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Letitia Baldrige's New Manners for New Times: A Complete Guide to Etiquette

Letitia Baldrige's New Manners for New Times: A Complete Guide to Etiquette


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Letitia Baldrige is universally recognized as the country's leading authority on executive, domestic, and social manners. She began writing on manners and protocol during her diplomatic service in 1949, and she has been hailed on the cover of Time magazine as "America's leading arbiter of manners." Originally published in 1989, her Complete Guide to New Manners has now been thoroughly revised and updated to incorporate the changing social conventions and enormous technological advances of the past fifteen years.
Baldrige was the first etiquette writer to advise extensively on the subject of manners in the workplace. With her legendary background in both the government and business worlds, she remains the prime authority on the integration of goals that often seem at odds with one another — namely, family, work, and pleasure. Baldrige provides fresh guidelines on etiquette at work and in every form of communication, from letters to emails to cell phone calls.
She also updates the way we approach the traditional rites of passage — weddings, funerals, religious ceremonies, gatherings large and small. Here are authoritative answers to the etiquette questions and issues involved in nontraditional family relationships — stepfamilies, adult children returning home, elderly parents moving in, gays and lesbians in the family, dating for the newly single, and the myriad complications that spring from divorce.
Through it all, Baldrige does not forget the essence of manners: they are an expression of love and care, and they are under our control. New Manners for New Times is a comprehensive encyclopedia that will lead readers confidently and correctly through the maze of lifestyles, customs, business, and ways of relating to others in this new, complex millennium. But it is, above all, a very personal statement.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781501143588
Publisher: Scribner
Publication date: 05/24/2016
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 736
Sales rank: 710,971
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.20(h) x 2.10(d)

About the Author

Letitia Baldrige, a world-famous expert on manners, has written nineteen books, including her bestselling New Complete Guide to Executive Manners. She served as social secretary at the U.S. embassies in Paris and Rome and was chief of staff for Jacqueline Kennedy in the White House. She has run her own company, Letitia Baldrige Enterprises, since 1964. Baldrige and her family live in Washington, D.C.

Read an Excerpt

Letitia Baldrige's New Manners for New Times

A Complete Guide to Etiquette
By Letitia Baldrige


Copyright © 2003 Letitia Baldrige
All right reserved.

ISBN: 074321062X


Manners from the Heart

This book is nothing if not a personal statement. You can hear my own voice clearly all the way through it -- sometimes full of enthusiasm and sounding like a cheerleader, sometimes showing complete disapproval (Don't go there, don't do that!) and at other times evincing a mixture of shock and acceptance of reality. (It doesn't mean you have to like it, it simply means you have to live with it, and then, for heaven's sake, move on!) In the present, we don't have time to challenge everything in behavior that seems to have gone wrong in the last half century, so we should pick our battles wisely and well. I first began to write about manners in my American embassy days in Paris and Rome, only as a sideline to my business. Then I took over Amy Vanderbilt's work in the 1970s after her death, and since then I have written a dozen books on etiquette and entertaining under my own name. In the decade since I wrote my Complete Guide to the New Manners, there have been manifold changes in people's lifestyles, marriage rituals, eating habits, language, entertaining concepts, work habits, child-raising, and sexual behavior.

I have combined advice and information for a person's private and business lives under the covers of this one book, because the two worlds so overlap today, it's difficult to separate them anymore. Even volunteer work today often requires management expertise with big budgets and regulatory issues. Today in books "less is more" from where I sit. At times it seems people in business do not have the time to read anything longer than a cartoon. What could easily be four books on the subject of etiquette must now be shrink-wrapped into one. Moses was lucky. His rules were written in stone. Our modern ones are more like skywriting. In my writing I have been obliged to rewrite some of the rules of manners that I had thought were inextricably woven into the fabric of our society, destined to lie there calmly and gracefully forever. I marvel at the way girls my age grew up, decades ago, accepting without contention our mothers' decisions on how to dress, how to wear our hair, and at times, it seemed, how to breathe. When my mother saw me dressed in a cotton dress, with bare legs and sandals on a ninety-nine-degree day, she would make me change and put on stockings, whether I was on my way to play in a piano recital or do an errand for her at the neighborhood grocery store. In public one was always properly dressed, or else one did not emerge.

And then there is the major revolution in how we communicate with one another, using the in-your-face products handed to us by the world leaders of technology. These products in turn spawn the need for other sets of rules governing the way people use their little gadgets that ring, buzz, and throb like agitated beehives, completely upsetting the peace and serenity of anyone within hearing distance. If Thomas Edison were alive today, he would be appalled at what has happened to his telephone -- and to the manners of the customers who use them.

