Cocktail napkins are a safe and practical host gift

Cocktail napkins are a safe and practical host gift

A gift will give your host a lift. Before you are entertained, show your gratitude with a small token of appreciation. Here are some great ideas.

Food: Unless asked to bring a specific item, it is best not to bring hot food as it may clash with what the host prepared. If there is a dish you really want to share, ask ahead of time. Snacks, baskets, and desserts are welcome, but don’t be offended if the recipient decides to enjoy them later.

Home accents: These are the best choice for housewarming themed parties, but be especially mindful. If you aren’t familiar with the host’s decorating style, pick a safe gift such as an unscented candle, a coffee table book, cocktail napkins, or a low-key picture frame.

Wine: For those who don’t know the host very well, this is a safe and predictable gift. Note that he or she may have already selected wines for the evening and might drink yours some other time.

Flowers: Dinner party hosts already have a lot on their plate, so spare them the trouble of arranging flowers. If you choose to bring any plants, make sure they are already watered and in a vase ready to be displayed.

Re-gifting: It’s the thought that counts, therefore re-gifting is totally acceptable as long as it is a gift your host will like. Add a personal touch by re-wrapping it or adding a card.


With gifts like these all will be delighted, and to many more parties you’ll be invited!


That awkward moment when you try to look sophisticated…and fail.

In professional and social settings, no drink rises to the occasion quite like a glass of wine. It’s the universal and sophisticated choice. No matter what bottle or box it came from, you can make your wine taste better and look good doing it. Make your drinking experience more enjoyable with these tips.


...what to order

At a restaurant the host is always the one to order. If you don’t know what to order, ask the waiter or sommelier for suggestions. You may also choose to ask your guest if they have any preference. If price is of concern, summon a sommelier and indicate with your finger what price range you are looking in. Lastly, a wine is only bad if the host says so.

...which glass to use

Know the difference between a white wine glass, a red wine glass, and dessert wine glasses. When it comes to size, the richer the wine, the larger the glass.

…about your pairing

A good wine and food pairing takes into consideration the richness and flavor of the dish. Pinot noir and Rieslings are quite versatile, food friendly wines. When unsure about a pairing, consult a sommelier at your wine store or restaurant.

…about temperature

Wine experts tell me that temperature has a lot to do with how enjoyable a wine is. Red wines are best served cool (60/70F, 15/20C), white wines and rosés (50/60F, 10/15C). Before you run out and buy a thermometer, let me tell you about the 20/20 rule. White wine should be taken out of the fridge 20 minutes before being served, and red wine should be put into the fridge 20 minutes before being served. If you are reading this less than 20 minutes before your party, I give you permission to swirl an ice cube in your red wine for 4 seconds to get it to the right temperature.



Clinking originated as a way to establish communality. The pleasant sound of clinking can add to the spirit of the gathering. Some occasions do not warrant this tone, such as funerals. Clink bell-to-bell as to reduce the risk of smashed glass. Don’t feel like you need to clink with everyone, just raise your glass and make eye contact with those far away.

…coast through the toast

The host leads the way and is the first to toast at an event. Keep toasts short, 20 seconds or less. The better the wine, the more your brevity will be appreciated. If there is a toast in your honor, forget you have a glass. Do not touch or look at yours. After the toast has finished, return the toast. A nice evening should include a toast to the host, initiated by a savvy guest.


…pouring just enough

It let’s you swirl the wine to let it breathe, and perhaps more importantly, it prevents spillage once you get tipsy.

…looking inside your glass

Anything else is weird. Make eye contact with someone drinking out of a glass and you’ll know what I mean.

…holding by the stem

If a glass has a stem, hold it by the stem. Holding the bowl with your hand will alter the temperature of the wine. You may also appreciate that it keeps your glass free of grease marks.

…without hogging the wine

Offer to pour for others before filling your own glass; anything else would be poor manners!

…without smudging lipstick

If you’ve made it this far, don’t let your lipstick do you in! There are a few ways to avoid leaving conspicuous lipstick stains on glasses. When you aren’t being watched, lick your glass before putting your lips on it. You may also blot your lips with tissue paper, but never with a cloth napkin.


It’s no longer just an island in Greece; it’s an app too: find your Aphrodite or Adonis on Lipsi. Here your personality compensates for your anonymity. This is the place to showcase your ability to banter and relate. Its unique format creates a few etiquette considerations. Be yourself without compromising yourself; follow these Lipsi tips!

Lipsi what happens

Don’t ask someone to reveal his or her identity, and resist the urge to creep the person you are talking to. Instead try to judge how well you get along with someone, without biases. Beauty fades, personality is forever. Keep that in mind when using this app.

Watch your loose Lipsi

When messaging an anonymous user, be careful what you post. Only send messages you would want an acquaintance to read until you know and trust the recipient. Anyone could search you by name, including that coworker who is out to embarrass you.

Wait and Lipsi

People use social media at different paces. While you may be impatiently waiting for a reply, the other user could find it perfectly normal to check in only sporadically. Follow the 2-week rule; if the conversation has not migrated to another platform within 2 weeks, you can abandon it if you’re not having fun.

