How to Be a Good Beach Neighbor

Memorial Day weekend marks the official start of the summer vacation season. A lot of folks will be heading for their favorite beach for some sun, sand, and relaxation. Some of my most treasured memories are from family beach vacations. As exciting as it is to be at the beach, we rarely have the privilege of being there all alone, or with just our family or friends. There will be plenty of others who desire the same fun and relaxation that we do. Everyone can enjoy the experience if we practice good beach etiquette by being a good beach neighbor.

1. Neighborly Habits

  • Don’t set up camp too close to others on the beach. Allow them to have ample space to spread out and not be crowded.
  • Don’t set your chairs in front of other beach-goers. They would probably like an unobstructed view of the water and may need to keep an eye on children who are swimming.
  • It’s okay to bring radios or other media-playing devices as long as you keep the volume down. Remember that not everyone enjoys listening to music on the beach. Some people prefer to read or talk to others in their party.
  • Be conscious of wind direction when shaking out towels and using spray-on sunscreen. Neighbors won’t appreciate being sprayed with either in a gust of wind.
  • In the water with others, try not to splash, especially when swimming close to children. Some are just getting used to the waves and learning to swim. Allow them the space to be comfortable.

2.  Be Friendly

Take time to speak to lifeguards or those who patrol the beaches. They have a very difficult job in the hot sun keeping up with beach-goers and ensuring everyone’s safety. A smile and a kind word lets them know they are appreciated, and it might make someone’s day.

3.  Take Out What You Take In

Don’t leave trash on the beach! If you take snacks or drinks in disposable containers, make sure to discard them in appropriate receptacles. If trash cans are not provided on the beach, take your trash with you and dispose of it elsewhere.

4.  Obey Warning Signs

Beach days can be clouded with high or rough surf, making it difficult to swim and enjoy the water. Safety officials put out “no swimming” signs or warning flags for strong rip currents when this occurs. Do everyone a favor and obey the signs! If you’re not a good swimmer, be content to remain in shallow water where the waves wash up to the shore. You don’t want a preventable accident to ruin your vacation or put safety personnel at risk.

5.  Obey the Beach Rules

Many communities post signs at access points along the beach stating rules for using the public beach. Take a moment to read and familiarize yourself with the posted regulations. Following the rules will ensure you and your party, as well as safety personnel, have a fun day at the beach.

Summer break and vacations are something we look forward to all year long. Everyone works hard and deserves a chance to have the most relaxing and enjoyable visit to the beach, whether it’s for a day or week-long vacation. Being aware of others who share the beach with us will make a pleasant experience for all beach-goers, and help you make wonderful memories that last for years to come.

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What Color is Your Calendar? Time Management for Everyone

My Passion Planner

Organization has always been one of my most prominent skills. My husband says I’m one of the most organized people he’s ever known. I usually excel at organization when it comes to projects and decluttering our home or office. However, I struggle when it comes to time. Like a lot of folks, I struggle with time management. I get to the end of the day and wonder what happened to all of the time I was allotted. I don’t have a problem keeping scheduled appointments. It’s the rest of the day where I struggle.

As someone who focuses on etiquette, I had to ask myself if time management falls into the “etiquette” category. My answer was a resounding “yes!” Good manners are all about respect, and having control of our time shows we have respect for ourselves, our families, and all those with whom we interact on a regular basis. It shows that we are conscientious and living with purpose. I certainly want to possess these characteristics, but had to find a means to accomplish it.

I had tried every calendar system on the market and still nothing worked, until one day I stumbled across the Passion Planner online. (No, I’m not an affiliate. I just believe very strongly in this product!) I downloaded the sample and tried it for a few weeks before making a purchase. Now, I’m hooked.

I realized the element missing in all the other calendar systems I tried is inspiration! The Passion Planner has weekly motivational quotes and challenges, along with goal-setting and mapping pages. There is a space to record my daily focus, and “good things that happened” during each week. As an added bonus, the bottom of every weekly layout has a “Space of Infinite Possibility.” I love doodling in this space or recording meaningful quotes or comments I’ve heard during the week. At the end of each month is a two-page monthly reflection. It allows me to review the past month, remember significant events, and make notes about how to improve. It definitely helps me stay focused on my goals and track my progress.