Compassion is a wonderful thing, and the more I study the field of behavior from a sociological point of view, the more I realize that a society without compassion, even with all the right rules of behavior, is a dead one. It's very hard to live without structure, and manners are the best vehicle there is to provide us with it. They give us security, a feeling that if we do the right thing and avoid the wrong thing, everything will be all right. The trick is to know in advance what is the right thing, so you can avoid the other. Your heart will usually tell you which way to go, because remember, good manners (keep remembering there are bad manners, too) are soft and full of heart, not hardened with selfishness.

In New Manners my editor has allowed me to use my own way of talking as I write -- at times rather breezy and slangy. There are many new subjects introduced that have never before been treated in etiquette books, but the old traditional ones are given their proper place too, including advice on how to get married. (The traditionalists alas are being run over and squashed in the marketplace by a thundering herd of product sellers and so-called "wedding planners," who wouldn't recognize respect for the ritual and traditions if they saw them!)

But disapproval of another's choices is not allowable. People can get married any way they please. We are a great, vigorous, ambitious country, formed by people from every nation in the world, and untrammeled by our past. We are a miraculous mixture of many colors, races, religions, and values. Let's hope that our new young leaders will simply wander to the etiquette section of libraries and bookstores once in a while and take a good long, hard look. Of course, I must admit it's difficult to be wrestling with the subtleties of marriage customs, when at the same time there is a rising number of people proudly advocating for cohabitation without marriage. Our times are -- well -- screwy.

My book is new in that advice and information for a person's private and working lives are cojoined instead of being separated into two books. The two worlds overlap so thoroughly, it is sometimes difficult to distinguish between them these days, what with stay-at-home fathers, single mothers taking care of the children and bringing in the bread, more and more people working from their homes, and children growing up sometimes forced to cope with three or four sets of parents. Therefore, take your pick of the advice, anything from instructions on how to use a fork and knife (carefully, please) to suggestions for a nice way to celebrate a baby's birth or to respectfully mourn someone's passing. It's all about getting through life in the best and happiest way.

It's important to understand the difference between manners and etiquette: Etiquette is protocol, a set of behavior rules you can memorize like a map, which will guide you safely through life. Manners are much more, since they are an expression from the heart on how to treat others whether you care about them or not. Manners teach you how to value another's self-esteem and to protect that person's feelings. Etiquette consists of firm rules made by others who have come before, telling you to do this and do that on specific occasions. Etiquette means acting with grace and efficiency, very laudable in itself, but your manners are yours, yours to use in making order out of chaos, making people feel comfortable, and giving pleasure to others. Etiquette is at times stiff and starchy (watch an official receiving line if you want to see an example of it). Manners are taking aside a guest standing in that line who obviously is bewildered and doesn't know what to do, and whispering to that person how to proceed. "No, don't embrace the host. Shake her hand, state your name clearly with a big smile on your face, and tell her how delighted you are to meet her."

The primary purpose of any book on manners is to provide guidelines about the how, what, where, when, and why in the social graces. In arming yourself with this knowledge, you develop a sense of security. You're reassured that the way you're behaving is the right way. This is also a book about being happy, which is not a contradiction in terms, because when you're nice to someone else (even just a stranger on the telephone), that someone else is nice back to you, and suddenly two people feel good about themselves and each other, and spread their good feelings. And that's what happiness is.

Times are tough. And yet, there's great energy out there -- a great capacity for good everywhere that human beings are. It's in the air. We just have to act positively, seize the initiative, and hold on tight. If we open our eyes wide and remove their fixation on a screen so we can see reality, not images around us, if we remove our cell phones so we can hear the world around us, and if we look and talk to one another, we'll find that energy. We'll be able to channel it toward the solution of human problems. We'll be nice to one another, even when we don't feel like it. We'll start getting along well, even with strangers, even when we're being given the runaround in a crowded store or even when someone who doesn't like the way we drive is honking and hurling strong epithets at us. (Instead of giving that person the finger in return, we just might concentrate on being a better driver and hope that the other driver's obviously traumatized life eases up, and that he hasn't sprained that overused finger.)

If we channel the energy that's in the air, negatives can be willed into positives, and we can all move toward a solution of today's common problems. My definition of a really admired person -- someone who has real class -- is a person who has only one kind of manners: the caring kind. I remember hearing the late Ambassador Clare Boothe Luce (at that time my boss at our embassy in Rome, but at all times my role model and mentor) answer a reporter who had asked for a definition of "a really classy person." The reporter's notebook and pen were poised for a typically long Luce dissertation. "A person with class is someone you want to be around -- all the time," she answered simply.

The reporter paused and finally asked, "That's it?"

"There's no need for anything more," she replied.

Today's real manners, the kind that describe someone others want to be around, are those that:

* Make you pick up a piece of litter someone left on your neighbor's sidewalk -- or on anyone's sidewalk, for that matter.

* Cause you to rush to a friend's house to see what you can do when you hear a member of that person's family is in trouble.

* Inspire you to go up to the hired waitress at your dinner party who has just dropped a large platter of sliced veal all over the floor in front of your guests, to help her clean up the mess, and then to pat her arm and tell her to forget about it -- " It doesn't matter at all."

