1. kschreck

    Is it proper to not open the presents at my niece’s 1st birthday party? It is a lunch affair and opening presents would take a significant time. Plus she can’t open them herself.
    Just wondered it opening after and then sending thank you would be acceptable?

    • Winifred Rosenburg

      Yes! I actually prefer it when hosts do this because I find opening presents ceromonies irritating for a few reasons.

  2. jackey

    How do you invite friends to join you for a surprise birthday party at a rstaurant and expect them to pay their own way without being too tacky

    • Pam

      If you expect them to pay, you aren’t “inviting” them to the party, they are helping to throw the party. In which case, and I don’t know how many friends you are talking about, you would throw out the idea of giving the birthday person a party: “Hey Sam, I was thinking maybe we could give Alicia a party at her favorite restaurant, would you be interested in throwing her party?” Otherwise, inviting people out to a restaurant and then handing them a bill is not a good idea.

  3. susie m.

    What is the protocol for issueing invitations to a charity event to local and state officers of a national organization. Do the invitees pay for a ticket?

  4. Pam

    I am a going to be a bridesmaid at an out of state wedding in 2 weeks. The bride has a hairdresser coming 1 hour before the photographer arrives and 3 hours before the wedding starts. Going back, she asked if I would help her with her make up as she never wears make up, nor does she own it. When she asked me to help, I agreed and I said “perhaps you could go to a drug store and pick up some basics, like foundation and concealer for your skin type.” She then said she would rather we go together. Well, he is packing in nails, hair and going to the store for make up all into the morning of the wedding. This is making me rather anxious. I am not a make up artist and there needs to be time for “mess up” and reapplication. I was able to say “you will need a block of time for make up and while I can help you, some of it, like eye liner, I won’t be able to do, it’s hard to do that on someone else.” She said “oh I am just really laid back about all of it.” I will also need time to do my own makeup. I have no idea how all this is going to be done.I think she is trying so hard to be an easy going bride that it’s actually having the opposite effect. Help!

    • Elizabeth

      Pam, I think you could do a couple of things:

      1. Insist that the bride carve out time to shop for supplies in the days before the wedding.
      2. Watch some online tutorials about make-up application to prepare yourself for the job.
      3. Practice some skills on your friends or family at home before you go. (Someone who has never done eyeliner before will NOT be able to do it in the hours before her wedding!)
      4. Accept that this bride will look best with the “minimal” look – someone who never wears make up will not feel comfortable or really look right with a full face. If she has decent skin, skip the foundation and just do a light powder. Maybe skip the eyeliner and just do a nice application of mascara, etc.
      5. Have fun, and don’t worry too much about it. You’re doing your friend a big favor, and it sounds like your friend will appreciate your efforts.

      • Pam

        Thank you so much for your advice, Elizabeth. I will have her skip the eyeliner and just focus on concelear and mascara. The thing that gets me is that I didn’t ask to do this, she asked me for help and now I have to get her to carve out time for it. So, I’m just going to bring my make up and follow her lead. If she doesn’t have time for make up, that is not my doing. I will have my own for myself and that will be that. Thanks again!

        • I’m glad you’ve already received great answers, so I’ll just toss in a quick suggestion:

          Some make-up brand counters at department stores offer free make-up consultations (Clinique, Estee Lauder). On the morning of the wedding, if she really is very laid back about it, I suggest going in and having one of the counter representatives do her make-up. Sometimes a Mary Kay rep will come to a person’s home to do make-up for free or little charge. She can make a small purchase (such as lip gloss) then so as to have not taken advantage of the representative’s time.

          • Pam

            Everyone’s advice is wonderful. Unfortunately I will not be in the same state as the bride until a few hours before the rehearsal dinner the day before the wedding. I feel it is a compliment that she wants my assistance and I said I would help, but both times that I made suggestions as to how I can best help her, they were sort of fluffed off. It’s just unfair to request someone’s help and when they begin to guide you, you keep saying “no big deal” and we’ll cram it all in on the morning of the wedding. I am not a professional make up artist and doing another person’s make up is much different than doing your own. When I agreed to help I thought she would be a little more cooperative.

          • Nina

            Hi Pam,

            Sorry this is turning into such a hassle when you were trying to be helpful. I guess at this point you can make the suggestion one last time–“I think things would be less likely to get stressful/late if you asked someone else to help you buy the makeup ahead of time.” or some such. Then give up–brides will have their way, though they’re not supposed to abuse the privilege!

            Then, get up early on the wedding day, do your own makeup and prepare a touch-up kit (it’ll be a long day) and present yourself to the bride to do as much as you can for her before the ceremony. You can only do what the hours in the day allow! Try to be positive and not get stressed out by the running around. From the schedule you gave earlier, it looks like she’ll have to do without some of her photos if things run late, which would be sad, but better than missing the ceremony!

    • Nina

      Dear Pam,

      I think the only thing you need to be seriously concerned about is the purchasing of supplies–you’re right that going to the drugstore on one’s wedding day might cause problems. I think Elizabeth’s advice is good–just insist on going at a different time. Try to show her that it’s fun to shop for makeup (well, I think it is) and you should enjoy it and not be rushed.

      But as for eyeliner or not, etc., I wouldn’t worry too much–those of us who don’t wear makeup aren’t very aware of the details. Elizabeth’s tips are very sound–minimal is probably the way to go for an easygoing bride.

