|Holiday Celebrations – The Art of Giving & Sharing
The winter holiday season is already upon us and we still haven’t packed away our pumpkin lanterns or fully recovered from our Thanksgiving feasts! The warmth and enchanting glow reserved from the spirit of Thanksgiving was quickly traded for the magical hour of midnight when selected retailers opened their doors to launch the beginning of the most festive time of the year.
Why do retailers insist on bombarding us with holiday cheer and preparation so early into the season? Perhaps it is to help us get a jump start on our holiday shopping. Most of us know how difficult that can be when we feel trapped by the constraints of time and a “to do” list a mile long. With family and friends beckoning it’s a wonder we accomplish anything at all. How nice It would be to simply relax during this season and enjoy each other’s company with fabulous food and drinks in a warm and friendly environment. This holiday season let us be your refuge from the hustle and bustle as we impart our thoughts on the numerous ways to give and share yourself to guarantee a more joyful and perhaps the grandest season of all!
As we say goodbye to 2007, we’d like to take a moment to acknowledge and send a special thank you to our clients, colleagues, associates and friends for your support, your trust and your confidence. It has been our absolute pleasure to work with you and your families. We wish you all a very healthy and happy New Year with much continued health and success in 2008!
With warmest regards!
Lisa & Diane
|Holiday Gift Certificates & New Year’s Resolutions
Kick off 2008 with a New Year’s Resolution that will add extra confidence and enhance the quality of your life. Sign up today for one of our upcoming etiquette courses for children and adults and witness the transformation. And for you future educators, February’s Etiquette Certification classesare filling up quickly. Don’t procrastinate, take the leap into the world of consulting and help others become the very best they can be. We will show you how!
Give the gift of good manners this holiday season with a Gift Certificate from Beverly Hills Manners™. Immerse those around you with grace and charm in the New Year. Call us at 310.276.9078 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to obtain more information on how to give the most thoughtful gift of all.
Welcome to Impressions
In every issue of “Impressions” we offer you diverse ways to experience etiquette. Visit our Etiquette Recipe of the month where we simplify for you secret ingredients for putting on that perfect party and unlocking your inner host or hostess! Just for Kids features fantastic gift giving ideas your little ones can make. Enjoy these inexpensive treasures that will become future heirlooms! In our Tea Room Discussion, we will share the art and etiquette of gift giving for both the social and corporate world. Test your knowledge in our Grace Notes Patio where we have assembled the many burning questions you have asked from holiday tipping to holiday gift ideas. A Grandmother's Wisdom rekindles the spirit and demonstrates how to maintain authenticity and sincerity during this holiday season. In our Features section, we pay tribute to the quintessential charity that is always there to help those in need, The Salvation Army. They were there for the recent catastrophic fires in California, on the front lines always providing kindness and a gentleness in spirit to uplift those so entrenched in the sadness and horror of losing all their memories and belongings. Please take a moment to read this article and hopefully when you see these dedicated warriors, ringing their bells this holiday season, you will take a moment and show your gratitude!
Etiquette Recipe - Five Secrets for Planning that Perfect Holiday Party!
We’ve all attended those parties that were fun and seemed effortless. The host or hostess stayed with their guests and were not busy in the kitchen cleaning up or preparing for the next course. Just how is this done? What were their secrets? Here are five key ingredients for success in planning your next holiday party!
1. Focus Your Intention – First, answer this basic question. Why do you want to have a party? Be truthful with yourself as far as your intent. If your intent is sincere (that you wish to do something for others), it will be successful. Don’t just plan a holiday gathering just because it “tis the season.” Be honest with yourself that you truly from your heart are excited about planning such a gathering. Second, your goal is to make sure that your guests enjoy themselves, It is therefore important in your planning that youintend to have a good time too! If you are happy and exude a great attitude then your guests will be a reflection of your great manner and spirit.
- Party Theme - From a dinner of four to a banquet of four hundred, a party planned around a theme always adds to the flavor and excitement. Part of the theme will dictate your decorations; however, with a theme comes the mood and setting which is critical in providing an atmosphere of warmth for your guests. During these holidays one has so many wonderful themes to choose from and a multitude of inexpensive ways to decorate your home. The key is to plan the décor that best reflects who you are while providing an inviting environment for your guests.
- Budget – Always work from a budget which should have the estimated costs for everything. This would include all preparation expenses (catering, food and beverage costs, decorations, invitations and mailing, cleaning services, etc.) and provides you with a working structure in making your plans. Getting into a habit of creating a budget will greatly help you in planning multiple events for the future, no matter how large.
- Prepare and Delegate! - Now is the time to prepare those “to do” lists. If your budget is complete, you can easily reference it as a guide in formulating your lists. For example, planning a party at home requires a myriad of things to consider to do yourself or to delegate to others for completion.