* Make you realize that it's not worthwhile wondering who should go through the revolving door first, but it is worthwhile rushing to help an elderly or disabled stranger through the revolving door.

* Help you notice some tiny garnet roses in a shop window, so you buy a small bouquet of them to bring home to your spouse or your significant other or maybe to a child.

* Motivate you to jump into a conversational lull when someone has just said something embarrassing, thus restarting everyone's conversation so that the one who made the gaffe can pull himself together again.

* Cause you to discover, when your longtime laundryman delivers the shirts, that it's the man's twenty-fifth wedding anniversary, so you give him the bottle of champagne you were saving in the fridge for your own special occasion.

* Have you bring an entire supper over to a family on their moving day.

* Remind you that a friend's car is being repaired, and the person desperately needs it today, so you lend yours.

* Make you rip an article out of one of your magazines, to send to a friend or colleague who would be greatly interested in it.

* Motivate you to leave a big bunch of balloons in the office of a friend who has something to cheer about.

* Cause you to buy a special-interest self-help book for a young person who is just starting a job in that field.

* Remind you to buy some concert tickets as a gift and arrange transportation for a lonely elderly friend whose great love is music.

Today that person who's so nice to be around, as Clare Luce put it, is not the Mr. Billionaire-Business-Whiz kid who yells obscenities at his driver when he makes a mistake, or the Mrs. Nouveau-Riche who screams at her maid when she can't find her pantyhose.

That person who's so nice to be around:

* Is a consummate host.

* Is a consummate guest.

* Has good table manners.

* Has a pleasant, well-modulated voice, uses good grammar, and has a graceful vocabulary.

* Is someone who returns others' hospitality, gifts, dinner invitations, and kindnesses in a grateful, generous manner.

* Is a good communicator -- someone who makes telephone calls, sends e-mails, and writes letters, who is in touch with people, instead of expecting everyone else to communicate with her.

* Seeks out the wallflower at a social event and brings that person into the group.

* Is a person who rises to defend anyone who is being unfairly criticized.

* Is a conveyor of good, not bad, news.

* Is adept at making introductions and being introduced, saying hello or good-bye -- and makes everyone feel good while it's happening.

The crux of everything said above, and of everything in this book, of course, is the home. Home is where it all starts -- manners, good character, values, ethics, social conscience. Home is where a child witnesses and can absorb the good example of caring parents or relatives. Home is where comfort and support can be found, where one person automatically makes an effort to help other members of the family and, in turn, is helped himself. Talk about success -- a happy home is what real success is about, the proof positive of thinking about other people, of having their comfort and their happiness in mind. Home is where the discipline is, too -- that wonderful magical chisel that sculpts the child into a beautiful work of art -- a nice, in-control human being. Home is where the small child learns not just from parents but from grandparents, too, so that the child will be a shining mirror image of the best of both generations.

But wait a minute. Isn't this picture unrealistically rosy for these times? Where are all the homes today in which the small child grows up in the constant company of both parents and grandparents? Isn't Mom off working? Are the parents divorced? Is there a confusion of stepparents and stepchildren around? Is the television going all the time so that no one has to talk -- either about her own problems or someone else's? Are the family teenagers off on their own, out of the home, doing their own thing most of the time? Isn't anyone who happens to be home likely to be standing around the fridge or the microwave, eating with his fingers, while the nurturing dining table -- the seat of conversation, manners, and the learning of human skills -- stands there empty, unused, except as a storage surface?

And how about the delicious interchange of generations that used to be grouped around the dining table? Is the surviving grandparent in a retirement home? Is everyone too tired at night to sit down and just talk to one another? Where is the humanity in all this?

I believe in fighting. Since the development and polishing of manners is not a one-shot operation but a continuous process that begins no place else but home, I think we can fight to put the home back in all of us again. And if we don't have children, then we can spend a lot of time with someone else's, who are perhaps neglected in this early training of manners, morals, ethics, and values. How about inviting a niece, nephew, grandchild, or godchild over for dinner? Every time you throw in a little lesson on how to act, making it fun and following it up with a favorite food, that child is going to love you and learn from you.

First the youngster may learn what not to do. ("Don't scream while at the table, and for heaven's sake, take your fingers out of the salad plate!") Next, the child learns how to do the nice thing -- a big step up, by the way, from simply knowing not to do something wrong. (Suddenly you'll hear your child say, "Can I bring this present to Suzy's house, Mommy? I think she'd like it. Teacher says she's sick and feels really bad.") Then you'll see the proof that your child has a heart, and you can pat yourself on the back. This is how manners are gradually built into a young person's character. This is how a beautiful human being is formed -- one who will walk through life automatically reacting in a "you-they" way, instead of an "I-me" way.

