Today it seems that many of the basic etiquette rules that I was raised with (and I am not that old!) are just missing from our society. It isn’t just that people aren’t doing these things anymore, but that no one is teaching them and now we have a generation of adults who don’t follow some of the basic rules, not because they are choosing to ignore them, but because they just don’t know. So here are some basic rules of etiquette and entertaining that will serve you well.
- RSVP means the hostess wants a response. This doesn’t just mean call if you are coming. They want to know either way, by the date specified. Do the hostess a favor and just let her know if you are coming or not.
- When you go to someone’s home, never arrive empty-handed. Bring a dessert or salad or bread for dinner, a bottle of wine or other drink, a house plant, a picture frame, but never arrive without a gift for your hosts. If they have invited you over for dinner or a party, giving them this small gift lets your hosts know you appreciate their work to entertain you.
- Write a Thank You Note! Seriously, when someone does something for you (has you over for dinner or provides a service) or gives you something, take 5 minutes to hand-write (no emails!) a Thank You note. It doesn’t take much time and people appreciate the sentiment. Teach your kids to do the same to family and friends for gifts and to parents of friends who host them.
- Whenever possible, reciprocate. When a family has yours over for dinner, a few weeks later, return the gesture and host them at your house. When someone offers you a service (raking your lawn, watching your kids…whatever), as long as it isn’t something you are paying for, return the gesture and do something nice for them (watch their kids on a different night etc.)
- Introduce new adults to children as Mr. or Mrs./Ms. & their last. It is up to the adult if they want to allow your child to call them by their first name (or Miss First Name). Just teaching your kids this simple courtesy will help them in relationships with adults and help your child understand that adults are to be respected.
These simple etiquette rules will make a huge difference in your family’s interactions with others. They take little or no time and money, but the payoff can be amazing.