Lipsi you later

Do not assume that the person chatting with you has the same interests or intentions. Enjoy yourself and don’t hold it against anyone if they have different plans. Any conversation can be ended with a goodbye, or a block if that’s what they deserve.


If you sit this way, you may have to pay. Transit authorities are now authorities on civility.

If you sit this way, you may have to pay. Transit authorities are now authorities on civility.

Tell your mother she’s been replaced; public transportation authorities are now in the business of punishing bad manners. Their cause of the day: “manspreading”.

The term, meant to describe the practice of sitting with legs wide apart, wasn’t even in the dictionary before 2015. In what must be record time, “manspreading” has evolved from a slang term to law.  Authorities in Seattle, New York City, and most recently Madrid, Spain have launched anti-“manspreading” campaigns. This is in addition to the online shaming campaign transgressors are subject to around the world (#manspreading). All of this for a practice that, besides raising an annoyed person’s blood pressure, poses no danger to others.

I am the first to say that taking up more space than necessary when sitting on public transportation is discourteous and looks unflattering. At the same time, I do not assume that sitting like a slouch is always a product of malice or disregard for others. The fact is that anatomy, size, habit, and emotional state can all contribute to the way we sit. Teaching manners requires patience and giving people the benefit of the doubt. Such enforcement measures demonize everyone who doesn’t sit in the prescribed manner.

If we are on the task of fining people for things that irritate us, I propose banning smelly tuna sandwiches on busses, people who whistle in public, and subway riders whose purses require their own seat. We all have things that annoy us, and surely we do things, however trivial, that peeve others.

While the decline of civility is concerning, I am equally troubled by the trend of codifying good manners and fining or shaming people into compliance. Sit as upright as you can, and do it because you want to be respectful and look respectable. Money spent on a fine is much better spent on an etiquette coach.

O Canada! NO Canada!: Proper Canada Flag Etiquette

We love our flag, sometimes a little too much! The flag represents a country and is itself considered a living thing. Canadians have found many ways to honour this national symbol. Some make me exclaim O Canada!….while others leave me thinking NO Canada! Official rules exist on how to display our national flag. Here’s what you should know before celebrating Canada Day:

O Canada!

Displaying it right

Flags hang freely. They are not to be draped over anything, and they never touch the ground. When displaying it horizontally, the leaf should be facing up. If you choose to display the flag vertically, the upper part of the leaf should point to the left from the point of view of the observer. Displaying the flag upside down would signify distress…and that’s definitely not what Canada Day is about!

Wearing it on the left

A flag pin is the only respectful way to wear a flag. So put away your flag t-shirts, and put on your flag pins. Place them on the left side of your chest, near your heart. Our flag deserves this most honourable place.

Retiring it respectfully

Once we’ve loved our flag enough, it’s time to bid goodbye! If your flag is faded or torn, it should no longer be displayed. The only way to ensure your old flag won’t be reused is to burn it. Donate your flags to your local Legion; several times a year they organize proper flag retirement ceremonies.

No Canada!

Decorating with it

Canada flag lawn chairs can have a seat; our flag should not be used for decoration! The flag is a national symbol that is meant to be displayed respectfully. If you are sitting on it, using it as a tablecloth, or using it as a cape, you are doing it wrong. If you wish to decorate patriotically, think bunting. A red and white motif with maple leaves would be more appropriate.

Disposing of it

The flag shouldn’t be printed on anything disposable, such as a napkin or a paper plate. Avoid buying these items and opt instead for our national colours!

Eating it

To ice and slice is not nice! If you are planning to bake a Canada Flag cake, or a batch of Canada Flag Cupcakes, opt instead for a red and white cake, with some maple leaf sprinkles if you must!

Don’t get FLAGGED on Canada Day! Respecting our flag takes pole position on our national holiday!


It’s the most awkward day of the year. It may involve a blind date, or a disappointing rendezvous with your current partner. On this day those with no plans at all feel even more uncomfortable. February 14th is a day to celebrate love (not only romantic), so don’t let feelings of awkwardness get in the way. Whether you’ll be on a first date or going steady, for Valentines Day you’ll want to be ready. The following are some common Valentines conundrums you can prepare for.

Your date arrives late: It’s not mean to leave after fifteen. Even if your date lets you know he or she is running late, which they should do, it is not impolite to call off the date after fifteen minutes. If you decide to wait longer, don’t get angry at your date when they finally arrive, and don’t dwell on their tardiness.

Catfish is on the menu: Anyone in the online dating game knows to post only their best pictures. Your date is no exception. When meeting someone online, manage your expectations. Don’t be surprised if they appear somewhat less attractive in person, and certainly don’t make things awkward by commenting about it. If you feel your date’s online profile was a blatant misrepresentation, call MTV or call it a night.

Not knowing who pays: If you invite, you pay tonight. The one who initiates the date is the host. The host picks up or arrives early, and the host pays. If at a restaurant, leave your credit card with the maitre d’ or arrange to have the bill brought to you.  

You don’t know where to sit: Here again the rule of the host applies. The host gives the guest the best seat at the table. That’s usually the one facing the room. When in doubt, let your guest choose first.

Your phone rings: Your Apple phone is not for dessert, so keep it off the table. Your date will certainly feel awkward sitting silently while you talk to or text someone else. Anyone who spends this special day with you deserves your full attention. If by some chance you are expecting an urgent call during the date, try to let your partner know ahead of time. Otherwise turn the phone off or silence it.

