When in Doubt…

Sometimes you just can’t remember exactly what that protocol rule book would have instructed for the situation you’re in…

Not sure what to do? Just remember the very reason that protocol exists:

Always put others’ needs, wants, and comfort before your own: ask yourself how your actions and words will affect those around you.

Love and serve your fellow man.

Galatians 5:13-14

For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.

For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even this; Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.


The Refreshments Table

With a recital coming up this evening, I have “reception etiquette” on the brain. Here are a few good things to keep in mind when attending a reception:

  • Cell phones are still off…

Hopefully, you turned your cell phone off for the main event (e.g. the service, ceremony, recital, etc.). But, just because the more formal part is over, it doesn’t mean your phone should be turned back on. Unless you are expecting an important call, leave it off. And if it has to be on, turn it on vibrate only. Focus your attention on these people surrounding you in person.

  • Mingle

Be friendly and engaging, and try to mingle with lots of people. You have come to a group-gathering – so it’s best not to monopolize any one person’s attention, or (for us introverts) ignore/avoid the group as a whole.

from simplythebestcatering.blogspot.com

And, now we come to the highlight of this post… Regarding the food line:

  • Children should be accompanied throughout the entire event, and accompanied through the food line.
  • Use moderation.

At many events (such as the recital I hope to attend tonight), there will be refreshments offered at some point. If it is not stated to be “Breakfast”, “Lunch”, or “Dinner/Supper”, DO NOT EAT AS THOUGH IT WERE. I’ll be honest – I could eat a meal every couple of hours. I’m very partial to the Hobbit meal schedule… But, this table full of refreshments is not my opportunity to fill myself up. Here’s a good rule of thumb for refreshments:

– One small plate of food (NOT heaping. I was serious when I said “small”.)

– One glass of punch

If that sounds skimpy, just remind yourself that this is not a meal. It’s not offered because people are hungry. This is a social gathering, and the hostess has been kind enough to provide some light refreshments. When you overindulge, you’re creating a shortage of food and simply being rude. Once again, we have to think of others first. Will everyone have plenty to choose from?

Emily Post on Response Cards

While helping a friend plan an event, I ran across this passage in the book, Emily Post’s Etiquette.

And before you go categorizing this as old-fashioned or outdated information, you should know that this is a modern-day edition, edited for today’s society.

Besides, putting other people before yourself is never an outdated principle!

In this passage, the author specifically addresses the subject of response cards in wedding invitations. It is safe to assume that this is applicable to any event – not just weddings.

Response Cards (from Emily Post’s Etiquette)

It is regrettable that it is necessary to write these paragraphs, but the custom of enclosing response cards with wedding invitations is so widespread that it must be discussed.

The custom has arisen, I am afraid, out of sheer necessity. Too many people are lazy, thoughtless, or ignorant of good behavior and simply will not take the time or make the effort to answer invitations. When a caterer is hired, or the reception is held at a club or hotel, those in charge want to know the exact number of guests as soon as possible. While a rough estimate may be made from the quantity of invitations mailed, the more precise estimate must await the replies. Therefore, in an effort to get this information to the cater in plenty of time, brides and their mothers often feel that the responses will arrive more quickly and surely if cards are enclosed.

She goest on to state that she “… thoroughly deplore[s] the lack of appreciation shown by guests who would not otherwise bother to answer promptly…”.

Let’s step it up, folks! Responding in a timely manner is not complicated or difficult. If you can’t get a definite response together in time, respond that you will not be attending.

As always, put others before yourself. Think of the host or hostess – not just your own schedule or desires.

Basic Courtesy

You may still be wondering what exactly to do about that RSVP, and might be completely lost when it comes to which fork to use first… But, you don’t have to be a pro at all-things-protocol to practice basic courtesy.

from weheartit.com

What I’m referring to as Basic Courtesy is the “common sense” of social interaction. Here are a few points, off the top of my head, that would fall into this category.

And, though these may seem pretty easy for us adults, we should remember that even small children are capable of these things!

  • Be pleasant, and make eye contact.
  • Thank more than once.
  • Stay positive. (No whining!)
  • Don’t be nosey.
  • Take responsibility for your mess, your children (and their messes), your belongings, etc.

The underlying truth in all of this courtesy/etiquette stuff is: love. Show this love by putting others before yourself. When you’re not sure how to handle a situation, think about how you will affect those around you. Just do your best to make that affect positive!