      I am also having a friend do my wedding makeup as a favour, and believe me I am grateful for the help and not trying to micromanage the details. Her own makeup is always very pretty and understated, so I just told her to do the same for me. Consider your friend asking for your help a compliment on how you usually look!

      • Alicia

        I very rarely wear makeup and when I do it is just lipstick and mascara. She may simply have no idea what to buy. I know I do not own any foundation or powder and if you told me I should go to a drugstore and buy the foundation and power for my skin type I would have absolutely no idea how to do that. I have two shades of lipstick that a friend took pity on me and told me are the colors I should be wearing and other people have told me they look good. When pressed I wear those two colors and black mascara. I have no idea how to pick out eyeshadow from the overwhelming array of options of colors from lovely on someone else to clownlike. I have had my makeup done at counters and they are always so much more then me that it feels fake as clown like. She probably just wants to look the most lovely version of herself seriously someone who could help me get the mascara on without smudges and lipstick even on both sides of my mouth and a tiny bit of coverup of the blemish I always get at special events would be a hero for any special event and particularly on my wedding day should I ever get married. But really if she never wears makeup she likely is not looking for much just a touch of polish.

  5. Debbie

    I have a predicament: Raised to be polite, I often feel socially awkward. Sometimes I have trouble telling the difference between what is “too nice” and what will illicit a “worried, I’m not used to kind genuine people offering help” response or even better “she’s being nice to me because I’m such an attractive male any female would pay to be with” response.

    Help! As a result, I also say sorry a lot. It’s like a reflex, and I realize it can make others uneasy and more self conscious than necessary.

    • Debbie

      As I am going into the health care field as a physician, I need to get used to conveying a professional, yet relaxed, confident, and polite persona. Advice would be much appreciated.

      • Elizabeth

        Debbie, unfortunately the rules of etiquette don’t really help you with this predicament. To some extent, I think that your training will help you develop the proper bedside manner, so to speak, but issues around social anxiety and the like are best discussed with a close friend (to start) and a professional (to get some work done). I’m not suggesting that you are ill in any way, but my own experience has been that mental health professionals are also very good at dealing with short term issues, or “tune-ups” as I like to think of them. A trusted counselor could help you sort out these issues straightaway.

    • Chocobo


      I used to be much more like you and I understand what you mean. It can be hard to find the line between polite and subservient, and a meek attitude in the workplace (especially the medical field or other areas of expertise) can be anywhere from limiting to disastrous.

      The problem may lie for you where it did for me: redefining what is “polite,” which does not include always being subservient all the time. Etiquette is an empowering tool that can help you to gain more confidence around other people, because it will help to very clearly define social rules in black and white. When you understand etiquette, you will know better when other people are being rude to you, when you have accidentally been rude how to react, and how to stand up for yourself. One big part of that mess is not being concerned whether other people know etiquette properly, and trusting that they will feel very silly for taking offense when you are doing the right thing.

      Perhaps, like me, you are just confused about the rules, and that is causing anxiety because you aren’t always sure how to react, or what to do. Here etiquette is tremendously helpful, because it has simple, time-tested, go-to solutions which require no quick-wittedness or creativity to turn to. For example, if someone insults me, I don’t have to come up with some witty one-liner, I can simply say “I beg your pardon?” and get my point across, without insulting in return. And when someone announces a new baby, I don’t have to think of something clever or interesting, because I know saying “Congratulations!” is always acceptable.

      One thing that really helped me in the long run is reading up on etiquette extensively. I’ve bought and read dozens of books now, and knowing what is rude, what is not, and all the simple solutions helped me to know that I’m not being rude by, say, asserting myself, or taking offense to someone else. I urge you, if you have not already done, to buy books from the real experts like the Post Institute and Judith Martin (a.k.a. Miss Manners). I hope they will help you as much as they helped me.

  6. Law Office of David H. Faux, P.C.

    As I continue to develop knowledge and focus on specialty areas of the law (theater and fashion), I am invited to speak on the topics in panel or lecture settings to other attorneys and lay people alike. Either I am paid for travel, hotel, and a speaking fee or waive the speaking fee. But it is understood, at least when the engagement is scheduling, that their payment only includes my time in speaking and answering questions. While networking is a part of any such occasion, I always have other clients’ work to push forward, as well as a lost time for two days involving at least some travel. Time allowing, I will meet with my hosts or specific individuals for a meal; however, I am often pressed (sometimes very hard) to attend dinners or plays. My question is how can I politely decline these (often repetitive) invitations? Or, is it proper business etiquette to partake in these events?

  7. Kathy

    We have friends who love to entertain at home. We prefer to reciprocate by inviting them to a restaurant. They are hinting at being invited over. How do I graciously avoid this?

      • Kathy

        Thank you but I don’t want to say something untrue. They will eventually want to see said renovation. Isn’t there a truthful way of just saying we are busy and prefer to eat out?

    • Jody

      Kathy, that’s quite generous and nice of you to reciprocate by taking your friends to a restaurant. If your friends keep pressing you for invitations to your house, you can always say that you’re not set up for entertaining. It’s the truth, and it covers a variety of conditions — such as not having enough room to entertain, for one.

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