There is an awkward silence: If you’re not yet comfortable with silence, be ready with some things to talk about. If you don’t want to get “talk blocked”, click here.

Your date has bad table manners: Nobody is perfect, and calling your date out for his or her imperfections will just make things uncomfortable for you both. If table manners are important to you, and your date’s cut you like a knife, maybe its time to stick a fork in the relationship.

You chose the wrong gift: In general, for new relationships a simple, mush-free card or some candy will suffice. The six-month mark allows for more personal gifts. Only give expensive gifts such as jewelry and clothing once you feel your partner would reciprocate.


Plastic ISN'T Fantastic

Whether they’re on your wish list or not, it is almost certain you will receive at least one gift card over the holiday season. According to the National Retail Federation’s 2016 survey, 56% of shoppers plan to give at least one this year, and it is estimated that 95% of American households have either bought or received them in the past. The golden rule of giving is that it’s the thought that counts. During the busy holiday shopping season, gift certificates are a convenient option. What’s important is that they not become a thoughtless fallback.

The value of a gift is far more important than its price. Gift cards are the only gifts, besides cash, that have a “face value”. In fact, for that reason many government employees such as teachers and postal workers cannot accept them. While there should be no shame in the fact that people gift differently according to their means, in a situation where multiple gift cards are being given and opened, this can lead to awkward situations. I recall a gift exchange I attended during which everyone revealed their gifts. Three of the five were – you guessed it – gift cards, ranging from $25 to $40. With tangible gifts, such a difference in price would not necessarily be as obvious, but those with the $25 cards couldn’t help but feel Scrooge’d.

There are certain situations in which convenient gifts are useful: when gifting to someone you do not know well or spare gifts set aside for unexpected guests. When giving to anyone more than an acquaintance, however, convenient is polite speak for lazy. When it comes to friends or family, plastic is fantastic if:

  • The recipient has previously spoken of financial distress, and you know a prepaid debit card or grocery card would help.
  • It is logistically more practical to give a gift card (ex. a gift sent in the mail)
  • Intended gift requires customization/sizing (ex. clothing)

Whenever you give a gift card, it is essential to attach a handwritten note, in which you may explain what the card is intended for. Gift cards can also be a great complement to a gift. For example, you can give a certificate to your favorite photofinishing store along with a nice picture frame. When purchasing a card, instead of revealing its dollar value, note a suggested use. For example, a $20 gift card to a $10 movie can read “Movie for two”.  Get familiar with a store’s prices before you decide what amount to load onto a card.

Think hard before you give a card. Given the increasing prevalence of gift cards, the gift of plastic is less likely to make an impact in 2016. Part of the value of a gift is the time the giver put into finding it and/or preparing it. For a gift that is guaranteed to end up in the trash sooner or later, gift cards sure are overrated. That being said, they should always be graciously accepted.


When speaking to someone we don’t know very well, small talk is the key to a deeper conversation. Sometimes conversation doesn't flow well and we feel talk blocked, but those who say they want to “cut the small talk” are not taking the time to understand what kind of deeper conversations would appeal to the other person.  Your goal should be not to avoid small talk, but to pursue deep connections more effectively. Stop idle chatter; get to the small talk finish line faster with these 8 tips!

Enter the room

Yes, there is such thing as being fashionably late. If you are at a large event, you may not be greeted by anyone at the door. It is up to you to find someone to talk to. Everyone is watching the door, and after 15 minutes, even the most fascinating conversations could use a new participant. Step to the side of the entrance and pause, making yourself visible. Look for inviting eye contact or try to find people you would like to approach.

Approach and pause

At the risk of interrupting an intimate discussion, avoid breaking into groups of two unless invited. Everyone else is fair game. Look for a group with an open space, approach it, and pause. Soon enough you should be met with eye contact and perhaps even a greeting. That is an invitation to introduce yourself. Move on if you haven’t been acknowledged after 20 seconds.


Being approachable and confident is key to successful small talk. Body language, and specifically your smile, can convey those qualities without a word.

Master making introductions

You only have seconds to make a first impression. Your introduction will take up most, if not all of that time, so it is important to do it right. When in a group, introduce yourself each person individually. Say your first and last name, and then never forget to repeat the other person’s name and add a conversation starter. That may be in the form of your job title, relation to the event host, or a brief compliment.

If introducing people, you should always introduce a person of lower rank to one of higher rank (Mr. CEO, I introduce to you Mr. Manager. Mr. Manager, meet Mr. CEO), and introduce a group to a person (Jenny, I’d like you to meet our new colleagues Brian and Amy. Colleagues, meet Jenny), and new acquaintances to friends (Robert, meet my new friend Joe. Joe, this is Robert, we grew up on the same street).

Whether introducing yourself or being introduced, practice the appropriate greeting. Depending on which part of the world you are in, this may be a handshake, a kiss, a bow, or even sticking out your tongue. If seated, rise for greetings.

Choose the right topic

Find commonalities: The most common small talk starter is to talk about whatever brought you to the same place (mutual friend, club affiliation, etc). This is normally a safe subject and everyone has an answer to “what brought you here?”.