So how does color fit my calendar? The outside is basic black, but the inside is a completely different world. I use highlighters to designate my appointments, activities, and work for the week. The color tells me how I spend my time and alerts me if I’m spending too much time in one area of my life. I implemented this system the end of 2016 and it has been a life saver! Non-essential things were taking up WAY too much of my time, while the essentials were suffering. I was quickly able to make the adjustment and now it serves as a reminder every week. It’s quite simple. Below is a list of the colors I use for each category of my life.

Yellow – Birthdays, Anniversaries, Holidays, & Personal Appointments, i.e. doctor, hair stylist

Pink – Dance classes & related events (I still teach every week!)

Green – Business appointments & work time

Blue –Volunteer work

Lavender – Errands

Orange – ME time (time I spend with family or on things just for myself)

When I look at my calendar, I want to see a balance of these colors. There will be weeks when one color is more prominent than others. Generally, it will be green! But if I have too much green, I know I need to take time for other things. My youngest dance students always talk about color in terms of rainbows. I want my calendar to be a rainbow of color. A variety of color on my calendar means I’m organized, and I’m showing proper respect for my time and the time of others. It brings a sense of peace, which in these busy days, is treasured!

How about you? What color is your calendar? What ways have you found to manage and balance your time so you get the most out of the life and time you’re given? Please share! I’d love to hear from you!

Please check out the Passion Planner too!  If you decide to use it, I’d love to hear about your experience!

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9 Etiquette Reminders for an Enjoyable Theatrical Performance

Attending a theatrical performance is a special experience. Whether it’s a Broadway production, symphony concert, a school play, or a child’s dance or music recital, it’s something to be anticipated and enjoyed. A production team puts in many long hours and a lot of hard work to stage a performance. If audience members keep in mind the rules of common courtesy for the performers as well as fellow audience members, everyone’s experience will be pleasant and enjoyable. Following are a few reminders as you prepare to attend your next theatrical performance.

  1. Arrive Promptly

    Actually, it’s much better if you arrive early. Late arrivals are not seated in many theaters. Make an effort to arrive at least 30-45 minutes prior to the start of the show to get your tickets, use the restroom, or socialize. Make sure you are in your seat before the performance begins.

  2. Do Not Speak During the Performance

    Applause and laughter at appropriate times is encouraging to the performers and quite acceptable. However, calling out to performers should be reserved for sporting events. In addition, please refrain from speaking to your neighbors. Discussion and comments about the performance should be withheld until you leave the theater. Chatting during the show is considered rude, and causes a distraction to fellow audience members and performers. If you must speak to someone during the performance, be careful to speak in whispers only.

  3. Turn Off All Electronic Devices

    Cell phones, pagers, alarm watches, and all other noisy electronic devices should be turned off prior to the performance. Ringing phones and buzzing devices are disruptive to the entire show. The light emitted from these devices is distracting to performers if spotted from the stage, and equally annoying to fellow audience members.

  4. Leave Your Camera at Home

    Copyright laws prohibit photographing or recording a live performance. In addition to being bothersome to those around you, your camera or recording device is likely to be illegal to bring into the venue. Besides, the clicking sound of a camera is irritating to your neighbors and the flash is dangerous to performers. Neither are part of the performance.

  5. Do Not Eat or Drink in the Theater

    Unlike a movie, in which the action continues in spite of what happens in the theater, live stage performers are distracted by noises coming from the audience. Crinkling snack wrappers and loud crunching are to be avoided at all times, but especially in a quiet theater. Food and beverages are generally not allowed at any time during a theatrical performance.  This includes chewing gum and candy.

  6. Keep Feet, Bags, and Patrons Out of the Aisles

    Some directors and choreographers use this space for entrances and exits as well as part of the action. It is not only very dangerous to block the aisles, it is also a violation of fire codes.

  7. Keep Your Feet Off the Seats

    Feet should remain on the floor at all times, not on the seats or balcony rails in front of you. Be respectful of the theater property by leaving your feet where they belong.

  8. Be Aware of Small Children When Choosing to Attend a Performance

    Before deciding to bring small children to the theater, please consider how attentive they will be to the performance. Make sure it is age-appropriate, and that the children will not be bored and fidgety during a long performance. If you choose to bring children to the theater, prepare them beforehand by telling them about theater manners. Explain that they should be quiet, sit still, and not disturb others around them. Have them use the restroom prior to the start of the show, and encourage them to wait until intermission before returning. If your children become restless, take them to the lobby.