- Location – since it is in your home and many times your guests will wander throughout the house, it is important that you schedule time for proper cleaning. Contract with a cleaning service if necessary!
- For a dinner event – if held in your dining room allocate time to make or purchase decorations and centerpieces.
- Time to get out your silver and silver serving pieces and get them polished!
- Review table linens and napkins to be sure clean and well pressed.
- Plan your menu (food/beverage) and in some cases you may wish to have them professionally printed. Always take into consideration your guests who may have a religious or food allergy issue as you would want to plan an alternative food selection.
- As a general rule, if you are doing the cooking, select those dishes that you have cooked before!
- Write or print name cards for each place setting
- Coordinate candles with the colors or the theme. Always purchase extra candles in the event one breaks. Store them in the freezer as they will burn at a slower rate and last longer. Be sure never to use scented candles as that would conflict with the aroma of the food and taste.
- Let your creativity shine through your own personally designed invitations or choose from a wide variety of lovely store bought invitations – just be sure to mail them well in advance of your party! Four weeks is standard for the formal affair. For the informal dinner party, a phone call is appropriate, but never leave a voice message!
- Don’t forget to select what you will wear, as well as your hair style and make-up application. Choose classic styles of color that will transform you into a woman of mystery and grace!
- Setting a Timeline – This is by far the most important thing you can do to insure that you will enjoy your party! Remember the formula: happy host = happy guest! For every budget item and “to do” list there should be a corresponding timeline for completion. Do as much as you can in advance. Twenty-four hours before any party there will be unexpected things that will arise that will have to be attended too. Only through proper time management will you be able to deal with the unexpected confidently.
Planning a party within your home is always the quintessential way of entertaining in style. Through the dining ritual, memories will be created for all to share. Remember, you are the gift!
Just For Kids
Roll up your sleeves and encourage your children to make sumptuous holiday treats using many of grandmother’s traditional recipes! Warm the cider and include your little ones to participate in setting the table and making those special hand made gifts which will be treasured year after year!
Something as simple as decorative jars, yes, those Kerr jars are perfect for filling with holiday chocolates and decorating with ribbon and hand painted snowmen. Visit our many listed resources where you will inspire the artist within to make those unforgettable gifts that truly will be tomorrow’s heirlooms. Begin today and plan those shared memory experiences!
Tea Room Discussion - The Art and Etiquette of Gift Giving
Selecting gifts for that special friend to the corporate executive can be overwhelming and daunting especially if there are multi-cultural issues involved. What is appropriate and what is not appropriate? And, what about re-gifting that has been so popularized since the “Seinfeld” days? So many people do it, but is it the right thing to do? Diane and Lisa to the rescue! We will provide you with some simple guidelines in selecting that perfect gift! Gift selection truly is an art and we will share our discoveries that will bring out the artist within!
Personal Gift Giving
- The more you know about the recipient as to their likes and dislikes, the greater advantage you have in choosing a gift they will truly appreciate.
- Generally it is not how expensive the gift that makes the difference, but the thought and careful selection that is important. For example, for someone who loves football and fine wines you may select to give a special vintage wine combined with tickets to their favorite football game.
- Take special care in the wrapping of the gift for the presentation oftentimes relays more meaning than the gift itself! Don’t rely on the department store traditional gift box and ribbon. Take the time to wrap the gift and if you are not adept in this area then pay to have it professionally wrapped.
- If someone gives you a gift never should you feel obligated to run out and purchase a gift for them in exchange. This would actually diminish the act of the gift giving and be an insult to the giver! Your sincerity in receiving their gift in a heartfelt way is sufficient.
- Re-gifting is a very popular event in today’s modern world; however, truly it is not the right thing to do for to give a gift to another that was intended for you is insulting to the original giver. Though it is accepted in many circles, it is totally manipulative and dishonest and we should never participate in such activity!
Corporate Guidelines in the Art of Gift Giving
Oftentimes we are responsible for purchasing gifts for our corporate clients and even for our associates we work with within the marketplace. Here are some guidelines we found which will aid you in your holiday shopping this season!
- Generally you should stick to a budget. The more you know about the recipient the more creative you can be in the selection of the gift. It’s your own ingenuity and not the price that will be appreciated.
- It is easy to purchase “gift cards” that are popular today. However, it truly shows a lack of thought on the giver’s part and reflects more of an afterthought than anything. Gift cards do work well if you combine them with something. An example would be to enclose a gift card along with a “Spa Day” certificate that can be used to purchase products when at the spa.
- Money is generally not an appropriate gift even in the marketplace. When company bonuses are paid, these should never be considered a gift to the employee from the employer. Bonuses are paid due to job performance and reflect the success of the company at year’s end.