Time travel: Dry small talk centers around the present. Today’s weather is a common example. Even a conversation about the weather can be made more exciting if you tell someone about that time you were caught in a storm, or about the sunny weather you are looking forward to on your next vacation. Asking basic questions about someone’s past or future can lead to interesting conversation.

Ask for advice: Without incriminating yourself or others, talk about a problem or challenge you are facing. It may be you are looking for a more challenging hiking trail, or perhaps your car broke down and you need to find a good mechanic. Asking people for their advice or opinion makes them feel smart and useful. It is also good material for a follow-up contact.

Start with a compliment: Offering congratulations for a recent accomplishment or repeating something impressive you heard about the person can be a good ice breaker. Limit comments on a stranger’s appearance; it might lead to a slap in the face, or worse, a superficial conversation! To keep things genuine, don’t immediately return the same compliment.

Say "you", don't say "me": Asking open-ended questions about everyone’s favorite topic (themselves) is a sure way to generate a lively conversation. This is especially useful for quiet people who would rather listen, and hungry people who would rather chew food. He who talks more is often not the better conversationalist.

It goes without saying that hot-button topics can make new acquaintances uncomfortable, even if they agree with you, and should be avoided.

Get out of an awkward silence

It is not unusual for discourse to run its course. Not all silence has to be awkward. By maintaining your smile and not calling attention to your unease, you can still convey interest and friendliness. Eventually, of course, you want to break this silence with one of these phrases.

So what you are saying is….: Summarizing what the other person said shows you are curious and a good listener. This may prompt them to explain even further.

Tell me more about...: Try to think of something that was said that you’d like clarified or further explained to you.

Did I tell you…?/I forgot to tell you…: One positive about a lull in conversation is that it is your opportunity to completely change the topic of conversation. This conversation re-starter allows you to mention a fun fact, or a personal story that may have nothing to do with the subject you already exhausted.

Did you hear…?: Prepare for small talk by getting up to date on current events and pop culture. General interest stories, or better yet, those relating to the other person's passions, are your defense against an awkward silence.

Be a good name detective

No matter how many times we do it, we will never feel comfortable forgetting a name. While is not rude to be upfront and apologetically ask someone for their name again, a good name detective knows how to recover one without confessing to the crime.

“May I have your business card?” and “how do you spell your name?” are code for “I forgot your name”. Alternatively, you can re-introduce yourself in hopes the other will reciprocate (“Again, I’m Konrad Philip, it was nice to meet you”). The most sophisticated investigator will look for backup. Inviting another person into your conversation, when possible, will initiate another introduction, forcing everyone to repeat names.

Exit with ease

Think about setting expectations at the beginning of your conversation. If you only have 10 minutes to talk, say so upfront. At a gathering, it is not polite to leave anyone alone. If you want to exit a conversation, introduce a new person into the discussion first. If there’s nobody else around, tell the person where you are going (the buffet, the patio) and offer for him/her to follow.

If by the end of this drill you haven’t made a new connection, do not consider it a waste of time. Because you are an effective small talker, you were able to recognize a lack of compatibility and exit the conversation smoothly, all in record time!

That's Not Queue-t!

Adults, and even children, alike, can do things that aren’t queue-t. Summer is the season of waiting in line. At theme parks, on highways, and most notably at airports, people are spending hours standing among strangers. In fact, it has been estimated that the average American spends 2 years of his or her life waiting in line. While conveniences like online check-in and priority passes can make your summer more enjoyable, so too can avoiding the following behaviors.


“Linelocking” means creating gridlock in line. Try to keep the length of the line as short as possible (without breathing over someone else’s shoulder!). Keep your bags close in front of you. This takes up less room than keeping them at your side where they could trip or impede people passing by, or behind you where they're not as safe.

Wearing a smell that doesn’t gel

When traveling you should expect to wait in line. Knowing that, be as bearable as possible to strangers. Avoid strong perfumes, including the "BO Collection". Same goes for food; recent surveys have found smelly food to be a top annoyance for airline travelers.

Letting your child whine in line

If you have kids prepare them for the wait ahead of time by bringing something to keep them entertained or make other arrangements, such as signing up for a priority pass. Nobody likes to hear whining, and though I’m not THAT young, I imagine that small children don’t enjoy whining either.

Not getting the h*ll off your cell!

You can speak quietly to others, but refrain from talking on your cell phone - it is much harder for our brain to shut out one-way conversations and nobody wants to hear yours! If you have earphones in your ears, be mindful of your surroundings. Keep the volume moderate enough so that you can hear what is going on around you, and others can’t hear your music.

Scolding the line

There has never been just one angry person in a line. Agitation quickly spreads. Avoid raising your voice or demanding to be served first. It won’t mean much when everyone around you starts doing the same. If you have an urgent matter or a complaint, get the attention of an airline employee and speak to them respectfully. They are much more likely to help someone who is likable. Don’t scold, just hold it!

Choosing your place

If you’re unsure, always ask if you’re at the back of the line. At an airport, should you be worried about missing a flight, notify an airline employee. If you’re not, consider switching places with someone immediately behind you who’s in a hurry; it’s a small gesture that could be rewarded nicely. Remember that part of “saving” a spot in line for someone is leaving once they take it!

