You never get a second chance to make a first impression.

Archive -‘Blog’


A moose did what??!  No, not a moose…”ahmoose boosh” is the pronunciation for this delectable miniature treat that is offered by the chef as a gift to the dining guests.  It can be served during the cocktail hour, just before the dinner begins, or even at the end of the meal in the form of a sweet display of culinary excellence.

Amuse-Bouche can be anything from a very simple display of a single item with a complementing garnish or it can be an elaborate showcase of talent featuring several items, colorful sauce drizzles, and topped with an elegant and interesting edible prop.

Here are a few tips on the etiquette of Amuse-Bouche:

  1. Amuse-Bouche is a French term that literally translates to “amuse mouth” and is figuratively translated as “entertaining the palate” or again, special miniature culinary specialty to express the chef’s talent and gratitude.
  2. Since the Amuse-Bouche is “complimentary”, it is never appropriate to ask for it.  Just because you have had it before, or somewhere else, doesn’t mean you should expect it.
  3. Amuse-Bouche may be eaten with a fork, spoon, your fingers, or a specialty miniature server spoon on which it may be presented.
  4. If a utensil is needed for the Amuse-Bouche, it will be provided.  If one is not provided, it will be considered a “finger food”.
  5. Some Amuse-Bouche may leave a saucy residue on your fingers despite being a finger food.  Simply use your napkin accordingly.
  6. You may also be offered a “finger bowl” after the Amuse-Bouche and that is a whole other post but for now,  simply dip your fingertips (one hand at a time) in the bowl and raise your napkin to the edge of the table, lowering your fingers to the napkin to dry them.

One of our local restaurants here in San Diego, more specifically, Rancho Santa Fe, is the fabulous Mille Fleurs where Chef Martin often sends out a lovely and delicious Amuse-Bouche.  If you can’t make it to Mille Fleurs, I hope you have the opportunity to enjoy a fine-dining experience complete with Amuse-Bouche, Finger Bowl, and a beautiful wine pairing to your courses.

Bon appetit!




 Photo Credit: Wilson Creek Winery Tasting Room

I live very near the Temecula Valley Wine Country which boasts 35-40 fabulous wineries with casual to elegant tasting rooms, restaurants, wedding venues, and beautiful inns.  Most of the business events and fundraisers I attend are held at many of these.  Just yesterday, I was at South Coast Winery for the Annual Women In Business Conference and from there, stopped by my friends Bill and Jenifer Wilson’s beautiful venue at Wilson Creek Winery – world famous for their Almond Champagne. (Check out their new Peach Bellini and Sangria sparkling wine too! Wow)  I brought this subject up with Brie, a delightful wine room server with whom I had the pleasure to speak and share the topic of tipping.  She was a gracious young lady who seemed to thoroughly enjoy her job as well as a keen interest in her own professional development in the hospitality industry.  I liked that….and so I began to chat about some people tip and some people don’t…and some people are just unaware of whether or not they should.

This seems to be a controversial topic but I have no idea why.  There are many who say that tasting room servers are there to educate you and that it’s not a bar and that you pay for the tasting and that you often buy the wine, etc. etc.  But I don’t see how these things effect the standard we have always had in America when it comes to “tipping for service”.  I always tip at a wine tasting; sometimes I’m not even tasting, I’m actually ordering a particular favored wine of which I’m already aware of  it’s notes, bouquet, vintage, etc. Should that change anything? I’m still being served.

Now I’m not saying that tipping is “mandatory” in a wine room…but then tipping isn’t really mandatory anywhere for that matter.  It’s not like you’ll go to jail for not tipping! You will often see tip jars behind the servers.  They are not blatantly sitting on the actual wine bar because a) that would take up patron space, and b) that would be tacky – it’s not considered “counter service” after all.

There ARE wineries that may prohibit the accepting of tips – for whatever reason – perhaps they don’t want anyone to feel compelled to follow the lead of another; or maybe they pay their staff handsomely enough to offset a lack of tipping.  If an employee is absolutely forbidden to accept a tip, they will surely tell you (if they want to keep their job) with hopefully, gratitude and grace, that they are not allowed to accept tips.

However, it is rare to find a person who provides a service, particularly in the food and beverage industry, that does not appreciate a tip for good service.

As Magnolia Etiquette continues to promote our tag line to “Raise Your Standard”, I am suggesting that when you visit the wine valleys and regions in the US, you simply consider the option to express your gratitude under the following circumstances:

  1. Your server spent ample time educating you on either the varietal, each tasting in the flight, history of the vineyard, upcoming events, gift shop goodies, or any combination of informative tidbits.
  2. Your server enjoyed friendly banter with you throughout your tasting experience, regardless of how busy they were  moving from station to station to assist all at the tasting bar.
  3. Your server clued you in on a fabulous “off the list” tasting, private selection, or barrel room tasting.
  4. Your server simply made every effort to make sure your experience was delightful.
  5. You were given COMPLIMENTARY tasting tickets from someone, anyone, the owner/manager, etc.
  6. You have brought in a large group that is under time constraints, excited about their wedding, and “rushing” the server – yes…they appreciate a large group buying tastings and/or wine…but again, a small expression of gratitude is greatly appreciated by the servers.

So….how much to tip?  Well, I use the same rule as I do when at a bar. $1/full drink (not $1/1 oz. tasting – so, if I have a “flight” of tastings that equals to about one glass of wine, I tip at least $1, sometimes $2 – again, depends on how great my experience with the server has been. If I’ve received COMPLIMENTARY tasting tickets, I usually tip $5, particularly if I’ve had a tasting flight, and then ordered a glass of something favored.  I mean, let’s face it, you didn’t pay $10-15 for the tasting ticket right?

I’m not saying everyone should do what I do, but I am saying that any expression of gratitude for good service will be appreciated – whether financial or verbal. 🙂

Enjoy your next wine-tasting adventure!


Jonnie Fox Flanagan

sharing food
Well, let’s start with the fact that when at home, while I like the rules to be the same, the fact is, we are in a much more familiar and comfortable situation and for many, almost anything goes.  I would recommend still using the best of table manners when there is an interest in sharing – and that would be the same as when out to dinner.
Sharing has become quite the norm in many restaurants; people enjoy sampling a bite or so of a unique dish and many fine restaurants like Ruth’s Chris Steak House or Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse  will actually encourage the guests to buy 2-3 “sides for sharing”.  However, when it comes to sharing one’s steak with one who may have lobster, etc. or some of one’s personal appetizer…it is important to be discreet and sanitary.
That means….if the common question arises “would you like to share a bite of each other’s entree?”, (rather than one simply asking for part of yours without offering to share their own); then it is imperative that one uses one’s own utensils to lift from the other person’s plate and place on their own plate.
“Cutting” can be challenging because one must use their own fork and knife to cut a piece of meat…and that is not necessarily sanitary; however, if you are sharing with a relative or spouse, often times this is overlooked as a “problem” but I wouldn’t recommend it between associates, friends, etc.
In the image of this post, it would be inappropriate to pass one’s sushi using one’s chopsticks from the end in which they eat. To share this food, use the opposite ends of the chopsticks (the ends that do not go in your mouth) to pass the food.
Better to just share sides and appetizers that can be lifted with one’s own utensils.

color guard








As you head out to enjoy your various activities today, I thought I would re-vitalize an old post on general “parade etiquette” for those who may be attending such ceremonial events on this 237th anniversary of our country.


  • Our American Flag:  While everyone may have been raised differently and told different rules regarding how we show respect for our American flag, any measure of respect is certainly better than none.  More often than not, when the Color Guard begins the parade, I rarely see anyone saluting the flag or removing their hat.  That being said, no one expects you to do so every time a band comes marching through.  It should be apparent that the first sighting of the American flag in the parade, respect should be shown in the form of  either your hand over your heart or saluting the flag as it passes….and ALWAYS remove your hat – men and women.  Many have paid a dear price in the name of the American flag and you can be sure, every veteran on that parade route is watching…and hurting….by the lack of respect shown for the sacrifices he/she made.


  • View Blocking:  Everyone wants to see the parade; unfortunately, everyone can’t have the front row.  Early settlers claim their spots, sometimes with chairs or just blankets on which to sit or stand.  The problem comes in when small children are behind all the big people (even those with children of their own).  Try to be considerate of the excitement a child has in seeing the bands, floats and firetrucks.  On occasion, scoot aside and offer the child a chance to grab a peek in front of you…after all, etiquette is about consideration and gracious moments.


  • Reserving Space:  As mentioned earlier, many will arrive as early as possible to claim their spot but keep in mind, the street and sidewalk are public property and available to all.  No one has a “right” to a spot if they leave to go get beer.  If you vacate your spot, it is not “reserved” so unless you have other family members with you to occupy it for you, don’t expect it to be available upon your return.


  • Speaking of Beer:  Where I grew up, I have to admit, alcohol was a HUGE part of parade fun.  Of course, New Orleans is quite different from any other place in the world. Most states have laws prohibiting alcohol, depending on the city ordinances and liability issues.  Then again, many events will allow drinking out of plastic containers.  The point is….while social drinking and sharing fun times with friends at an event is commonplace, it is imperative to remember that there are children all around.  Know your limit.  Nothing is more crass than a loud, sloppy drunk screaming profanities at the marching band because he doesn’t like the piece they’re playing.  Such behavior can turn ugly….when Daddy’s little girl is asking what the “F” word means.


  • Ouch! That’s My Hand You’re Smashing!:  Again, in the Big Easy, you WILL get your hands and feet stomped on, smashed, broken and bruised.  ”Dem doubloons  is like gold to da cajun folk and you will get hurt trying to claim your prize”!  Around the rest of the world, most parades don’t “throw things” out to the crowds, but some do.  For instance, in New Orleans at the St. Patrick’s Day parade, you can expect to catch cabbages and potatoes hurling through the air, green beads, doubloons (these are little metal coins with the name of the parade embossed on them and some are actually collectibles).  If you’re at a parade where candy, nik-naks, etc. are being thrown to the crowds, don’t stomp your foot on the item to claim it, lest you crush someone’s hand that was going for it at the same time.  It’s first to the product that gets it so back off and acquiesce.


  • Blocking Businesses and Driveways:  Yes, it’s hard to find  a parking spot for a big fun parade but blocking someone’s business or a resident’s driveway is absolutely unacceptable.  Just because they live or work on the parade route does not give you free reign to park and run.  Sometimes, if it’s worth it to you, offering payment for such a privilege is an option.  One never knows if the owner is interested in the premium dollar just to have a car sitting for a few hours.  If you find yourself in such desperate need, and the owner is outside, politely approach and ask with a smile and good nature if their “space” is for rent.  The worst they can say is no.  Never disturb the resident or business owner by knocking on their door or interrupting their business for such a measure.


