Sunday, May 14, 2017

Mom's The Word - A Few Words to My Daughters on Mother's Day

Let me begin by saying how beyond grateful I am to have two healthy, intelligent, sensitive, and beautiful daughters.  There is not a day that goes by where I don't feel blessed to have brought you both into this world.  In your own unique way, you each provide me with superhuman strength and you inspire me to be the best mother possible.  You girls are my best friends, my confidants, my spirit-lifters and my co-conspirators.

I get excited at the thought of sharing new things with you whether it's how to make my famous oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, taking you to a museum to soak up some culture or introducing you to a classic song I grew up on from the seventies. I love spending time with you, hearing about your day at school or working through a particular problem you are having with friends.

I want you to know that I am your biggest cheerleader. I will always be standing on the sidelines jumping up with pom poms in my hands proudly clapping and hopefully motivating you to give it your all.  I may also have a few choice words of critique to offer, but that is only to make you stronger and more resilient.

As you both have officially embarked on your teenage years, I am filled with delight watching you grow into young ladies.  I will always encourage you to follow your passion, embrace the joy in hard work, and do everything in my power to set you on a path to achieve your goals.

I haven't the faintest idea of what you have in store for me this Mother's Day, but I would love to take the day off and enjoy the company of my family without having to nag and nudge. As much as I wish you were able to read my mind, I thought it might be easier to put my wish list in writing while you lay sleeping.  Here's what would make this Mother's Day awesome!

  • Wake up with a smile.
  • Offer me coffee in bed.
  • Take a walk with me at the beach.
  • Go to the Farmers Market together.
  • Take care of your dad.
  • Plan a nice day.
  • Create a special meal.
  • Tell me how much you love me.
  • Flatter me with kind words.
  • Share stories that make us all laugh wildly.
  • Shower me with hugs and kisses. 

I'm in bed waiting...

Monday, February 20, 2017

Manners Monday - Dissecting the Trump Pump & How to Properly Shake Hands

Some experts say it’s the hands - not the eyes - that are the window into one's soul.  They believe that the hands provide the greatest insight into a person’s true character.  Trump’s hands have been in the spotlight since last spring when Governor Rubio questioned their size and claimed they appeared rather small for a man of his stature. Over the course of the election, President-elect Trump’s hands were analyzed, scrutinized and mocked by commentators as well as comedians.  From the entertaining way he used his hands to emphasize a point to his noticeable apprehension with handshakes in general, it is evident that the art of handshaking was not one of his strong suits.  In his book, The Art of the Comeback, he declared shaking hands as ‘barbaric’ and ‘one of the curses of American society’ further stating that, ‘the more successful and famous one becomes the worse this terrible custom seems to get.”  While certain parts of the world suffering from the spread of disease would find handshaking unwise and unhealthy, here in America, shaking hands is simply a sign of respect.  Here’s a breakdown of President Trump’s pump - the good, the bad, and the ugly – along with a primer on how to properly shake hands with anyone, anywhere, anytime.

The President’s Pump (& Pull)

We’ve noticed two types of handshakes that fall into the category of bad and ugly. When President Trump hosted Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzō Abe at the White House recently, the media had a field day with the awkward looking nineteen-second long seated greeting. The grip looked more like a grab and gave the appearance that the President was pulling the Prime Minister’s hand into submission. A similar grip was used with Vice-President Pence as well as several other of the President’s appointees. Once again, these handshakes resembled more of an aggressive pump and pull rather than two seamless, smooth pumps.

Handshaking 101

The most universal gesture for greeting another person anywhere in the world is the handshake. It is often the first contact we have with someone new. To shake hands properly, extend the right hand and place your palm sideways. Extend the fingers away from you with the thumb facing up.  Locate the web area (the space between the index finger and the thumb) and meet the recipients hand web-to-web.  Shake with two smooth pumps and then release. The whole arm does not need to move, only the forearm from the elbow down. Your grip should be firm, not too strong, and not dangling like a limp fish.

