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How To Receive A Gift You Don’t Like

In etiquette, gift giving, holiday, how to on January 31, 2019 at 12:04 pm

The holidays are over but throughout the year you might find yourself on the receiving end of gifts you aren’t too fond of.

We have all been there:  It’s gift exchange time or some other occasion during the year and you receive a gift prompting an immediate roller coaster of negative emotion, causing you to think:

  • “What the hell?”
  • “What were you thinking?”
  • “Are you serious?”
  • “Going in the trash.”
  • “This relationship is over.”

When you receive a gift that is less than desirable, it can make you wonder if the giver put any consideration into what they were giving you.  It is possible the gift giver is clueless, doesn’t have good taste or they just don’t care.  However, the fact of the matter is that many people struggle with giving meaningful gifts and most likely put a lot of thought and effort into selecting the gifts they give.

Whatever the case, it’s important not to offend the gift giver.  It’s never ok to be rude and instead it’s important to be gracious and show appreciation for what you receive, even if it isn’t what you would have chosen for yourself. If you struggle with how to react when receiving a gift you don’t particularly care for, keep the following in mind when it comes to navigating the murky waters of undesirable gift receiving:

Take a deep breath, smile and say thank you. As mentioned before, you don’t want to offend the gift giver so it is important to quickly manage your facial expression and thoughts to mask any negative emotion you might feel.  If you are used to Aunt Janet giving you cat socks for every milestone in your life even though you like birds and you never wear socks, then you know how to do this but if you are doing a gift exchange with someone new, you might need to practice the rapid fire smile and thank you.  You might even throw in a hug to give yourself time to recover before you face the person again.

Don’t gossip about the gift.  Keep discussion about the gift to a minimum, especially if you are around the person (perhaps at a gathering). Word travels fast and you don’t want to cause trouble –  even though you are troubled by what you received.

React to the thought of the gift.  Keep in mind that most people have the best of intentions when giving you a gift.  It’s also important to not let negative emotion overrule all manners and sense of decorum, especially when it’s someone who cares for you.  Instead, respond to the spirit of the gift.

Deflect attention away from the gift.  If the giver continues to press you for your thoughts about the gift, you can always say something like

  • “Thank you.  I appreciate it.”
  • “I’m not sure how I’m going to use this but I’m definitely going to put this to good use.”
  • “Do you have one? How do you use it?”

Re-gift with caution.  If you store the gift away for later, put the date and the name of the person who gave it to so you don’t give it back to them at a later date.  Hopefully that same gift won’t come back to them in the future from someone else you re-gifted to.

How should you react if you receive a gift that that is offensive such as something with racial undertones, is sexist or doesn’t support a personal journey (you are working towards sobriety and the person gifts you alcohol)?  You are within your right to politely tell them how you feel about the gift they have given you.

Now…

What if you are someone who is challenged and misses the mark when it comes to gift exchange?  If that’s you, keep these 6 points in mind to help you be a better gift giver.

Pay attention.  Take note of what the recipient buys for themselves, their personal style, what they talk about, even how they decorate.  This type of information can give you some insight into what they might like to receive as a gift.

Give gifts around their hobby or interest. For instance if the person you are shopping for is an avid gamer, instead of or in addition to getting them the newest game, consider getting them a gaming chair.

Ask.  Simply put, it never hurts to ask what a person wants for themselves.

Take yourself out of the equation. Remember that the gift isn’t for you so if your Uncle James loves collecting ashtrays from the 1920’s then go ahead, make the man’s day and get him those rusty ashtrays.

Don’t give anything that is used.  It’s poor taste and makes you look very bad, especially if the item looks, smells or feels used.

Give money or a gift card.  There are many schools of thought regarding giving money or gift cards as gifts.  The prevailing thought is that it is not very thoughful or personal.  I believe it depends on the relationship between the giver and the receiver and chances are you’ve never met anyone who didn’t like to receive cold hard cash as a gift.   Giving money/gift cards can often empower someone to purchase things for themselves that they normally wouldn’t purchase for themselves. Which can be a gift in and of itself.

Office Snacking Etiquette

In etiquette, how to on August 7, 2018 at 12:00 pm

Follow these tips to ensure that your office snacking is a civilized, fun filled experience.

Spending time with others to share a meal (or even snacks) in a communal setting is a wonderful pastime that many enjoy.  Whether it is around the family table, at a favorite restaurant or even a party, communal eating is a great way to catch up, strengthen bonds and connect with those around us.

This is especially true in the workplace.  Taking time out for communal eating/snacking in the workplace can encourage team building, idea creation, engagement, raise energy levels and of course banish post lunch hunger pangs.  Lets face it, even the most awesome work environments can use the provision of delicious, fun treats to add excitement to a typical workday.

Having said that, when it comes to office snacking, behaviors can occasionally get out of control.  You are probably familiar with the scenario:  you’re at work (or some other type of gathering) where there is plenty of food to enjoy and that one random person joins the group and without discretion, literally grabs food with their bare hands.  Hold Up!  Where did you just come from?  Have you washed your hands or at least used some hand sanitizer?  How does anyone know that you didn’t just use the restroom or public transportation?  Or that you didn’t just wipe your nose or come from the office handling tons of paperwork?