  9. Remain in Your Seat Until the End of the Show

    The ‘end of the show’ means the end of curtain call when all the performers have taken their bows. If you find it necessary to leave for any reason before the show is over, please do so as quietly as possible and at an appropriate time, such as, when there is a break in the action. Should you leave the theater during a performance, be aware that you may not be permitted to return until an appropriate interval. It is extremely discourteous to the performers, the director, and production crew to head for an exit before the final curtain closes. Doing so suggests that their work and the performance is unappreciated.

If we follow these simple common courtesies, we can all enjoy the artistic excellence we encounter in live theater!

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I’m Wearing White Before Easter (Sorry, Nanny!)

My Grandmother, Elizabeth Owens

I grew up in the south where the rules of etiquette are second only to the Holy Bible. In some extreme cases, like my grandmother, who I called “Nanny,” I think they actually usurp the Bible! One such rule was that you never wear white before Easter or after Labor Day. I have a hard time believing that rule started in the south. Our temperatures often soar into the 80’s before Easter, and can continue long after the start of the fall season. I remember sweltering in darker colors and heavier fabrics because the date on the calendar dictated my wardrobe instead of the weather forecast. I’m sorry, Nanny, but your rule about wearing white is a bit outdated. Never fear, though; I’m holding fast to other rules you taught me that will never go out of style.

  1. Respect Your Parents

    Nanny made it a priority to teach her children and grandchildren the Bible at every opportunity. The first Bible verse she taught me was “Children obey your parents in all things, for this is pleasing to the Lord.” (Colossians 3:20) I can still quote it from memory even though I learned it when I was only 3 years old. I have to say it has been easy for me to have the utmost respect my parents. They are amazing people with big hearts and a love for life.

    All parents have a lot to share. Not only do they take care of our needs as we grow, but they are also treasure troves of wisdom. They have more life experience than we do and have a different perspective from which we can learn and become better. We may not always agree, but I respect their ideas, beliefs, and wisdom. If I listen, there is always a lesson to be learned. Nanny always said to pay close attention to the way someone treats his or her parents. From this, you learn how you will be treated by them as well.

  2. Be Present for Those Who Need You

    Nanny had a large family of seven brothers and one sister in addition to four children and six grandchildren of her own. All of them lived close by so it was never a surprise to see one or more of her siblings with their families at my grandparents’ house. The favored place to gather was Nanny’s kitchen. She was an accomplished cook having learned at a very young age to help her mother care for all of her younger brothers. Her meals were never fancy, but always tasty and filling. Her brothers often stopped by unannounced around lunch time. They knew there would be a good meal waiting, and they cherished the quality time with their beloved sister. She was always ready to talk, or listen, when they needed her. It was the same with her friends.

    Nanny believed it was important to be present for those who need you, not only because she was such a caring person, but also because you never know when you might be the one in need. It was her way of living out the “golden rule,” to treat others the way you want to be treated.

  3. Look at People When They Talk to You

    This one was hard for me. I was always comfortable with our large, extended family, but I had difficulties with strangers. I was extremely shy around people I didn’t know and kept my head down when they spoke to me. Nanny taught me “the eyes are the window to the soul.” She said that you learn a lot about people by looking in their eyes. Over the years, I have found this to be true. The eyes tell us things that are not spoken. The mouth sometimes tells us one thing, but the eyes may have an entirely different tale. Put away the phone, take your eyes off the computer screen, and learn to focus on the real person in front of you. You’ll learn so much more than you anticipated and you’ll build better relationships.

  4. Always Say Please and Thank You

    Nanny was never rich from a monetary standpoint, but she was always grateful for the things she had. Her biggest wealth came from the love she freely gave and received from others. According to her wisdom, saying “please” and “thank you” is a means of expressing our gratitude. I completely agree. It also shows our expectations. If we treat someone with respect and gratitude, they know that we expect to receive it in return. If we are rude, others will know it’s okay for them to be rude to us as well.

  5. Dress for the Occasion, But Always Modestly

    Once I became a teenager, my grandmother and I had many talks about wardrobe. Nanny was always fairly “youthful” in her clothing choices. I remember the way she rejected specific items because they looked “too old-lady-ish.” I had to laugh because at the time I thought she was ancient!

