I've had so many conversations about etiquette the past few weeks I wanted to share some of my favorite resources on the subject. This in no way means that I'm an etiquette expert, because I'm a young mom and wife so I'm learning as well. These are just some bits of information that have either been passed down to me from my family, or that I've read through research. I know of some lovely ladies that are going to be very proud of this post :)
So, let's get to it. Here is my list of Top 10 Etiquette Tips and the reasons behind them. Also included are some lovely books and websites to check out. Don't take my word for it, hear what the experts have to say!
TIP #1: Don't be afraid to ask for help, in moderation.
When you're having guests in your home, it's perfectly acceptable to ask them to bring a dish to accompany your dinner. Do not expect that guest to help with any of the other dinner preparations. They are a guest and should feel relaxed (and not feel forced to help further). It is alright to ask them to help with clean-up, but nothing extensive. If they want to put their dish into the dishwasher that's fine, but don't make them stand over the sink and wash the burnt cheese off your casserole dish. This is YOUR home, YOU invited them over, so YOU take on the responsibility of the work. Actually, I find it's best to do the clean-up after all the guests are gone so they don't feel compelled to help me at all.
Of course, during instances of illness or newborns and things of that nature, it's alright to ask guests to go the extra mile. In those circumstances the reason they are there is to help, so let them.
“Etiquette is not about impressing people, it is about using kindness, courtesy, and respect in every part of our daily lives.” - Melenie Broyles of Etiquette Saint Louis
TIP #2: Be sensitive to your guests' preferences.
If you are having a dinner party, and there are people in attendance who are uncomfortable with alcohol being served, DON'T SERVE IT. Having alcohol with your dinner is not nearly as important as connecting with your guests. It is also courteous to ask before hand if your guests have any allergies, or meal preferences. If they don't eat meat, that doesn't mean you can't serve it, but you should make a few extra vegetable-only dishes so they don't feel uncomfortable, or leave your home hungry.
"Have a dinner that is well planned, well prepared, and welcoming." - The Etiquette Scholar
TIP #3: Don't answer a call, or text, or surf the Internet, or LOOK at your phone at the dinner table. Period.
It's rude and inconsiderate. Need I say more? See the Huffington Post's Top 10 Cell Phone Etiquette Rules.
The only exception to this rule is if you're at our monthly SEMO Bloggers Meeting :)
TIP #4: Don't text, or email, or facebook, or tweet anything you wouldn't say to someone face to face.
If you're too afraid to talk about the subject in person, chances are it could be offensive or hurt someones feelings. If you have something you need to get off your chest, think first of the other persons needs, then your own. Look to the Bible for this one, folks:
"Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen." Ephesians 4:29.
TIP #5: For Pete's sake, write a friggin' thank you card.
Society has definitely let this important and polite gesture fall to the waist side. I have been to one to many weddings and/or baby showers in the past few years and not received a thank you note for my well thought out gift. To me, this implies that my gift was expected, and one should NEVER expect a gift from anyone. I don't care what the occasion. I remember when my mother would sit down and make me write out notes to all my friends who came to my birthday party, simply thanking them for their attendance. Young Moms out there: Teach your kids to write notes. It says a lot for their character, and your parenting skills.
Do you think that I'm being too old fashioned here? Check out Emily's Post for when to send a thank you card. She's a lot more strict about it that me.
Speaking of gifts, I'm probably about to offend some people on this next tip. And I will say that for my baby shower, I was guilty of this etiquette "Don't" as well:
TIP #6: It's rude to put where you're registered, or that you want "Gift Cards Only" on your event invitation.
Are you feeling offended and shocked? Ok, hear me out on this one.
