Friday, February 12, 2016

Valentine’s Day Gift Giving Etiquette - A Pressure Cooker Smothered in High Expectations

Talk about putting on the pressure, the Valentine’s Day gift giving ritual is smothered in high expectations. A seemingly innocent gift from an amour is subject to all kinds of scrutiny that may be dissected and analyzed for years to come. Whether you’re dating or in a committed relationship, the gift is a symbol of the amount of love in the relationship. It is an oil and water check telling us how things are going.  If the connection is in good standing or if we’re headed off a cliff.  Did your mate spend hours pounding the pavement or just a few seconds scouring an online store?  Have they listened closely to your likes and dislikes to select a gift that is most meaningful to you or did they choose something purely for convenience’ sake?  One thing is certain, no one wants to spend the day dedicated to love fighting, or worse, breaking up over a gift that felt insensitive or phoned in. With only two days left, we've compiled a quick list of the most popular Valentine’s Day gift giving dos and don’ts to point your cupid's arrow in the right direction and inspire a day of happiness and passion for all. 

Chocolates. Dark or milk? Plain or nuts? Sees or Godiva?
Don’t: Don’t tempt your loved one with a large box of fattening chocolates, especially if they've been working like a dog to stick to a diet. You want them focus to be on you not spending the night complaining about how fat they look in their skinny jeans.
Do: Opt for gourmet bite-sized dark chocolate morsels with sea salt instead.  These are not only more healthy and satisfying, they are an aphrodisiac too. 

Flowers. To vase or not to vase, that is the question.
Don’t: Avoid the supermarket route cellophane-wrapped flowers complete with the sticker still on. This is a dead giveaway that you waited until the last minute. 
Do: Find out their favorite flower and have an arrangement displayed in a striking vase or present them with a box of long-stemmed beauties. If selecting roses, stay away from the yellow friendship ones. Red is the symbol of romance. If flowers aren't their thing, take a cue from Rachael Ray and wrap up their favorite food item instead. 

Jewelry. This is an investment. Do your due diligence.
Don’t: Purchase CZ’s and try to pass them off as diamonds or splurge on something big and extravagant when all they want is a delicate pendant or handcrafted leather bracelet. Unmarried? Avoid presenting a ring in a box which might be mistaken for a proposal.
Do: Know their taste or confer with a close friend before making any major purchases. Find out if they prefer rose gold, yellow gold, silver or platinum or none of the above.  Getting exactly what they want will thrill them and elminate a next day return.

Lingerie. Who is this gift really for?
Don’t: Use this as an excuse to visit an erotic lingerie store or pick up a prop right out of Fifty Shades of Grey. They might question your sudden interest and doubt their performance in the boudoir. On the flipside, a conservative bathrobe might make them feel old.
Do: Find the goldilocks gift.  Something tasteful, yet sexy.  Know their correct size.  Nothing too big or too small.  Something red or pink sends a loving message that you're ready for a night of fun. 

Accessories.  A smart handbag, shoes or a scarf? Go for the luxury brand.
Don’t: Bring home a fake and try to convince them it’s real. All luxury brands come with a card of authenticity.  Go this route and your partner will think you are incredibly cheap.
Do: Splurge on an item they're sure to appreciate. If you are working within a budget, there are plenty of beautiful accessories in all price ranges. It is much more wise to find something small, yet sophisticated.

Gift Cards. Tread carefully with these plastic babies.  
Don’t: Purchase any old gift card at the checkout stand. While they may need to stock up on household supplies, a gift card to Target hardly screams romance. Nor does a gift card to Starbucks, AMC Theatres or any other practical venue.
Do: Purchase a gift card from a spa that offers a unique experience or opportunity for your honey to rejuvenate and relax. Compliment the card with a small accompanying gift and you’ll get brownie points for going the extra mile. 

No matter how your mate expresses their appreciation, your job is to receive all gifts graciously with a giant smile. Choose to be grateful for your relationship on this day celebrating love. Realize that above everything else, that is the greatest gift of all! 