Growing children aren't the only ones who need others to care about them. We all do. In a fast-moving, high-pressure age, the need to be happy is universal. Late in the 1970s, I completely revised The Amy Vanderbilt Complete Book of Etiquette, the first of a series of books on manners. It addressed problems created by the social confusion of the sixties, a decade in which we survived the antiestablishment youth rebellion, the shock of women leaving home and going to work, and the blurring in definition of men's and women's roles. In the 1980s, I wrote my New Complete Guide to Executive Manners, to help that increasing population of families who spend most of their time at work to feel more secure in their relationships in that environment. I followed that book with my New Complete Guide to a Great Social Life, because so many young people in the workplace -- and other singles, too -- complained to me that they really didn't have a social life in this busy world. Then came More Than Manners! on the subject of instilling character in children. With each book addressing these human concerns, I have found people increasingly thirsty for knowledge about what to do and when to do it, and for information on how to show their awareness of other people's feelings.

In 1923, Emily Post wrote the first really comprehensive book telling Americans how to behave. Her readers -- middle- and upper-middle-class people -- listened and learned, eager to move up another notch in their own social stratum. This was long before such terms as "diversity" "multicultural," "tolerance," and a "celebration of differences" were integrated into our vocabulary.

Some of us are still trying to rise to the next social level, enabled by a goodly supply of money and natural good manners. Many more of us are curious about the meaning of all this society-protocol-etiquette business. What does "the right thing" mean in any given situation, and just what is "proper behavior" in trying situations that no one has ever had to face before? We are a charge-ahead democratic society, perplexed by the new challenges. We'll get there. We just need to self-educate ourselves more. And observe. And listen. And read. And while we're doing all that, we will have learned how to cope.

Probably most of us would like to be thought of by others as moving through the world with grace and ease -- no simple skill. There is no one-week, easy cram course for it. One of the great things about growing older -- into your forties, fifties, sixties, and onward -- is that the longer you live, the more you know about how to handle yourself, what to do and when to do it. Unfortunately, you can't call up answers to social problems with a flick of a key and a glance at the monitor screen. They're never that simple.

It's a question of learning and using the proper mix of information and consideration -- whether you're tipping someone, coping with your grandmother when she comes to live with you or with an adult child who won't leave the nest, dealing with the plumber or a member of the board of directors, or talking to your boss as you're waiting together in an airport for three hours. By the time you have an instinctive feel for what to do in all these situations, you could write this book -- and I'd be the first to read it!

If you believe that the definition of happiness is having good relationships, and if you believe that good manners are essential to that feeling, then you must also believe that one natural result of a person's good manners is that individual's state of happiness.

Good relationships don't just happen in the everyday course of events. They are the result of someone's hard work and caring. They are constantly, dynamically changing, being refined and fine-tuned. We can't escape a constant interaction with people (unless we choose to live as hermits). We interact all day long with family members, friends, and just plain people -- the people at our place of work, in the gas station, on the bus, at our house of worship. We react to the toll-road ticket taker, the doctor, barber, manicurist, and to the people who deliver our packages, collect our garbage, and read our utility meters. They are, each and every one, individuals worthy of respect and consideration; when they behave as if they are not and are beastly to us, we must find a way to control our anger, so that we do not take it out on another human being. (When I am unjustly treated in a nasty manner, I immediately imagine myself sticking many pins into a pin cushion, and in my mind that takes care of the person who did me wrong. I recommend you find your own avenue of harmless revenge.)

When we graduate from the self-obsessed "I-I-Me-Me" school of philosophy into a life of caring about other people, we begin to react automatically to those other people, whether they are close friends or not. We react in a uniform, decent, and considerate manner. It's not something we stop to think about. We just do it.

Copyright 2003 by Letitia Baldrige


Excerpted from Letitia Baldrige's New Manners for New Times by Letitia Baldrige Copyright © 2003 by Letitia Baldrige.
Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents



Manners from the Heart


Chapter 1: Family Manners

The Family, Idealistically Speaking

Manners with Those Close to You

Courtesies That Hold Your Nuclear Family Together

With Your Mate

With Your Mother- and Father-in-Law

With Your Son and Daughter-in-Law or Daughter and Son-in-Law

Roommate Etiquette

The New Family Formation: Adults (Hopefully) Living Together Harmoniously

An Adult Child Returns to the Nest

When a Parent Lives with You

The Family Forum

You Are Single but Still Part of a Family

Fighting the Good Fight Against Loneliness

Making Friends of your Family

Reasons to Be Glad You Are Single

If You Want to Stop Being Single

The Opportunities for Meeting People Are Endless

Complete Turnoff Questions Never to Ask a Single Person

If You Want to Play Matchmaker

Gay and Lesbian Couples — They Are Families, Too

Good Manners Toward Gays and Lesbians

When a Gay Couple Adopts a Child

The Keepers of Your House — They Are Family, Too

Working with Non-English-Speaking Employees

Before You Employ Someone in Your Home

Special Recommendations for Your Sitter and Child Caregiver

Special Training for Workers in Grand Houses

What Should Your Domestic Staff Call You and What Should You Call Them?

