Are you procrastinating about getting your holiday thank-you notes sent out?  Here are a few tips that can help ease the process.

Keep your note short and simple. Follow the four sentence rule:

1. First Sentence Says thank you for the gift.

Thank you for the warm scarf you sent to me.

2. Second Sentence Says something about the gift.

The fact that you made it yourself makes it even more special.

3. Third Sentence  Says something unrelated to the gift.

It’s currently 20° here in Denver and will be even colder by New Year’s Eve.

4. Fourth Sentence Says something about the gift.

I really appreciate your thoughtfulness, as well as your talent for knitting!

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See how easy that is? If you still have not sent out your thank-you notes for gifts you received, time is ticking. Time to get started!

Most New Year’s Resolutions are ambitious and require a monumental amount of daily perseverance and determination. Lose weight, eat better, learn a new language, quit a bad habit, etc, - - you get the drift.

Indeed, the New Year can jump-start a new routine of Herculean self-betterment, but here at ASP, we are forgetting about the exhausting resolutions that only seem to hang over us all year long.  Our team is going to focus on goals that won’t be so easily seen, but they will be felt.

Setting a goal doesn’t have to be a large commitment, it can be something small.  Here are a few examples of some of our smaller goals if you want to join us on the crusade to make the world a friendlier, more considerate place

  1. Smile. Flashing a smile can go a long way towards making someone else’s day brighter. Keep a mental reserve of your happiest, funniest moments that you can recall to put a smile on your face.
  2. Leave a place in better condition than you found it.  Challenge yourself to improve a public space. If you spot a piece of trash on the ground, be the person who takes the time to pick it up and throw it away. It’s an admirable thing to see someone inconvenience themselves in this way for the betterment of the entire community.
  3. Arrive on time.  If punctuality doesn’t come naturally, give yourself an additional 10-minute “emergency gap” to allow for last-minute activities. Create a playlist for your morning routine that is exactly as long as you have to get ready – it’s a fun way to keep yourself on track. But if you know you’re going to be late ahead of time, communicate this to your friends, coworkers, or host through a quick, apologetic call.
  4. Make your commute a pleasant time. In Atlanta, we are all too familiar with traffic. It can be uninteresting as a routine part of your day, and downright enraging when unexpected traffic makes you late. This year, the traffic won’t change, but you can. Make the time a positive one for yourself. Find a podcast to listen to during the ride about a subject that interests you. Sing along with the radio and relieve your stress. Don’t forget to make the monotonous crawl a little bit better for others – let someone into your lane during your commute, give someone a wave or a smile, and be patient with slower drivers. Remember the old adage: You are not stuck in traffic. You are traffic!
  5. Express your compliments.  If your waitress has a great hairstyle, make sure to tell her. If a man standing in line in front of you at the grocery store looks great in that shade of blue let him know. We all have these thoughts, but many of us neglect to share them. An impromptu compliment from a stranger is really memorable.
  6. Improve your communicative style. Listen to others, and pay attention to your communication habits. If you tend to dominate the conversation, strive to ask your partner questions about themselves. If you find making small talk difficult, challenge yourself to hold quick chats with strangers during your day-to-day life.

At the end of the year, many of us want to be able to look back and see tangible improvements in ourselves, but often our outrageous goals leave us feeling less than.

By creating more realistic and obtainable goals, we are likely to see results. If we could all make a small daily goal that benefits those around us and work on it all year long, the results would be astonishing.

Picture this: Your home is packed with loved ones from near and far. Everything has gone as planned, and your guests are content, cheerful and rosy-cheeked after a delicious feast and excellent wine. The clock reads 11:55 p.m. and the moment is at hand. You, the host, are responsible to for uncorking the champagne, successfully pouring and distributing it to all guests, AND flawlessly delivering a touching yet humorous toast that entertains all and offends none.  Are you ready?!

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Successfully bidding farewell to the year gone by and ushering in the new one is no easy task. Just ask any New Year’s Eve host who has stumbled through an awkward toast, injured Aunt Joan with a wayward cork, or spilled an expensive beverage in a rush to pour – any number of things can go wrong and wreak havoc on your perfectly planned salute. 

We have provided our best tips on opening champagne bottles, giving toasts and clinking glasses – Just in time for the New Year!

OPENING A BOTTLE OF CHAMPAGNE

The first word of advice: don’t pop the cork into the air. The cork should be removed so the sound you hear is a soft "sigh." Removing the cork in this slow manner also reduces the risks of hurting someone in the room.

GIVING A TOAST

CLINKING GLASSES

As the clock strikes midnight and everyone begins to cheer, whether you are the host or attendee, remember to express your gratitude for another year and those in your company. Happy New Year!