Modern-Day Challenge

As I’ve continued to look at etiquette through the years, I’ve stumbled upon some points that, for many of us, would be quite a challenge.

On EmilyPost.com, I found a page entitled “Party Manners 101”. This is a GREAT list of the basics, and perfect for a quick reference.

There are 13 points, ranging from “Arrive on Time” to “The Thoughtful Afterthought” (regarding thank you notes). What immediately struck me, however, was the second point:

Turn off your cell phone.
While you’re at a party, consider yourself unavailable. If you’re expecting a call or must be reachable, put your phone on vibrate and excuse yourself to another room to take the call. Never use or answer a host’s phone without permission. If you are asked to answer the phone, say, “Scherr residence.”

This point goes for more than just “parties”, but it sounds so extreme, doesn’t it? How can a whole group of people come together, and unplug from ALL the other groups that they are always available to? Email, Facebook, Pinterest, iMessage, Instagram, Twitter, etc., etc., etc… all turned OFF for a whole event. Really?

Norman Rockwell perfectly portrays the scenario, with a newspaper in place of a modern-day device. (found on Pinterest)

Yes, really.

So, I am challenging us to focus more of our attentions on the folks around us – in person – by setting aside our devices while we’re with them. Can we do it? I believe so. 🙂

Dance Etiquette Basics: Off the Dance Floor

The dance is coming to an end, and I’m sure you’ve done a fabulous job. Despite an alarming number of left feet in the crowd, there are smiles all around. But, as the music stops, what do you do? Just walk away?

Ending the Dance

Ladies & Gents, when the music ends, look your partner in the eye, bow or curtsy, and thank them for the dance.

Gents, bow; ladies, curtsy… as shown in A&E’s 1995 Pride & Prejudice. (found on Pinterest)

Gentlemen, now is when you offer your right hand again, as when you first asked her to dance, lead her off the dance floor, and ask if she would like a drink.

Ladies, follow your partner off the dance floor, and respond “Yes, thank you!” or “No, I’m fine, thank you,” to his offer to fetch you a drink.

And the rest is completely up to you. This may be a natural time of talking and laughing over the previous dance. Or, if another dance is starting, it is time to find another partner. At times, the next dance may start so quickly that it makes it only practical to dance with the same partner for a second time (Note: this would probably not be wise for a third, fourth, etc.). If it seems appropriate, and your partner agrees to it, this is fine.

Ah, thank you, Snoopy. What a wonderful example of gentlemanly behavior. 😉 (found on Pinterest)

Dance Etiquette Basics: On the Dance Floor

So, you’ve made it. You’re standing with your partner on the dance floor, and the music is about to begin. Thankfully, in our dance coming up this week, we have a dance caller who will help us through the dance. So, she’ll be letting you know what to do, as far as dancing. But, what should you be doing as far as socializing? Anything?

On the Dance Floor

Gentlemen, you are now honored to have a few minutes of care over your partner. Your job is to lead her through this dance, and socialize with her – giving her as enjoyable an experience as you can. Don’t neglect or ignore her.

However, being social with her does not mean being obsessed with her. Make eye contact with her – do NOT stare at her through the whole dance. Smile at and with her – but, smile at and with everyone else, as well. Don’t be afraid to take her hand(s) or her arm, as the dance requires – do NOT be the creep that won’t let go.

Mr. Collins, showing us how to be too attentive to a partner. It’s awkward for everyone. (found on Pinterest)

Dancing is a civilized sport. It is active, it takes effort, and it takes cooperation. Enjoy it! Please don’t abuse it. 😛

So, we see now that it is possible to be too attentive. But, I also mentioned not neglecting your partner. You may not be an enthusiastic participant in this dance, but you are giving your partner an opportunity to dance. Try to make it enjoyable for her, even if you’d rather be almost anywhere else. If you ignore her, look bored the whole time, or even mention that you’d rather be elsewhere, you are doing your best at ruining her dance. Take it from me! I have been the partner of visibly reluctant gentlemen. I would rather not dance at all than feel like I’m a burden or nuisance to my partner. So, for the sake of your partner and everyone around you, step up to the challenge, and make the evening as enjoyable as you can.

Darcy, at the beginning of the story, displays clearly what NOT to do at a dance. (found on Pinterest)

Ladies, I could repeat nearly all of that for us. Just be respectful and pleasant, easy to get along with, and encouraging (even if you’re by far the better dancer…).

The point is always to be respectful, have a good time, and do your best to give others a good time.