  • Backpacks:  If you’re traveling with a backpack, and it’s a good idea since you’ll not want to leave your spot if you can help it, try to keep it in front of you and lowered rather than slung on your back; chances are someone behind you will be getting bumped and swiped by your big wad of canvas every time you move.  Again….consideration is key.


  • Litter:  It should go without saying that leaving your litter behind is just plain rude and disrespectful of the very public property to which you’ve been given the opportunity to enjoy such events.  Clean up your mess. …and teach your children the same.










These tips may seem very obvious to most of us, but how many times have you been the guest in an audience at either a social or business event and struggled to hear what the speaker was saying?  I know I have.  Often.  I’m not sure why anyone would continue holding a conversation with others once a speaker has been introduced.  Usually this happens when the speaker is only going to be making a few remarks, like welcoming the guests to the event, expressing some edicts that may be necessary, or honoring certain special guests in the audience.

Perhaps it is because it is expected that it will be a “brief speech”, some guests feel no need to pay attention.  Usually, when there is a keynote or somene sharing for thirty to ninety minutes; they seem to have our undivided attention – because more than likely, we are learning something and find the content important.  However, it does not matter for how long the speaker will speak or what the content of the speech is; respect should be shown regardless.

Here are five easy ways that we can show respect to any speaker:

  1. Actively listen– Your conversation at a mixer, seminar, fundraiser, reception is an important social tool and one in which is necessary for a pleasant and successful event.  However, the minute someone picks up a microphone (or heaven forbid – strikes a glass multiple times) to make an announcement, you should graciously discontinue speaking.  It’s as easy as saying “Oh, hold that thought, let’s listen to the speaker.”  Active listening requires focus on, and eye contact with, the speaker. 
  2. Show interest – Nodding in approval (or disapproval depending on the subject matter), applauding at certain key points, and even “oooohing and aaaaahing” over certain remarks, demonstrations, or exhibits is all a way of showing the speaker that you are engaged with his/her content.  Depending on the energy or style of the event, it’s perfectly fine to interject a humorous comment…if the speaker seems to be welcoming a more interactive speech.  That is not to say one should “heckle” and continually interrupt the speaker; but the occasional comment, question, or laughable moment in a casual environment, is usually well-received by the speaker, particularly if it motivates the crowd or encourages them to listen.
  3. Stop eating and drinking – Again, if it is a brief speech during a cocktail hour or mixer reception, refraining from chewing, clanking ice in a glass or utensils on the plate isn’t going to cause you to starve to death.  It is very distracting to the speaker (unless of course it is a “dinner speaker”) to speak to a sea of chewing mouths or compete with people walking to the buffet or the trash can to discard their plate/napkin etc.
  4. Remember to applaud –  as soon as the speaker has closed their speech, either by announcing so, or by answering the last question asked.  Don’t let the “uncomfortable silence” take place in that first few seconds.  Take the lead and start the applause to encourage others who may be unsure if or when they should applaud.
  5. Thank the speaker – Take a few minutes to go up to the emcee or speaker/s and thank them for their contribution to the event.  Even if it’s basic announcements, a simple “I enjoyed listening to you, thank you for the nice introductions of key members.”, or “Thank you for sharing your thoughts on the community today.  I was very moved by your comment on…..”

If everyone in the audience applied these simple tips for showing respect, the experience would be more enjoyable for all in attendance.  I hope the next time you attend an event, these suggestions come to mind and you perhaps put yourself in the “speaker’s shoes” to see if you would like the same from your audience.

Very graciously,




Since I am being contacted to share specific posts from other weblogs, such as this one from, I am happy to re-post the below article in the interest of my readers.  I hope you enjoy it and are looking forward to a fun-filled summer!

“As summer approaches, the party invites will begin to appear. The first major celebration of the season is generally an Independence Day bash, and you want to make sure you show up with an appropriate gift for the hostess. Finding a great gift doesn’t have to be a chore, though. Consider who your hostess is, and the things she likes or things in which she is interested. If you know your hostess fairly well, you will probably be able to decide on a gift she would enjoy without much fuss. No matter who your hostess is, though, there are some gifts that are sure to be appreciated.”

patriotic hostess gift

  1. Gift Basket – Remember the fun things you played with as a child on the 4th of July? Fill a basket with sparklers, firecrackers, noise makers and other fun things of past Independence Day celebrations. You may also want to assemble a basket filled with snack items, or wine and high-end beers if your hostess occasionally imbibes. If you decide to create one yourself, think about using patriotic colors and items that are red, white and blue.
  2. Spices and Marinades – Consider an array of unique spices that would beef up a barbecue. There are many types of sauces, marinades and meat rubs that the hostess who loves to grill would enjoy trying. You don’t necessarily need to go to a gourmet store to assemble a tasty collection, either. Larger grocery stores usually have a wide selection of specialty spices, sauces and marinades to choose from.
  3. Grilling Cookbook – Many cookbooks on grilling have recipes that you wouldn’t normally think of using. If your hostess is one who loves to experiment with cooking, look for a book that goes beyond the usual fare. Choose one that has mouth-watering photographs, wrap it in red white or blue and tuck a little flag in the bow.
  4. Flowering Plant– This time of year should provide a vast selection of pretty plants for your hostess. If you know her favorite color, you can choose a plant with flowers in that color. The nice thing about a plant is that it will last longer than cut flowers, and if your hostess has a green thumb, it will be a gift that she will appreciate for a while to come. If the flowering plants don’t grab you, there are a variety of beautiful green plants available, including vines, cacti, ferns and small trees.
  5. Yard Art – Your hostess may enjoy a cute little statue to go in the garden or maybe a banner to go on the porch. There are so many interesting things to choose from. Take your hostess’ personality into account when you are choosing the piece you will give her. She may like a soft wind chime or a sun catcher. Keep her tastes in mind and you’re sure to have a hit on your hands.
  6. Playing Cards – If your hostess enjoys a good game of cards, this will make a perfect gift. Some specialty shops may even have cards that have a patriotic flair to them. Consider getting a couple of sets, one to use at the party and one to use later.
  7. Dessert in a Gifted Dish – Guests usually bring their donation to the party in disposable dishes, or their own dishes which they end up taking home – or forgetting and picking up later. Consider purchasing a pretty dish to make or put a dessert in. You will be contributing to the party and giving your hostess a special keepsake at the same time.
  8. Patriotic Apron – Aprons are making a comeback, and they range from plain to super fancy. If you are creative, you can whip up a cute apron with some patriotic fabric. If not, check out a boutique or a kitchen store.
  9. Wine Glass Charms – In a party situation it’s easy to lose your glass if you aren’t constantly holding on to it. A set of wine charms will make it easy for guests to keep track of their glasses, and your hostess will appreciate your thoughtfulness.
  10. Picnic Basket – A picnic basket is a wonderful gift for the hostess who enjoys outdoor dining. Some picnic baskets are actually baskets, but there are also some that are back-packs. These can get a little pricey, but they make a superb gift if you really want to impress your hostess.

Bringing a gift for your hostess is a gracious thing to do. It shows your appreciation for her efforts. Even if you opt out of bringing a nicer gift, a special bar of soap, scented candle or nice box of stationery or note cards will work well. Your gift is just a small token to say thank you to your hostess.










Truly…I thought the “cell phone talking” in the grocery line was at the top of my list.  You know, the person who stands staring at the same can of beans for 20 minutes while holding a long personal conversation as you try to negotiate around his/her basket to get your can of beans???  Ever notice how the offender smiles nicely and steps away just a bit, but then continues on with their conversation – until a second shopper needs something in the offender’s invisible  territory box?  You’ll notice the offender get a little put out now because, after all, you are invading their “talking space” and they ARE trying to have a conversation!  At this point, the offender moves about 3′ down and begins staring at another product he/she doesn’t intend to purchase…and the dance begins again.  At least I have the option to navigate around this person, and quite often, I will say “excuse me” and point right into the product that I need to purchase.  Of course, I’ve interrupted their very important conversation so I’m not usually met with a gracious smile. 

On the other hand, topping my list now, is the REALLY OFFENSIVE act of people sitting in medical offices waiting to be called in or waiting on a family member.  Seriously, I was at my son’s orthodontist recently when a woman came and sat 2 chairs down from me – talking on her cell phone from the time she entered the office until….well…until I could no longer read in somewhat of a quiet environment and had to move into another back area of the medical office to escape the intrusion. 

Honestly, remember when the doctor’s office was a quiet place where you could catch up on reading?  Sure, there may have been a few crying kids that were sick, but you had sympathy for them; and the occasional coughs and sneezes that penetrated the stillness, were only moments for you to exercise your good manners and give the usual “Bless you” or “Gesundheit” – and back to your reading you would go. 

I am just amazed at the lack of respect some people have for those around them and particularly, for those that work at the reception desk?  They have work to do.  They are on the phone making appointments, looking up information on the computer, talking to pharmacists, checking out parents….all the while having to listen to an annoying ongoing conversation by someone who apparently thinks their business should be EVERYBODY’S business.  

Is it that difficult to step outside and finish your conversation?  I mean, it’s not like we are EVER in below-freezing conditions here in Southern CA….and even if one does live in such a place and season where it is…then if it’s TOO DARN COLD to hang outside chatting up with your friend, then it’s not THAT URGENT!   After all, no one minds the brief moments of someone on a call who is politely ending it as quickly as possible – showing obvious respect for those around them – but to just ignore everyone around you…and air your dirty laundry???  Okay, maybe it’s clean laundry, I don’t really care.  I just don’t want to hear it.   

Maybe I should start a campaign like the non-smokers did.  “Second hand cell communication causes irritation to the nerve endings”!

Okay, I got that off of my chest – and I see no point in listing several tips for good cell phone etiquette here.  There are posts on this blog that already cover that.  It’s pretty simple.

Hang up and read. 

Ps:  Don’t get me started on bathroom stalls!

waiter serving from right









The question of wait staff serving the guest from the left or from the right seems to be a bit controversial in the dining etiquette industry.  As many of the schools and consultants teach “service from the left” and “clearing from the right”,  the Culinary Institute of America, the Federation of Dining Room Professionals, IBGS (International Business and Gourmet Standard of Hospitality) and top culinary schools such as Johnson and Wales all subscribe to “service and clearing from the right”.  

Much of this controversy may have its roots in a flawed translation from the early 1900’s “French Service”, as you will see explained further in this post.

In a recent conversation with Bernard Martinage, Co-Founder of the Federation of Dining Room Professionals, I was enlightened by his very thorough answer to my inquiry regarding this subject.  The following is directly from Mr. Martinage and I thank him for shedding light on “the bottom line”.  After all, the bottom line truly is the guest’s comfort, but it makes sense to me that in most cases, this will be accomplished by “service and clearing from the right”.