Understand that waiting in line is not common practice in all countries. Tourists from other parts of the world may have never been taught to line up and may instinctively push and shove their way to the front.


The Etiquette of Talking Politics

A 2014 Pew Research poll measured that 55% of respondents enjoyed talking about politics some or a lot. In an election year it’s inevitable then that you’ll be involved in a political conversation of some kind, whether you enjoy it or not. In addition to spirited discussion, however, this election season we’ve also seen skirmishes at rallies and organized attempts at silencing political expression. Clearly, a mannerly memo is in order.

Know when to abstain

When meeting new people, do not bring up politics. Those still forming an opinion about us are prone to putting us in a box. A liberal may be labeled as a member of the socialist vegan brigade, a conservative a certified “right wingin’ bitter clingin’ proud clinger”. Don’t let your view overshadow the true you! You'll be much less likely to alienate someone with your politics once they get to know you better. Work is another place where politics never belong. The risk is too high – saying the wrong thing could cost you more than an unpleasant evening. Causing a rift with someone you have to work with and see everyday is not worth it. Lastly, a two-drink maximum is suggested when talking politics; you may still get shouted down but at least you won’t get beaten up.

Teach, don’t preach

Once you’ve decided to engage in political conversation, decide whether your goal is to teach or to preach. Most of the time, it should be to teach. During election season, those who do not closely follow politics but who still plan to vote (as everyone should!) can benefit from informative discourse. Be a diplomat, not a politician. Provide the facts and let others form their own conclusions without creating conflict.

State your sources

Civility in political discussion requires sticking to objective facts. Think of a few current news items you can share about each candidate. Any statement you make should include the source of the information and should be devoid of personal attacks. Respond to arguments the same way – tell others what you heard, saw, or read about their candidate, NOT what you “think”!

Set them straight, investigate!

Think someone else is breaking that last rule? There is one very easy way to check – and it doesn’t involve offending anyone! Just like in any other conversation, always listen and ask questions. Misunderstandings lead to conflict, and both are common in political conversations because we’re too busy thinking of a comeback instead of listening to what the other is saying. Asking probing questions in a non-skeptical way shows genuine interest and respect. In addition, it will quickly expose anyone who has been quite liberal with the truth!

Plead the 5th

The 5th Amendment is an etiquette expert's favorite. Remember you are never required to carry on a political conversation. Change the subject by using  humor, an “exit line” (such as “I’d rather not talk politics” or “I’m not a political person”), or by complimenting your friend on something other than his or her political views. To break up an argument among other members of your group, remark how great it is to hear different viewpoints and thank everyone before transitioning to another subject. 

Respectfully opine online

While your online friend count may convince you otherwise, the internet can be an unfriendly place. Even a seemingly inoffensive post could lead to a heated argument with several people. Online arguments should end as quickly as they begin – stick to one rebuttal before suggesting to discuss the topic the next time you meet the person. Most importantly, when faced with a tempting post scroll, don’t troll! If you find you are scrolling through much of your feed, consider muting some of your contacts.


Super Bowl Etiquette: Who NOT to be on Game Day

This playoff season has not been short on misbehavior by fans. Reports of spectators fighting and even urinating on each other were seen as out-of-line by even the rowdiest of fanatics. 

In a large stadium crowd, a few bad apples will inevitably make their presence known, but even much smaller game day parties see their share of unwanted guests. Unless you want your relationship with the host to go from the friendzone to the endzone, don’t be one of them! Those most commonly flagged for party penalties are listed below:

The Whinebacker

He is the best coach & referee who never made it to the Super Bowl, and he makes that known. Any time our whinebacker disagrees with the course of the game, his displeasure is voiced for all to hear, until long after people stop listening. He also tends to take control of the remote to rewind parts of the game nobody asked to see. The only thing he is good at is ruining the game for everyone else.

The “Coming Back”

There is no such thing as a “stolen” seat on game night. Once you get up from your seat for whatever reason, don’t expect it to be open when you return. If you don’t even bother to make a snack or beer run, forget about asking for it back.

The Offensive Cackle

This character uses locker-room language, forgetting that he is at a party where such words are really unnecessary – especially when there are children around. What’s also unnecessary is talking about things that have nothing to do with the game – the Offensive Cackle likes to do this as well. Off topic conversations should take place in another room as to not interrupt viewing (this goes for commercials too!). Talk at halftime should center exclusively on how bad the performers are.

The Tightfriend

The cost of entry on game night is to not come empty handed. This one friend is either ignorant or too cheap to follow. If you’re bringing food, unless you roll with the kale and granola crowd, the cheesier and greasier the better. A case or two of beer should get you the VIP treatment. A small host gift is also a good idea.

Fried Receiver

Few Super Bowl parties are missed by that sloppy drunk. When he manages to miss a party, few people miss him. Considering the evening is a rather long one, especially for those non-football fans, resolve to pace your drinking. If you plan on driving, perhaps stop drinking after the third quarter, just like the stadium fans do.

The Double Dipper

Though health experts continue to debate the science, etiquette experts are clear, double dipping is not o-queso! If you are eating a large chip and insist on dipping it more than once, place some dip on a separate plate for yourself.