The American School of Protocol is proud to claim graduates from over 40 different countries. In October, our Corporate Etiquette Certification class included an attendee from South Korea and provided a unique opportunity to celebrate and appreciate diverse customs and traditions.   All of our attendees came away with improved skills in the art of cultural inclusivity and acceptance.

Being knee-deep in the holiday season increases the likelihood of exposure to new people and unfamiliar beliefs and practices.  Good etiquette demands that we are prepared and able to avoid offending others.

The phrase ‘politically correct’ has gained a lot of criticism recently. Politically correct; commonly abbreviated to PC, is used to describe language, policies, or measures that are intended to avoid offense or disadvantage to particular groups in society.

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‘Can you state your feelings today and still be politically correct?’ was a segment on a prominent news show this week.  The host stated that it is hard because people take offense to so many things these days.

With many people tired of hearing how to, and why to be more ‘politically correct’, we saw this as an opportunity to turn it around.  Instead of being more ‘politically correct’, we would like to encourage you to be more conscious of others feelings and try to understand different religions and cultures.

We have listed a few simple tips that can help make interactions with others easier - - especially at this time of year.

In short, we must rid ourselves of all assumptions and be more aware of our words and actions. This isn’t the end of hearing about being ‘politically correct’, but we are hopeful that it might be a shift in the right direction.

Tis’ the season for holiday parties and events. While business holiday events serve the purpose of allowing employees to kick back and relax don’t forget that you still need to maintain a professional image. It is much harder to build up your reputation once some inappropriate action has taken place. Remembering these tips will ensure that you have a fun and disaster free event.

Drinking Too Much At the end of the day, you are at a party for… WORK. Even though alcohol beverages are provided at the party, be aware of how much you drink. If someone gets drunk and acts ridiculous, you can bet that everyone will still be talking about it the first day back in the office after the New Year.

Thinking You Can Let Loose Your boss and other employees are still watching you. You don’t want to be the person who gets fired the day after your holiday party because you said or did something you regret

Not Showing Up If your company is hosting a holiday event, attend and show your appreciation. You never know what opportunities or new friends you may make at the party unless you participate. Company social events will also give you additional information about the people that you work with every day.

Voicing Your Opinion About Company Issues Keep the conversation topics about positive subjects. Don’t discuss other employees or problems you have with company policy. Avoid conversations that focus heavily on business, especially if clients are in attendance.

55Wearing Inappropriate Attire Office parties are not the place to bring out your most revealing dress or blouse. Vice versa, if there is a theme to your office party then stay festive and keep to that theme – – but don’t overdo it. Follow the dress code outlined for a party. If it is cocktail attire then come dressed appropriately.

Being Ungrateful Yes, you have worked a long day and now you are suppose to go mingle with all your colleagues. It can be exhausting, but remember, your company is not required to do anything during the holidays. Businesses give parties because they want to show their appreciation, you in return should be happy that your company is being so generous.

Unprepared to Network If you were planning to only mingle with your small office circle, think again. Holiday events are a great opportunity to network and meet new colleagues, especially if you work for a large corporation. Before you attend the event, think about your ten questions that you can use as conversation starters when meeting new people. It is always better to be prepared than to have nothing to say.

Not Saying Thank you to the Host As an employee, don’t forget to show your appreciation to the management and party planning committee. Thank people for hosting the occasion and providing food and drinks for everyone.

Take time to reflect and enjoy this season. Use your office party to spread holiday cheer amongst fellow employees and don’t forget to be thankful for your job and all the blessings that you have.

Wine etiquette is always a topic of interest. Whether you are serving wine to guests in your home or just having a glass with your dinner, a little knowledge goes a long way.

Fill the wine glass only halfway.

If the wine you are serving is not rare, pour the wine into a crystal decanter and place on the table.

Most red wines should be served at “cellar temperature” (slightly cooler than room temperature.)

White wine should be chilled in the refrigerator for at least two hours before the meal. 

Red wine is served in a round-bowled stemmed glass.

White wine is served in a tulip shaped glass that is narrower at the rim than the red wineglass.

Many people want to know the type of wine to have when eating certain foods. Traditionally red wines are served with red meat, poultry, lamb, game, pasta and cheese. Chicken, turkey and other poultry are complemented by either red or white wines. 

If you are serving wine or giving it as a gift, try to get some info about the wine ahead of time. It could be the region it came from, the year or the flavor.

Today, drinking wine is not necessarily about what goes best with the meal you are having, but simply about what you like the best.

If you will be attending a meal at someone’s home for the holidays, congratulations, you are a lucky person. If you will be hosting, you are lucky too, but we will get to you later.

Here are a few timely tips that will make the host want to say the most wonderful things about you afterward.