Bottom line is . . .


  • If you are a traditionalist in service: you put down a plate by the right and pick it up by the right.
  • If you are a modern waiter with good common sense: you put down a plate by the right and pick it up by the right.
  • If you want to go by the flawed translation of “French Service” which is routed in a training manual written by Hilton in the early 1900’s, then you put down a plate by the left and pick it up by the right, which requires:

Waiters to be perfectly ambidextrous, which consequence is as follow:


  1. It is unnatural for 90% of the population to use the right hand as a support hand and the left had for complex manipulations.
  2. Common waiters end up service by the left with the right hand, sticking their elbow in customer’s face.
  3. Customers never know which way you are coming from. 


Just think about this:


  • Why do we serve wine by the right?  Because the glass is on the right side.
  • Why is the glass on the right side? Because people drink with the right hand.
  • Why do people drink with the right hand? Because the right hand is the operating hand.
  • Why do we serve plate by the right?  Because EVERY SINGLE book you will find shows how to stack plates on the left hand using the right hand . . . just as a beverage tray . . . just as you hold a pad in your left hand and write with your right hand . . . just as you hold a bottle with the left hand and operate the corkscrew with the right hand . . . just as you hold your steering wheel with the right hand and operate your stick-shift with the right hand . . . .etc . 


You will notice, easily, when going to establishments that require their staff to put down plates by the left, than more than half the time the waiters do it using the right hand . . . because it is so impractical.


The question you must ask yourself is . . . Why do it one way versus the other?  And if the answer is not clear and logical . . . then it probably is flawed.


Slowly but surely, the US is adjusting service to reflect international standards, because they make sense, are fast and smooth, and effective.


If you go to a restaurant in Paris, Montreal, Tokyo, London, Singapore, Caracas or Geneva, you will find that everyone put plates down by the right and picks them up by the right.


Because, however, the US suffers from that misinterpretation mentioned earlier, and because we respect the culture of all origins even when not justified (as long as they don’t interfere with the guest’s comfort) we Prefer that people serve by the right and clear by the right, and we Tolerate that people serve by the left, as long as they do it with the left hand in a smooth, elegant and balanced manner.  We, however, Require, that when someone takes our practical examination, that the technique is performed by the standard the world goes by (including top restaurants in the US such as The Bernardin in Manhattan or Commander’s Palace in New Orleans.

So…there you have it.


Bridal crowns from Chic Vintage Brides

In a recent post during February, we highlighted the meaning of the variety of rose colors – giving a bit of a “heads-up” on how one’s selection may be perceived by the recipient.  Digging (no pun intended) a little deeper into floral history, we will take a look at flowers for a wedding and how one might choose them.

Wearing, carrying, and decorating with flowers and greenery for the celebratory event of betrothing one’s life to one another is a time-honored tradition that dates back as far as ancient Greece. The bride would wear a crown of flowers and herbs around her head, which was considered a gift of nature.  According to an article published by Ken Bolt on “Wedding Flowers – The Origins of the Tradition”, “the Greek bridesmaids would be responsible for this honor”, while “The garland bouquet would often contain bulbs of garlic. This wasn’t to make the wedding smell like your grandmother’s kitchen, but instead to ward off any evil spirits that might see fit to intervene in the ceremony or curse their future together.”

Like birthstones, flowers are associated with certain months of the year.  In The New Book of Wedding Etiquette, Kim Shaw reveals that “If you must carry lilacs in your bouquet, you must also get married in the spring–the only time of year they’re available.”

So…as you set out to plan your beautiful occasion, perhaps the following list will help you make sweet selections and guide you in choosing “in-season” blooms.




April/Sweet Pea

May/Lily of the Valley








Seasonal Blooms:

Spring:  Daffodil, Dianthus, Hyacinth, Hydrangea, Iceland Poppy, Lilac, Lily of the Valley, Peony

Summer:  Cosmos, Phlox, Queen Anne’s Lace, Sunflower, Sweet William, Yarrow, Zinnia

Fall:  Cockscomb, Dahlia, Viburnum, Berries

Winter:  Amaryllis, Heather, Hellebores, Holly Berries, Narcissus, Poinsettia

All Season:  Alstroemeria, Baby’s Breath, Calla Lily, Carnation, Chrysanthemum, Daisy, Freesia, Gerbera Daisy, Gladiola, Iris, Ivy, Lily, Lisianthus, Roses, Smilax, Snapdragon, Stephanotis, Stock, Tuberose

Of course, personal choice, color themes and availability are all important factors when making just one of the many important decisions that must be made for one’s wedding day but we hope this will help during the planning stages.













Well…about this time last year, I was cheering for the Saints to be in the Superbowl again – now I’m just wishing I was in N’awlins for the Superbowl.  Oh what a town for a party.  Having been raised in the Big Easy, I can tell you, it is sheer madness and mayhem any time there is an event of this magnitude.  This will be the 10th time New Orleans will be hosting the Superbowl. The last time I saw Superbowl excitement in New Orleans was in 1985.  It was Superbowl XX between the Patriots and the Bears and I was working in radio/tv at the time.  Exciting times.

In a previous post on Superbowl Party Etiquette, we focused more on the “home party” and simple rules of hosting/guesting etiquette since people celebrate all over the map for the event.  For Superbowl XLVII, considering the location, I thought it would be a good opportunity to visit “etiquette in public places”.  Let’s face it…there will be A LOT of partying going on,  not only in the Superdome, but “in the Quarter” (French Quarter) and probably just about every other hotel, restaurant, club, and on streets of the city from uptown to downtown,  “across the river” (the West Bank), and “across the lake” (Lake Pontchartrain).

While you (and I) may not get to be in the heart of the Big Easy for the event, here are a few helpful hints that can be applied most anywhere there is celebration in the air!

  • Drivers Slow Down – People are excited.  They are walking en masse – crossing streets as they find their way to the event, laughing, talking, probably texting too!  Drive carefully, slowly, and with all eyes on the pedestrian traffic as you navigate the streets.

  • “No Cuts” – Remember that rule in elementary school?  That’s why you were taught it back then…so you can use it now!  Lines are long at various pubs, clubs, restaurants and restroom facilities when an event is taking place.  Holding a “place for your group of 6 arriving sometime soon” is unacceptable.  At the very minimum, one might hold a place for their partner/spouse, etc. and let the person behind you know that you are expecting  them any minute.  Never hold up the line because you are waiting for someone. 

  • No Spills, No Thrills – It happens. It’s a party right?  People are drinking, it’s crowded, someone bumps someone and the next thing you know, you’re wearing the “house red”.  What are you going to do?  Get up in their face?  Doesn’t change the circumstance does it?  If you’re the offender – apologize immediately. Offer to help by getting club soda for the patron (don’t offer to wipe – just offer the soda), giving your contact information to pay a cleaning bill, or…at the very least, offer to buy them a drink.  It’s the polite thing to do!


  • Is There A Gentleman In The House? – If so…please…offer your seat to a lady (unless you are in a very close and engaged conversation with another); and do so for no other reason than to be a gentleman.

  • Like The Doors? – No, not the group….real doors!  I do.  I like holding them for people – all ages, all genders.  Step up and show your shining civility.  Oh sure, they might get to go ahead of you to the counter or to get a table but really…how much is at stake?  Okay, I’ll admit, if I’m alone or with my husband and/or son and see a group of 10 heading for the same venue…one of us WILL go ahead of them…but one still remains to exhibit the mannerly action for the group.


  • Speaking of Stepping Up – Escalators are commonly used to “expedite pedestrian travel”.  Some will just stand and wait to be transported while others want to barrel down the sides to get where they are going even faster!  If you’re not “moving with the movement”, stay to the right.  Allow room for others to pass if they so choose.  It is their right.  Nothing is more frustrating than patrons who stand side-by-side on the escalator and block others from safe passage.

  • Taking the Elevator? – Always allow exiting persons room to actually “exit” in a clear and roomy space.  So many people almost kiss the elevator doors waiting for them to open, only to find a group of people struggling to get past you as you either back up, move sideways, or heaven forbid, inch or force your way in before others have exited. The old rule “ladies first” is still sound…and that is superseded by “pregnant ladies first”.  Also consider those with strollers, wheelchairs, canes, luggage, etc.

  • Bathroom Break – Sure, “when you gotta go, you gotta go” right?  In most cases, it’s not that urgent though…and when possible, ALWAYS allow a pregnant woman to cut ahead. That certainly applies to the elderly, disabled (if using other than the designated stall), and the obviously ill.  Parents with very young children should also be considered as they are often in the “training period” and are trying to prevent “an accident” in a public place.  It’s just about being considerate.


  • Keep It Clean – Do your part when using the facilities/bathroom.  If you splash everywhere, use towelettes to clean up your mess.  Refrain from tossing your discards into the bin.  You’re not Kobe Bryant and chance are you missed…and maybe even left it on the floor as you departed. Same goes for your seat surroundings – whether in the arena, theatre, or fast food restaurant.  Pick up after yourself.  How many times did you mama tell you that?!  Sure, there’s a cleaning crew that “gets paid for that” but I’m pretty sure they have plenty to clean in addition to your litter so why not respect your own surroundings as well as those that share your space?

If you practice these little niceties when out in public, chances are you will have a much better time, avoid a heated argument, fight, or worse – a trip to the pokey and a viral posting on YouTube of the trip “downtown”.
So…in my edited version of the popular tag line from the old series “Hill Street Blues”, “Hey, Let’s Be Nice Out There”! 🙂 




I LOVE the holidays.  I love decorating, cooking, baking, enjoying a beautiful fire on a rainy evening, and the smell of cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg throughout the house.  Whether you are sharing Thanksgiving dinner in your home, hosting a glitzy cocktail party for Christmas, visiting family, attending a holiday wedding or just relaxing in the warmth and blessings of your home throughout the holidays, your children will most likely be taking part in one or more of these events and pastimes. 

It is important to begin instilling the value of good manners and proper etiquette at an early age so that each passing year, not only are you proud to have your children with you on these occasions, but you will never tire of hearing the compliments and kudos you receive about your child’s “good manners”.  Teaching children on a daily basis that their manners are a reflection of themselves…and their parents or guardians, is how we manage civility in a sometimes restless world.

 I think there was a time….long long ago….when one heard only about children with “bad manners and deplorable behavior”.  That is because most children behaved well…or else!  I find that in today’s times, people are almost surprised when they see a child with excellent table manners in a restaurant, or a tween that gives you a firm handshake and makes eye contact; a rarity indeed.