Bad Shake Syndrome
  • The Wet Fish – This handshake grips only the tips of the fingers and feels distant and aloof as if the person isn’t truly interested in making your acquaintance.
  • The Bone Cruncher - This handshake hurts as if the person is intentionally trying to create pain. It leaves a negative impression that the person has something to prove or that they are trying to wield their power over you.
  • The Thumb Pincher - This handshake digs into a sensitive pressure point by pressing down too firmly with their thumb. The person offering this type of handshake is perceived as nervous or slightly uncomfortable.
  • The Never Ending Shake - This handshake lasts forever creating a guessing game as to when someone will let go. The person who offers this handshake appears overly enthusiastic and a way too eager.

Just the Facts
  • Ladies First - In social settings, a lady should always initiate the handshake because a man should never presume a lady wishes to make physical contact of any kind.
  • Stop Signals - If you happen to encounter an endless handshake, simply release the tension of your grip. This will send a non-verbal signal that the handshake has officially ended.
  • The Upper Hand - The person who extends their hand first is perceived to be the most confident and have control of the situation.
  • Stand & Deliver - Unless physically unable, a person always stands for a handshake. It is a sign of deference.
  • Sweaty Palms Alert - Suffering from sweaty palms may ruin a perfectly good handshake. An easy remedy is to carry a cloth that can absorb sweat in your pocket or purse. Gently touch the cloth before shaking somebody’s hands. At events where one is expected to shake a lot of hands, try rubbing some unscented antiperspirant on your palms prior to the engagement.

The Business Arena. A strong emphasis is placed on a firm handshake because it speaks loudly about credibility, confidence, and professionalism. Make sure every meeting begins and ends with a handshake. In a professional setting, it doesn’t matter who offers a hand first, however, the person who extends a hand first typically has an advantage because it shows initiative and is perceived as being in control.

A Personal Affront. Neglecting another person's hand is regarded as one of the most impolite offenses. Unless you have the Swine flu, Whooping Cough or some other contagious infection or disease, always accept an offer to shake hands. If you are particularly worried about germs, run to the restroom to disinfect or douce yourself with Purell.

For Your Eyes Only. A handshake means nothing without making good eye contact. It is second sign of respect. When shaking hands, give the person your undivided attention by looking them straight in the eyes as if they are the only person in the room.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Galentine's Day Etiquette - Six Ways to Celebrate Your Gal Pals Properly

I’ve clearly been living under a rock. I was a big fan of Parks & Recreation from the beginning, but somehow missed the landmark episode in which Leslie Knope - aka Amy Poehler - officially christened the day before Valentine’s Day, February 13th as Galentine's Day. 

A day dedicated solely to our BFF's. What a genius concept!  Our girlfriends are our greatest treasure and they deserve to be honored and cherished. These are the peeps who support us through thick and thin, inspire us to be our best no matter what, and hold us up when the chips are down.  They'll judiciously tell us our thighs look a bit large in our skinny jeans or hold our hair back when we're praying to the porcelain G-d and even give the stink eye to our exes if we ask them.  

Whether you have a hot date lined up for the 14th or are celebrating your singlehood, girl code dictates chicks come before (you know what) any day of the week. Ladies always come first! So here’s how to celebrate your gal pals properly on Galentine’s Day, Valentine’s Day or, dammit, any other day of the year!

1. Take a Hike. Rather than the usual, ‘let’s have lunch’. Organize a feel good hike in the great outdoors.  Nothing says nurture, like good old mother nature. You don’t have to kill yourself climbing rocks and walking through steep terrain, just stretching your limbs with a good walk or moderate incline will put everyone in better spirits.

2. Lavish with a Galentine’s Day Gift. Select something your pals wouldn’t normally buy for themselves. No one reads anymore! Use this as an excuse to purchase an inspirational book or naughty read.  Anything that enlightens, moves us out of our ‘stuckness’ or evokes a good laugh will do.  Don’t forget to inscribe the book with a personalized note for each friend.