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Sunday, February 7, 2016

Pay Deference to the Screen & Other Golden Etiquette Rules on Super Bowl’s Golden Anniversary

Super Bowl 50 is hours away and more than 100 million people will be saddled in their seats watching every punt, tackle, and fumble.  This year’s game between the Carolina Panthers and the Denver Broncos at the newly constructed Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California promises to be a huge one.  After all, it’s the Golden Anniversary of the institution and they are pulling out all the stops. Stadium and at-home viewers alike are riddled with anticipation gearing up for every over-priced commercial and home-made delectable dish.  And let’s not forget the coveted half-time show sponsored by Pepsi and fueled by high-powered  talent. The night’s lineup will feature British rock group Coldplay with special appearances by BeyoncĂ© and Bruno Mars, both of whom have headlined previously.

Today as you get ready to cheer on your favorite team while consuming massive amounts of food and guzzling unimaginable quantities of beverages, remember to stay mindful of those around you.  The NFL players aren’t the only ones being held under a microscope, don’t be mistaken, your nearest and dearest are holding a close lens on you too.  Before stepping foot out the door, here's how to best mind your manners this Super Bowl Sunday.

Arrive on Time and Bearing Gifts.  Official start time isn’t until 3:30pm, but many parties will begin well beforehand.  Whatever you do, plan your arrival before kickoff so hosts will not feel compelled to welcome you and interrupt their viewing. Do not show up empty-handed. BYOB (the good stuff please!) or break out your stellar 7-layer dip recipe and you’ll be the life of the party.

Keep it Friendly.  Sunday is a family day so children are typically in tow.  Keep the atmosphere friendly and comfortable for everyone.  Reserve the foul language for the street when you’re walking to your car at the end of the game and monitor your alcohol intake so you don’t embarrass yourself and regret your behavior the next day.  

Acknowledge the National Anthem.  The moment you hear the music play and Lady Gaga hit her first note, it’s time to stand up straight, remove all head coverings, and place your hand firmly on your heart.  We stop and do this simply as a sign of respect.  All conversation should cease, but singing is encouraged right along with Ms. Gaga until the very last word is sung. 

Pay Deference to the Screen. Super Bowl fans want sufficient screen time, but there are always those who are more interested in making conversation than watching the game.  If there are multiple screens, station yourself in the room where you'll cause the least disruption. If you can’t find a seat or feel compelled to stand and shout for your team, just make sure those behind can still see the game. And for goodness' sake, no giant hats or wild accessories that will prohibit the view.

Stay on Topic. On Super Bowl Sunday, the dialogue should be on the game. Know your facts beforehand so you are well-versed in the teams that are playing and the host city.  Learn the vernacular, know the difference between a touchdown and a field goal.  You want to be able to bond and converse with everyone.  This is not the time to bring up a serious conversation, mention a grave illness or ask for a job.  Super Bowl Sunday is supposed to be fun. Keep the tone light and breezy and pay attention to the ball.  Here’s a complete glossary to everything you could possibly want to know for game day terminology.

Avoid Being the Know-It-All.  You may be the type of person who thrives on knowing every minute detail about the two football teams, the players and the Peyton Manning controversy. And you may enjoy spending hours researching the commercials that will be shown during the game, but that information is best kept to yourself.  Today is not the day to sit on your soapbox espousing your knowledge. A know-it-all is a big turn off. 

Display Good Sportsmanship.  Wearing your team's jersey’s and caps, painting your body to show your support, showing the love by cheering them on is all perfectly fine.  What will not fly on Super Bowl Sunday is shouting expletives at the television screen when your team misses the ball or picking a fight with your neighbor because he did a victory dance for a touchdown for your opposing team. Remember you are not playing in the game, you are just a fan.  Don’t make it personal.

Don’t Bet the Farm.  There are more Super Bowl pools than I care to imagine.  Know your limits.  If you’re an out of control gambler, designate the set amount for your bet before you leave the house so that you cannot be coerced into contributing more than you can afford.  There are plenty of pools to choose from and not all require a $500 ante.  You certainly don’t want to dip into your child’s college fund for a silly square on the football grid.    