Children as young as four and five years old are very capable of setting a proper table, using their utensils with dexterity, chewing with their mouth closed, keeping their elbows off the table, placing their napkin in their lap, and even raising their glass of juice or water to toast their wonderful parents.  It is truly just a matter of repetition and frequency.  Much like advertising, the more you see and hear something, the more ingrained it becomes…and certainly, the more you practice anything, the better you are at the performance.

Dining and social graces are a learned behavior, but also a performance of sorts and I am confident that most children “love to perform” if given the stage.  With the holidays approaching, you will want to get a head start on preparing your child for what is expected of him or her during these special occasions.

If the holiday event will be in your home, consider the following:

  • Involve the children in setting the table

  • Have them help set out decorations

  • Have them create a place setting craft such as a glittered mini pine-cone with name tag attached by thread for the Christmas table 

  • Have a practice session prior to the big day over an evening dinner by going over some of the most basic table manners, as mentioned above 

Holding one’s knife and fork properly for the younger children might seem impossible at first, but if you keep changing the position of the hands from the “club-hold” to the “pencil-hold”, they CAN develop the proper American and/or Continental style of dining and gain confidence in their abilities.  There is no reason a child over the age of three should be holding his or her fork like a cave man’s club and it is much easier to break that habit sooner rather than later.

Should your holiday travels take you to the comfortable and casual home of Grandma or the elegant and impeccable home of your boss, client, or dear friend, remind your children to take their manners on the road.  Discuss with them ahead of time that if they don’t like certain foods that are offered, it is impolite to express this sentiment to the host.  It is good manners to try at least one bite of every food that is offered unless one is allergic.  If there is a chance of a scene over something you know the child despises, teach them that a simple “no thank you” when offered, is sufficient.

The easiest and best way for your children to impress your guests or hosts is to remind them to use the “Magic Words” that help us all get along with graciousness and civility.  They are:  Please, Thank you, May I, Excuse me, and I’m sorry. These are simple words and phrases that can never be overused.

Here’s hoping you have a very blessed and mannerly holiday season! 🙂 

One of my favorite things to do almost any time of year is to visit the Ronald Reagan Museum and Library…but to visit it over the Christmas holidays is such a beautiful experience.  This holiday season we will, once again, drive up to Simi Valley for a lovely weekend of educational and historical enlightenment as we tour “An American Christmas” at the museum.  

We will enjoy twenty-five beautifully decorated and warmly lit trees representing defining  moments in America’s road to greatness; from the Revolutionary Era to today. Each tree reflects the life and times of American society and culture during each decade between 1770 and 2010 and beyond, thus tracing the evolution of America. Through the use of lights, ornaments and decorations, each tree becomes its own piece of magnificent art. Also on display will be a collection of beautiful hand-crafted Menorahs that were given to President Reagan while in the White House.

This will be my 8th time visiting the museum…I think.  I’m beginning to lose count.  It will be my son’s 3rd and my husband’s 4th.  Maybe I just need to begin combining all of those and start using vague terms like “multiple times”.  This year we have invited another couple – long-time friends who have never been to the museum so we are excited to show them our family name in the Flight Registry of Air Force One. (something you could have easily purchased with a certain donation amount).

We will enjoy a relaxing weekend at the beautiful Grand Vista Hotel Simi Valley where the Sports Bar and Restaurant will no doubt be one of the highlight’s of my son’s trip while I will opt for a therapeutic swim in the heated pool!


Visiting the museum can take anywhere from three to five hours if you truly want to enjoy the experience.  Throughout the year there are rotating exhibits (like An American Christmas, The Cavalry, and others) as well as the permanent exhibits, which include of course, The Oval Office (a stunning replica of President Reagan’s Oval Office with some original furnishings and art), The State Dinner, The Berlin Wall, Air Force One, The Limosine (where Reagan “forgot to duck”), The Theatre Room (looping videos of historical moments in Reagan’s life and administration as well as famous clips from his movie career), and incredible displays of diplomatic gifts, home at Rancho del Cielo, and gorgeous evening dresses donned by the petite-sized 2 Nancy Reagan.

The museum is ever-changing to stay fresh and exciting, which is why I love to go back often.  I am excited to see that the newly renovated museum will feature the following interactive and I bet you can guess on which one I can’t wait to participate:

  • Act in a movie with Ronald Reagan
  • Deliver President Reagan’s inaugural address on the steps of the U.S. Capitol
  • Set the table for a state dinner
  • Discover President Reagan’s economic policies while playing six interactive games
  • Read the president’s handwritten diary by digitally turning the pages
  • Ride a horse alongside President Reagan at Rancho del Cielo

So…if you have the opportunity to visit the Ronald Reagan Museum and Library, I highly encourage it…and I offer these few Museum Etiquette tips when visiting any museum:
  • Listen to the docent:  The very first thing upon entering a museum is to give your attention to the docent (fancy name for tour guide).  This is your most elementary etiquette characteristic – respect.  The docent will proceed to give you the rules to follow when inside the exhibit (most of which are below).
  • Pack lightly:  No need to lug in a bulky backpack or huge purse that can annoyingly bump into others or heaven forbid, knock over a gorgeous glass item in the Gift Shop (another amazing part of the museum you won’t want to miss).
  • No cameras – unless stipulated by docent in certain areas:  Constant flashing by cameras disturbs the tour for others and are usually prohibited in most museums.
  • No food, drink, or gum:  Do we really need to say this?  
  • Voice level:  Keep your voice level low to moderate so that others may concentrate on their own interpretation of what they are viewing at the time.
  • No touching:  Items can be damaged, broken, and/or lose value.  If  items are encased, keep your oily fingers off the glass.  Museums usually have a high standard of impeccable cleanliness and The Reagan Museum is the pinnacle of this standard.
  • Patience:  Take your time.  Give others a bit of distance.  Allow tourists to enjoy the art, artifact, film, etc. without you breathing down their neck and rushing them.  Part of the pleasure of visiting a museum is to take the time to interpret a piece, relive a bit of history, and absorb the plethora of information and effort put into the exhibit.
  • Unplug:  Turn cell phones to vibrate mode, remove your ear buds (teens who like to multi-task by listening to music at the same time they are viewing the exhibit – not good) and take a few hours away from the fast life. 
  • Thank the docent:  Docents take the time to explain different aspects of the exhibit as well as direct the tourists along the way.  Be sure to thank them after each effort and upon your departure, thank them again.  They are volunteers who love what they do and being appreciated for that is a well-received moment in their day. 
I hope I have inspired you to visit a museum near you or if you are in the southern California area and have a chance to visit The Ronald Reagan Museum, where I am sure you will walk away with increased awareness and education and more than likely, a desire to visit again…and again…and again. 



This will be our third year hosting U.S. Marines in our home for Thanksgiving.  It is such an honor to be able to participate in this fabulous program offered through the ASYMCA (Armed Services YMCA) and I am excited again to start the preparations for their arrival. As our families live out of state, Thanksgiving for us is often spent with just the three of us – so we consider these boys our extended family.  Pictured here are two of our dearest connections from an earlier Thanksgiving, U.S. Marine Corporal Mat Wollman and U.S. Marine Nick Bernal.

The process is really inspirational.  You sign up with the ASYMCA (if there is one in your area) and after you complete an application that is mailed back to them – and upon approval – you are then sent a vehicle pass and number that allow you to enter the base gate (in our case – near San Clemente – about 2 hours round trip from our home) and into the “queue” as you await your car’s spot at the front of the line where two Marines will load into your car.  In years prior, we were allowed to have as  many as we could take – one year we had five; but the program has grown so rapidly and there are so many people wanting to host, that they have limited us to two.  My husband and son will leave by 7am as the Marines need to be picked up by 9am and they will spend the day from 10-4 with us; at which time, they will be transported back to San  Clemente to be returned by the deadline of 7pm.  

I am so proud of my husband and son, who spend four hours driving on Thanksgiving Day in order to give the Marines a special Thanksgiving while they are away from their family.  The program is geared specifically to new recruits who are usually between the ages of 18-21 and who have just completed basic training.  

So…about those preparations:  About this time (2 weeks out), I begin the sautéing of the “Holy Trinity” (celery, scallion, bell pepper) and the chicken livers for my “Louisiana Dirty Rice” and my “Homemade Bread Stuffing”.  This knocks out a decent bit of chopping, cutting, frying, cleaning and storing ahead of time.  I pop those in the freezer until the day before Thanksgiving when they will move to the “ice box” (as we called it when I was growing up) and on Thanksgiving morning, will combine with their dry/cooked, etc. ingredients to complete the finished dish.

Another pre-prep-step during this week will be the baking of the Pumpkin Pie, which can also be frozen.   I will save baking  the Almond Frangipane Tart with Cranberries and Pears until the day before.  Since I am in charge of the Cranberry Sauce for our local fireman that are on duty Thanksgiving Day, I will also whip up a big batch of homemade Zesty Orange & Cinnamon Cranberry Sauce (another freezable item) sometime during this week – at my leisure and divide it up for the firemen and our Marines.

On the day before, I will peel the potatoes (Yukons and Yams) and place them in cold water overnight and while hubby and son are driving, I will be boiling the Yukons and baking the Yams.  The Weber grill charcoal can will be fired up and the Roasted Honey Bourbon Glazed Turkey with Sage Butter will be tenderly roasting on the grill with a pan underneath to catch all those delicious juices for the “First You Make a Roux Turkey Gravy”.

Meanwhile, over on the BBQ Rotisserie Spit, my husband will be roasting a deliciously moist and beautiful Australian Leg of Lamb (which he does divinely every time!) to be served with an Egyptian Mint Sauce (mind you, NOT GREEN JELLY which would be an insult to such a piece of heaven.)  This sauce is a delicate blend  of Egyptian mint leaves and malt vinegar and it is THE BOMB!

Now…onto the table-dressing.  The week prior to Thanksgiving, I will make sure all my stemware is “crystal clear”, silverware is spot-free/clean, linens are ironed and formed into a pretty napkin fold, placemats and chargers are out and the centerpiece design is placed and ready to create my tablescape around that centerpiece.  A few small votive candles will dot the table – sometimes at each place, sometimes down the center; that’s something I figure out as I’m dressing the table. 

Next is printing a pretty fall-leaf Place Card for each place and while I won’t know the names of the two Marines we will host until they are on their way; my husband will call me once they are in the car so I can get that done before their arrival. 

Once the gang is all here, we will enjoy time in the Family Room getting to know “our boys” and like many families – football will be going on all day (other than when we sit down to eat – at which time we will be “Thanksgiving Unplugged”, thanks to my friend and colleague Diane Gottsman of The Protocol School of Texas) and Thomas Farley – aka “Mr. Manners”.  We’ll play board games like Buzz Word and Taboo and then head to the table for the feast of blessings and the blessings of feast.