    Nanny talked a lot about the necessity of being modest in my clothing selections. We didn’t always agree on the definition of “modest” but I learned from her about dressing for every occasion. I learned to discover the expectations regarding wardrobe for each event I was attending. I learned the difference between casual, semi-formal, and formal. Definitions and terms have changed over the years, but we cannot err if we take time to discover what is expected, and always be modest in our choices. Nanny’s advice is just as relevant now as the day the words were spoken. If there is a question or a “gut feeling” that something may not be appropriate, find something else to wear!

Nanny passed away in May 2004. Her lessons have remained in my heart and I still learn from them all these years later. I remember to say “please” and “thank you” as my attitude of gratitude dictates. I still respect my parents, probably more now than ever before, and I have the confidence to look people in the eye when they speak to me. Most importantly, I’ve learned to be present with my family and those who need me. During this week before Easter, yes, I’m wearing white. I’m dressing for the weather, not the calendar. In spite of all her adherence to the rules, I think Nanny would approve!

What lessons have you learned from your grandparents that make a difference in your life today? I’d love to hear about it! Please share in the comments below.

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7 Business Card Etiquette Tips for a Professional Image

Networking is an important aspect of expanding the reach of your business. It allows entrepreneurs and professionals to connect and build relationships with others in the community and beyond. Part of the process is sharing business cards.  Knowing the etiquette of giving and receiving business cards can give you a much more successful networking experience. It can also enhance your professional image and give you an edge over the competition. Here are seven of my best business card etiquette tips.

  1. Never present a soiled or bent card to a potential client or business contact. Always keep your business cards in a nice, hard-side case. If your case gets scratched or begins to show signs of wear, replace it immediately.
  2. Handle others’ business cards with care. When accepting someone’s card, place it in your own card case, a wallet, or breast pocket so it is protected. Take just as much care with someone else’s card as you do with your own.
  3. Take a moment to look briefly at someone’s card before putting it away. This shows your interest in the individual and his or her business. You may wish to make a polite comment about the card or its design, showing you have given it proper attention.
  4. Do not write on someone’s business card in his or her presence. You may jot a note on the card to help you remember something specific about the giver after you have separated or when alone.
  5. In a large group, do not distribute cards randomly. Doing so devalues your card (and you). It gives others the impression you lack focus or are trying to sell something. Instead, wait to be asked for your card.  If your time is short, you may politely ask, “May I give you my business card?”
  6. When presenting your business card to someone, use your right hand. Always present it with the lettering facing up and towards the recipient. Many cards have information printed on both sides, which is an excellent way to maximize the impact. If this is the case, present the side with your main contact information.
  7. Always ask before taking a business card from someone’s desk. A desk is considered personal space and should not be encroached without permission. No one will refuse your request, but asking first shows respect for the individual and lets them know you value his or her card.

In life and in business, it’s the “little things” that make the biggest differences. Business card etiquette is one of those “little things” that very few people even consider. Pay attention to these seven tips and notice the difference it makes in your relationships. I would like very much to hear your thoughts and your experiences with business cards. If you have something to share, please leave a comment below.

Click to download a FREE pdf of my best business card etiquette tips.  I hope this serves you.

7 Business Card Etiquette Tips

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The Worth of a Smile

I grew up with the song “You’re Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile” running through my head on a regular basis. Once I was grown and had my own dance teaching business, I looked forward to the day I could use it as a performance dance for some adorable children. To this day, it remains a favorite and one whose words I truly believe. My dance students know they never come to “Miss Kim’s” class without their smiles.

Over the years I’ve watched people’s reactions when I smile and greet them with a genuine “good morning,” or “hello.”  Most of the time, my smile is returned and often it comes with a pleasant greeting from the recipient. I suppose I’ve become accustomed to this reaction.  It only makes an impression upon me now when I receive a negative response, which is actually quite rare. On a recent trip to New York City, however, I was completely taken back by the reactions I encountered. I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised, but I was.

As we toured the city going from place to place on foot, or by taxi, it happened over and over. When I spoke pleasantly to cab drivers, valets, store clerks, and other service personnel, their faces visibly changed. Most began with expressions that were reserved, and some were even almost stoic. A kind word and a smile caused their faces to soften and their eyes to shine. My smiles were always returned, and voices relaxed as they wished us “good morning,” “good evening,” or “thank you.”