As with dining etiquette that suggests chewing with your mouth closed and keeping your elbows off the table, there is etiquette for less formal dining situations that suggests how one should conduct themselves – even around office chips and dip.

The following basic rules can apply anywhere…

  • Wash your hands before approaching food and drink.  No one knows where you and your hands have been.  If there is a sink nearby, do a courtesy hand wash or use hand sanitizer before touching any food (or plates/utensils) to lessen the concern of those around you.
  • Refrain from touching your hair, face and especially your nose while around communal food for obvious reasons.
  • Use utensils whenever possible – at least when it comes to serving yourself.  Many times communal office snacks are finger foods (cheese, crackers, other forms of crudite, dips and sauces) and there is always an inclination to grab a portion with bare hands.  Please don’t.  And please, as a courtesy, don’t use your chip or carrot as a utensil unless its your personal portion.
  • No Double Dipping.  Please don’t dip your chip (or other dip-able food), bite off a portion then put the remaining chip back in the community dip/sauce.  You may not have health issues but those around you may not know that.  Leaving traces of your saliva in and around the food is never cool.  And while we are on the topic of chips and dip, if your chip breaks off in the dip, please use a spoon to get said chip out.
  • Keep Your Hands Out Of The Bag. Whether you have washed your hands or not, as a courtesy, refrain from putting your hands in bags of chips, veggies, or whatever food comes in a bag.  Just pour a portion onto a napkin or plate to enjoy.  The same concept goes for breath mints, gum, candy and any other food that is not individually wrapped.
  • Clean Up After Yourself.  Enjoying communal food and drink might be confined to a common area such as a kitchen or empty room, cubicle or office.  You might even grab and go back to your desk to snack and work in private.  Whatever the case, clean up after yourself.  Use the trashcan and wipe up spills.  Put items away in the cabinet or fridge.  Don’t create the need for an exterminator to get rid of critters when all you have to do is clean up after yourself.
  • Don’t be a snack thief.  You know that person:  they grab 5 sandwiches, 5 bags of chips (to go with their sandwiches) 3 sodas and 10 cookies and stash all of it for later.  Then they go back for the portion they are going to in the moment, meanwhile no one else has had a chance to get anything to eat.  But that isn’t you.  It’s your colleague.  Anyway, be courteous and save some food for someone else.  Or at least wait until everyone has gotten their portion to go back for more.  And again, please don’t hoard, especially if you did not contribute by giving money or bringing any of the treats.

This non-exhaustive list isn’t necessarily about being a germaphobe but can fall in line with common courtesy and providing a safer, cleaner environment in which one can enjoy food and community.  When all else fails, if you are unsure of how food has been handled, just steer clear.  If you are around during the initial set up, you are safe to grab your portion before everyone else gets to it.

What has been your experience when eating in a communal office setting?  Share your tips on how you keep office snacking fun and safe.

Keep These Items On Hand For Entertaining Your Guests.

In etiquette, how to, lifestyle on February 26, 2018 at 12:00 pm

Be the host with the most by keeping these entertaining ideas in mind.

Gong out with your best friends is always a fun thing to do – gathering at your favorite restaurant and catching up over a delicious meal is always something to look forward to without worrying yourself about the details of your evening.  But what about those times you want to get together in your home?  What details do you consider to ensure your guests have a good time when they are in your home?  Whether you are hosting an impromptu gathering of friends unexpectedly “just stopping by” or having a more formal get together, there are some pantry staples to keep on hand (or at least top of mind) to make entertaining a breeze.  Ahead are ideas for items you can pick up at your local market to make your get together fun, festive and delicious!

Wine, Champagne, Sparkling Water/Juice. In addition to always having water nearby, these particular beverages speak sophistication and can enhance the flavor of the food/snacks you serve your guests.  It’s also a good idea to have a variety of teas on hand as well.

Popcorn.  Great for impromptu gatherings and easy to prepare, popcorn is the perfect snack without a ton of calories.  Sprinkle on a mixture of various seasonings to take your popcorn to the next level.  Give the following recipes a try:  a little olive oil, paprika, oregano, parsley, seasoned salt, chili powder and parmesan cheese.  Tortillas and salsa are also great options.

Crudite Platter.  Generally speaking, crudite platters usually consist of various vegetables.  Be creative and include various cheeses, meats,crackers/bread, fruit as well as hummus (or dip) and fruit spread.

Frozen Ravioli/Various Sauces.  Keeping these items on hand can make food prep a breeze.  Serve with salad and baguette.

Assorted Nuts and Chocolates.  Accessible at your local grocery store.  More variety and fun with a monthly subscription box or on nuts.com .

Ice Cream/Gellato.  Perfect to end the night.  Serve with coffee, berries, nuts, etc.

Candles/Flowers.  Perfect for the entryway and area where you are entertaining to create ambiance.