I hope you have a blessed and memorable Thanksgiving with family, friends, or with unknown persons to whom you have opened your home for a special day.

~ Jonnie Fox Flanagan



I just registered my business with ThumbTack. They have multiple categories to search when you’re in the market for anything from “Family”, “Business and Legal”, “Events”, to “Home”, “Health and Beauty”, and “Cars and Trucks”. Check it out.


Magnolia Etiquette

Magnolia Etiquette

Etiquette Consulting Services – Business, Social, and Dining Etiquett for Children and Adults.

The Magnolia School of Etiquette and Protocol is committed to teaching the art of graciousness,…

Contact Now

Brought to you by


It’s football season…and that means a lot more football than I remember.  Sunday NFL, Monday Night Football, Thursday Night Football…Saturday NCAA and who knows when else.  I do love to hear the excitement in our home as the plays happen and my husband and son chatter endlessly about stats, players, calls, coaches and “what about those wings Mom” and “aren’t there more chips and salsa?”. 

However, with the football season comes the beautiful exposure to our nation’s anthem, The Star Spangled Banner.

So, the question is…”Should you stand for a televised version of the National Anthem?”

Firstly, let me say, that I do choose to stand when the National Anthem is played on TV.  When I hear the call “would everyone please stand for our National Anthem”, I consider myself part of the crowd, even if removed from said crowd.  For me, it is a matter of respect to be silent, aware, and to meditate for those few moments on what the words mean as the anthem is played or sung.

Secondly, that being said, to my knowledge, there is no specific etiquette rule for standing in one’s home for a televised version of the anthem.  It is one’s personal choice as to whether they wish to honor the flag that is flown or displayed on the field during the anthem.  In no way does the choice NOT to stand, diminish one’s patriotism; however, respectful silence during the playing of the anthem should be practiced.  I find it so disheartening when people continue talking, chattering, enjoying the football food/beer, etc. without ceasing for those few moments to show respect.

The US Flag Code stipulates:

§171. Conduct during playing

During rendition of the national anthem when the flag is displayed, all present except those in uniform should stand at attention facing the flag with the right hand over the heart. Men not in uniform should remove their headdress with their right hand and hold it at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart. Persons in uniform should render the military salute at the first note of the anthem and retain this position until the last note. When the flag is not displayed, those present should face toward the music and act in the same manner they would if the flag were displayed there.

So this season, as you’re enjoying the excitement of the games, decide if and how you would like to show honor and respect during a televised version of the National Anthem and discuss it with your children. They will learn from you by your actions.


I had the funniest experience the other day while lunching with a new friend that I had met via Facebook.  I invited her to join me at our monthly Women’s Peer Connection and subsequently met her for lunch a couple of weeks later.  

While lunching, I told her I didn’t have her contact information in my iPhone and asked her if she had the “Bump” app.  She had no clue what that was and thus began the tedious challenge of downloading the app, which for some reason, just didn’t play nicely! Well…after finally getting the app to complete the download, we began to “bump”…and “bump”…and “bump”…until it became hilarious as our “bumps” got more and more forceful.  At one point, I “bumped” her phone right out of her hand and onto the table.  We just couldn’t stop laughing at how long it was taking us and how I could have easily manually entered all the information by this time!  

Yes, technology is a “fun” thing sometimes and there are those that say the “business card” is obsolete and will be out of circulation fairly soon. I disagree and while I must admit, I don’t save every business card I receive, I do input information into my contact database from most of them.

So…while the business card IS still in circulation, let’s talk about the proper way to offer or exchange the card.  Presenting one’s business card is an extension of one’s presentability and likewise should be done so professionally.  While many of us are often attending “networking” (I prefer the term “mingling”) events, business mixers, and various conferences – it is expected that we will be exchanging business cards with one another. Appropriately, we should only present a business card after we have spent a sincere amount of time conversing with someone.  It is preferred that we wait until asked for said business card, however, that doesn’t always happen. Sometimes people just forget to ask.  In that case, if we feel we have enjoyed getting to know the person and perhaps would like to connect in the future, by all means, simply ask if the person would like your card.

Now…being a member or attendee of some of these events, I am aware that part of the purpose of a “business mixer” is in fact, to exchange as many cards as possible.  Many of the meetings will have a box circulated with everyone’s card in the box so that one may choose the cards of interest to them.  A little impersonal, but time is short and much must be covered at these meetings.  This method DOES allow for one to find and introduce themselves after the meeting or via phone call or email in order to connect for more information.

For the purposes of all other business related experiences other than the specific “business mixer”, here are a few tips for the proper exchanging of the business card in the United States (other rules apply in other cultures): 

  1. —Keep your own business cards in a leather or silver case, purse or upper pocket.
  2. Card should be clean and of good quality.
  3. Card should be offered with right hand (or both  hands as in some cultures like Japan).
  4. Print should face the recipient, right side up.
  5. Never offer a business card with your left hand.  This is considered an insult in some countries.
  6. Gentlemen:  Do not pull out wallet, insert card, then return wallet to pocket and “sit on it”.
  7. Receive a business card in the same manner in which you are offered one.
  8. Study the card for a moment before putting it away (10-20 seconds in Japan).
  9. Comment about the card (i.e, compliment the style or note address, city, etc.)
  10. Do not write on the business card.
As you go about your business day, take pride in each and every little detail, from your smile and handshake to the presentation of your business card.

A Brief History of Afternoon Tea

Afternoon tea was started in the mid-1800s by Anna Russell, Duchess of Bedford. .  At that time in history, only two meals were common; a mid-morning breakfast and a somewhat late evening dinner.  The Duchess found herself with a “sinking feeling” in the late afternoon, with the unacceptably prolonged period of time between lunch and dinner. The Dutchess decided to have some friends over for assorted snacks and tea – and the idea of an “afternoon tea” gathering became very popular among the elite, as well as a favorite pastime of “ladies of leisure”.

The Duchess ordered a few delicacies and some tea to be brought to her boudoir.  The assortment was placed on her low bedside table, and this became known as “Low Tea”.  As time went on, the Duchess wished to enjoy these delights with friends in a more social setting – and so the parlor became the venue for “Afternoon Tea”.

“High Tea” – an often misused term for Afternoon Tea/Formal Tea/Royal Tea could not be more different from these specific tea formalities. “High Tea” has nothing to do with “high society”, “upper class”, or “royalty”. It was actually a more hearty “supper style” meal that included meat between the bread (introduced by the Fourth Earl of Sandwich and thus the High Tea Sandwich), and happened to include tea, that was served in the late afternoon to the “working men” coming home VERY hungry from a hard day’s work.  This meal, like “Low Tea”, is so named, due to the height of the table on which it was served – to accommodate the height of the men who typically stood at the table or sat on high stools to feast. This late afternoon meal gradually became more important on the social calendars of Ladies and Gentlemen and was enjoyed prior to social events like attending the theater or playing cards. 

So….the next time you see a sign in a historically elegant and renowned hotel that says “High Tea” in the mid-afternoon, historically, it should offer assorted scones, fresh fruit, varietal teas, AND meat-filled sandwiches.  Otherwise, it is simply “Afternoon Tea” (a lighter affair). etc.  

On a quick note, “Royal Tea” or “Champagne Tea” simply mean a delightful addition of the bubbly to the occasion. 


The flag of the United States is a living symbol that calls to our spirit, reminding us of the greatness of America. We cherish and uphold it because it is the standard of honor under which we live.  The proper name of the nation’s symbol is the United States Flag; however, it is sometimes referred to as “Old Glory”.

Well, as many of you know, I just never tire of extolling the rules, regulations, respect and etiquette regarding the United States Flag, however, today, I’d like to focus on a few rules of etiquette regarding display…and behavior…if you are planning on attending any of the hundreds of military and celebratory Memorial Day weekend parades and events.


  1. According to, on Memorial Day, the flag is to be flown at half-staff until noon, and then at full-staff until sunset.
  1. The flag should be down at sunset, unless you have it properly illuminated, in which case it may remain raised throughout the night.
  2. When raising the flag to half-staff, first raise it quickly to full-staff, then slowly down to half-staff.
  3. When flown or carried alongside other flags (such as state flags), The United States Flag should always be higher than the other flags.
  4. Flags on floats must be on a staff or against a wall (correctly oriented, with the union—the blue field of stars, to the left), not draped on the float.
  5. The United States Flag should never be draped over a vehicle of any kind.
  6. If display the flag on vehicles, the flag must be on a staff firmly fixed so that it will not fall over.
  7. “The flag, when carried in a procession with another flag or flags, should be either on the marching right; that is, the flag’s own right, or, if there is a line of other flags, in front of the center of that line.” (Title 36, Chapter 10 of the U. S.Code)
  8. “When used on a speaker’s platform, the flag, if displayed flat, should be displayed above and behind the speaker. When displayed from a staff in a church or public auditorium, the flag of the United States of America should hold the position of superior prominence, in advance of the audience, and in the position of honor at the clergyman’s or speaker’s right as he faces the audience. Any other flag so displayed should be placed on the left of the clergyman or speaker or to the right of the audience.” (Title 36, Chapter 10 of the U.S. Code)
  9. Flags suspended over the street  should be suspended vertically with the union to the north on an east/west street or to the east on a north/south street.
  10. “During the ceremony of hoisting or lowering the flag or when the flag is passing in a parade or in review, all persons present except those in uniform should face the flag and stand at attention with the right hand over the heart. Those present in uniform should render the military salute. When not in uniform, men should remove their headdress with their right hand and hold it at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart. Aliens should stand at attention. The salute to the flag in a moving column should be rendered at the moment the flag passes.” (Title 36, Chapter 10).

I hope you will have a blessed and memorable Memorial Day weekend and that should you attend memorial services on sacred military burial grounds or enjoying a festive parade, that these few tips will help you to show the respect and honor deserving of our brave veterans. 

ps:  Don’t forget to bring your own miniature flag to wave in glory and/or to place on a military burial site as  needed.



With permission from Mr. Bill Purdin, at LegendInc in Marblehead, Massachusetts, we are happy to share with you these timeless tips on golf etiquette.  While seemingly serious in their clear and concise measure, they are also meant to be taken in the pleasant and humorous nature in which golf is often played.  As you set your sights on #10, heed the words of Mr. Purdin when he said, “My best game of golf was a 74…and it started with a bogey”.  

1. Tee. One player on the tee at a time. Stand even with the ball well outside of the teeing ground, left or right, while each player hits. This also applies to golf bag and equipment placement around the tee. It is a breach of etiquette to stand behind a golfer on the tee, or anywhere else on the golf course. (See Section I: The Rules of Golf) No golfer should have to ask you to move out of the way anywhere on the course, but especially on the tee, where players are concentrated like nowhere else. If you are a following foursome and arrive at a tee already occupied by the group in front, wait well off the tee for your turn. Joining them on the tee to watch the shots is a breach of etiquette, but if you do, follow the positioning rule above, at the very least. Always, remove your peg from the tee after hitting. It is a breach of etiquette to pound your tee into the ground or to leave it embedded in the teeing ground.

