halloween-2A Halloween party is a great chance for celebrating, dressing up, socializing and catching up with old friends.  This is an excellent time to relax and get into the spirit of Halloween, but that doesn’t mean you should lose your manners once you put on your costume.

We’re sure your Halloween celebration includes some ghoulish fun, which we strongly encourage.  And though we‘d never want to make your blood boil, we do feel the need to remind you that the usual party etiquette guidelines still apply.

Don't want to be known as the "Halloween Horror Guest"? Here are a few tips to keep in mind this Halloween . . .

Dress appropriately for the occasion.

Yes, Halloween is a fun holiday where you can dress up and get into character. With that being said, choose your attire wisely. If you are unsure about the “type” of party and who will be in attendance, ask the host. If your costume will offend (er, scare the daylights out of) potential guests, you may want to reconsider or tone down the offensiveness.

Bringing a +1

If you would like to bring an uninvited friend or date, check with your host in advance - - - not on the day of the party.

Have A Plan

If you plan on drinking alcohol decide ahead of time if you will be taking an Uber or if there will be a designated driver.

Drinking

Watch your alcohol consumption.  Always keep in mind that your social life and your professional appearance go hand in hand, so be on your best behavior.

Arrival

Fashionably late is a saying, but it is also extremely annoying. Don’t arrive three hours late or show up early.

Mingle

If there are people that you do not know introduce yourself and remember to keep the conversation causal and light.

Thanking the Host

Greet the host upon arrival/departure (no matter how many people are attending or how hard it is to find them) and don’t forget to thank your host when you leave the party.  Even though you said thank you, remember to send a hand-written note thanking the host again for a wonderful time.

Know When It’s Time to Leave

Always be aware “when the party is over.” On Halloween the festivities can run into the wee hours.  Know when it’s time to call it a night.

halloween-4-01

new years class

 

A New Year’s Eve party is a great chance for celebrating, socializing and catching up with old friends.  You may need a well-deserved break after this long year, however that doesn’t mean you should check your manners at the door.  Here are a few tips that all partygoers should keep in mind . . .

  1. Answer the invitation within a day or two of receiving it.
  2. If you would like to bring an uninvited friend or date, check with your host first.
  3. Drinking and driving is never a good idea, so have a plan for how you will be arriving and getting home after the clock strikes 12.
  4. Dress appropriately for the occasion. If you are unsure about the attire, ask the host.
  5. Never arrive a few minutes early.  If the invitation states that dinner will be at 7:00 p.m., you have a 10-minute leeway. If the invitation is for a cocktail party/reception from 6:00 - 8:00 p.m., you have 20-45 minutes after the stated 6:00 p.m. time to arrive.
  6. If you would like to bring a gift to the host, you may do so.  This is a nice gesture, but not a must.
  7. Greet the host upon arrival/departure (no matter how many people are attending or how hard it is to find them).
  8. Watch your alcohol consumption.  Always keep in mind that business and social go hand in hand, so be on your best behavior.
  9. Introduce yourself to people that you do not know and remember to keep the conversation causal and light.
  10. Always be aware “when the party is over.” On New Year’s Eve, the festivities usually run into the wee hours.  Know when it’s time to call it a night.
  11. Thank your host when you leave the party.  Even though you said thank you, remember to send a hand-written note thanking the host again for a wonderful time.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

With the presidential candidates making the top news headlines daily, there’s a good chance that your dinner party could evolve into one big political debate.

A dinner party can be a joyful time with family and friends, or it can seem like you the host, have taken on too many responsibilities as the cook, server, dishwasher and moderator in a stress filled debate with unruly politicians.

People may not remember your dinner party’s menu, but memories are pretty clear when an intriguing conversation leaves a bad taste in someone’s mouth.  Whether having dinner with new in-laws, old friends, or close family members there are certain boundaries that should not be crossed.

So how do you encourage conversations that make the meal more enjoyable without political chatter that sends some guests storming out early? Here are some tips -

Take Action

As the host, you may have to put fires out at the dinner table long after the meal is done.  If political rhetoric becomes a nasty side dish at dinner, the host needs to take action.  You don't want to turn political debate moderator, that type of dinner is enough to sour any stomach.

Steer The Conversation

It is proper etiquette to stay away from conversations about sex, religion, or politics. These types of conversations have been known to put a damper on the evening. Do your best to direct the conversations so that they don’t lead down a dangerous path. For instance, if a friend comments that “Donald Trump’s the leader, and Republicans are doing so much better than Democrats” and you see your friend Donna, the Democrat, start to let him have it - change the tone of the conversation by asking if anyone watched Larry David as Bernie Sanders on Saturday Night Live? (he did a great job! You can watch it here). Once you have everyone laughing – then ask who would like more pie?