3. Host a House Party.  Ladies love to dance. Go to any party and notice how many girls are dancing without abandon while the guys stand dumbfounded ogling and wishing they could be so free. In the immortal words of country star Sam Hunt, “Turn your TV off and break that boom-box out.”  Dim the lights, take out the tequila, put on your favorite tunes and let loose for as long as you so choose.

4. Retreat to a Spa. You’d be hard-pressed to find a gal who doesn’t enjoy a little pampering.  Organize a mobile unit to come to the privacy of your own home, book an early evening gathering at your favorite day spa or, if you’re feeling really extravagant, hop a plane to the most luxurious offering on this continent or other. If you don’t want to break the bank, grab a few avocados for a facial mask, some cucumbers for puffy eyes, and a jar of coconut oil to add life to lackluster hair. Exfoliate, rejuvenate and come back feeling stronger than ever.

5. Make an Awesome Meal. As the saying goes, the gals who cook together, stay together. Well, perhaps that wasn’t exactly it, but you know what I mean. Research the perfect 3-course menu and invite the gals over to help you cook. Let them supply their favorite alcoholic beverages and start slicing, dicing, chopping and baking until you have a healthy, completely satisfying, gourmet-tasting meal that will leave you all feeling satiated, but not super full. 

6. Let Your Voice Ring Out.  Every lady wants to be heard. Make like you’re Queen B (Beyoncé), Adele or Lady Gaga at the Grammys and head out to the nearest karaoke bar. Let down your hair along with your inhibitions, grab that mike like you own it, and sing it loud and proud.  Get your girlfriends to video your superstar performance and play it back to remind yourself of the bad-ass gal you are or aspire to be.

Dedicated to my dearest girlfriends who are all unbelievably amazing, independent, strong, creative, warm, loving, and beautiful both inside and out. Here's to you!!

Sunday, February 5, 2017

At Super Bowl Fifty-One: Forget the Game, All Eyes are On Gaga

Preparing for Super Bowl takes the competition to a whole other level.  Over 110 million people are parked in front of their big screens to watch the spectacle worldwide. Commercials cost as much as $5M for as little as 30 seconds of air time. It is the second-largest day for food consumption only to Thanksgiving.  Americans slug over 325 million gallons of beer and don’t even get me started on the amount of guacamole and chicken wings that are downed for the big day. 

This year Bill Belichick has brought his New England Patriots back to Super Bowl LI for the 9th time a potential 5th win to play the Atlanta Falcons who haven't been invited back since they lost to the Denver Broncos in 1999.  An estimated $4.7 billion will be bet on today’s game.

While throngs of fans are lined up to watch football, I am gearing up for Gaga.  I'll be on the edge of my seat come Half-Time waiting with anticipation over what color hair she'll don, how many revealing outfits she'll wear, will she appear as her alter ego Joanne complete with a cowboy hat or as Gaga circa 2009 when her career first took off?  And, most importantly, whether she'll use the stage to chastise our 45th President creating, even more, divisiveness or will she take the high road and use this incredible platform as an opportunity to bring Americans together.  The jury is out, but we are the judge.  So 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 Pacific, 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 hear Luke Bryan hit his 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 that 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 Tom Brady 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 field goal 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.

On a final note today, please watch out for taboo topics.  We are still fresh off the swearing in which took place a mere two weeks ago and many are stick licking their wounds on both sides of the aisle.  While everyone has a right to their opinion, it doesn't give us license to shove that opinion down another person's throat. If you don't have something nice to say, keep it to yourself. Stay away from conversations that condemn Trump, hail Bernie Sanders, or defend DeflategateNow go and enjoy the game!!