2. Speed of play. Always play without delay at all times. Paramount in this category is to be at your ball, ready to hit, when it is your turn. After the tee shot, all the way to holing out, the order of play is always farthest from the hole first, and there really are no exceptions. Always carry two uniquely-marked balls. Limit your divotless practice swings to just a few seconds, and never practice swing towards anyone. On the green, study your shot alternatives, line of putt, and putting strategy while others are preparing to hit. You should always hit well within 45 seconds of the previous golfer’s stroke. The only way to judge your speed is your position relative to the group in front of you. You are in position if, as you approach your next shot, they are just moving off. Don’t lag behind or crowd unnecessarily the group in front. Never talk or tell stories that in anyway, even for a few seconds, delay play. There is plenty of time between shots while walking or riding to the next shot for discourse and jocularity. Consider the score card after hitting, while proceeding to the next shot, never on the tee or green.

3. Cart use. Golf carts should speed up play not slow it down. After the tee shot, proceed to the first ball and drop off the player, then proceed, safely, to the other ball. The dropped-off player should take extra clubs, if there is any doubt. As a general rule, don’t wait while the other person disembarks, hits, re-embarks and before proceeding to the next ball. Enter the cart with your club in hand and then exit to your bag before hitting the next shot. No need to go the bag twice for every shot.

4. Gimmies and Mulligans. Never give a shot that matters unless it is beyond the realm of remote possibility that the player could miss it. A one-foot putt takes about as long to putt as to pick it up. The essence of the game is putting the ball into the hole and it is a courtesy to allow that to happen whenever possible. Mulligans are never allowed. Strategy in match play sometimes requires a give-putt situation, but in reality these “gamesmanship” maneuvers should be kept to a minimum and play allowed to take its normal course where skill and proficiency prevail over tactical machinations.

5. Bunkers. When you leave a bunker you should remove all evidence that you were ever there. A few extra careful strokes with the rake to smooth the sand is always required. Think of the times you have had to hit from another’s footprints or inconsiderate raking.

6. On The Green. Fix your ball marks like a craftsman, leaving no bare ground and an even, smooth surface where the ball mark was. Never dig under a ball mark and leverage the soil upwardly with your tee or tool: this dislodges and extirpates the tender plant structures. Pull the surrounding grass gently to the middle of the mark, starting at the highest point. Never stand along the line of another player’s putt, front or back. Get completely out of the way. Again, standing even with the ball left or right, at a considerate distance, is always correct. Never talk or whisper while another player is putting (see the 7th Commandment). When you mark and replace your ball on the green never advance it even infinitesimally, or appear to advance it. One of the most carefully-watched moves a golfer makes is marking and exactly replacing the ball. Be precise in this process, developing a system that is obvious and beyond any possible criticism. When removing the flag, don’t drop it onto the green with a slap; either lower it gently or remove it to the first cut around the green. The player whose ball is closest to the pin has the pin responsibilities. Never lean on your putter while on the green, and when retrieving your ball keep your feet and weight well away from the hole. Return the pin carefully without any damage to the hole. Proceed to the next hole immediately upon holing out.

7. When Another Player is addressing the ball. There are only two things that every other player should be doing when a player is addressing the ball: standing absolutely still and watching the player hit. Movement is unacceptable. Talking is unacceptable. Fussing with equipment is unacceptable. Looking around is unacceptable. Stand still and watch the shot. If you can’t render this simple courtesy, then you do not belong on a golf course.

8. Clearly state your score when holed out. Making other players ask what you had on the hole is a breach of etiquette. At the time of holing out, as you retrieve the ball, clearly state,”Par,” or, “bogey,” or, “Eight.” Check the card occasionally to insure accuracy. Don’t say, “I’ll take a six.” Golf is all about accurate scoring. After the game is over the appropriate handicap adjustments can and should be made. Incidental to this rule is the requirement for each golfer to have a standard USGA handicap. Without an official handicap, you are not able to truly compete in golf, and in every match you play you have brought an element of unfairness to the game. Accurate handicaps provide the only fair basis for competition. Playing without a handicap is a breach of etiquette, especially in light of how easy and inexpensive it is to officially obtain one.

9. Settling up. Always have the exact amount needed to settle the game. Saying, “Do you have change for a twenty?” is a breach of etiquette.

10. Temperament. Babe Ruth said, “It is hard to beat a person who never gives up.” This should be your guide to behavior and temperament on a golf course. Golf is a game of days, next shots, and handicaps. You are never out of it until you get mad, become belligerent, start throwing things, in other words, until you give up. Never blame other golfers for your bad play out loud or even quietly to yourself, if you want to play well. Never blame another player for enforcing and championing the rules of golf. Don’t explain why your shot was bad, or good, and never yell out or whine after hitting a bad shot. Don’t be so competitive that you forget that golf is a game played competitively for enjoyment. Play like a gentleman, or a gentlewoman, in demeanor and attitude, because, in golf it is not what happens to you, it’s your attitude towards it that determines the ultimate outcome. Which would you prefer: a career round in the midst of bad temper, bad humor and embarrassment over your lack of decorum, or, a 10-shots-over-your-handicap-round where you still thoroughly enjoyed the effort and the game? Scoring and playing well is what golf is about, but that’s not what golf is all about.

And the Second Golden Rule of Golf (see top of the page for the Golden Rule) is to study The Official Rules Of Golf until you understand them, which is long after you first open the book looking for some specific rule that came up during a match. There is a basic principle involved, which all the rules protect: influence and affect nothing on the golf course except your own ball.

Trade shows can be an exciting venture for the exhibitor and attendee.  Those that are traveling may be visiting a new and exciting city where there will be “Welcome Receptions”, “Keynote Speakers”, fabulous restaurants to try and a little bit of sightseeing if time permits.  Trade shows are a great way to market your product if you are the vendor/exhibitor and can be very successful if promoted properly.  Depending on the trade or industry in question and how well the show is marketed to potential customers, you have the opportunity to make a favorable impression to anywhere from thousands to tens of thousands of attendees.   Unfortunately, many exhibitors – and “sales reps/attendees” will unknowingly commit a variety of booth blunders that may have a lasting effect on their business image and reputation.  

Remember, the days are gone when a faux pas was simply spread by “word of mouth gossip” and could easily be defended or clarified by hearing the other side of the story. One thing is still true though, “a picture is worth a thousand words”…AND..the words may be right there with the picture/video- on Facebook or YouTube!  One never knows when they are being photographed or recorded, legal or not, by the time it’s been removed, it’s probably too late. 


To help guide you towards a successful exhibit at your next trade show, here are my Top Ten…in “Letterman style”, “ways to improve your trade show etiquette” for the Exhibitor and Attendee:

Exhibitor/Vendor Etiquette:

#10 – Maintain Your Booth: Unless your particular industry is “Organizational Skills” and you are demonstrating the “messy look” for effect, your booth should be well-maintained, free of clutter, and appealing to the visitor.  Remember to keep boxes, cords, refills and other set-up tools, hidden under a skirted table.

#9 – Food and Drink:  You should never be caught eating or drinking in your booth.  While it is difficult to manage “manning your booth” all day without help or food, just keep in mind the operative word here is “caught”.  Once can’t expect you to work a 12-14 hour day setting up, breaking down, and greeting thousands without a bit of sustenance!  Look for the appropriate time that you may be able to discreetly eat fruit or something quick unless you have arrangements for your booth for your absence.

#8 – Never Chew Gum!  Okay, in my opinion, that should be anywhere, anytime, but….some habits are hard to break so if you’re a gum-chewer, please, refrain from doing so when you are meeting, greeting, explaining, or just standing and smiling.  Gum, by its very uncouth requirement of chewing it like cud – over and over until it forms a ball of tasteless rubber in your mouth, can knock the “polish and panache quotient down significantly”.

#7 – Dress Appropriately – It is impossible to impose one dress code on the variety of trades there are.  Suppose it’s the surfing industry?  Companies promoting surf boards, wax, clothing lines, sunscreens, vacation destinations, competitions, and fabulous flip-flops are not likely to be dressed in suits and ties to present their booth or product.  The theme of such a show would be one of the draws for many as they stroll comfortably in flowered shirts, shorts and sandals.  The point is…the exhibitor still  must use modesty and taste while making choices appropriate to their industry.

#6 – Never Leave Your Booth Unattended – Yes, I addressed this briefly in # 9 but more on how to manage this challenge:  If you are the only rep (not the best case scenario) to  man your booth, you will need to make “booth buddies” on either or both sides of you.  Hopefully, they are not your biggest competitor.  No one expects the neighbor to answer questions or sell product.  The idea is to get out and get back briskly so your customers are happy to wait…or to come back shortly.  Choose a slow time so as not to distract your buddy from his own work and don’t take advantage by stepping out for an  hour long lunch at the nearby oceanfront bistro!  Make your necessary stops at the restroom, grab a quick lunch and head back with abundant gratitude to your neighbor.  

#5 –Don’t Oversell – Not a one of us wants to be “oversold”.  The vendor that talks too much and offers too much too soon…will likely sell the least.  Be approachable, friendly, ask a few questions to engage your customer or simply ask them if you can have a moment of their valuable time to demonstrate a particular product.  We all know the “massage chair” guy has them lined up, right?  They don’t have to say much…just listen to the customer in the chair ooohing and ahhhing for 10 minutes!

#4 – Speaking of Booth Buddies – Whether it’s your own booth buddy or the neighboring booths of which I spoke in # 6, keep the friendly chatter to a minimum.  People are strolling by and trying to check you out without you knowing they are checking you out.  Attendees may not want to interrupt if they see you engaged in a conversation.  Some people are uncomfortable with certain social graces, like how to enter a conversation properly.  If you are with a customer, briefly make eye contact with the passer-by, smile, and nod slightly to indicate they are welcome to approach and listen (if you are not in a private appointment situation at the time, and generally, the convention floor is not conducive for same).

#3 – Visiting the Competition – Touchy situation here.  It’s pretty tempting to want to take a little time to see how everyone else is displaying, sample some yummy treats or grab the fliers/cards/brochures of our competitors.  Remember, word spreads fast.  Someone knows someone who knows you, your booth, your product and your reputation.  While it’s not illegal to visit the competitor booths, it is highly unethical to whisper to others in their area to stop by your booth and check out your great prices on XYZ!  That goes for negative gossip about your competition as well.  I’m more about honesty and integrity in these situations.  I’m happy to pass by a booth and if addressed by the vendor or some mutual silent dance of interest has been displayed, I will politely introduce myself,  my company, where on the floor our booth is, compliment their own booth and wish them great success during the show.  Small talk among peers and competitors is expected, just know your boundaries.  Keep it short, polite, and positive.