Serving Trays.  Serving trays make you and everything you serve look classy and elegant, even if you are serving pigs in a blanket while in sweatpants.

Music Playlist.  Create more ambiance with a continuous stream of great music which is easy to achieve with Pandora, Spotify and Apple Music.

What items do you keep on hand to entertain guests?  Do you always have a pantry stocked with a few essentials, rush out in in a hurry to grab a few things to eat or do you leave your guests to fend for themselves?  Please share below.

Tips For Hosting Overight Guests

In etiquette, how to, lifestyle on February 25, 2018 at 1:30 pm

Usually there is nothing more exciting than having your favorite people visit you from out of town.  When you have guests coming to stay with you for the weekend, you want to make their visit as pleasurable as possible.  And while you don’t have to do a complete home makeover, you want to make sure you extend the same hospitality and grace that you would like to have extended to you.  With the following tips and some planning, you can ensure that you an your guests have a wonderful extended time together.

First things first – figure out where your guest is going to sleep.  If you have a spare room, this won’t be too much of an issue.  If you live in an apartment, chances are your guest will sleep on the couch or on an air mattress.  Wherever your guest is going to sleep, make sure the area is comfortable, that the area has curtains/blinds and that you have provided pillows, clean linen, a blanket, waste basket and a cleared shelf or table for their use.  You can also provide bedside emergency such as a box of tissue, pain killers and antacids just in case.

Double check dates and times of arrivals, departures as well as length of visit.  If you are picking your guest up from the airport (train/bus station), make sure you have the correct location.  Nothing is worse than being on time at the wrong place.  I know.  I’ve done that.

If you have a driveway and your guest is driving to your home, save your best parking spot for them.  If you live in the city where parking is often difficult to find, let your guests know where and when to park.

Explain the quirks of your place and show your guest where everything is.  You have lived in your place for some time so you know how everything works.  You know about that toilet handle you have to jiggle and the door you have to lift and pull in order to close.  Make sure you pass this information on to your guests to save them the agony and possible embarrassment of fumbling around your home.

Stock up on toiletries and create a landing space for your guests things in the bathroom.  Usually guests bring their own personal items but it is always nice to provide a nice basket filled with body wash, unscented body lotion, toothbrush as well as a towel, washcloth, loofah, etc.  Also, make sure there is enough toilet tissue, and keep a toilet brush and a plunger nearby.

Keep a loose schedule so your guests have time to breathe, especially when they first arrive.  If your guest is in town to visit you specifically, you can always plan for activities ahead of time by asking what your guest wants to do.  If your guest is in town for business,  discuss your schedules in advance and make sure they have access into and out of your place.

Make sure your guest has your wifi access, any access codes to get into and out of your building.  Also make sure they know how to work the heater/air conditioner, remote controls and provide an extra power strip so they can plug up their computer, phone, etc.

Plan meals ahead of time and make sure you have something for your guest to snack on when they arrive.  If you can, go out to dinner one of the days your guest is in town.  Also, you can do some crock pot meals so that you don’t have to spend all of your time cooking. In addition, stock your fridge and pantry with goodies such as fruit, cheese, veggies, cold cuts, condiments, bread, pasta salad, crackers and chips that will be easy for you and your guest to fix meals and snacks.  And don’t forget the wine (or sparkling soda), juice and water.

What are some of the things you do when hosting an overnight guest in your home?

Lower Your Voice

In etiquette, how to, lifestyle on February 24, 2018 at 11:00 am


So I’m on the train, listening to my music, enjoying my commute but suddenly finding it rather difficult to be at peace because the passenger behind me insists on having a very loud conversation.  The conversation had no end in site and my ears began to bleed because I turned my music up to drown their voice out.

How many times have you been in a public place like the airport, doctor’s office or even a restaurant and have been forced to listen to someone’s loud telephone conversation?  Said offender just rambles on and on about whatever, disturbing the peace without any consideration for the people around them.

Or is it you? Are you the perpetrator. The one who just won’t at least lower their voice while in a public space.  Honestly no one cares about the sordid details of your life.

Now I’m not saying don’t talk on the phone and I won’t get into a long diatribe about social responsibility and manners (at least not now).  And I get it, some conversations are important and need to take place while you are out and about so consider the following when you are on the phone:

  • Be aware of your surroundings and lower your voice.
  • If you are using earbuds/earphones, you may not even realize how loud your voice is so take a bud out of one ear.
  • You may even try cupping your mouth as you speak.  I know, it’s kind of weird but it works.  I once sat next to a gentleman who was on the phone the entire commute and could barely hear him talk because he had cupped his mouth.  Now maybe he was talking about something top secret – who cares.  Point is a measure was taken so as not to really be heard by anyone except the person he was directly speaking to.
  • If possible, excuse yourself and go somewhere more private.
  • Tell the person you will call them back.

Hopefully these few tips will cause you to be more mindful when you take a phone call in public.  If you have loud people in your life, perhaps a sibling, cousin, best friend, enemy, make sure they read this :0)