  1. Bring a gift for the host. It is always a kind gesture. Baked goods, candles, wine (if it is appropriate) or anything small that you know the host would enjoy is perfect.
  2. Offer your assistance whether in the kitchen, helping other guests with their jackets when they arrive or just keeping an eye on the children.
  3. If seats are not assigned at the dining table, don’t just plop down in any seat. Ask the host where they would like for you to sit.
  4. When you sit down at the table, put your napkin in your lap.
  5. If you are a guest in someone’s home, wait for the host to begin the meal. Often times a blessing or a few words will be shared to thank everyone for being there.
  6. If six people or less are at a table, wait until all are served and seated before starting to eat.
  7. If the dinner is buffet style and there are eight or ten people at a table, wait until half the table has been seated before starting to eat.
  8. If you have to sneeze or cough at the table, always turn your head to the side and cover your mouth with the napkin.
  9. Eat slowly!
  10. Don’t overload the fork or spoon.
  11. Be ready to listen and ask questions. No one likes to hear someone go on and on.
  12. If you have to remove a piece of meat or a bite of food that you can’t chew, discreetly slide it back onto your fork and place it on your plate. Try to cover it up with something else so that it is not visible to others.
  13. Traditions and customs are meaningful. If the host has something they do each year and want you to be a part of it, do your best and try to participate.
  14. If you ate too much food and feel stuffed, there is no need to tell anyone. Avoid saying, “I ate too much,” or “I’m stuffed!”
  15. After your meal is over, say something nice about the food to your host.
  16. When guests help clean up after a dinner, the host always appreciates it. Even if they decline you should see what you can do to be of assistance.
  17. Know when it's time to leave. Look around and take cues. The host will often subtly let the guests know when it is time to call it a night.
  18. Send a thank-you card after the dinner (within 3 days or a week) expressing your gratitude and appreciation for the meal.

Holiday season is officially underway, which means the hunt for the perfect present has begun. Shopping for presents can be stressful because of the large effort in trying to find the right gift for someone.

Want to make your holiday shopping a breeze and be finished early with everything perfectly wrapped and ready? If this is your goal, then follow our list of things NOT to do and you will greatly improve your chances of making this gift-giving holiday season a success.

1. Not Doing Research: If you don’t do research on the person whom you are buying for then you are just making this whole process harder on yourself. Find out types of interests your friends or acquaintances enjoy. If you know something about the individual, like if they love cooking and entertaining, that is a slam dunk because of the wealth of products associated with that hobby. If, on the other hand, you know nothing about what the individual likes, scout out some connections to that person and do due diligence. For example, an assistant to the boss knows so much – what he/she likes, where he/she dines, what kind of books they read. If the gift is for a child ask a parent, relative or child close in age for ideas.

2. Thinking It’s ALL About How Much you Spend: Ever heard the saying, ‘It’s the thought that counts’? Not everyone has a large budget and the ability to buy expensive presents. Keep in mind that no gift is too small.  Providing a thoughtful gift carries the most weight. When thinking about what to gift someone, reflect on previous experiences and conversations with that person for ideas.

3. Waiting To the Last Minute: Coming up with gift ideas, buying the gift, then wrapping the gift can all be exhausting and time-consuming. Waiting to the last minute only makes the situation more stressful - - especially if your list of people to buy for is long. Do your best to alleviate the stress of this process by planning ahead.

4. Always Resorting to Gift Cards: Yes, giving a gift is a generous thing to do, but always resorting to gift cards (unless you know the person really likes them) may not be fitting. If you’re in a situation where you have absolutely no idea what to get someone, a gift card can seem to be the perfect answer. If you do decide to give a gift card, make sure that you purchase a gift card from a store the person frequents or one that you know they will use.

5. Forgetting to Remove the Price Tag: Always remember to take the price tag off. It is neither kosher nor important for a person to know how much you spent on their present. Include a gift receipt in case someone chooses to return or exchange the item.

6. Skimping On Gift Giving Because Your Budget Is Tight: If your funds are low and you’re stumped on what to get, don’t think you need to nix the gift-giving. A great gifting idea is donating your time to help someone.  Run errands, babysit for the day or take a person to their doctor's appointment. This season try making a gift for someone. If you have a hobby such as knitting or floral arrangements, utilize those skills for creating a present for a person. There is nothing more special than a handmade or thoughtful gift.

7. Assuming You Will Receive A Present In Return: Just because you give a gift to someone, does not make them obligated to do the same thing in return. Going in with the assumption that the person you are giving a gift to will also be giving you a gift, is the wrong mindset.

8. Slacking On The Wrapping: Yes, it takes more effort and time, but we all know that presentation is important. If you are not good at wrapping, then opt for a bag or assistance. There are many ways to wrap gifts that are inexpensive and unique. The goal is to make your wrapping as special as the gift.

At the American School of Protocol, we wish you much good health and happiness as we approach this holiday season and a brand new year!