Absolutely No Double-Dipping.  As George made infinitely famous on Seinfeld, if you take a chip, you get only one dip and then end it! Rather than risk a lecture from the double-dip police, place a handful of chips on a napkin or small plate then use one large chip to scoop extra dip that you can then enjoy with the remaining chips. 

Avoid Cutsies at Buffet Line.  Inevitably, there will be one coveted line with the short rib pizza or the crispy rice sushi that everyone is going to flock to. Whatever you do, please wait patiently for your turn. If you see friends further up, resist the urge to move even if they are waving you in with permission. It’s not their call and the others behind you will be most appreciative.

Leave No Trace Behind.  Be a good guest and clean up after your mess.  All those beef rib bones, leftover cold nachos, and ketchup-soaked napkins aren’t going to deposit themselves. Before making your way to partake in more witty repartee, do a complete 360 and leave no trace of trash behind. 

Compliment the Chef.  Super Bowl Sunday is the second most popular eating day after Thanksgiving and food plays a major part in the enjoyment.  Hosts spend weeks preparing the special menu of finger foods typically based around the two playing teams hometown favorites. A compliment to the chef lets them know they satisfied your every need.  

You Gotta Give Thanks. Of course, it goes without mentioning to make sure you thank the host before you leave and follow up with a nice handwritten thank you note the following day.  Your graciousness will not go unnoticed.

Now go and enjoy the game!!

Monday, January 18, 2016

Manners Monday – Five Personal Manners Hacks to Handle Life's Everyday Situations

It's impossible to turn on the television or pick up a magazine these days without hearing or reading about some type of hack. There are food hacks, wardrobe hacks, hair hacks, organizing hacks, decorating hacks, medical hacks and money hacks.  The list is endless.  Back in the day, the word hack had a mostly negative connotation.  It was used to describe everything from a nagging cough and an annoying prank, to a techy who could break into computer networks or a service provider who did a shoddy job.  Nowadays, the word has been transformed to define a quick solution that solves a problem – a much more positive association. In an effort to keep up with the times, I compiled a list of what I consider to be the top five personal manners hacks to handle life's everyday situations. These short cuts are guaranteed to help you prepare for any encounter and will have you feeling your most confident and comfortable in any environment.   

1. Mirrors. Strategically placed mirrors will help with a multitude of issues. A floor-length mirror is ideal for checking posture and alignment from the tip of your head down to your toes. A bathroom mirror does double-duty for brushing teeth and practicing your smile.  A small folding mirror set opposite your place setting at the dining table will remind you to sit up straight, close your mouth while chewing and keep those elbows off the table.

2. Grooming Aids. Personal hygiene is a must.  No one should ever leave the house without applying a healthy dose of deodorant.  An antiperspirant also works as a wonderful barrier for sweaty palms. Stash a small pack of curiously strong mints in your pocket for fresh breath. Keep a packet of tissue handy for wiping noses or wrapping a used pieced of gum. Smear lotion on your body to alleviate dry skin. Reserve a minuscule size of hand sanitizer on your person to obliterate any passing of germs.

3. Stationery. As much as we live in a technological world, there will always be a need for personal correspondence.  Stockpile a drawer full of stationery whether personalized, monogrammed, engraved, embossed or all of the above. This will enable you to send a thoughtful note or handwritten thank you at a moment’s notice.  Assemble a selection of writing implements and a few books of Forever stamps for effortless snail mail delivery.

4. Time Piece.  Punctuality is the height of polite. Invest in a watch. Smartphones may be a permanent fad, but a time piece is a fashion statement that lasts forever. Trust me, you will need it when your iPhone goes kaput, you find yourself in a remote location or you simply run out of battery life. 

5. Gift Closet.  You never know when you’ll need a host gift on the fly.  We live in a social world and at any given time may be invited to a fabulous dinner party or special event. No need to rush out to the store and pick up the perfect gift.  A gift closet carefully curated with an array of host gifts for last minute invitations will keep you in good standing with colleagues, friends, and family alike. 