The Downer

Showing up in a losing team’s jersey and with a bad attitude are common practices of the downer. Show at least some enthusiasm and remember that this is not the time to tell everyone how much you hate football and only watch it once a year.

The Linesnacker

He makes the buffet his own and samples things while his fellow guests are left wondering if there will be anything left for them. When approaching the buffet table, grab what you need and step away to let everyone fill up before the game starts.

The Food Fumbler

A game night party will inevitably result in a moderate amount of mess (which guests should offer to clean up). The food fumbler exceeds this standard by sending hot wings flying onto the carpet and leaving behind a torrent of chip crumbs. Often an alter ego of the Fried Receiver, the Food Fumbler is advised to apologize and to offer to take responsibility for any resulting cleaning costs.

If after reading this list you have self-diagnosed yourself as one of the above, resolve to rehabilitate yourself (there’s still time!), or stay home on the big day. Lastly, if you do choose to attend a Super Bowl Party, remember the golden rule of parties – never be the first to arrive or the last to leave.

Konrad Philip is North America's youngest etiquette expert and author of "From Schleppy to Preppy: A Man's Guide to Looking His Best". Be sure to follow him on Twitter: @notawkanymore 

Be Lean - Not Mean - In 2016!

A Nielsen survey conducted this time last year revealed 69% of people resolved to improve their health and fitness. Many choose to do so at the gym, and so every January they converge on previously abandoned weight rooms and newly rediscovered yoga studios. Regrettably, countless statistics and - for many of us - personal experience, show that only a small fraction of them can be found there in March. Perhaps some of us let the champagne make the promises, but more commonly, this goal is abandoned due to lack of time and motivation. Not this year, however. Now there is a way to make gym visits more time efficient and enjoyable for everyone. This is yet another problem that can be fixed with just a little courtesy!

Return your weights, remove those plates: Gym-goers waste hours every year looking for misplaced equipment. Save everyone’s time by placing anything you use back into the correct spot. Plates should never be left on a barbell; not only is it an inconvenience to the next person, it also damages the bar.

Prepare to share: Allow others to use the equipment while you rest. If someone refuses to share with you, do not linger and instead return later. Be mindful of the space you occupy. Though it may have a DJ booth and look like one, your gym is not a nightclub. The weightlifting benches are not for lounging and it is not the place to stand around having long conversations. 

Always carry a towel: Some cry, some bleed, and everyone sweats at the gym. Wipe all equipment after you use it. If you don’t have a towel handy, your t-shirt will do.

Unwelcome advice ain't nice: Even if your inner fitness coach cringes at your fellow gym-goer’s technique, it is not polite to offer unsolicited advice to someone (same goes for etiquette advice!). Besides hurting his or her ego, it may also result in one of you getting hurt, most likely the other person since your pointers might not be appropriate for them. If you’re genuinely concerned, alert a trainer who will approach the person, offer professional advice, and maybe even gain a new client.

Be scent-sible: In spite of all of the bottled fragrances on the market, the B.O collection endures.  This unwelcome odor is most prevalent at gyms and tends to linger long after its wearer goes away. Almost as bad are strong perfumes, which many are allergic to. Substitute these with unscented or light deodorant.

Ditch your phone, get muscle tone: Holiday parties provided many opportunities for you to work out your vocal cords. Now is the time for bigger biceps, not a bigger voice box. This rule also applies to the locker room, since nobody feels comfortable barely clothed when there are strangers with camera phones around.

Made it to the end without breaking a sweat? Don’t feel too good about yourself; that was the easy part!

Holiday Tipping Etiquette - Introducing the Gratui-Tree!

The season has arrived for Christmas music, Christmas sweaters, Christmas parties, and, of course, Christmas gratuities.

Tipping is hardly a seasonal occurrence; according to one estimate, Americans voluntarily hand over $40 billion to service personnel each year. It's no surprise then that the holiday spirit inclines us to give even more. Those extra holiday gifts or tips, given on top of the usual gratuity, are meant to show appreciation for good service received over the passing year. We also hope they'll influence the quality of attention we will receive in the coming one. What they are not meant to do, however, is pressure you into spending above your limit.

Recognizing that there it is not always possible to give that holiday tip to everyone we would like to, I have created the Gratui-Tree, a brand new way to prioritize your gratuity spending. For those who don't know where to start, this expert guide can help you be a nice customer, without being a naughty spender.

All of our year-round service providers can be placed in 4 categories. Those who look after our family, those who look after our home, those who take care of us, and those who take care of all the rest. Let's see whom we should take care of first when setting our tipping budget.

Family First: Our family caregivers (babysitters, dog sitters, nurses) work hard to keep your loved ones safe and healthy. If you only tip one person this year, make it someone from this category. The equivalent of one night (for babysitters) or one week's pay is appropriate. Schoolteachers also fit in this group; non-cash gifts worth up to $20 are usually accepted, but check with your school.

Home Second: There's no place like home for the holidays. Anyone who helps keep it comfortable year round deserves a token of appreciation. The equivalent of the cost of one visit is standard.

Then Services: Once you have given that holiday bonus to the previous two groups, take a look inside your wallet (or perhaps your couch cushions!). Depending on what you find, you may be able to give a Christmas-sized tip to our next group. On top of the standard 20% expected at hair salons and similar services, a customary reward is the cost of one visit.