#2 – Keep Fully Stocked – Never run out of anything.  Brochures, fliers, cards, candies, samples, raffle tickets, entry forms, novelty items, tote bags, napkins/plates/cups/utensils (if food items are the industry) need to be readily available until the last customer has left the show!

#1 – ...and the #1 “way to improve your trade show exhibitor etiquette”  – Exercise the “Three G’s” – Grip, Grin, and Greet – Always be ready to engage your potential customers with a smile, a firm handshake and a warm and sincere greeting.  Welcome them to the show, and thank them especially, for taking the time to stop by your booth.  Make sure you make direct eye contact during the handshake – not so long as to scare them with your fixed eyeballs, just the few seconds it takes to shake their hand in 2-3 movements.  Like in every social situation,  never underestimate the power of the first impression; which takes place in the first seven seconds – and most often begins with…the “3 G’s”.

Attendee Etiquette: 

#10 – Wear Comfortable Shoes – Again, consider the type of industry but as a visitor, while you are still expected to display appropriate attire, tasteful comfortable shoes will go a long way when pounding the pavement for several hours.

#9 – Don’t Overstay Your Welcome – Again, as in most social situations, overstaying one’s welcome is rude and can cost the vendor business.  Visit many booths, get your questions answered, accept the novelties offered and move along doggie!

#8 – Consumption of Food – Okay, one of the best trade shows I ever attended was a “natural and organic food expo” and wow….SO MUCH FOOD…although I’m sure I would enjoy ANY FOOD EXPO for that matter.  One thing for sure, every booth has SOMETHING to taste.  “TASTE”…that’s what I said.  Lingering around your favorite food booth to have lunch on their samples is a “tres faux pas”.  Graciously accept the sample, comment on the delightful flavor, ask questions if interested in the product and  again, move along doggie!

#7 – Tote Bag Etiquette – Many booths offer “insignia/logo tote bags” to promote their company.  Love that.  Many can be used at the grocery as your recycle bag.  Refrain from over-filling your bag with everything from every booth because you have some sort of “hoarding mentality” and feel you must take everything in case you ever need it.  It’s one thing to collect items of interest for further evaluation, consumption or use, but it won’t go un-noticed as you sling bags on each shoulder and both arms as though you just scored at Nordstrum or are living out some Rodeo Drive scene from “Pretty Woman”!  

#6 – Crowd Control – Some conventions are packed with attendees.  Maneuvering the floor gracefully, let alone finding the booths you’ve circled on your Exhibit Map, can be daunting.  Using the always popular phrases of “Excuse me, pardon me, may I, etc.” will get you through that mess much more quickly than shoving, elbowing and trying to get the front spot at  … guessed it…the massage chair booth!  Once there, sign up or get in line and wait your turn like a good sport.

#5 – Refills – Again, speaking of filling your bag/s…maybe the vendor won’t notice that you’ve been back three times to “sample” the chocolate covered strawberries or throw more key chains in your bag but I wouldn’t risk the embarrassment.  

#4 – Social Interruptions – It’s never easy or comfortable to interrupt a conversation but knowing how to do so with grace and proper etiquette can boost your confidence in so doing.  If a vendor is busy with another customer, wait for a moment to see if he plans to address your needs; pick up some information from the table and after a brief acceptable period,  politely offer two options as you are walking away; 1.)  Upon making eye contact, simply say “thank you, I’ll just take this info and stop by when you’re not busy”, or 2.), Say to the customer “Excuse me”, then to the vendor “I don’t mind waiting unless you’ll be a while”. Both of these options give the vendor a moment to reply, because you have in fact, been just as polite to his customer in your inquiry.

#3 – Again With the 3 G’s?? – Yes.  One never knows where the relationship is headed in business; so whether you are the vendor or attendee, make your first impression, your best impression.  See Tip # 1 of Vendor Etiquette. Why is it not #1 here?   Well, it could be, but the #1 tip here is equally important and to some, even more important.

#2 – The Power of  Thank You – Just because you paid to get in the door doesn’t mean you shouldn’t appreciate the effort of the vendors and venue staff.  Saying “thank you” for the goodies you take, the information you receive, directions to nearby tourist spots and any other reason to say “thank you”  should never be underestimated.  It is a powerful little “two-word” statement and never over-used.  Alternatively, if you’ve been given considerable time and attention from an exhibitor and the possibility of even working together in the future on some shared concept, make sure you send a “hand-written” Thank You note within the first week of said time together.  Not everyone has a beautifully engraved stationary wardrobe for such occasions, but even a nice pre-printed monogrammed note kit from a stationary or office supply store will serve the purpose.  Note cards that are conducive to the industry are also acceptable, for instance, I am in the etiquette business and while I love a lovely 100% cotton engraved look and feel, I am happy to send an artist’s watercolor rendering of tea service or flowers or any other such image that recognizes the artist…and complements the business at the same time.

#1...and the #1 way to improve your Attendee Etiquette is….. DON’T BE A SNEAK! – Business to Business Protocol – You’re in the same industry as the vendor but you didn’t pay to exhibit your wares.  You came to sell your product on the sly!  This is one of the biggest taboos of trade show etiquette and it can happen in a number of ways, but to name a few:  Direct solicitation of other attendees while parading the floor; sneakily posing as an interested customer at a competitor’s booth to gather useful data; and pitching a vendor on your product while they are busy trying to address their customers.  Nothing will seal your reputation quicker than this little plot you have in mind, so step up…either rent a booth and work it or pay your attendee registration fee and listen and learn about your industry in an appropriate manner.

I hope these etiquette tips will help you enjoy your next trip to the convention floor, whether as an exhibitor/vendor or attendee.  Conventions can be a great time for all, albeit hard work for many, but knowing the social and business etiquette associated with the event, will help everyone to have a wonderful experience to share with friends, family, peers and employers.



Having grown up in New Olreans, frequenting Mardi Gras parades was routine and always exciting and I doubt that in those crazy mass crowds of foot-stomping, line-dancing, bead-stealing paradaholics you will ever see a modicum of etiquette.  After all…Mardi Gras is about “madness” and seeing who can get the most beads around their neck without falling over.  However, with St. Patrick’s Day approaching and Memorial Day and Independence Day right on it’s heels, here are a few etiquette tips that can help make the experience an enjoyable and memorable one for all ages.

  • View Blocking:  Everyone wants to see the parade; unfortunately, everyone can’t have the front row.  Early settlers claim their spots, sometimes with chairs or just blankets on which to sit or stand.  The problem comes in when small children are behind all the big people (even those with children of their own).  Try to be considerate of the excitement a child has in seeing the bands, floats and firetrucks.  On occasion, scoot aside and offer the child a chance to grab a peek in front of you…after all, etiquette is about consideration and gracious moments.
  • Reserving Space:  As mentioned earlier, many will arrive as early as possible to claim their spot but keep in mind, the street and sidewalk are public property and available to all.  No one has a “right” to a spot if they leave to go get beer.  If you vacate your spot, it is not “reserved” so unless you have other family members with you to occupy it for you, don’t expect it to be available upon your return. 
  • Speaking of Beer:  Where I grew up, I have to admit, alcohol is a HUGE part of parade fun.  Of course, New Orleans is quite different from any other place in the world. Most states have laws prohibiting alcohol, depending on the city ordinances and liability issues.  Then again, many events will allow drinking out of plastic containers.  The point is….while social drinking and sharing fun times with friends at an event is commonplace, it is imperative to remember that there are children all around.  Know your limit.  Nothing is more crass than a loud, sloppy drunk screaming profanities at the marching band because he doesn’t like the piece they’re playing.  Such behavior can turn ugly….when Daddy’s little girl is asking what the “F” word means.
  • Ouch! That’s My Hand You’re Smashing!:  Again, in the Big Easy, you WILL get your hands and feet stomped on, smashed, broken and bruised.  “Dem doubloons  is like gold to da cajun folk and you will get hurt trying to claim your prize”!  Around the rest of the world, most parades don’t “throw things” out to the crowds, but some do.  For instance, in New Orleans at the St. Patrick’s Day parade, you can expect to catch cabbages and potatoes hurling through the air, green beads, doubloons (these are little metal coins with the name of the parade embossed on them and some are actually collectibles).  If you’re at a parade where candy, nik-naks, etc. are being thrown to the crowds, don’t stomp your foot on the item to claim it, lest you crush someone’s hand that was going for it at the same time.  It’s first to the product that gets it so back off and acquiesce. 
  • Blocking Businesses and Driveways:  Yes, it’s hard to find  a parking spot for a big fun parade but blocking someone’s business or a resident’s driveway is absolutely unacceptable.  Just because they live or work on the parade route does not give you free reign to park and run.  Sometimes, if it’s worth it to you, offering payment for such a privilege is an option.  One never knows if the owner is interested in the premium dollar just to have a car sitting for a few hours.  If you find yourself in such desperate need, and the owner is outside, politely approach and ask with a smile and good nature if their “space” is for rent.  The worst they can say is no.  Never disturb the resident or business owner by knocking on their door or interrupting their business for such a measure. 
  • Our American Flag:  While everyone may have been raised differently and told different rules regarding how we show respect for our American flag, any measure of respect is certainly better than none.  More often than not, when the Color Guard begins the parade, I rarely see anyone saluting the flag or removing their hat.  That being said, no one expects you to do so every time a band comes marching through.  It should be apparent that the first sighting of the American flag in the parade, respect should be shown in the form of  either your hand over your heart or saluting the flag as it passes….and ALWAYS remove your hat – men and women.  Many have paid a dear price in the name of the American flag and you can be sure, every veteran on that parade route is watching…and hurting….by the lack of respect shown for the sacrifices he/she made.
  • Backpacks:  If you’re traveling with a backpack, and it’s a good idea since you’ll not want to leave your spot if you can help it, try to keep it in front of you and lowered rather than slung on your back; chances are someone behind you will be getting bumped and swiped by your big wad of canvas every time you move.  Again….consideration is key. 
  • Litter:  It should go without saying that leaving your litter behind is just plain rude and disrespectful of the very public property to which you’ve been given the opportunity to enjoy such events.  Clean up your mess. …and teach your children the same.

As Valentine’s Day approaches and “love is in the air”, many men will be flocking to the Hallmark store, See’s Candy, and their local florist for the perfect “gift of romance”.  Dinner reservations will be made at casual and fine dining restaurants, and many “budding romances” will fret over what any of these actions will signal to the other. That being said, one can never go wrong with a beautiful arrangement of flowers.  A time-honored and Classic tradition, flowers can help you send the right message.