Monday, December 12, 2016

Manners Monday - Office Holiday Party Etiquette: 7 Tips to Be Merry & Maintain Your Job in 2017

Office Christmas Party opened across the country and my husband and I ran to see it this past weekend. The movie, featuring a number of top notch comedians, looked hilarious. However, as someone who teaches etiquette for a living, I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I was more curious to see the film from a business standpoint. Call it research. After dedicating a chapter in my book on the subject titled, “Beware the Office Holiday Party,” I was waiting for an endless stream of salacious behaviors represented and the movie did not disappoint. It had the requisite token lush, the photocopying of private parts, the swinging from the ceiling, etc. But for me, the most hilarious character was the Human Resources lady played by the white hot Kate McKinnon. She pegged the stereotypical role to a tee lurking in the background and painstakingly trying to keep everyone on the straight and narrow.

It’s been quite a while since I worked in a big office environment, but I remember the holiday office parties well. They were always something we worker-bees looked forward to with anticipation as they provided an opportunity to hang with the higher ups, show off our significant others and, if it was a good party, let loose on the dance floor until the wee hours of the morning. 

Before you head out to celebrate with your co-workers, remember these seven tips to be merry AND maintain your job in twenty-seventeen.  It may be a night designed for fun, but not worth jeopardizing your career. Rather than approaching the evening as a free for all reward for your hard work, use it as an opportunity to network, advance, and shine.

1. Dress. This is not the time to let your freak flag fly as they used to say, and this goes for women, as well as men! Maintain professionalism, keep it classy and appropriate. Refrain from showing midriff's, low decolletage, or wearing any other scantily clad items.

2. Ration the Booze. Regardless of how appealing an open bar may be, limit yourself to one or two drinks at most.  Keep yourself hydrated by filling a glass with ice and water. Don't forget to graze on food throughout the night to soak up any extra alcohol. Trust me, you will not be sorry when you see your friend from accounting dancing on the conference table and drunk­enly mimicking the CEO. 

3. Overstuffing. You are not piling your plate for your last meal. Plus, it can get weird watching our work colleagues gorge themselves. Grab a protein bar beforehand or microwave a bag of popcorn to take the edge off. This way when you arrive at the party, your focus will be on socializing with your work peers, not devouring your food. 

4. Self-control. Avoid hitting on your office crush on the dance floor with everyone watching. Save your hidden talents for gyrating, bumping, grinding and twerking when you're at the club after-party no longer on the company's time or dime. 

5. Badmouthing. Don’t let loose with your opinions or divulge personal thoughts especially negative ones about the boss, colleagues or the company.  Alcohol gives people a false sense of courage that can go terribly wrong fast.  Beware what you say at the holiday office party, it may not be forgiven.

6. Secret Santa Shame. That suggestive gift you received from your college buddy should not make its way into your Secret Santa exchange. Purchase a new gift, stick to the allotted amount, and select something that anyone would enjoy.  

7. Recognition. A nice note of thanks to the person responsible for organizing that lavish, super fantastic office party is a sure way to be recognized and stand out in the new year.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Manners Monday - Voting Day Etiquette on the Eve of the Election

Tuesday, November 8, 2016, will be remembered as Election Day for one of the most contentious Presidential races in American history. While the FBI's decision to close the case on Clinton's email controversy has provided her with a last minute boost and a Survey Monkey six-point lead, tomorrow is guaranteed to be a nail-biter nonetheless. Polls placing Clinton and Trump virtually neck-in-neck in some regions will have the citizens of this country clinging to their seats with anticipation until the official outcome arrives.  

Whether you love him or hate him, The Donald’s larger-than-life persona is largely responsible for the increase in voter registration and, has frankly, fueled new interest in the modern election process. The entertainment factor alone has garnered more viewership of the debates and round-the-clock commentary on every news network and Twitter feed known to man. Don't get me wrong, both campaigns have contributed an extraordinary amount of work to raising voter awareness which has resulted in the historic turnout of Latino and Asian-American voters and more people to the polls in general. 