Lastly, the Elves: These service providers work in the background to assure your life runs smoothly. When treated kindly they may just go the extra mile when you most need it. You may have never thought of giving your mailman or garbage collector a tip, but if you can afford to this year, you may find it pays. Most civil servants cannot receive cash or gift cards, so opt for a small gift ($5-20) instead.

Although it may not be possible to give that holiday tip to everyone on your list, you can still show them all your gratitude with a thoughtful, handwritten card. If your words are sweet enough, they may just last longer than a box of chocolates!

Konrad Philip is North America's youngest etiquette expert and author of "From Schleppy to Preppy: A Man's Guide to Looking His Best". Be sure to follow him on Twitter: @notawkanymore


Canadian shoppers briefly forgot their manners earlier this year, when Target liquidated all 133 of its department stores in that country. Deal-hunters across Canada waited outside for hours only to find discounts that ranged from disappointing (10% on most items), to slightly less disappointing (Valentine’s day cards were 30% off on February 15th).

While shoppers are feeling underwhelmed by Target’s liquidation sale, the store’s employees got more than they bargained for on opening day. Disappointment turned to anger and anger to misbehavior. Workers were left in tears by “unruly mobs” that hurled insults and abandoned loaded carts. Already facing the stress of unemployment, it is no surprise that some cashiers emotionally checked out.

Target’s Canadian bounce out is a teachable moment for both corporate office hires and bargain buyers. The back-to-school shopping season (July through September) is the second biggest shopping period of the year, accounting for 25% of annual retail sales. Discounts abound, giving deal lovers a chance to redeem themselves.  On your next shopping trip, don’t go mad when a clearance sale is bad; follow these tips and you’ll be glad you had:

  • Find out before you walk out the door: A good bargain hunter will know that time is money. Invest yours wisely by finding out if the sale will be worthwhile. Check flyers, websites, and signage to see just how good the deals will be. Pay attention to fine print; it may tell you that discounts are by rebate only, or on select items. You can also browse the store to see what items are already on sale. Those with steep discounts are less likely to be reduced. If you plan to travel a long distance to a store, call beforehand to make sure the items you want are in stock.
  • Be a friend and less you’ll spend: If you want to experience scarcity, go to a clearance sale. When times are tough, we can only rely on our friends. At the store, the person who tries on 15 shirts and doesn’t bother folding them again doesn’t make any. Politeness pays: it is a known fact that salespeople who are treated with kindness are much better at locating items that are out of stock, and are more likely to tell you about additional discounts. At the same time, a recent University of British Columbia study of luxury hotel staff found that employees often take personal revenge on rude customers, giving bad directions or serving them cold food. Clearly, if they don’t want to see you again, service staff will make sure you don’t come back.
  • The price is not a vice: While front line staff are an easy bullseye, they have no say in pricing. In Target’s case, the prices were set by a liquidator who must pay those owed money by the company. The list includes vendors, charities, and tax authorities. The more they can recover, the lesser the burden on these groups and on taxpayers.

Whether at a back-to-school or other clearance sale, rudeness is a shopping fail.

4 Steps to Mastering the Business Follow Up

Turning a newly received business card into a professional contact requires follow up. Students and lower ranking professionals are the ones expected to initiate contact once the networking session is over. This should be done in the first 24-48 hours, and repeated as necessary. Here is what you need to know to maintain a strong connection.

Take notes: After the first meeting, make a note of what you talked about and any small personal details the contact mentioned such as pets, likes/dislikes, or recent travels. This can be done on the business card itself, or on a small post-it note stuck onto the card.

Initiate a follow up: In the next day or two, send an email and/or written letter reminding the person about your conversation. The subject line should read “Great meeting you at xxxx”. Mention something you talked about and attach a relevant news article, or comment on a previous discussion. You may also connect through LinkedIn (always add a personalized message!) or Twitter. Tip: to add a personalized message, you must click the “Connect” button on the contact’s profile, not the one on the search result list.

Ask to meet: If you wish to meet up, this is the time to ask. You can ask for a 15 minute phone call or a short meeting or, should your contact doesn’t have time, offer to send them a few questions by email. Thank your contacts ahead of time for their help, and send a thank you letter after a meeting or phone call.

State your goal: There is no harm in mentioning your objective for connecting with the person, as long as you don’t come across as selfish or demanding. Instead of asking about job openings in your contact’s department, say something like “This summer I see myself as a marketing intern and am actively seeking internships.” This lets the person you are ambitious but not taking advantage of them.

Following up is a continuous process. Try to connect with your contacts on a regular basis. This can be once a month, or once every few months. Your periodic updates can be in the form of an email with an informative post, or a thoughtful question. Another great way to maintain a professional relationship is to introduce people. If you know someone who you feel could be of interest to your contact, cc and introduce your friend in an email, or arrange a meeting. Both sides may soon be thanking you, as referrals are the top source of external hires.

Thank Your Way to a Job

When competing for a job, it can be hard to find a way to set yourself apart. Chances are many of the applicants have similar career experience. When invited to an interview, a majority will most likely do some research beforehand, dress to impress, practice a good handshake, and show up on time. There is one thing, however, that only about 10% of interviewees do, and that is write a thank you note.

