Monday, October 26, 2015

Manners Monday - Halloween Guest Party Etiquette - Look Like a Monster, But Don't Act Like One

Halloween falls on a Saturday this year, the perfect night to host a party.  So when my teenage daughter started hemming and hawing over what to do with her friends, I jumped right in with the idea offering to have everyone over to our house for dinner followed by trick or treating in a nearby neighborhood.  

It’s not going to be a major bash, more of an intimate gathering of about twenty or so.  All of the guests are my daughter’s friends and their parents, completely civilized. But this is not always the case, especially on Halloween where we are mostly in disguise, our actions are anonymous, and ghoulish behavior is practically encouraged.  I remember vividly the Halloween ragers I attended back in the day where no less than 300 kids descended upon one address in Beverly Hills only to have the cops arrive not much later to shut it down. The parents were always out of town which made for a mixture of mayhem straight out of a John Hughes movie.  

While no one expects you to show up to a ridiculously large Halloween party with a hostess gift, here are seven surefire ways to guarantee good guest etiquette when it comes to Halloween parties at home.  After all, you may look like a monster, but you don’t want to act like one.

1. Don’t Be Creepy, Come in Costume. This is the one night of the year that allows us to dream, to try on a new look, personality, career. Take advantage of it and dress up in full regalia. Cast your opinions aside and get in the game. Don’t be a Debbie Downer and show up as yourself.  It will kill the vibe. You don’t have to go crazy, throw on a mask or face paint. At least it shows effort. When selecting a costume, consider the age of the guests and make sure the outfit is appropriate for the youngest attendee.

2. Enchant Your Host with a Tantalizing Treat.  Don’t behave like a beast, arrive with a token of appreciation for the host. A bottle of wine for the adults, a special homemade dessert for the kids, a Halloween-themed dog bone for Fido or a Skull candle with matches for the house all make safe choices. 

3. You Are Not a Cadaver, Lend a Hand.  As an invited guest, while you’re still alive and kicking, it is your duty to arrive ready and willing to pitch in where needed.  Whether it’s placing ice in the bucket, arranging a tray of hors d'oeuvres or taking out the trash, an offer to help with set up or cleanup is always welcome. 

4. Stay Within the Darkness, Don’t Go Into the Light.  Abide by the house rules and stay within the parameters of the party. You will know where the celebration is taking place simply by staying in the dark.  Rooms marked no entry usually have lights on which can ruin the atmosphere.  Refrain from entering.  Also, no touching personal belongings, be respectful of furnishings and don’t open the fridge unless asked to do so.

5. Save the Excess for the Afterlife. Remember the motto, everything in moderation. We want to end the night on a high note, not pulling someone’s hair back as they hover over the porcelain throne. Kids, eat a nutritious dinner before you stuff yourselves silly with candy. Adults, line your stomachs with a hearty meal as well. It will help soak up the alcohol.  

6. Show Your Teeth, Not Your Fangs.  You may think this night is suitable for stirring the caldron, but you are dead wrong.  Someone accidentally bump into you and spill your drink? Hold your tongue.  Spot a frenemy wearing the same costume?  Keep it to yourself, hopefully, no one will notice.  This is not the time or place to get into altercations.  Wear a smile and keep it light. Spend time making positive connections and hold the conflicts and criticism please. 

7. Rest in Peace with a Proper Thank You. No party is complete without a proper thank you. Say it in person and follow up in writing with a thoughtful note within 24 to 48 hours of the event.  This will ensure an invitation to next year’s freakish festivities.   

Wondering how to gracefully survive the night of fright? Here's your one-stop shop on all your Halloween etiquette tips, questions and quandaries. 

