Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Updated: The Gift You Keep Giving By Yvonne

Just over a month ago, I was at a friend's home for a brunch celebrating my birthday along with two other friends. At a certain point, I saw something very familiar on the table.  A gift I'd given to her more than a year ago! It was soap in a beautifully designed box I chose specifically because her bedroom has the same colors.

We don't like re-gifting. We think it's rude and inconsiderate and takes the thoughtfulness out of giving. People, at least we do, take great care in choosing gifts, it's not about the cost, it's about the sentiment. Many look at a present as something to cherish, re-gifters look at presents as mere stuff. It wasn't good enough for them so it's good enough to give it to someone else. Has anyone ever re-gifted Hermes scarves or Chanel bag? Please let us know.

Re-gifting can be hurtful. Once, I gave a friend a beautiful music box that played her favorite song. I was so happy when I found it and didn't care that it was more than what I had planned to spend. She gave it to someone else and had no problems telling me. It gets me to start thinking if we really know our friends. Or if they're friends at all.

If someone gives you something you really don't want or need, ask if it's all right for you to return it. Or if there's a gift receipt, return it to the store and get something else and let them know how thankful you were for the gift and you were able to get something you really needed.

Before you go shopping for others in your closets, cabinets and dresser drawers, think about it and think about something outside the gift box that didn't come from another gift box.

Thursday, November 20, 2014


And we're off and running. The holiday season kicks off next week with Thanksgiving. Some of us will spend the most time we've ever spent all year round in our kitchens basting, chopping, stirring and hoping that it all turns out well. We thought we'd whip up some dos and don'ts for both hosts and guests.

For hosts...
  • Do be honest, if a guest asks what should they bring, tell them. Nothing worse than seeing your supply of wine and champagne dwindle, sparkling cider just isn't the same.
  • Be ready to receive guests, they shouldn't see you sweating over the bird. Don't make them feel compelled to help out with the dinner - they came to eat, not prepare.
  • Try not to give a blow by blow of the dinner's preparation. e.g. "I made the stuffing at midnight! I got up at the crack of dawn to boil the sweet potatoes." There is an excellent book, Timing Is Everything by Jack Piccolo.
  • Speaking of timing, if you've asked guests to come at five o'clock don't make them wait until seven o'clock to eat.
  • Do plan a balanced, well rounded menu. You want your guests to have enough food, but ten different things to eat could turn into a mishmosh of mismatched flavors and actually begin to look like mush on a plate.
  • Let guests eat in peace. No need to keep asking them if they need anything.
  • Be gracious when your cooking is complimented. No one will know you left out the thyme unless you tell them.
  • If you discover that someone is a vegan, don't make a big deal out of it. They'll know to skip the macaroni and cheese.
  • When it's time to clear the table, try not to enlist the help of every guest at the table. And don't disappear into the kitchen to wash the dishes. This looks like you're trying to get a leg up on things. That's rude. (If you have a small kitchen, loading the dishwasher is okay but don't run it.)
  • Toast your guests, thank them for being part of the day.
  • Try not to yawn in front of your company. This may look like you're bored or sleepy.

For guests...
  • Don't be late. There is no excuse.
  • Even if your hosts said they don't need anything, take a bottle of something or a small gift.
  • If you've offered to bring a dessert, bring dessert not a platter of deviled eggs as a surprise.
  • We like flowers but if you're being hosted by someone who's doing all the work, consider an arrangement so that they won't have to stop and tend to the flowers.
  • Offer to help but don't barge into the kitchen and start doing things.
  • Don't just grab a seat at the table, your host may have a seating plan.
  • Before the meal, wash your hands without making a general announcement.
  • Turn off your cellphone.
  • Don't talk about how much you love dressing with oysters when there is no oyster dressing on the table.
  • Let your host know in advance if you have dietary restrictions. Don't talk about your diet and how you're being a bad girl as you butter your second roll.
  • Dress appropriately, not every day is a jeans day.
  • If you have a lonely friend with no place to go, don't invite them along hoping that your host will understand. Your friend will only feel lonelier when there's no seat for him/her at the table.
  • Give thanks and toast your hosts.

Sunday, November 9, 2014


It’s Galas Galore season.  We get all gussied up to see people honored, institutions celebrated while eating pricey plates of food. But there’s a bonus to this – in every gala dinner there’s a built in way to help you shed a few pounds just in time for you to put them back on for Christmas.

I suspect with all the issues in Washington DC between Democrats and Republicans maybe sitting in between the two will work to your advantage. Or maybe not since everyone is promising to talk to everyone.

It’s very easy.  Just sit in between people who like each other a lot and don’t know you very well.  They’ll probably throw you a question every now and then but mostly they want to catch up on old times that you had nothing to do with.

As they talk over your food they are unwittingly spraying spit onto your plate. Heavy drinkers are the worst. I have tried to place my hands over the plate as if I’m about say some kind of prayer but at a certain point, I’ve had to pick up my knife and fork.

You really can’t say anything. Maybe you can set an example by leaning back in your chair and talking to the person to their left or right and perhaps they’ll get the hint. Manage your expectations and have a bite before leaving home.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014



 Oftentimes, people have the need to assume who’s who in the family when they meet people they don't know.  A common faux pas is when an older man is with a younger woman and someone asks, “Is this your daughter?”  

That's me on the left, and my daughter on the right.

The other night I was at a Knicks game with my twin, Yvette (Did you see us on the Jumbotron?).  We had pretty good seats, two men in front asked if we wanted to swap seats so they can sit closer to their friends next to us.

They helped Yvette climb over to a seat. And then one said, “We’ll help your mother, don’t worry.”  I would be the mother. Yvette told him I was her sister. He said I must be someone’s mom. I told him, “I’m barren.”

Maybe this wasn’t the most elegant response. But the lesson here is don’t assume that when you meet people they’re related. You’ll find out when proper introductions are made, be patient. It’s not a guessing game. No need to grow family trees.

Listen to me, mother knows best.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014


A friend suggested that I should talk about people with manners for a change. He’s right.

  •   Today, a woman stopped texting just in time to avoid crashing into me
  •   “Watch out for the people,” a parent yelled as her kid sped down the street on his scooter.
  •   A man held a door for me.
  •    A woman put her toddler on her lap so that an older person could sit.
  •   A teenager offered me his seat on a train.
  •    I received a handwritten thank you note from a newlywed couple.
  •    A recruiter returned an email.
  •    Another recruiter returned a phone call!
  •    A perfect stranger paid me a compliment.
Have you seen any good manners? Please share, we can never have to many. Thanks!