Monday, January 4, 2016

Manners Monday – 26 Must-Have Manners in 2016

Twenty-sixteen promises to be a doozy of a year.  With a contentious race for the oval office here in the U.S. and mounting turmoil around the world, there has never been a better time to break out our best manners for goodness' sake. The days of watching “Downton Abbey” are drawing to an end and so seems our arbiter of all things decent and just. During the Edwardian era, pride and dignity governed every decision and interaction. Discretion, decorum, and modesty were to be maintained at all times. 

Over one-hundred years later, it seems the exact opposite is true.  The more conspicuous, defiant, amplified, arrogant, and crazy/uncontrollable/trainwreck you are, the greater power and influence you yield. Whether you love him or hate him, Republican frontrunner Donald Trump is a perfect example of this. He has captivated interest and catapulted in the polls by ignoring the rules and imposing his unfiltered opinions. So have the Kardashians and the Housewives franchise for that matter, gaining attention and popularity by exposing their uncensored, unapologetic selves warts and all.  

These are the times we live in and society is taking note. While celebrities and politicians with public forums have more license with this type of behavior, the rest of us in the real world must adhere to a more humble set of rules to succeed. We need to treat each other with kindness, respect, and consideration in order to build relationships and forge meaningful bonds. 

To get started on the right foot both personally and professionally in the new year, here are 26 must-have manners for 2016. 

1. Greet people with good eye contact and a toothy smile.  It makes you appear more approachable and likable.
2. Always stand to shake someone’s hand.  Extend your right hand, shake web-to-web with two firm pumps, and then gently release.
3. RSVP to invitations in a timely manner. Be sure to reply even if you know you will be unable to attend.
4. Express gratitude for gifts received and other acts of kindness with a well written thank-you note delivered via post.    
5. Practice the three "B's" when toasting: begin, be brief, be seated. If you are the recipient of a toast, do not raise your glass to drink.  Simply smile and say thank you.
6. Use the Continental style of dining holding your fork in the left hand and knife in the right.  Face fork tines down to pierce the food while using the knife to cut and push the food onto the fork.  Sit up straight and lean in towards your plate. 
7. Return all phone and email communications within 24 – 48 hours.  Failure to do so conveys a message that one is not worthy of your immediate attention.
8. Texting is the preferred method of communication to let someone know you're running late, however a serious relationship cannot be conducted on a smartphone. Place a call instead.
9. Practice the art of articulation.  The more succinct your message, the better chance others will listen.
10. If you are invited to someone’s home for dinner, bring a host gift or offer to contribute to the meal.  A favorite homemade dessert, a nice bottle of wine or potted plant is always welcome.
11. Place your cell phone on vibration mode. Go silent in public places. Warn companions ahead of time if you are receiving an important call. At mealtime, keep phones off the table.
12. Fold your napkin in half lengthwise on your lap when eating, rest it on the seat of your chair to excuse yourself during the meal, and lay it on the table to the left of the plate once the meal has concluded.
13. Tip the standard 20% for services rendered and you will be sure to receive excellent service time and again.
14. Email wisely by typing the content first and then inserting the “Send” address before transmitting.  This will reduce accidental or incomplete communications.
15. After a job interview, send a thank-you note the same day, it will increase your chances of obtaining that position. 
16. Bathe on a daily basis. Keep hair, nails and skin clean. Use deodorant and only a dab of perfume or cologne.
17. When entering a room, stand up straight like a palm tree.  You will appear more confident, your clothes will fit better and you will look taller and leaner.
18. Meet and greet, neat. Ladies must be introduced to gentlemen, younger people to older people, and regular folk to dignitaries or VIP’s. At work, observe the hierachy from top to bottom, but remember the client always comes first.
19. Keep unsightly habits out of sight. Nail-chewing, gum-snapping, knuckle-cracking, excessive hair play, or grooming of the extremely personal or unsanitary sort will detract from your overall appearance.
20. Be forthcoming with the magic words. Include please, thank you, you’re welcome, excuse me, and I’m sorry in everyday conversation to smooth over every interaction, confrontation or altercation.
21. Dress according to season, weather or event. When in doubt, a good coat will cover up almost any fashion crime.
22. Resolve any conflict by listening and validating the other person’s opinion. If necessary, politely agree to disagree and then make your best efforts to move on.
23. Never leave the house without something minty concealed somewhere on your person. The same goes for tissues or a handkerchief.
24. If you are in the wrong, express true regret and sincerely apologize. Take full responsibility for your behavior and clean up your own mess.  You will be forgiven.
25. Use social media wisely to enhance your life, not enslave it. Disconnect from the matrix on a regular basis and reconnect in person with the most important people in your world.
26. Possess a positive attitude.  A healthy, grounded and optimistic outlook on life will garner you more invitations, more opportunities and help you win friends.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Holiday Office Party Survival Guide - 7 Tips to Maintaining Your Dignity & Keeping Your Career

