not customary in North America. If you are a frequent guest at a particular restaurant, know the host/hostess, and they take special care of you, then a $10-$20 tip every once in a while is a nice gesture. When you’re not acquainted with the host, a tip is in order only if he’s gone out of his way to find a table for you on a busy night when you’ve arrived without a reservation. You can offer $10 or $15 after you’ve been shown to your table and if your party is large consider adding more.

Peggy reminds us that offering a host you’ve never seen before a “$20 handshake” to get table on a busy night may be seen as an insult. It is in your best interest to not do this, as you’ll also anger other waiting patrons.


Customarily each drink you order should be matched with a one-dollar tip (smaller towns can suffice with 50 cents or more). If you have an open tab at a bar, tipping the standard fifteen to twenty percent of the total bill is sufficient. If the bartender hasn’t charged you for a drink or two, be sure to add additional dollars to your total tip amount.

Checkroom and Washroom Attendants

If the attendant simply hands you a paper towel a 50-cent tip is sufficient but if they do more for you a dollar or two will do. When checking a coat, a dollar per coat is all sufficient.

Valet Parkers

Tip the parking attendant $1 in smaller cities and $2 in larger cities per car. Give the tip when the car is brought to you and not when you drop it off.


Busboys are generally tipped out by servers and bartenders, so no extra tip is needed. If they go above and beyond for you (such as a spilled drink) then you should leave a few extra bucks for them specifically.

When to Tip Less

Okay, I know you’ve all been waiting for this part. We’ve all had those experiences where we feel like we shouldn’t leave any tip at all and you almost want to talk to the manager. Most likely you do end up leaving a tip and don’t speak to the manager because for the most part it isn’t the servers fault…right? Well, maybe right.

Here is the scoop!

When you convey your unhappiness through a tip consider how well the wait staff addressed your problem. If there was a successful resolution, tip the full amount. If your waiter got only so-so results but doesn’t deserve all the blame, you might reduce the top to ten percent. Peggy Post says if the problem wasn’t taken care of or your waiter was impolite, tipping eight percent is the “fairest” monetary expression of your dissatisfaction. (According to the IRS, most restaurants report eight percent of their take as wait staff income, so reducing the top any further actually costs the server.) Leaving no tip may cause your server to think you forgot and your point will be lost. Peggy also says leaving a penny or other small means of a tip just is down right…nasty! Yes, she said…nasty.

So, there it is folks. Send questions, comments, and concerns. And, I can say being a server is a TOUGH job so always tip the max if your experience was enjoyable.

Our next tipping topic will deal with traveling.

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

I’m Not Making This Stuff Up…I Promise

So when I embarked on this blogging journey I stockpiled my bookshelves with all the Emily Post books I could get my hands on. Since I’m just a twenty-something midwestern gal typing away on my laptop and shouting this to the world I thought I needed some validity. In college they teach you to reference everyone you get information from when writing, so since that was so engrained in me it is hard to walk away from it. So, I picked up a few materials.

Starting a blog from scratch is a bit scary, especially if you want to use it as a tool for growing your professional life. I knew of Emily Post’s original book because my mother had one on our bookshelf growing up. During my search I was pleasantly surprised to see all these new etiquette books on various topics. Ultimately, they all contain the same information as the big blue book (see picture), but some of the specialized ones take everything a few notches deeper.

Each and every one of these books suits young adults. Topics include business etiquette, wedding etiquette (my personal fav of course), a guide to raising kids with good manners (my future fav I’m sure), and entertaining etiquette. You can see I’ve taken photos of each of these so you may see. Cindy and Peggy post also have written a series of Children’s books. The one I have is called Emily’s Magic Words…Please, Thank you, and More. I thought about getting one of the children’s books and the guide to good manners for a friend’s baby-shower gift recently, but I thought it might give the wrong impression. Of course I would have given a plug for my blog in the card! Don’t be surprised, or offended, if I do that for you in the future.