The "Character Factor"

If You're Using a Caterer for Your Party

Chapter 2: The Manners That Make Children Great

How a Child Learns to Distinguish Between Right and Wrong

The Example of Her Parents

Moral Lessons a Small Child Gleans from Parents Through Reading and Conversation

When Your Child Is Curious About a Disabled Person He Sees in Public

The Help That Religious Faith Can Give

Basic Behavior Rules Your Child of Ten or Older Should Know

The Basics

Teenagers Need a Few More Rules

Twenty-two Common Teenage Examples of a Family's Bad Manners and Oversights

Household Telephone Rules

A Few Dating Manners

Making the Rules Easier to Take

What's a Piece of Furniture?

Your Role in Your Children's Relationships

With Siblings

Addressing Adults

Parents Speak to Their Children About Sex

A Mother Speaks to Her Daughter

A Father Speaks to His Son

The E-mailing Kids' Generation

Guarding Your Child Against the Perils of Drugs and Alcohol


Drugs and the Vulnerable Teenager

The Kinds of Drugs Around Us

Teaching Your Young Child About Alcohol

Teenage Drinking

Where to Get Help

When Your Children Become Adults: Keep Your Family Together

Nice Ways to Treat Other Family Members

Everyday Manners Out in the World

Chapter 3: Making Friends in a Busy World

The First Step: Meeting People Who May Become Friends

Become Creative About How You Use Your Leisure Time

Solidifying a New Friendship

Manners and Friendship in the Great Outdoors


Making Friends at Work

Widening Your Horizons Through Volunteer Work

Choosing a Volunteer Activity

The Way to Get on a Nonprofit Agency Board

If Your Volunteer Motives Are Partly Social

Words to Use at Difficult Times

Growing Older with Grace

The Middle-Aged Years Should Be and Can Be the Best of Times

Some Options for Improving the Mind

Some Options for Improving the Body

Some Options for Improving the Heart

Leave Your Real Legacy Behind You

Chapter 4: Working Smart

Commonsense Polite Business Behavior: Good to Know!

When You're New in the Office

What to Say When You Are Belittled at Work

To Be a Well-Liked, Successful Executive

Some ABCs of Executive Etiquette

Traveling with the Boss

Meeting Manners

Receiving a Visitor to Your Office

Corporate Jet Etiquette

If a Member of Senior Management Dies

Corporate Responsibility When Serving Alcohol

When You Have to Let Someone Go for Economic Reasons

When You Are the One Let Go

Finding a Job in an Unsympathetic Environment

Hunting for a New Job

While You are Still Employed

Infant Feeding and Breast-Feeding in the Office

Tasty Tidbits of Etiquette (for Your Business or Social Life)

Chapter 5: The Manners That Make Travel Easier

Ensuring a Pleasurable Trip

Having a Good Time with a Traveling Companion

When You're Taking a Plane

Your Hotel Manners

Your B&B Manners

Going on a Cruise?

How to Have a Happy Cruise

Remember Your Manners

Cruise Attire

Cruise Tipping

Women and Travel

Men and Women Traveling Together on Business

A Woman Traveling Alone

Some Practical Advice

Dealing with a Travel Agent

A Wise Move for the Overseas Traveler

Chapter 6: The Art of Tipping

General Guidelines on Tipping

At Restaurants

Valet Parking and Limousine Service

When You're Taking a Taxi

When You Are Staying in a Hotel

If You're a Weekend Guest in a Home with a Domestic Staff

When You're at the Hairdresser

When You Are in a Railroad Club Car

Tip the Fast-Food Deliverer

Holiday Tipping

Tipping the People Who Serve You in Your Home

Holiday Tipping in Your Staffed Apartment House

When You Have Your Car in a Private Garage

When You Are in a Foreign Country

Chapter 7: Dressing Appropriately

Propriety and Appropriateness

At Church or Temple

The Right Thing to Wear — Women

What You Wear to a Cocktail Party

What You Wear to a Black Tie Affair

What You Wear to a White Tie Affair

What You Wear to Someone's Private Club

Women at Their Offices

The Right Thing to Wear — Men

Sandal Etiquette

Men's Fashion Disasters

Your Ties

Your Jewelry

What You Wear to a Black Tie Affair

What You Wear to a White Tie Affair

A Final Word of Advice

Chapter 8: Common Courtesies

Common Courtesies Appropriate When You Are Out and About

On the Street as Pedestrian or Driver

On Public Transportation

At Movies and in the Theater

In the Supermarket

At the Beach or Camping

At a Pool

The Magical Game Called Golf

Courtesies to Observe with Those You Encounter During Your Day

Your Manners with the Expert Professionals Who Serve You

Your Manners with Waiters

Your Manners with Tradespeople and Salespeople

Your Manners with Strangers Encountered Along the Way

Chapter 9: Table Manners That Take You Anywhere: The Right Thing to Do at Every Kind of Meal — or, How to Avoid Being a Klutz

Table Manner Basics

Body Language at Table

General Rules on Conduct at Table

Dilemmas at Mealtime

Mealtime Decorum

Saying Grace

When Do You Start Eating?