I'm not saying that it's wrong to register for gifts, I'm just saying that you should not put it on the invitation. If someone wants to get you something from your registry, they can call the hostess to find out where you're registered. I'd say probably 80% of the time people do not get you gifts from your registry. Elderly people see it as a hassle and also as rude. (Don't believe me? Ask my Nana) Also, for people that can't afford a gift at all, they will feel that they should not come to your shower or party because they can't afford to get you a gift, and because you've indicated where they want you to buy from they feel like they are inclined to do so. This is WRONG. You're having this shower or party to celebrate your wedding, or your new baby, and to share excitement with those you love. Expecting a gift in return for that is just not right. Of course people will bring you gifts, but saying "Gift Cards to Target Only" is like saying: "If you get me something else, I won't like it or appreciate it." What the crap?
I did put where I was registered on my baby shower invitation, against my mother's request. After some research, I don't think I was correct in doing so.
I know you're thinking that if you don't indicate where you're registered, you'll get a whole bunch of stuff you don't want. Ever heard of a return policy? Utilize it. It's far more important for your guests to feel comfortable and have fun than worry about getting you a gift.
Ok. I know that was a little harsh. Here are some resources of other people who agree with me. Some think that it's acceptable to put where you're registered on your shower invitation but not your actual wedding invitation......I'm not sure that's appropriate either but whatever. Now you know my opinion about registries but don't think that I'll hate you and not come to your shower.....just know that I probably won't use your registry :) I like to give gifts that I think are special, or that are handmade and from the heart.
- Tried and True: Wedding Registry Etiquette
- Life Tools for Women: This site says that it is ok to include on a baby shower invitation where you're registered, but it is not recommended. Registry should be shared by word of mouth so as not to offend anyone.
- Listverse: Top Ten Lost Rules of Etiquette. Check out number 7.
TIP #7: Don't throw around your money, or lack thereof.
This could also be included with "no name dropping." Whether you have money or properties or a thriving business or know someone who does, don't promote what you have or what your friends have in conversation. Money talk used to be taboo back in the day, but now people just like to pat themselves on the back for a job well done instead of giving God the glory or lifting others achievements higher than their own. Also, don't you just hate it when someone says "My friend on the City Council" or "My brother in law's best friend owns 5 banks" and the like? Doesn't that just make them seem.....rude? I don't know, this one is tricky because we all like to tell a good story or talk about our recent achievements. It's honestly probably just safer not to talk business or money at all. What do you think?
TIP #8: Tweets and Facebook Status' should not tell your whole life story.
Please don't announce on Facebook that you hate life and everyone around you. Please don't tweet about the fight you had with your husband. While you're at it, please please please don't upload a picture of your tongue down someones throat. Be discreet. Be kind. Be sincere, but don't reveal everything. Share your problems or anxieties with those closest to you, not the entire universe. I'm not saying be fake, because I've definitely tweeted "having a bad day, could use prayer" before. I'm just saying that in the end people will respect you more if you are discreet with your emotions.
TIP #9: Do something for someone unexpectedly, and DON'T expect anything in return.
Have you ever been invited to someones house, and then thought "Oh, geez. Now I need to invite them over." Or, "I gave her a birthday gift, can't wait to see what she'll get for me!"? I'd say the majority of us have. I have a problem myself with accepting gifts from others and then making a mental note to repay them. True friends, who give out of love, should never expect anything in return. (except, for maybe, a handwritten thank you note!) This is about changing your entire perspective on giving. We have become a society full of selfish motives. Once you begin to change your thoughts on giving, you will see that your true reward is not on this Earth, but in Heaven. Don't expect to be rewarded for giving. Expect to be loved.
Check out this sermon from my pastor, Dan Greene, on Fixing Fractured Friendships. He talks about valuing people over possessions, and notes that other believers are to be considered and treated as family.
TIP #10: Don't just preach your opinions; live them.
Really, just be yourself. Live a life that is glorifying to God, that thinks of others as more important. My motto:
"Don't be selfish; don't live to make a good impression on others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourself. Don't just think about your own affairs, but be interested in others too, and in what they are doing." -Phil 2:3-4
Etiquette is not about impressing people. It's about making others feel comfortable, secure, and valued.
Remember, I'm not perfect either. I fail everyday. Pray for God to show you the difference between what's appropriate and what's not in every situation.
Is your opinion different than mine? I want to hear from you!
Love you all, have a good Wednesday,