I found all the books for under $4.00 on, so if you’re ever looking for a book always check that out first. Of course some are used and came from a random Good Will store in Maryland, but who cares! I will admit, I did buy myself a brand spanking new copy of Etiquette, 17th Edition (the big blue book in my hand). I just couldn’t resist. Can you believe in the downtown Chicago Borders, Books, and Music there were only TWO copies?!?! I guess not too many people are looking to update their etiquette library these days. I think there was even some dust on the plastic.

In life it is helpful to know proper etiquette, and having the books to back it up, because it tends to end a lot of debate, especially when planning a wedding. For example, if an in-law is trying to do one thing but the bride and groom want it another way you can whip out the etiquette book and go that route because Emily Post said so. Most people won’t fight Emily Post. Sometimes when you are faced with a tough decision you can reference your etiquette book and the decision is made for you. Situations like ‘what is a proper Christmas gift for my boss’ and ‘when do I send a thank you note verse a thank you gift.’ These situations come up more often than you would think, right?

Send me your burning etiquette questions and I’ll get the answers for you! I’ve got the books to back me up.

That’s it for tonight!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Let's Remember to Give Thanks

This next post will have multiple updates and add-ons as time goes by. Thank you notes are a big topic and a much forgotten means of communication for us young adults. With so many vehicles of communication these days the good-ole hand-written note has been permanently put on the endangered species list! Gasp goes grandmother. The holidays are now passed and I’m sure you received gifts from friends and family and/or dined/stayed at another’s home. Now that we’ve accepted all these “gifts” and offerings proper etiquette reminds us it is time to breakout the stationary and pen and write thank you notes!

When my husband and I got married and our first Christmas rolled around he was annoyed that I wrote thank you notes to all our gift givers and host/hostesses because that meant he was going to have to start as well. In his family it was acceptable not to write thank you notes to close family members who gave gifts…well that, of course wasn’t going to fly by me!

Emily Post reminds us that there are two fundamentals of expressing gratitude. First, every gift—whether a tangible item, money, a social event in your honor, or a gift of time or talent—should be acknowledged in writing. And second, your acknowledgment should be prompt and sincere.

Things to remember when writing a thank you note are to write a personal message, no matter if there is a pre-printed message on the card itself and make sure it arrives within one week of receiving the gift or the occasion. Make sure you mention the gift given or compliment the host or hostess on a certain aspect of the party given etc. Making it as personal as possible will automatically make it sincere.


Dear Aunt Amy and Uncle Jim–

Matt and I had an amazing Christmas this year, thank you for your hospitality and company. Christmas Eve was incredibly memorable for many reasons—the yummy spaghetti dinner and Matt and Matt attempting to keep up as our family bar tenders. Thanks for making Matt feel right at home…his first Chapman Christmas! We love being with you both and look forward to seeing you in 2010. Take good care of Ellie and send pics often.

Happy New Year and thanks again.


Leigh and Matt

P.S. Don't forget to follow me on my blog at!

[Since this note is going to my family I will hand write it and have Matt sign it. If it was his family he would take action to write and I would sign]

Here are some tips for keeping up on your thank you notes:

  • Always keep stationery and stamps at your home or office. I buy low-cost Hallmark thank you note cards that are blank inside at my local Walgreen’s. These are attractive, affordable, and simple. (see pictures)
  • I also ordered personal stationery that has both our names on it – the cost was still low and many online stationary stores can do it quickly (try or Papyrus in your local mall)
  • If my husband is closer to someone than I am I have him write the note because he’ll be able to make personal references
  • If the gift was for both of us then we both sign the card


If you’ve stayed over the house of a very close family or friend and that happens frequently, then it would be okay to not send a thank you note. Otherwise, proper and polite etiquette asks us to send a note of thanks to all givers in our lives. Trust me, a hand-written note will put a large smile on anyone’s face.

What are your questions about when/how/what to write about thank you notes?

As I said there is more to come in regards to specific-life occasions such as showers, weddings, and birthdays. I’m sure there are a few of you out there that have good and bad experience surrounding that topic…

Till then, happy note writing. That is what I’ll be doing tonight!

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