Monday, October 19, 2015

Manners Monday - Passenger Etiquette - Seven Steps to Tame the Turbulence

This weekend's news about a Southwest Airlines flight forced to return to Los Angeles after an altercation in the air is just another incident of turbulence amongst passengers in the not-so-friendly skies. More and more stories reveal bad behavior ranging from the disgusting (clipping toenails) and rude (urine on the seat) to the outrageous (public displays of affection) and dangerous (physical abuse). Gone are the days of getting dressed and gearing up for a gorgeous getaway filled with adventure and possibility. Instead, modern air travel is laden with high-strung, ill-tempered, slovenly commuters whose casual clothing mimics their equally careless attitude.  Add to this already precarious situation smaller cabins, fewer seats, and increased regulations and it's no wonder everyone's on edge. Emotions run high, someone gets ticked off and the next thing you know a passenger is in a choke-hold!  While we may not be able to control the crazies, a primer on how to tame tumultuous situations between passengers before they erupt in the sky is certainly worth a try.  Here are a few travel etiquette reminders to maintain civility and safety when we set soar. 

1Dress for yourself and fellow passengers. Forget the flip flops and short shorts, be daring and put on something decent for the plane! It is entirely possible to appear quite chic while still being comfortable, plus a nice presentation helps to set the tone for your flight. When it comes to shoes, select closed toe and easy to slip off at the security gate. Don't forget to wear socks. Nothing is worse than stepping barefoot on the airport flooring. Wear deodorant, but go easy on the cologne and perfume. It's a good idea to pack some lip ointment and hand creme to combat dry skin. Ladies put a little lipstick on for goodness' sake! You never know who will be seated next to you.

2. Take a chill pill. If you have a severe aversion to standing or waiting in line, do not fly! Unless you hire a special airport greeter or are flying business or first, you must be patient and grin and bear the cattle calls. Getting agitated only makes matters worse. Bring a magazine or book so you can read passively while waiting to check your bags or go through security. To pass the time, you can always fill out your luggage tag. Keep your identification card handy, as well as your boarding ticket. You will be asked to show proof of both repeatedly.

3. Be prepared for small annoyances. There is no way to avoid the safety ritual of walking through security. Everyone must remove their shoes and jackets and risk a pat down by a security officer. To make things easier, wear shoes and outer garments that are easily removed and quickly organize your belongings and place them in the open containers for the x-ray machine. Make sure to separate your laptop in its own container for easy viewing. Remove all jewelry and accessories that may set off the alarm.

4. Avoid confrontation. Make it easier on yourself as well as the flight attendant by not attempting to stuff your entire closet into your carry-on luggage. If you cannot lift your bag and place it in the overhead bin on your own, the flight attendant will be forced to help you and may question its size or weight, especially if they see you struggling to jam it into a small compartment. Either pack lighter, check your bag or call a delivery service like FedEx to ship your belongings door to door in advance. It's not worth getting into an argument on this one, the airlines will always win.

5. Respect personal space. In this tube 30,000 ft. in the air, everything is exaggerated. Some people do not wish to engage and prefer keeping quietly to themselves. Be respectful towards those around you and read their signals. (a) If you are bringing your own food, keep it simple. Do not stink up the plane with smelly cheeses or a pungent dish. (b) If someone is reading a magazine or book, do not engage them in conversation as they may not wish to be disturbed. (c) If you are tired, rest your weary head on your own chair with your blanket and use only one armrest for your arms. (d) Make sure to use the restroom before being seated to avoid musical chairs throughout the flight. (e) Before reclining your seat abruptly, check behind you to give your fellow passenger a heads up. They will appreciate it.

6. Curb the cell phone conversation. There is nothing that equally worries and annoys fellow passengers and flight attendants alike then someone who chooses to completely ignore the FAA's rule to turn off all cell phones and other electronic equipment during take-off and landing. The jury is still out as to whether the radio signals from these devices can interfere with flying equipment so for the safety of everyone, cut it out and follow the rules!!!

7. Check yourself, not just your bags. If you are in a bad mood, meditate, do some calming exercises and settle down. The airport and flying experience is hard enough without the reckless behavior. Present a cheerful face, always be courteous saying "please" and "thank you" and be helpful and accommodating. This will smooth over any extenuating circumstance or accidental wrongdoing.

Let's face it, flying in today's world is a challenge. It gets us at our very core, constantly testing our patience and questioning our abilities. How do you weigh in on the flying scale? Are you nice or nasty? Share with us and let us know...