Serving Yourself from a Platter

Taking Modest Portions

Tasting Other People's Food

Diets, Diets, Diets

If You Spill at Table

Using Your Flatware Properly

Napkin Etiquette

Finger Bowls

How to Handle Different — and Sometimes Difficult — Foods

Hors d'Oeuvres

Breads and Pastries

The Relish Tray






Vegetables That Are Difficult to Eat


Fresh Fruit Served at the End of a Meal

Informal Foods


Chapter 10: New Manners for an Ever-Changing Society

Dating Today

Asking the Person for the Date

Dating Manners

Who Pays for What

If You're Miserable on the Date

Give Blind Dates a Chance!

Sex — Good, Bad, and Indifferent

What Do Manners, Compassion, and Character Have to Do with It?

When the Answer Is Yes

When the Answer Is No

When a Woman Is Afraid to Be Alone at Home with a Man

Bringing Up the Subject of Condoms

Safe Sex and Multiple Partners

A Homosexual Relationship

What to Tell the Mate of Someone Who's Playing Around

Pleasures and Pitfalls of the Office Romance

Sex and Sexism in the Office

Watch Your Language

When Sex Can Create Problems for a Woman Traveling Alone on Business

Sexual Harassment Is Not Just Against Women

Cohabitation Manners

Making a Commitment Even Though You Decide Not to Marry

The Romance Is Over


Chapter 11: You're Engaged!

Telling the World Your Good News

When Announcing Your Engagement Is Not Necessary

Newspaper Announcement of the Engagement

The Engagement Ring

Celebrating the Engagement

The Engagement Party

Engagement Presents

Showers: Feting the Bride-to-Be

Asking Someone to Marry You

When a Woman Does the Proposing

When Your Answer Is "No"

Chapter 12: Weddings

The Architecture of a Beautiful First Wedding

The Homosexual Community's Wedding and Commitment Ceremonies

Acknowledgments for Commitment Gifts or Baby Presents If the Couple Adopts a Baby

Your Wedding Invitations

Who Receives Your Invitations?

The Various Ways of Inviting Guests to the Wedding

The Formal Traditional Wedding Invitation

Addressing and Mailing the Invitations

The Correct Wording on Wedding Invitations

The Etiquette of Names on Wedding Invitations

The Separate Reception Invitation Card

The Ceremony Card

Soliciting a Reply to an Invitation

"At Home" Cards

A Pew Card
Admission Cards

Other Enclosures, Such as Maps and Special Parking Instructions

Wedding Announcements

The Announcement Text

How Much Will It Cost and Who Will Pay?

First, the Budget

Paying for It

Planning for a Perfect Wedding Day

Choosing the Time for the Religious Ceremony

Choosing the Place for the Wedding Service

Options That Make for a Happy Day

Keep Track of Important Details with a Wedding Planner

Invitation List

The Wedding Party

The Wedding Ceremony

Reception Planner for a Large Wedding

Transportation Arrangements

Working with the Caterer

The Food at the Reception

Planning the Menu

The Presentation Is Important

The Wedding Cake


Bridesmaids' Bouquets


Photography Requirements

The Bride's Portrait

The Candid Photographer



Wedding Attendants

The Bride's Attendants

The Groom's Attendants

The Rehearsal

The Rehearsal Dinner

The Wedding Day Arrives!

Getting to the Church

Meanwhile, Inside the Church

Seating in the Front Pew on the Bride's Side

The Wedding Service

Music for the Ceremony

The Service Is About to Begin

The Processional Begins

The Role of the Bride's Attendants

Variations on Who Acts as the Father of the Bride

Giving the Bride Away

The Wedding

Ring Is Placed on the Finger

Recitation of the Vows

The Kiss

The Recessional

A Double Wedding Ceremony

The Pregnant Bride

A Small or Big Wedding at Home

Tenting Your Yard or Garden

The Reception

When the Wedding and Reception Place Are Combined

Guest Book

The Receiving Line

Seating the Tables at the Reception

Wedding Toasts

The Bride's First Dance

Weddings in the Jewish Tradition


Preparation for the Wedding Day

The Chuppa

The Processional

The Ceremony

The Recessional

The Reception

Interfaith Marriages

The Ecumenical Wedding Service

Another Option: Two Ceremonies

Wedding Apparel

The Bridal Attendants' Dresses

The Apparel of the Groomsmen

How the Guests Should Dress

The Wedding Ring

Announcement in the Newspaper

Last-Minute Wedding Disasters


Wedding Gift Record Book

The Exchange of Gifts Within the Wedding Party

Gifts from Family and Friends to the Bride and Groom

Bridal Registry

The Gift of Money

Returning and Exchanging Gifts

Thank-you Notes

Postponing the Wedding

Calling Off the Wedding

Prenuptial Agreements

When You Marry More Than Once

Who Does the Inviting?