- One must be careful in the selection of appropriate gifts for the international client. Proper wrapping and presentation play a significant part in the giving of a corporate gift, this is especially true for Japanese clients.
- Avoid anything that is personal such as perfume or clothing not only for that corporate client, but for your associates whom you work with on a daily basis.
- Gift giving helps build understanding and respect. A collective gift is appropriate and should be presented to the senior official. Ideally, this gift should reflect your company or region that you represent.
- Present and accept gifts with both hands and with a slight bow.
- Gifts are not usually opened in the presence of the person who gave them. The delay shows that it’s the thought not the gift that counts. It also permits the person who gave the gift to save face if it’s not “worthy” of the recipient.
- When someone gives you a gift it’s polite to refuse it once or twice before accepting it. The next time you meet the person be sure to mention the gift.
- Don’t compliment your hosts excessively on something as they may feel obligated to give it to you as a gift.
- Unlike Western etiquette, you need to deny a compliment and never say “thank you.”
- Allow the Japanese to initiate the gift-giving. Do not be the first!
- The care and detail paid to the gift wrap is an integral part of the gift itself. When in Japan check with the stationary stores who will advise you on the appropriate way to wrap your gift. Oftentimes the gift may be wrapped in a beautiful linen cloth or tapestry.
- Always present your gifts in private.
- Do not expect them to open the gift in front of you.
- Saving face is very important with the Chinese culture.
- Upon a first meeting, small gifts are exchanged. Each member of the Chinese team should receive a small gift otherwise those not receiving a gift lose face.
- Western gifts such as logo gifts are acceptable, as well as gifts reflecting your State.
- Subscriptions to American publications are also desirable; however, be sure the publication would not conflict with the Chinese social and political issues.
- Books about nature, history and photography are well accepted as well as stamp collecting.
- Some gift taboos: avoid giving clocks for the word “clock” is a homonym for the Chinese word funeral. In some local dialects, the pronunciation of the Chinese words for apple and death are the same so avoid bringing apples (as they love receiving food).
- The greatest gift a business can give his Chinese client would be a banquet for this shows your gratitude and appreciation for the business relationship. However, be mindful of your P’s and Q’s in dining etiquette for proper location of the guest of honor is critical and if the rules for dining decorum are not followed exactly, your guest may abruptly leave the banquet insulted!
The Arab World
- The Arab world poses tremendous challenges for the Western businessman in appropriate gift selection. Most Arabs are Muslim and the dictates of that religion are what rule the culture and business world.
- There are numerous taboos: Stay away from alcoholic beverages as a gift, no matter what your Arab associate may have indulged in when visiting the U.S. It is confusing since one can openly drink alcohol in Beirut, Amman, Masqat and Bahrain! However, in Saudi Arabia it is strictly forbidden and severe penalties including prison and even death await the offender.
- Never bring a gift for your host wife or family. Don’t even inquire how the family is as this is strictly forbidden.
- Do not offer logo gifts as they are considered distasteful.
- Other than Swiss or fine chocolate, never bring food for this infers that they have not been a good host.
- Don’t give expensive gifts for they are regarded as a bribe!
- Don’t expect a thank you (though you certainly would send a thank you if you received a gift) as this is not their custom. They do expect to receive a note of thanks from you however, for they understand that this is a Western custom.
- Be careful what you admire, for your Arab associate will feel compelled to give it to you.
Truly understanding these idiosyncrasies of varying cultures is so important in today’s world, especially in America where we live side by side with so many people from other cultures. We should all take seriously the need for us to learn about these other cultures and celebrate their uniqueness and welcome them into our home. Instilling this within our children is paramount for their character development so that as adults they will be better prepared to appreciate and communicate well with others from different backgrounds.
We have only touched upon the surface, but have two remarkable resources should you need further clarification on international dining and gift giving customs. Please check out our two eBooks that can provide answers to all your questions this holiday season.
Grace Notes Patio
Take a deep breath. We have assembled the most frequently asked holiday questions to help you during this hectic, but wonderful season. We are here for you 24/7 should you have additional questions you would like us to address. Simply email us at email@example.com and we will send our responses back to you ASAP!
1. I always have anxiety this time of year about how much to tip during the holidays. From my hairdresser to the gardener and the nanny, what is the proper amount to give? Show your appreciation during the holidays to those who have enhanced your life all year long by writing a special note of thanks with an enclosed holiday tip. For a terrific resource with guidelines on exact tipping amounts, please see
2. When toasting the guest of honor, does he or she also pick up their glass and participate in the toast? No! The one who receives the toast does not participate, but smiles and acknowledges those who are participating.