If you work for a company, this is the final week to prepare for the holiday office party. Beginning in December, employees and management start bracing themselves for this annual seasonal event. While the minority looks forward with anticipation to the occasion, most drag their feet deliberating over whether they have to attend, how long they need to show face, and what genius excuse they can use to slip out quickly if necessary.  We spend most of our waking hours with our work mates, is it really necessary to celebrate the holidays as well, especially when we’ve seen how fast they can go awry?  Do we really need to watch Angus from Accounting guzzle his fourth bottle of beer atop the bar counter or catch a glimpse of Marsha from Marketing getting too chummy with her coworker in the corner booth?  The answer is YES.  

The holiday office party exists for two simple reasons. First and foremost, to show upper management you are jazzed about your job, and secondly, to mix and mingle with colleagues and prove you are a team player. This is not the time to let off steam from a hard year of slogging in the trenches and no matter how strong the holiday punch, you may never badmouth the boss. On the contrary, it’s an opportunity to network, advance, and shine. Here are seven tips to surviving the holiday office party and keeping your career.

1. Dress Up!  Style experts say to dress for the career you aspire to and the holiday office party is the perfect time to debut your new look. Dress festive, but professional. Refrain from wearing anything revealing and this goes for women, as well as men!  No low declotage or plummer's cracks please.  Leave the questionable Christmas sweater and Santa hat for the family party. This is not the time to let your freak flag fly as they used to say, especially if it will give your officemates the impression that you have an alternate career in the circus. 

2. Ration the Booze.  I generally advise partygoers to down a few espressos and some protein bars before arriving to any work gathering (followed by copious breath mintage). Even if there’s an open bar stocked with top shelf bottles, and you can only afford bottom shelf, make that highball last all night. Keep filling it with ice and water. A series of alcoholic beverages will leave you slow-witted, tongue-tied and a little over-affectionate. You won't be sorry the next day when you hear the story about Dan from Distribution who was dancing on the conference table and drunkenly mimicking the CEO.  

3. Beware of Overstuffing. Eat a little something beforehand to layer your stomach so you are not famished and overstuffing yourself at the buffet table. You are not stocking up for a hurricane. It can get weird watching officemates gorge themselves like it's their last meal, especially when they try to talk at the same time.  No cutting in line and please refrain from eating until you arrived at your table.  Remember, the focus should be on socializing, not filling your belly with food. 

4. Have Fun Without Being Too Friendly. The holiday office party is your in to freely socialize with higher-ups. Don’t ruin it by hitting on your office crush with everyone watching because you’ve downed a bucket of liquid courage (liquid insanity!). Have fun, but avoid getting too friendly. Experiencing a particularly rough holiday season? Keep it on the QT. There is no place for personal business at work.  Save your sorrow-drowning for the privacy of your own home. This is your career on the line. 

5. Keep Your Lips Zipped. This is one time of the year where upper management and employees mix and mingle. Don’t let loose with your opinions, the ones you’ve kept bottled up, all year, under lock and key. And never utter an ill word about the company or co-workers. Avoid talking about politics, religion, money matters, health issues, relationship problems and gossip of any kind. Good topics to get the convo going?  Ask a question or offer a compliment.  Talk about the weather, upcoming plans for the holidays or travel to visit family or friends, timely cultural events and exhibits, holiday movies, music and books.  

