Modern Etiquette


What are the rules of etiquette these days? Here are a few, according to etiquette experts:

– Should you call a woman ‘ma’am’? Should you call a man ‘sir’? It depends on where you came from. If it was in the South or in a military home, you may use ‘ma’am’ and ‘sir’. If you want to succeed, get that promotion and be well received by the family, when addressing an adult that is older than you are, it is best to be formal until invited to be informal.

– Should you hold a door open for someone? Whether you’re a man or woman, boy or girl, hold the door open for the person who is close behind you. If you’re in a group or walking a little ahead of others, be kind and open the door in advance.

– When do you kiss hello or hug hello? When do you shake hands? You shake hands in a business situation, with two pumps, and a three-pump handshake is appropriate for social situations. Air kisses and hugs are greetings for friends and close associates. A cheek kiss, where your lips touch the other person’s cheek, is for close relatives such as grandparents.

– What is the best way to cancel a date? With a phone call or, at worst, a voicemail. Do not text a cancellation.

– Who should pay for a meal on a date? Whoever invites the other person and chooses the location should pay. Although it’s okay to offer to share the cost.

– How long does someone have to respond to an RSVP? It is best to respond to an invitation within 24 hours. You probably know immediately whether or not you’re going to go.

– Is it on the host to ask or on the guest to share dietary restrictions? A host should always ask their guests if they have any dietary restrictions or food allergies as soon as they RSVP.

– Is it ever appropriate to bring a plus-one without telling the host? No.

– When should one bring a host/hostess gift? Always.

– What is an appropriate host/hostess gift? Wine, chocolates, gourmet cookies, decorative towels, candles, beautiful writing paper, plants, flowers or a small toy for the child/pet of the house.

– Are email thank you notes OK? You should always send a thank you. An emailed thank-you is fine, but nothing replaces the beauty of a handwritten thank you note.

– Where do you put a napkin when getting up from the table? A napkin on the chair signals you are returning to the table. Napkin on the table means you have left the meal.

– If you need to take a call or answer a text during dinner, what should you do? Your mobile devices should be completely off and away so that you can give your attention to your tablemates. If you are expecting an important call you should preemptively let your tablemates know so that if you have to answer, you are not being too rude. Simply say ‘excuse me’ and leave the table.

– What should you do if your fork/knife/napkin drops to the ground? No, not the 5-second rule. Request another one.

– Is it ever appropriate to eat before everyone has been served? Only if the host insists.

– What should you do with that final bit of broth, sauce or gravy on your plate? Don’t slurp it.

– Is it rude to leave food on your plate at the end of the meal? It is often better to leave at least a little of your entree on your plate so that your hosts know you have had enough food.

* Here are some of my PERSONAL faves:

– Don’t clip your toenails at the table until everyone has finished eating.

– When having a burping contest, wait your turn.

– If you take a bite of something that’s too hot, curse into your napkin.

– Do not share porn on your phone at the table, no matter how good it is.

– If you drop food on the floor, use the Five Second Rule: Within five seconds, kick the food under someone else’s chair.

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