In a bustling city like New York, or any other for that matter, we are often so focused on the places we’re going and the things we have to do that we “forget” to acknowledge others we encounter in the process. We’re all guilty of it, myself included. I’ve learned, though, that a smile has tremendous value and it costs absolutely nothing. When we greet others with a warm smile, we create a bond with them if only for a brief moment. We tell them they are valuable and make them feel as if someone truly cares. One of my favorite quotes from Maya Angelou says, “People will forget what you say, they will forget what you do, but they will always remember how you make them feel.”

Relationships are built on how others feel in our presence. In life and in business, relationships make or break us. A smile and a kind word are worth more than the best advertising campaign, and more than the most expensive gift you can purchase. A smile is one of the best investments we can make.

As you go about your life and business this week, be aware of those around you. Take a moment to offer a smile and truly focus on the response you receive. I’d love to hear about your experiences.

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Where Have All the Christmas Cards Gone?

By this time next week, Christmas will be a memory … hopefully, a beautiful one, but a memory nonetheless. I admit to being incredibly lax this year about shopping, decorating, and just getting into the “spirit” of the holiday. I must not be the only one though. My mailbox has a noticeable absence of Christmas cards every day. Usually, we receive quite a few from friends and family all over the country, some with simple greetings and others with long letters telling tales of the year. This year, however, the greetings have been slow to arrive … if they show up at all.

It’s sad, really. There are friends with whom we keep in contact via social media, and I’m very thankful for it. But, there’s nothing like a hand addressed, personalized Christmas card from someone you care about. It’s a way of expressing love, appreciation, and gratitude at this special time of the year. I have a tendency to save Christmas cards for months and look through them again and again as I remember each person or family who has sent it. They’re all very sentimental to me and serve as a reminder that someone thought of us. What could be more special?

If, like me, you’ve been slow to get things done for the holidays this year, take heart! You still have a few more days and it’s not too late to send Christmas cards to those you care about. At this late date, it may be difficult to find the “perfect” cards, but let’s look at a few things to consider when searching for holiday greeting cards.

1 – Consider your message. What do you want to express in the greeting you send? The pre-printed message on the card should match your personality and values.

2 – Consider the recipient. Think about the person to whom the card is being sent. What would they most like to see or hear from you? Is it best to send a generic greeting, or something much more personal? You wouldn’t necessarily send the same message to everyone.

3 – Personalize the card. Even if the card has a nice printed message, spend a few moments making the card more personal. Add a handwritten greeting such as “I hope you’re doing well,” “I hope to see you again soon,” or something to let the person know you are thinking of him or her.

4 – Hand address the envelope. Printed labels certainly make it easier to address holiday cards, but they don’t have the same effect as handwritten ones. If you wish to save time, pre-print your return address labels or have the envelopes pre-printed with your return address. It’s always nicer to receive a hand-addressed Christmas card!

5 – Use holiday stamps for mailing. This is absolutely not necessary, but it’s a nice touch. It creates a pretty presentation when the card is received. Holiday stickers or other embellishments for the envelopes are also nice, but not necessary. You don’t want to break the bank by purchasing all the extras, but if you have the time and budget, the extra effort will certainly be noticed.

What to do with cards that are received

Some people are amazingly creative with the holiday cards they receive. They make wreaths of them, put them in scrapbooks, or display them around the house as additional decorations. Some Christmas cards are saved in boxes and some are simply thrown away after Christmas. One of my favorites comes from a pastor and his family. This particular family has a tradition of saving their holiday cards in a special box. Every evening when they have their family dinner, one card is selected at random and the one who sent the card receives a special prayer at the family table. What a beautiful way to honor and remember the kindness of the sender!

Whatever you choose to do with the cards you receive, take time to remember the sender. Send him or her a card as well, or follow up with a phone call, or message letting them know you appreciate their thoughts this holiday season. This Christmas, take time to send a card to those that matter in your own life. The bonds you strengthen will have lasting impact.

Now … it’s time to go finish my own Christmas cards, before the holiday is over!

Merry Christmas, Everyone!