Changes in the Ritual

How the Bride Dresses

The Ceremony
Parties and the Second Wedding

Gifts the Second Time Around

Stepchildren, Stepparents, and Grandparents

Chapter 13: Pregnancy, Birth, and Other Rites of Passage That Welcome a Child into the World

The Happiest Event of All: The Birth of a Baby

Polite Pregnancy at Work

Returning to Work After the Baby Is Born

Nursing the Baby

The Birth Announcement

How to React to a Birth Announcement

Extending Congratulations for the New Baby

Presents for the Parents

Presents for the Baby

Studio Cards

Letters of Congratulation

Traditional Christian Ceremonies Marking the Child's
Arrival and Maturation

The Christening

First Communion

Confirmation in the Protestant and Catholic Faiths

Traditional Jewish Ceremonies Marking the Child's Arrival and Maturation

Brith Milah

Bar and Bat Mitzvah


Special Birthdays for Girls

The Quinceañera

Sweet Sixteen Parties


Chapter 14: The Last Rite of Passage: Funerals

Taking Charge of the Arrangements

Preparing the Obituary

The Proprieties in Connection with a Funeral

What Do You Say?

Sending Flowers

Attire for Funerals

Ceremonies for or Honoring the Deceased

A Viewing or Wake

The Christian Funeral Service

A Cremation

Jewish Services

Memorial Service

After the Funeral or Memorial

The Survivor Writes a Thank-You

Showing Continuing Support


Chapter 15: Entertaining Today's Way

How Entertaining Brings Friends into Your Life

pardThe Kinds of Entertaining People Love

Extending Invitations

How Far Ahead Do You Extend an Invitation?

Save-the-Date Cards

Parts of a Formal Invitation

Who Does the Inviting?

The Language of Invitations ("Invitationese")

Reminder Cards
Kinds of Invitations

Requesting a Reply

"No Gifts" on Invitations

An Invitation from the White House

When You Reply to an Invitation

Sending a Formal Written Reply

Get Yourself Organized

Basics of Good Entertaining Planning

Working with the Caterer

Sample Party Plans — A Potluck Meal

Sample Plans for a Small Dinner

The Logistics of Planning a Large Dinner

The Cocktail Party

The Social Aspects of Alcohol

How Many Bars, How Much Help, and What Supplies Are Needed

A Cocktail Buffet

Cocktail Party Manners

An Invitation to Tea

Making an Effort: Set an Attractive Table

The Role of Linens in Table Settings

Decorating the Tables

Place Cards

Menu Cards

A Note About Today's Menus

Knowing the Rules for Contemporary Table Settings

What's on the Table at the Start of the Meal?

Salad Plates and the Service of Salad

Using the Right Flatware

The Table Accoutrements You Should Have for Entertaining Today

Buying Your China

Buying Table Linens

Buying Flatware

Buying Glassware

The Service of the Seated Meal — With or Without Help

Who Is Served First?

How Does the Waiter or Waitress Serve?

Serving a Dinner Party of Six Without Help

Training Young People to Wait on Table

Advice to Waitstaff on Serving a Typical Three-Course Meal

The Art of the Service of Wine

Tips on the Service of Wine

The Major Categories of Wine and Their Proper Serving Temperatures

Champagne Etiquette

After-Dinner Drinks

How to Open a Wine Bottle

Tasting the Wine at Home

Tasting the Wine in a Good Restaurant

How Much Wine to Buy

Wine Stains

Wine and Champagne Savers

Storing Your Wine

Serving Memorable Food

Ways to Interest Yourself in Cooking for Guests

How Many Courses Should You Serve?

Advice for Making Entertaining Easy, Attractive — and Memorable

Alternative Party Ideas

The Garage Party

Parties Around Games That Require Using Your Wits

An Exercise Party

Entertaining Out and About

Your Personal Touch

Things to Remember

Restaurant Manners

Music Makes the World Go Round

Background Music

Dance Music

Hiring a Musician or Any Kind of Performer

Using Recorded Music

Protocol for You, Not Just for Royalty

How to Receive Your Guests

Name Badges

Signing the Guest Book

Seating Arrangements

The Script for an Official Social Function

Toasting Is an Art and an Important Part of Protocol

Short Toasts

What Prompts a Toast?

When Do You Toast?

Loving Care of the Weekend Houseguest

Whom to Invite

When Not to Invite Houseguests

Getting Yourself Organized

Preparing the House

How to Plan the Food

Necessary Attributes in an Accomplished Weekend Host

The Houseguest Who Is Always Invited Back

A Houseguest with a Present Is More Welcome Than One Without

Not to Forget: The Thank-you Letter

Remember This About the Entire Subject of Entertaining

The Most Prestigious Invitation of Them All: Dinner at the White House

Chapter 16: Gifts That Show You Care

When You Send Flowers

When a Wedding Is in the Offing

How Many Showers Are Too Many?