If you are polite enough to be reading this etiquette column, chances are you have already used the words “thank you” today. Expressing gratitude for even the smallest things makes other people feel appreciated. If that isn’t reason enough, besides giving you that warm fuzzy feeling, saying “thanks” can also give you a competitive edge in the business world. Here is that who, when, what, and how of thank you cards.

Who: Even in our politically correct world, no sane person is offended by the words “thank you”; so feel free to use them generously. In addition to your interviewer(s), send a thank you note to anyone at the company who helped you such as the receptionist or someone who recommended you for the position.

When: Thank you notes should be written shortly after you leave the interview and received by your potential employer within 1 to 2 days. If using email, do not send your thank you note too quickly, as it may seem like you didn’t put much thought into it.

What: In a few sentences, thank the recipient for his or her time and express your interest (or disinterest) in working for the company. Reiterate why you are the right one for the job, and say you look forward to hearing back soon.  If you forgot to ask any questions, include those as well. You may also attach your business card if you didn’t give one earlier.

How: While email is the quickest way, it is only ideal when the hiring decision is quick or when the company is high-tech. In all other cases, it is best to send a handwritten card. Because they aren’t nearly as common as emails, they are more memorable and show more effort. In addition, the recipient is likely to place it on his or her desk and will think of you every time he or she looks at it.

And there you have it, the easiest way to stand out in the job market! After your next interview, send a few thank you notes and soon you will be thanking yourself.

Save Yourself From Smell Hell

We’ve all been there: someone next to you decides it’s time to eat that smelly sandwich or microwaved meat dish. Worse yet, that someone was too busy preparing lunch earlier in the morning to put on deodorant. Welcome to smell hell, where each visit is no less unpleasant than the last. To stay away from, or get yourself out of, this putrid place, follow these tips.

Don’t be rude with smelly food: Whether at work or school, your desk is not a dinner table. While your taste buds like your lunch, the noses around you may not. In fact, recent surveys have found smelly food to be a top annoyance for both office workers and airplane travelers. Last September, in response to its own studies, the city of Vienna decided to ban smelly food on public transit.If you must eat in class/at your desk, avoid bringing any hot food, smelly or not (if it smells good it could make others hungry!). When in the lunch room, do not microwave pungent foods like onions, popcorn, garlic, fish, eggs, or cabbage.

When someone else brings fetid food: If someone else’s food is bothering you, politely ask them what’s in it. Once they tell you, say something like “that looks very tasty, unfortunately I’m allergic/sensitive to [insert ingredient].” This will make them more aware of what they eat around others and may even get them to move away or stop eating.

Be fragrant, not flagrant: In places where people are close to each other for long periods of time (work, class, the movies, church), perfume or cologne should be applied in minimal amounts. The same goes for scented aftershave. Only those two feet away from you or less should be able to smell you. In addition, just like food, perfume spoils. Store it in a cool, dark place and pay attention to its expiry date. Lastly, choose a scent you like, but please avoid the “B.O. Collection.”

When someone else smells bad: The main rule for pointing things out to people is that if they can fix it right away (fly unzipped, food stuck to chin) then one should say something.In the case of body odor or bad breath, you will need to have a solution at hand if you want to politely bring up the subject. Offer the other person a mint or a sample of your “favorite” new perfume. Should you not have mints or perfume samples with you, casually mention a new breath freshener or deodorant you’ve started using. The person should get the message.

How to Begin on LinkedIn


It’s the world’s largest networking event, and you don’t even need to dress up! Here you can get in touch with professionals from around the world, find classmates, and maybe even discover or be discovered by your next employer. While you can forget about polishing your shoes, you can’t afford to forget these tips!

It doesn’t mean much without a personal touch: While you should keep things professional, don’t forget to add a personal touch. Your LinkedIn profile should be longer than your resume and written in first person. Unlike a resume, which usually only has space for skills and experience, LinkedIn allows you to add a photo, a summary, and samples of past work. Use these features to differentiate yourself. The personal touch also applies when sending an invitation to connect. Instead of using the standard greeting, explain how you know the person and why you would like to connect; he or she will greatly appreciate it.

Adding people you haven’t met: Say you can’t tell the person how you met because you haven’t. LinkedIn’s official stance is that it is meant to connect people who already know each other. In fact, if you are reported for adding users who don’t know you your account may be restricted. Recruiters are an exception to the rule, however. They are usually open to making new connections, especially if you personalize your invitation. If the person you want to add is a 2nd degree connection, you can request an introduction instead.

Endorse in due course: As a new user, you may be eager to get recommendations and endorsements as soon as possible. While these can enhance your profile, they can also damage your reputation. The best way to receive them is to give them to others. That being said, you shouldn’t endorse people for skills you don’t know they have or post exaggerated testimonials. If you must ask someone directly for an endorsement or recommendation, ask users who know you well, preferably former work supervisors or professors. As always, customize your request and thank them in advance.

Staying linked in: LinkedIn is far much more than a job posting or a static profile. Like on Twitter and Facebook, you can post updates. To avoid flooding feeds, limit yourself to 1 post per day, and only post interesting, workplace appropriate content. In addition to updates, you will have messages and invitations to respond to. As with all other professional communication, you should reply within 1 business day.