Is this Seat Taken? Seating arrangements and Office functions

Q. We are having a company business party and are not sure how we should have the seating arrangements. Some people want the executives to sit at each table and others believe it should be up to the employees and their guests/spouses. Are there etiquette rules for company business parties when there are 100 or so people?

A. You have two choices – not to have place cards and formal seatings, or to do so, doing seating plans to “disperse” people according to how you think they should be seated. Neither is incorrect, but for a social business party it shouldn’t be necessary to do a seating chart or attempt to seat people by department, friendship level, status, etc.  Everyone can find his/her way to a table and you will find that they mix and match themselves fairly nicely.

Proper Traveler: How to Show Respect during National Anthems

Q. I’m planning to visit Russia next spring and may attend an event where the Russian national anthem might be played. What is the proper etiquette for a foreigner in such a situation? I certainly don’t want to offend anyone, but I am an American.

A. The etiquette would be similar to that of a foreigner in this country: While the anthem is being played, you should remove any sport cap and stand respectfully. You could also check with the local American Embassy for further information.

Invitation Registration: How to write Housewarming Invitations

Q: Could you please advise on proper etiquette for house warming invitations regarding the registration of gift. Should gifts even be mentioned on invitation, if so should gifts be registered and mentioned?

A: The rules of a housewarming party are that it is held by the new homeowners (or renters) to welcome friends and family to their new home, to give tours and receive compliments, and to serve food and have friends help “warm” their residence with their caring and affection. Guests may or may not bring gifts.  Usually guests do, most often a bottle of wine, a plant, or a loaf of bread or other food item.  Housewarming gifts are usually small tokens, not major items: this is, after all, not a wedding. Mention of gifts is not made on the invitation and one does not register for gifts. A housewarming generally is held within three months or so of moving in.

Life is a Revolving Door, But Who Goes First?

Q: My office is currently having a debate about this. When a man and a woman enter a revolving door, who enters first? Is there a reason for this?

A: Men traditionally enter a revolving door first, if it isn’t moving, but women enter first if it is already in motion.  This old bit of etiquette was based on the notion that women needed help to push the door.  Today the person in front enters first and pushes. The best idea is to signal your intentions: “After you,” or ” Let me get the door started for you.”

Miss History: What are the Origins of the “Miss” Title?

Q: Can you tell me the origin of the title ‘Miss’ for an unmarried female?

A: Traditionally a woman’s social title was tied to her marital status. Young girls and unmarried woman were referred to as “Miss,” which is the shortened form of the archaic “Mistress.” The term ‘mistress’ was used to refer to both married and unmarried women until it was replaced by the abbreviation  ‘Mrs.’ for a married woman and ‘Miss’ for an unmarried woman or girl. The term ‘mistress’ was also used to refer to a woman who owned property or who was in a position of authority in a household.