3. We’ve been invited to a friend’s home for dinner over the holidays. Do I still need to bring a gift, and if so any suggestions? Absolutely, you always should bring a gift whenever invited to a person’s home for dinner. You may bring chocolates, flowers and even wine. However, if you bring wine, do not insist that it be used that evening. Allow the host or hostess to make that decision for they generally have already made the wine selection to coordinate with the dinner menu.
4. I receive a lot of gifts for the holidays that I cannot use. Is it okay to re-gift? As we mentioned in our Tea Room Discussion, though it is accepted in many circles, we feel it is most inappropriate to give a gift to another that was intended for you and we do not recommend participating in this activity.
5. When invited to a home for holiday dinner, if the hostess gets up and begins clearing the table and cleaning up in the kitchen, should I offer to help? A hostess should never begin cleaning up the table or working in the kitchen while guests are still seated at the table. She would get up only if she was the only one serving the next course. After dinner, it generally is more comfortable for the guests to retire into another room to have their coffee and dessert; however, if she does get up you can always ask if she would like some help. Allow her to make the decision.
6. What should I do if I need to leave a holiday party early? If it is a larger party, it is perfectly accepted to use the “French Goodbye” which is a basically slipping out of the party without saying a formal good-bye to your host. Instead, a small wave and nod of thanks to your host is suggested before making your quiet exit. This is preferable to the big goodbye in which you may start the pied piper effect and lead others to leave early as well. In some cases, you may want to call your host in advance to let them know that you will unfortunately need to leave early.
7. Many times when I sit down at the table, the person to my left begins to use my butter plate by accident. Should I inform them in a nice way? Proper decorum dictates the answer is no! Bottom line, you do not want to embarrass your partner. Just use your own entrée plate!
8. I am a woman and work for a bank. Generally I will ask a colleague to have lunch with me in appreciation for all the support he has given me. I know that professionally since I asked him to lunch, it is my responsibility to pay the bill. However, he always seems to insist on paying for the both of us! Help! What should I do? You’re correct in that it is your responsibility to pay for the luncheon; however, since he has insisted in the past you might prearrange payment prior to the luncheon. How nice to see chivalry alive and well!
9. I want to have a “green” Christmas this year. What should I do with all of my decorations, wrapping paper, Christmas tree, etc. after the holidays? I wonderful resource we have found is http://www.ecocycle.org/askeco-cycle/20031226.cfm. Please visit the site for all of your recycling questions.
With all the parties and celebrations this holiday season, we realize 2007 will soon be drawing to a close. Those New Year’s resolutions that we made earlier this year are slowly rising within our thoughts. Somehow we have fallen short … again … in realizing our goals! May we suggest that perhaps this year you take a moment to listen to grandmother whose wisdom may instill within you a renewed spirit of hope and joy!
• Celebrate the season with a spirit of giving and sharing. That means to take the “I” out of your vocabulary and begin to notice, listen and look at “others”. Truly listen to what they are saying rather than just a brief nod which somehow fools them into thinking that you truly are interested and listening to what they have to say.
- Share a meal with someone who may not have one and perhaps one of the most important gifts we can give our children is to take them with us when we care for the infirm or provide a meal to the homeless. These experiences will instill a humbleness of spirit within your child that they will carry with them forever.
- Be thankful for the little things, the grass that grows and the rain drops as they spread throughout the fields providing nourishment for every form of life. Teach your children to respect all life, even when cradled within the womb.
- As for those 2008 New Year’s resolutions, try just caring and sharing more with others. Resolve to be less judgmental. Take the focus off of yourself and exchange it for a focus onto others and setting goals on how you can in silence help them achieve their goals! This is the secret that lifts the veil of understanding.
- Realize and repeat each day, “Things are not as they seem.” How I am interpreting my reality? Perhaps like the Taoist it is just the opposite from my perception and understanding. What is it that I am not seeing?
- Be in silence more with your thoughts, your reading and your reflection for this will humble the spirit and make you strong.
- We all know the value in taking time for ourselves and we always say we will, but we don’t. That is the reality. Don’t beat yourself up this year, but just try again and again even if you do it only once!
- Quietness and reflection gives strength to your inner core as to who you are and what gifts you have that should be shared with others. Sharing those gifts with the world shows you care!
Southern California Fires: The Salvation Army helps first responders, evacuees
For December and this holiday season, it truly would be remiss of us if we did not feature the news article about the Salvation Army entitled Southern California Fires: The Salvation Army helps first responders, evacuees. Possibly no other charity in US history best represents what sharing and caring and giving is all about. These men and women who volunteer their time are true warriors, always there to give a helping hand to those in need. Enjoy reading this recent news article, for they were there on the front line immediately when the fires raged through all of Southern California with over one million people being evacuated!