Bar Shower

Wedding Presents

The Bride's Dilemma: To Return or Not to Return Gifts

Presents for the Holidays

Organizing the List

Baking and Making Your Own Gifts
Organizing Your Own Family's Christmas Day

Thank-you's for Holiday Gifts

Business Holiday Gifts

Hanukkah Presents

Gift Suggestions for Other People and Other Occasions

Baby Presents and Christening Presents

Suggestions for Gifts to Give Teenage Children on Any Occasion

Gifts for the Elderly

For Someone Who Is Seriously Ill or Injured

A Houseguest's Present for the Host

Gifts for a Housewarming

A Little Advice


Chapter 17: How to Help Someone Deal with the Loss of a Spouse

Dealing with a Divorce

How Should You Behave When You Have Divorced?

How Should People Behave When Their Friends Divorce?

When You Are Widowed

Dating Again and Remarriage

When You're on Your Own Again

The Task of Healing Yourself

A Real Friend

There Is a Difference Between Alone and Lonely

The Newly Single Woman's Name

Chapter 18: When Someone Is Ill or Injured

Minding Your Manners in the Hospital

When a Good Friend Develops a Life-Threatening Disease

When You Have a Good Friend with AIDS

What You Say to the Person Who Has Just Suffered a Loss

When Someone Loses a Lover

When a Parent Loses a Child

When Your Friend Has a Miscarriage

Chapter 19: Making Things Right: When You've Really Messed Up. Send Roses

Making Amends

Your Guests Have Arrived But You Have Mixed Up the Dates and Not Realized Tonight is Your Sit-Down Dinner Party

When You Commit a Serious Gaffe in Making Introductions

Control That Temper!


Chapter 20: How to Be an Interesting Conversationalist

The Two V's: Voice and Vocabulary

The Force of a Dynamic Vocabulary

Can We Start a Literacy Crusade in the Workplace?

Small Talk

When Not to Make Small Talk

So What Are You Going to Talk About?

If You Don't Want to Be a Bore

Extricating Yourself from a Conversational Dilemma

The Conversational Hero

Handling Prying Personal Relationship Questions

The Art of Giving and Receiving Compliments

Compliments as Icebreakers When Conversation Has Bogged Down

Know How to Accept a Compliment

When You Notice a Friend's Physical Change for the Better — or If You Notice It's a Change for the Worse

Chapter 21: Great Telephone Manners at Home

How You Sound Affects How People See You and Feel Toward You

It's Important to Teach Telephone Manners to the Children, Which Means You Have Good Ones Yourself!

Telephone Security When the Kids Are Home

The Office Telephone

Taking Good Messages

Dealing with a Well-Mannered Answering Machine

Good Manners for the Answering Machine Owner (or Voice Mail User)

Advice to the Person Leaving a Message

A Caution About Answering Machines

Cell Phone Etiquette

Chapter 22: Classic Correspondence: Writing Good Letters and Notes

When an E-mail Isn't Appropriate

The Old-Fashioned Letter

Helpful Hints on Letter Writing

Writing Good Letters

Negatives to Watch Out For

Letters That Fit the Occasion

Business Letters

Thank-you Letters
Letters of Complaint

Letters of Reference

Letters of Congratulation

Catch-up Letters

Letters of Apology

Condolence Letters

Love Letters


Greeting Cards and Holiday Messages

Christmas Cards

Holiday Newsletters

The Personal Stationery You Use

Single Stationery Half Sheets

Correspondence Cards

Letter Paper for Everyday Use

Very Nice to Have

Monograms — Single and Married

The Electronic Revolution

Tech Manners in the Midst of New Signals, Flashes, Dashes, Squeaks, Vibrations, and Above All, Unidentifiable Noises

The Best Part of This New Society

Yes, E-mails Have Their Own Etiquette, Too

E-mails: Wing-footed Messengers of Speed

Beepers and Pagers

The Speakerphone

Chapter 23: Addressing People Properly

How Should You Be Addressed?

When You Change Your Name

When Writing Letters or Speaking to Someone

Writing to People with Professional Titles

Using "Ms."

When a Man Is a Jr., Sr., 2nd, 3rd, or 4th

Using "Messrs."

Addressing Envelopes for Invitations

When You Don't Have a Clue About the Person to Whom You Are Writing

The Southern Use of "Sir" or "Ma'am"

Calling People by Their First or Last Names

How to Address Specific Groups

United States Officials

Addressing Women

"The Honorable" — A Title of Respect in America

The British: Our Friends with Many Titles

Diplomatic Protocol with Other Nations

Western European Titles

The United Nations

Military Rank

Religious Officials

Foreign Professionals

For Questions Relating to Protocol



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