Nov 082012
 
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Growing up, I was always taught that unless you are using a second piece of cutlery (always a knife for me) your left hand should be placed gently in your lap.  Ahh, the British trickle down remnants of growing up in the Commonwealth… But as soon as I lived abroad, I realized that other Western cultures do not subscribe to this style.  Most European cultures will have both hands visible at all times.  Take note the next time you have the opportunity.  Who is right?  Both are.

Since a good portion of my life is spent straddling both sides of the Atlantic, I now lean into the Euro way of hand placement at a table.  Obviously no elbows.

 Posted by at 17:22
Aug 222012
 
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In general, everyone seems to have a basic idea of how to set a simple table.  Fork to the left, knife to the right.

The difference really is in the details.  The blade of the knife  always faces in–never out.  This may seem very elementary, but it is surprising how frequently this detail is not observed.  The blade of the knife always, always, always, faces in.  No excuses.  Now you know.

 Posted by at 15:03
May 152012
 
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Believe it or not, there is proper form on how one should pour wine. To many, this may seem like a no-brainer fact, but how frequently people don’t abide by this tradition either illustrates that a) people no longer care or b) they simply don’t know.

For the interested B crowd:

When pouring a bottle of wine, be sure that the label on the bottle is visible to the person whose glass you are filling. If you are filling multiple glasses–yes, you will need to rotate the bottle.

Now that I have mentioned pouring good form, take note on how wine is poured at a restaurant.  The more accomplished servers will always be aware of the label.

At your home, if you are serving a fine wine–show it off.  Many guests will be very interested to discover the type of grape, the house, the vintage and the region of the wine you offering.  If you are serving something far less than fine–so be it.  It happens.  Don’t try to hide it, show that label off too.

 Posted by at 12:12
Apr 042012
 
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It is in bad form, really bad form, to ask a woman about her plans regarding pregnancy and babies. When/Are you going to have a baby is not a polite or an appropriate question to pose–ever.

Many people will certainly disagree with this commentary.  I know this to be true due to the many (countless) people who continue to ask so frequently about my plans.

Asking about babies and pregnancy is in bad form because you never know what another person’s business really is.  I confirmed with Amy Vanderbilt’s Complete Book of Etiquette (50th Anniversary Edition) where she states “It may be a painful subject.   This is not a question that should ever be asked”.

It may not always be a painful subject–the truthful answer could simply be–we’re having too much fun, we’re just not ready or we don’t want children at this time. But imagine if you will, the very real possibility of the honest answer being:

Thank you for bringing this issue up–we have been trying for years.  So happy you asked–I can never have children.  I appreciate you bringing attention to this issue–I just had a miscarriage…

Bottom line–don’t ask questions regarding pregnancy.  Not only is it impolite and in bad form, the truth is that you never, ever, know what actual business may be going on.

 Posted by at 17:49
Mar 022012
 
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You know how it is.  You don’t have the aisle seat and your place is a few seats in.  This happens in pretty much all spaces that require seating including theatres, planes, auditoriums, pews etc.  So there you are, you need to get to your seat and have to pass by people who are already seated.  Did you know there is etiquette surrounding the way in which you pass them?  Do you pass facing the front or pass by giving them your back?

It was something I had never actually thought about and definitely had never been told. The Germ was the first to alert me to the fact that there is indeed protocol regarding passing someone.   He alerted me because I had done the pass incorrectly–according to good form.  Sacre bleu!

You always pass with your front.  Never pass with your behind.  No one wants a random butt starring them in the eye.

Now you know–and knowing is half the battle.

 Posted by at 12:56