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12 Shopping Etiquette Tips for a Less-Frenzied Holiday

shopping-bagsIt’s the time of year when good tidings and great joy are in abundance … unless you happen to be in a shopping mall, or trying to maneuver a parking deck to find a space, or in a long check-out line. The yin and yang of the holiday season never ceases to amaze me. On one hand we talk about peace and joy. On the other we seem to always be in a hurry to get from Point A to Point B doing our holiday shopping, or rushing to a party or holiday event. Even the day after Christmas has become harried with retail sales on everything you didn’t get for the big day.

I’ve managed to avoid much of the holiday rush the past few years and I enjoy the time I get to spend at home instead of in a crowd of rude shoppers. If you must be out and about, being mindful of shopping etiquette will make the experience less frenzied for everyone involved.

  1. Put on a smile when you go out! Christmas should be a cheerful time, so be an example of cheerfulness by greeting others with a smile.
  2. Wear comfortable clothes and shoes. You will likely be walking a long distance and shoes with good support will be a necessity. We tend to get irritable when our physical comfort is compromised, so go prepared. Forget fashion trends and aim for what’s comfortable. I’m not suggesting we go out in our pj’s, but make sure you can withstand a full day of shopping in whatever you choose to wear.
  3. If at all possible, leave small children at home. They get tired and bored of the excursion easily if there is nothing to keep them entertained.
  4. Be prepared for long lines and have a huge dose of patience in reserve. Keep in mind that cashiers can only help one shopper at a time.
  5. Use “please” and “thank you” often when dealing with store associates. They have an especially difficult job during the holidays and are often required to work extra hours. Being kind to them will show your appreciation and help make their days a little brighter while they are serving you and other customers.
  6. Be considerate of others standing behind you in line by having your payment readily available so you don’t delay the check-out process.
  7. Do not carry on a cell phone conversation in a crowd or while interacting with a sales associate. If you must answer your cell phone, step outside or away from the crowd.
  8. Try to avoid texting in a crowd as well. With your attention focused on your cell phone, you are not always aware of those around you. You could easily run into other shoppers or store displays.
  9. Remember to say “excuse me” or “I’m so sorry” if you accidentally bump into someone. He or she will be much more likely to forgive and forget if speak with genuine regret for the accident.
  10. If using an elevator, allow riders to exit before you enter. On an escalator, stay in line and don’t try to push past other shoppers and walk the stairs instead of riding, as it was intended.
  11. Hold the door for others entering or exiting the building at the same time you are. This pleasant gesture adds a measure of joy to someone’s day.
  12. Consider shopping online! Technology has made it easy to sit on the sofa at home in our pj’s with a warm cup of our favorite beverage while we do all of our holiday shopping. Take advantage of it at every opportunity and avoid the crowds altogether.

I’d love to hear about your holiday shopping adventures, especially if you’ve encountered someone who characterized the true spirit of the holidays. Please share in the comments below. And, happy shopping!

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Bringing Back the Thank-You Note for Gift-Giving Season

thank-you-note-pictureThe last few days have been spent counting our blessings as we gathered with family and friends to share the Thanksgiving holiday. I’m sure you all, like me, have more blessings than you can possibly count. It’s nice to have a day set aside for giving thanks, but we have more joy when we live daily with an attitude of gratitude. How often do we take the time to during the year to express our appreciation to those who have been there for us in good times and bad? Verbal and emailed thanks are okay, but there’s nothing that surpasses the value of a handwritten thank-you note.

Sending a handwritten note of thanks certainly takes more time and effort than an email or a text.  As a result, it is often put off or neglected entirely. The questions one may ask are “Are thank-you notes really necessary or even relevant today?” or “Isn’t it enough to express appreciation through an email or text?” The answer, of course, is that the value of a hand-written thank-you note is more than just the tradition it represents.

It only takes a few minutes to pen words of gratitude to someone who has given you a gift, whether for a birthday, anniversary, holiday, or just because they care. Anytime you are given a gift, the presenter has given up his or her resources for you. If you think about it, you will realize that the giver hasn’t given only the gift. It takes time to shop, select a gift, wrap, and deliver it to the recipient. The time and money spent on the gift could have been devoted to the giver’s own purposes, but he or she chose to honor you instead. A hand-written note showing our sincere gratitude is the very least we can do.

Gift-giving is not the only appropriate time to send a thank-you note. It’s always a good idea to send a note of thanks following a job interview, when someone has given time and energy to help you with a task or project, or when you’ve made a new friend or business contact. It doesn’t even need to be in response to a specific gift or act of kindness. It’s perfectly acceptable to send a note of thanks to someone anytime you feel a sense of gratitude. Believe me when I say it will be appreciated. The truth is, there is rarely a time when a thank-you note is inappropriate.