6. Sane Gift Exchange. When it comes to gifting policies, it never hurts to consult the HR department or somone who oversees office protocols to make sure it's acceptable. For the boss, nothing too personal or pricey, and nothing that touches the skin (no jewelry, perfume, clothing, intimates). Steer clear of personal gifts unless you know the person very well. Food items such as a fruit basket, bread delivery or coffee/tea gift card are practical and thoughtful. Books or magazine subscriptions make the perfect gift as long as the content is appropriate. Stay away from alcohol gifts, they may be frowned upon. Hand your boss a gift at the office or during the holiday party. Never send a gift to the home. 

7. Send Old School Thank You's. Being charming, thoughtful and kind is always be welcome at holiday time. A handwritten holiday card to accompany a gift or a heartfelt thank you note to a colleague takes precedence over a quick text or post on social media. Don't forget to send a special thanks to the person responsible for organizing that lavish, splendiferous, superfun office holiday party. There is no better way to make a lasting impression and ensure your job security in the new year.  

Monday, November 23, 2015

Manners Monday - How to Charm Your Way into a Relationship for Cuffing Season

Once daylight savings kicks in and the days grow shorter, singletons start looking for ways to couple up for cuffing season.  With temperatures dropping rapidly in most parts of the country, images of snuggling by a crackling fire, sharing a romantic dinner or holding hands during a holiday movie drive the desire to connect on a visceral level this time of year.  Individuals, normally consumed by hard work and play, start texting potential partners with inquiries to cuddle up and binge-watch favorite television shows or meet at a local hangout for an intimate nightcap.  

(Hand)cuffing season begins just before Halloween and continues through New Year's, but typically arrives with an expiration date well before Valentine's Day. As the air grows colder, the courtship period heats up coming to a full sizzle in December and then fizzling out sometime in mid-January. So if you're looking for a blizzard buddy that will keep you sane at the family Thanksgiving dinner and toast you with champagne at your BFF's New Year's Eve bash, but then set you free before Super Bowl, here are five surefire ways to land a companion for cuffing season. Let the games begin!

1. Turn on the Attractive Behavior.  Put yourself in the most favorable light to attract the ideal mate. Spend a little extra time sprucing up your appearance. Flash an endless smile, it is the ultimate invitation. Convey confidence with good posture. Be an expert conversationalist by showing interest and asking lots of questions. When the floor is yours, be equally interesting, but modest.

2 Possess an Attitude of Gratitude.  Be grateful for any gracious gesture whether large or small.  It may come in the form of an offer to an elegant dinner, a winter getaway or a holiday office party, all invitations are welcome and you are game for anything.  Always say thank you and reciprocate with a note of appreciation or similar sign of gratitude.

3. Keep the Mystique Going.  Beware of revealing too much.  You may want to keep your deep hatred for your mother under wraps. No temporary companion wants to deal with a head case.  Too much drama will send them running for the hills and there isn't enough time for couples therapy.  Maintain the mystique by keeping communication light and breezy at all times.  You can still be intelligent and deep without exposing your veins.

4. Create Connection, Not Friction.  Seek contentment in connecting and avoid getting agitated or resentful.  Don't let yourself go there.  So what if your partner wants to sit around in their sweatpants on Sunday when you'd rather be musing at the museum?  Save that activity for your artsy friend and curl up on the couch with your snuggle bunny. You may miss them when they're gone.

5. Leave the Door Open. While cuffing season is meant to be short-lived and you should never get your hopes up, there is always the lingering possibility that the relationship can continue. The more you are present and relish each other's company, the less likely you are to focus on an end date and greater chance you may enjoy a promising future together.  You never know.  One day, your passing cuff may even want to put a ring on it.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Manners Monday - All-Gender Bathroom Etiquette: Putting a Lid on Bad Behavior in the Loo

All-gender restrooms are all the rage. A New York Times article investigated this new normal and how educational institutions, restaurants, museums and other public entities are embracing an all-inclusive environment for everyone on the gender spectrum.