But the tenor of our country has taken a turn for the worse.  From the beginning, the narrative of this election has been one of choosing the candidate you hate the least! Both are heavily flawed with critical issues of character coming into question, and when asked about the tone of the Presidential race, a recent survey revealed that eight in ten Americans were either disgusted or repulsed.

While you may not feel particularly jazzed about either Clinton or Trump, your vote matters more than ever. Exercise your right and make your voice heard. Forty-two million Americans voted early with record numbers in Florida, North Carolina, and Nevada, but the crucial states of New Hampshire and Ohio are still up for grabs.  If you've already cast your vote in California via absentee ballot like my husband and me, congratulations, you will avoid the craziness at the polls. However, if you prefer the tradition of heading to a local polling booth on Tuesday, we've compiled a list of voting day etiquette do’s and don’ts to ensure the process is smooth and drama-free. Lord knows, after more than eighteen months of this grueling campaign, we don't need no more stinking drama! Good luck everyone, may the best (wo)man win!!  

  • Go Early.  While most polls are open all day until 7:00pm, it's best to head to polling booths bright and early before going to work or beginning your day.  
  • Bring ID. To prevent voter fraud, new laws may require an original birth certificate in addition to a driver’s license, school identification or another ID card.
  • Honor Privacy.  With this race particularly heated, people are preferring to keep their personal choice mum.  Allow friends and family their vote without pressuring them to divulge whom they supporting.  
  • Respect Volunteers. Polling place volunteers are regular people just like you and me. They have dedicated their valuable time, they are not getting paid, and are doing their best.  Be patient, kind, and polite.
  • Take Reading Aids. This is not the day to forget your glasses. Reading the ballots is difficult, the type is very small.  It would be a shame to wait on a long line only to discover you couldn't decipher the ballot.
  • Electioneer.  A new amendment now prohibits people from wearing political buttons, hats, pins or T-shirts near polling places which are considered a campaign free zone. If you do so, you will be asked to remove the items or turn your tee shirt inside out. No campaign material that could influence other voters is allowed.
  • Talk Politics. Don’t verbalize your thoughts about each candidate or whom you are voting for while waiting in line. It's nobody's business.
  • Be Alarmed.  There may be police presence at polling booths. Officials expect emotions to be on high this Tuesday so they are taking precautionary measures by stationing law enforcement armed with guns to ensure the safety of all.
  • Dawdle. Prepare ahead of time by familiarizing yourself with the ballot choices beforehand so you may be more efficient in the polling booth. Some places will let you take a pre-marked sample ballot into the booth so that you may simply copy your marks onto the official ballot saving oodles of time.
  • Take a Selfie. Assume photos are a no-no, unless you receive express permission. Justin Timberlake learned this the hard way when the singer voted last month in his hometown of Memphis, Tennessee where voting selfies are considered illegal.
As if you need more incentive, there are a multitude of Election Day freebies to take advantage of and inspire you to get to the polls extra early.  Don't forget to proudly display your "I Voted" sticker. 

Friday, October 28, 2016

Friday Feeling - A Halloween for Twenty-Sixteen

This week's episode of "Modern Family" was littered with political undertones.  Cam, who takes his Halloween quite seriously, is furious with a child offender who year after year grabs a handful of candy rather than taking the allotted single piece.  He passionately explains at Halloween, "There is a social contract. You say trick or treat, you get one piece of candy. That breaks down and we’re just a hop, skip, and a jump away to a lawless wasteland where we use bees and teeth for money."  This small act of defiance by his 'Halloween nemesis' drives Cam cuckoo. He is 'crazy for justice,' a feeling many of us understand all too well as we approach the final days of one of the most contentious elections in American history.  

Our society is sprinkled with social contracts, those unwritten rules that govern our communities, our schools, our businesses, and basically every facet of our existence. In a climate when we are witnessing both Presidential candidates dodging these decrees and not necessarily being held accountable for their most questionable actions, it makes it increasingly difficult to instill these skills in our youngest citizens. How to behave on Halloween is just one of the ways kids can begin to exhibit appropriate codes of conduct and learn to respect systems and policies that will certainly play a part in their adult lives.  Below is a Smörgåsbord of guidelines to keep even the most ghastly goblin and ghoul in line.