So, how does one go about writing an effective thank-you note? The most important thing is, of course, to write from your heart of gratitude, but here are a few guidelines:

1 – Hand-write the Note

There’s just something special about receiving a hand-written note in the mail. It means you took time and care to truly express appreciation for the gift or deed.  This has the great benefit of warming the heart and strengthening the bond with the writer.

2 – Address the Note Carefully

Use the appropriate salutation. Start with “Dear” and follow with the name that you would normally call the person. If it’s a friend or family member, use his or her first name or nickname.  If the recipient is an acquaintance or someone you don’t know well, use Mr., Mrs., Dr., etc. followed by the last name.

3 – Create the Body of the Note

  1. It’s always appropriate to start your note with “Thank you for …” and describe the gift you’ve been given.
  2. Continue with how much you appreciate the gift by telling the giver what you like about it or how you plan to use it.
  3. Conclude your note with any other comments regarding the gift or your relationship with the giver, i.e. mention that you hope to see them again soon.

4 – Sign the Note

End the note with a friendly signature. It’s always appropriate to thank the giver again and sign your name. You can use other signatures such as “Sincerely,” “Fondly,” or “Best Wishes.”

As we enter this season of gift-giving, keep in mind that five minutes and forty-seven cents is a small price to pay to express our gratitude and bring back this nearly extinct custom of a handwritten thank-you note. The value is immeasurable.

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Trick-or-Treat Etiquette Everyone Can Use


Next week little ghosts and goblins will be roaming the streets in search of the most amazing treats they can gather. Halloween can be such a fun time for kids, but also for parents and other adults, as long as it’s celebrated safely and politely. Before you go out Trick-or-Treating, I’d like to share a few reminders of Halloween etiquette that will make the night fun for everyone.


  • If a homeowner asks you a question or tries to engage you in conversation, speak clearly & politely.
  • Always say “thank you” when given a treat, even if it’s not your favorite.
  • If the homeowner offers to let you choose your own treat, only take ONE!
  • Ring the doorbell or knock only once. If no one answers, move on to the next house.
  • Do NOT go to homes where the lights are off. By leaving off the outdoor lights, homeowners are letting you know they do not wish to participate in Halloween activities. Respect their wishes.
  • Respect other people’s property by using driveways, walkways, & stepping stones, & not touching any outdoor decorations.
  • Listen & follow directions given by your parents or group leader, & stay with your group.
  • Use sidewalks if available & stay off the street. Watch carefully for cars & give them plenty of room to pass.


  • If you plan to distribute treats, leave your lights on & make your home easily accessible. Remove trip hazards from steps, walkways, & porches.
  • When you’re out of candy, or tired of the festivities, turn off the lights.
  • Don’t leave a bowl of candy by the door if you’re going out. Non trick-or-treaters or animals may get into it.
  • Bring your pets indoors for the night. A large number of strangers can cause stress for your pets, & some children are afraid of unfamiliar animals.
  • Be prepared for children who have special needs if possible. It’s not always possible to accommodate everyone with allergies or sensitivities, but you may wish to have something on hand just in case it’s requested.


  • Have a designated amount of time allotted for Halloween activities & stick with it.
  • Have a designated route or select specific neighborhoods in which to Trick-or-Treat.
  • Be respectful of those who have not turned on their outdoor lights. Leave them to enjoy the evening as they please. Keep your children from being too noisy in their excitement.
  • Carry a flashlight and/or wear reflective clothing so neighbors & cars can easily see you & your children.
  • Make sure you know Trick-or-Treat guidelines, if any, established by your town or municipality & abide by them.
  • Regulate the amount of candy your children consume on Halloween night & the following days. Your child’s school teachers & other care-givers will thank you!
  • Remember that your children follow your lead. Be a good example of respectful Halloween fun!

You can request a FREE pdf of Trick-or-Treat Etiquette to share with friends by entering your email address on the Contact page.  Be sure to put Trick-or-Treat Etiquette in the Subject line.  Enjoy the day!

To receive more information about Civility Nation’s Etiquette Training programs, click here to contact me. I look forward to serving you.

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