Have Your 10 Questions Ready To Go

If you are acting as host, it is always a good idea to consider the opposing views of dinner guests and plan a list of appropriate discussion points ahead of time. It is best to stick to topics suitable and appropriate for all audiences.  Pick 10 Safe topics and then think of questions to get the conversation going - include the weather, pets, movies, books, travel and so on.  Pay attention to local and national news so that you are well informed about things going on around you.

Be the Leader

Most guest will follow the host’s lead. Your mood is critical to set the tone of the dinner.  Always remain positive and keep a smile on your face.  Your attitude can put any guests at ease.  If you stayed up all night cooking and cleaning, never allow your guests to know you are tired or stressed. It is always best to plan ahead and make sure you are refreshed and ready for any small emergencies your guests may require.

Be Quick To Change the Subject

If someone starts a conversation by asking an inappropriate question, you can change the subject. You may respond by saying that the question is interesting and asking for time to consider the topic. It is always good etiquette to keep the response positive and find something complimentary to say about the guest or topic and move on. If a conversation is headed in a bad direction change the topic by linking to something said in a previous conversation and continue talking. If more outgoing guests are dominating the conversations, turn the tables and look for opportunities to encourage guests who appear to be more reserved to speak.

Deflect, Deflect, Deflect

If you are ever put on the spot with an ill-mannered question, you can play politician. Most politicians will vaguely state an opinion and start talking about something positive and totally unrelated to the inappropriate question.   Some ways to deflect include: discussing common interests, asking open-ended questions, discussing hobbies, using follow-up questions, or sharing life-lessons you’ve learned.

Genuine compliments can also be used to change any bad attitude and calm a disruptive guest. Saying “I like your tie” can go a long way to fostering a dinner peace treaty, but always be genuine and truthful with your compliments.

Stay Neutral

As a rule of thumb, it is never a good idea to force your ideas or opinions on others during a dinner. Also, try not to take sides. Make your guests comfortable by trying to listen to different points of view.  The relationships between guests in your home are far more important than anyone being right or feeling superior.

Being a great host takes planning and patience. Good conversation is as important as good food, wine and flowers to ensure that everyone will have a great time. Incorporate these tactics the next time you host a dinner party and you will be sure to get the most votes for “best dinner host”.

ToastingToasting is a nearly universal practice, but where it originated is a point of contention. Experts from the International Handbook on Alcohol and Culture cite the roots of this tradition in “ancient sacrificial libations” wherein a goblet was raised up to the gods. Other “Toastologists” point to the medieval custom of clinking glasses and splashing the liquids together as a gesture to show that no poisoning has taken place. The somewhat dark history of the toast may be one shrouded in mystery, but the secrets to giving one are not.

Introduce Yourself.

At the start of your toast, stand and explain your connection to the person of honor. It makes your speech all the more meaningful when you clue your audience into the relationship you share. Just make sure to keep the emphasis on your honoree rather than on the role that you play in their life.

 

CheersShort and Sweet.

Even though your toast recipients are likely to be well-loved by those in attendance, no one wants to listen to directionless anecdotal rambling about them. Limit yourself to no more than 3 minutes; if you want to tell a funny story, stay focused on getting to a point. Try to link the humorous tale to a defining characteristic of your recipients.

 

Connect with your Audience!

Though you direct your toast at one person or couple, don’t forget to include the rest of your listeners. Make eye contact with members of the audience - use your eyes to make them feel included! If you want to create a more intimate atmosphere, let your emotions show. Nervous public speakers will often use stoicism to feign confidence in the spotlight. But if you want to look comfortable in front of an audience, you’ll need to feel comfortable. Don’t be afraid to laugh or shed a tear; it makes you relatable. Keep it genuine, but moderated – save the bawling for your next viewing of Titanic.

 

Inflection, Inflection, Inflection.

You may have written a terrific toast, but a monotone voice can kill even the strongest of speeches. Read your speech aloud and note good places to pause or vary your speaking style. Practice it over and over using the same inflection every time. Try to see public speaking as a piece of music: use measures of rest to give both your mouth and your audience’s ears a break and allow your voice to rise and fall in pitch as if constructing a melody. An effective tactic for improving your speaking is to draw from your own experience as an audience member. Identify and avoid the elements that bored, annoyed or distracted you.

 

Sincerity Wins.

A toast can be entertaining, but keep your purpose in mind: allot time to be serious. For this section, drop the jokes and be sincere! Express your gratitude to your hosts and tell your honoree exactly why they’re so deserving of your toast. Utilize your humorous stories and pithy comments to build up to a touching end – leave the audience with a good impression of both your honoree and you. Cheers!