Teal is the New Orange.  NOTE FOR KIDS WITH NUT ALLERGIES: The Teal Pumpkin Project is a new organization designed to raise awareness for kids with peanuts and tree nuts food allergies. If you see a teal pumpkin, it is a signal that a home is handing out non-food treats. Whether a non-food or candy treat, teach children to be patient and polite and limit themselves to one piece unless more is offered. Remind them to say please and thank you and try not to crowd or stampede the doorways. 

If You're Old Enough to Drive...Trick or treating is a tradition reserved for younger children who look forward each year to dressing up in their favorite costumes and going door-to-door to receive unlimited amounts of sugary treats. Most teenagers typically loose their interest, but if you're sixteen and still stomping around in your scary costume, it's time to turn in your pumpkin bucket.

Treatin' In N Out of the Hood. It is perfectly acceptable to travel outside one's own neighborhood, particularly, for children who live in a canyon without sidewalks or who live in a neighborhood that is less than child-friendly. However, if you do decide to leave your hood, the next best thing is to trick-or-treat with a friend in their area or find an alternate place that feels comfortable and familiar. Whereever you choose, be respectful of lawns and gardens and use the sidewalks or pathways leading up to the front door. If a house is dark and all the lights are turned off, this is a signal that the family is not participating in the ritual or may not be at home.

Ditch the Clown Costume. As far as costumes for children, the general rule is that they be age appropriate and kid-friendly. This year due to the panic surrounding those menacing clowns, these costumes are being banned from schools and parties. Political outfits are more popular than ever with Hilary and Trump filling the shelves, but politically incorrect outfits or extremely scary horror costumes are never acceptable. Ask yourself one simple question, "Is my costume disrespectful or would it offend or scare another person at the party?" If the answer is yes, then find an alternative choice. 

Hosting & Ghosting Halloween Parties. Anyone with a birthday in October knows how much fun it can be to have a Halloween party. If you are hosting, be gracious and provide ample treats and entertainment for your guests. Encourage everyone to come dressed in costume to help set the tone for the party. A little spooky music adds to the fun. Make sure to be a good guest as well. Don't ghost your host by not responding to an invitation and never show up empty-handed. Bring a birthday gift or host gift for the party-giver as a thank you for including you in the festivities.

Safety First on the Night of Fright. Begin trick-or-treating at dusk while there is still some light for safety. Sidewalks and lawns lined with electrical cords can be dangerous. Come prepared with flashlights to make sure you do not trip or fall. Have supplies on hand for emergencies. Keep a couple of Band-Aids and Neosporin in your pocket should minor accidents occur. Make sure to look both ways before crossing the streets. Although there are more pedestrians out than usual, it is still dark and drivers may not see clearly. Adults and children should stick together at all times. There is nothing more treacherous than trying to track down a small child in the pitch black of night.

Tricks within Reason. Halloween is meant to be fun, but not at the expense of others. Contrary to what we might see on television or in the movies, it is not an opportunity to toilet paper a neighbor's front yard or throw eggs at their front door. It also does not give one free reign to steal or damage pumpkins or other decorations. It is wise to stay away from anything that could potentially cause property damage as these types of pranks are not only dangerous but illegal. If pranks and tricks are a must, try creating an imaginative fun house or haunted house for your friends and other guests to experience.

General Halloween Etiquette Tips. Halloween is a perfect "training" time to teach children how to mind their "P's" & "Q's." After just a few house visits, your two-year-old will be an expert! At least one parent should accompany all children up to the age of twelve. Trick-or-treating should generally end around 9pm as most families with children and older adults are preparing for bed by that time. Parents should check the treats of the younger children before they eat them. Children should never eat anything that is handmade, unwrapped or specially prepared unless they personally know the family.

Happy haunting!