While this is certainly new territory with an important social message, the act of sharing a restroom space has always existed for those travelling by air.  In a tube 30,000 feet above sea level, there is no room for discrimination.  Everyone has equal access to the facilities and it isn't always pretty. Yes, there's nothing like a trip to the loo on an overcrowded plane.  The lethal combination of frayed nerves, fast food, and fixed quarters pretty much guarantees an unpleasant washroom experience. On a recent trip back to LA, one woman was holed up for so long we thought we'd have to call the paramedics. When she finally exited the laboratory, it looked like a war zone had erupted.  

The bathroom debate earned a spot on last weekend's Saturday Night Live with comedian Pete Davidson poking fun at how ladies - contrary to popular belief - tend to leave it particularly untidy. Trying to teach my own daughters good restroom behavior has been thoroughly exhausting. Why they can't be bothered to replace a roll of toilet paper or clean the sink, or put the seat cover down is beyond comprehension! 

So for my girls and everyone else (wherever you fall on the spectrum) let these societal changes inspire us to apply a renewed mindfulness to our bathroom etiquette. Here are ten essential tips to get you going in the right direction. 

1. Knock Before Entering.  All public restrooms have lock features either on the doors or individual stalls, but that doesn't mean they are in working order or that someone has remembered to use them. Always assume it is occupied.  When in doubt, double-check by simply listening intently or peering underneath the stall if you must. Whatever you do, don't just barge in.  

2. Use Seat Covers.  Disposable seat covers are available in some places, but not most. If you can't find a proper paper seat cover, create one of your own with a swath of toilet paper available. For goodness' sake, whatever you do, don't sit down on an uncovered toilet, you can catch hepatitis!

3. Apply Air Freshener.  If you've ever entered a restroom after someone's relieved their morning coffee bowel movement, you know how necessary this step is.  Only certain public bathrooms will have odor-killing aids. If it's there, please use it.  If not, a quick spritz of the free sample of perfume you have stashed in your purse will do.

4. Put a Lid On It. Not all public restrooms have toilet seats with lids.  If there is one visible, take the time to close it. First of all, it will help trap lingering odors from spreading. Secondly, it is good feng shui.  Putting the toilet seat down minimizes the loss of energy and money and who doesn't need that.  

5. Scrub those Hands.  Recalling a popular Seinfeld episode, at some point we've all beared witness to that restroom patron who skips the washing hands ritual altogether, does a quick once over in the mirror, and then bolts for the exit much to our horror.  Hopefully, you are not that person and that you soap up, but good before departing. 

6. Scour the Sink.  You would think the sink is made purely for washing hands, but that is not so.  I've seen all kinds of questionable business in public restrooms from people brushing their teeth to washing their feet.  Let's keep the public grooming to a minimum and in the rare event that you do utilize the sink for such use, have the decency to clean all evidence of hairs, food particles, dirt, and other grime from the scene.

7. Turn Water Off Completely.  While we're on the subject of sinks, let's discuss for a moment water usage. California is in the middle of a major drought, this should be enough of a reminder to use water with discretion. Check the faucet to make sure it is shut with no excess dripping before running out of the restroom. 

8. Place Waste in the Receptacle.  This is one of the greatest areas of contention when it comes to bathroom behavior and the one that comedian, Pete Davidson, above was referring to.  How many times have we seen bloody sanitary napkins, crumpled toilet seat covers, and soiled toilet paper thrown haphazardly onto the floor rather than carefully placed in the appointed waste containers?  Ladies, you are the worst offenders.  

9. Towels Go in the Hamper.  If you happen to wander into one of the finer public establishments such as a luxury hotel, you may encounter the hand towel in favor of the paper one. Enjoy it and relish in the soft luxury as it touches your skin and by all means, do not throw it into the wastebasket! This little cloth is reusable and should head straight to the laundry instead. Please take notice and put such articles into the hamper. 

10. Leave No Trace Behind.  Give the premises one good last look to make sure it is clean and that you didn't leave anything behind ((e.g., house keys, a cell phone, YOUR PURSE!). As with a digital footprint, we want to be conscious of leaving the restroom better for future use.  It is not only respectful to the patrons who follow, it is essential to maintaining good hygiene and health.