Before sending the signal that an engagement is in her future, check out the meaning of the color of a rose by Passion Growers.








Red roses are the traditional symbol for love and romance, and a time-honored way to say “I love you.” The red rose has long symbolized beauty and perfection. A bouquet of red roses is the perfect way to express your deep feelings for someone special.  Read more about the history and meaning of the red rose.

As a symbol of grace and elegance, the pink rose is often given as an expression of admiration. Pink roses can also convey appreciation as well as joyfulness. Pink rose bouquets often impart a gentler meaning than their red counterparts.  Read more about the history and meaning of the pink rose.

The bright, sunny color of yellow roses evokes a feeling of warmth and happiness. The warm feelings associated with the yellow rose are often akin to those shared with a true friend. As such, the yellow rose is an ideal symbol for joy and friendship. Read more about the history and meaning of the yellow rose.

White roses represent innocence and purity and are traditionally associated with marriages and new beginnings. The white rose is also a symbol of honor and reverence, and white rose arrangements are often used as an expression of remembrance. Read more about the history and meaning of the white rose.

With their blazing energy, orange roses are the embodiment of desire and enthusiasm. Orange roses often symbolize passion and excitement and are an expression of fervent romance. A bouquet of orange roses will send a meaningful message. Read more about the history and meaning of the orange rose.

The unique beauty of the lavender rose has captured many hearts and imaginations. With their fantastical appearance, lavender roses are a perfect symbol of enchantment. The lavender rose is also traditionally used to express feelings of love at first sight. Read more about the history and meaning of the lavender rose.

I hope you have a beautiful Valentine’s Day, whether you will share it with a friend, spouse, child, parent or new love.  Love is in the air!

With the recent passing of my mother-in-law, I was asked by MY mother, “how should I address the card to your family?”  Good question. Considering we talk every day and are obviously very “familiar”, the idea of formality seems awkward. Should she just send the card to my husband for his loss?  Should the card be sent to the whole family and if so, how does she address her grandson in the card?  Is he the “and family” part?

It seems much easier to address a card to someone more distant or not related,such as a co-worker or church acquaintance, so I thought I would share a few tips with my readers as to the appropriate form of address when sending a Sympathy card to the:


Widow of deceased:  Mrs. Robert Jones

Widow of deceased with children living at home:  Mrs. Robert Jones (on top line) followed by:  Jack, Mary, and John Jones (less acquainted with family: use The family of Robert Jones)

Single friend:  Mr. Robert Jones or Ms. Roberta Jones.  

Married friend:  Mr. and Mrs. Robert Jones or your friend and their family as in: John and Mary Smith or Mary Smith and family.

Colleague:  The family of Robert Jones

Parents:  Mr. and Mrs. Robert Jones

While we all understand that death is part of life, and that our belief system will help us through the journey, the simple gesture of sending thoughts to a bereaved can be very healing.  

Often times we are unsure of what to say or do when the annual date of a loss approaches. While it is not necessary to send a paper/mailed card every year, it is appropriate in our technological age to send a “thought” via email.  There are many “free card” and “pay cards” from which to choose.  Blue Mountain has a nice assortment of support cards that can lend comfort to a friend or family member as they remember their loved ones over the years.


I am a true patriot.  I actually get out of my chair in my home office when I hear the National Anthem and move into the family room to stand respectfully and listen.  Yes….this is a “sports home” around here and my husband and son are ALWAYS watching SOMETHING that usually involves the National Anthem….and in this house…we respect that.  So…stop chomping on your Doritos, take off your team’s hat, and take a moment to STAND…and LISTEN…it’s quite beautiful and moving to listen to our National Anthem. 

Now…enough about how we do it at home….what about the teams…the coaches….the fans…the media? How can I raise and teach my son to respect the National Anthem if while he is standing and listening, he sees players chewing gum (or chew), or scratching (yep, I’ve seen it), or worse yet, chattering to a player next to them (seen that too).  

What about the fans?  I seriously despise when all the fans begin to rant and rave and cheer before the National Anthem has finished.  I don’t care how excited they are about the game…really…you can’t wait for the final two lines before you drown out the vocalist.  It’s not about their talent…or stardom…it’s about The Anthem. 

Can we just get back to place of respect…less than 3 minutes of our time…to respectfully listen, imagine, and view…Old Glory…with all the respect she deserves. 

With a range of one and a half octaves, it is known for being difficult to sing. Although the song has four stanzas, only the first is commonly sung today, with the fourth (“O! thus be it ever when free men shall stand…”) added on more formal occasions.[2] The fourth stanza includes the line “And this be our motto: In God is our Trust”.[3] The United States adopted “In God We Trust” as its national motto in 1956.  (Source – 

So….I give you…my own etiquette tips for the National Anthem:

  • Remove your hat – male or female:  Yes, in the old days women didn’t have to do so…but hats were pinned and tethered and formal….nowadays, girls/women are wearing team caps, remove them.
  • If you are wearing a hat, place the hat across your heart with the inside of the hat facing your heart.
  • Address the flag – and no one or anything else.
  • Stop chewing.
  • Stop talking.
  • Stop moving/rocking.
  • Military members in uniform will salute the flag from the first note of the National Anthem until the last note is played.
  • Military members NOT in uniform, may also salute the flag throughout the Anthem.
  • All others will place their right hand over their heart for the duration of the Anthem.
  • Sing along if you desire – it will bring you closer to the history.  Do not be intimidated by celebrity power singers.  Contrary to some of them making it all about themselves, it is not…it is for you to honor your country… so please – sing along. It was stated in the 1942 National Anthem Committee, which wrote, “Since the message of the music is greatly heightened by the test, it is of paramount importance that emphasis be placed upon the singing of the National Anthem.”
  • While there is no “legal punishment” for NOT upholding these rules of etiquette, it is about “respect” so, put out the cigarette, put down your soda or beer, put your hand or your hat over your heart, eyes on the flag, and sing your heart out!



Well, I have to say, I was already pulling out the black and gold tablescaping for another “Saints Superbowl Party” when…well, let’s not re-live the moment we knew when that all changed!  I’m over it.  Time to get pumped for the Giants and Patriots right?!  Superbowl XLVI (that’s 46th for the roman numeral challenged) takes place in Indianapolis this year at 6:30pm EST at at Lucas Oil Stadium.  Since most of us won’t be tailgating there, here are a few tips to help make Superbowl, any year, fabulous, fun and full of friendly fans!

You’re The Host:

  • Tell your neighbors.  Especially if you think there will be a major parking issue.  It’s always nice to include them in the invite if you’re on friendly terms.  This definitely seals the parking issue up.

  • Get in the game. Whether you’re serving appetizers, pizza and wings, or blessed to have your affair catered, set the spirit!  Use the team colors (a no-brainer this year) for centerpieces and cocktail napkins.  Create a fun centerpiece with small footballs, turf grass and mini-penants from the party/dollar stores.  Print up a Superbowl Pool Grid on card stock with the team colors and place along side an envelope for collections and a  “team cup” that holds pencils for filling in the squares.  The amount should be agreed upon by everyone but keep in mind, this is a “spirit-raiser”, not the Sports Book in Vegas. 


  • Greet your guests and make introductions.  Don’t leave your guests waiting at the door while you’re busy with the bbq.  Greet them promptly with smiles and warmth as you bring them into join you and others.  Introduce or “refresh an introduction” to all the guests and let the small talk begin.  “Mary, you may recall meeting John at our Superbowl party last year.  John Jones, this is Mary Smith.  Mary works with me at XYZ.

  • Take their coat.  Not literally of course.  You can’t keep it!!  Even if it is that fabulous Alexander McQueen leopard print you want!  Be sure to assist your guest in taking their coat and letting them know where you are storing it so they can access it if needed.  If they don’t need their coat until departure, the host should retrieve the coat for their guest. 

  • Get the ball rolling.  Offer beverages soon after introductions and point your guests towards the food station.  Generally, football parties are best suited for buffet/kitchen island style dining or a barbeque outside, weather permitting.  Keep plenty of food, napkins, cocktail plates, toothpicks for h’ordoeurves, and cold beverages on hand throughout the game.

  • Have enough seating.  It’s true that not everyone will sit at the same time…but for Superbowl, expect a few guys to “own that seat for the duration”.  With the increasing excitement of seeing the newest “who will be the winner” commercials, seats may be at a premium.  Bring in the card table chairs, dining room chairs, and if it’s a super casual event, have some throw pillows and comfy throws available for those that are happy to lean at the feet of their spouse or date.

  • Kids coming?  Let’s face it…the kids are NOT going to sit for three or four hours watching the game.  They’ll just interrupt those that do.  Have a snack table and beverages in a small ice chest that can be in “their own space” (a child’s room, the converted for game day garage, etc.) and have age appropriate games, toys, coloring, etc. for them to enjoy together.  Oh…here’s a thought.  Give them a football to throw – outside, weather permitting.  I know, they’ll probably just play Madden on their hand-held, but it’s worth a try.

  • The party’s over.  Thank your guests for taking the time to spend the day with you.  Thank them if they drove a great distance to be with you.  Thank them for anything they may have contributed, i.e., food, gifts, help, etc.  Have your “co-host” (usually a spouse/date or designated friend) get the coats while you are graciously escorting to the door.

You’re The Guest:
  • Be a great guest.  If you’re the guest at this fabulous party, you have a few party etiquette rules too.


  • RSVP as soon as possible.  Waiting until the last minute implies you are waiting for a better offer.  

  • Bring a hostess gift.  Wine (to be offered for a future event), gourmet candy, fresh flowers or a homemade treat are all a welcomed gift. 


  • Arrive on time, unless you’ve advised ahead with any challenges in doing so.


  • Offer to help the hostess.  Even little things like carrying re-loaded trays of treats to the football fanatics that haven’t moved an inch since the game started, is a big help


  • Remember “bathroom etiquette“.  No splashing and leaving water drops everywhere.  No using the plush monogrammed guest towel (a smart hostess will have a basket or bowl of individual small guest towels and a receptacle in which to place used ones or very nice disposable napkins.  He/she will also have air freshener discreetly tucked away).  Basically, leave the loo as fresh and clean as you found it.

  • Don’t over-indulge.  Food or beverage.

  • Get a clue.  Don’t overstay your welcome.  While most party invitations will have a start/end time, some will end with natural timing, like the end of the game in this scenario.  Watch for clues from your host.  They may enjoy having you stay a little while afterwards to enjoy some conversational time that perhaps was thwarted during the event; however, if you see him/her washing dishes, turning off the TV and booting up their iPad (okay, a proper host would never do these things), then get a clue.  It’s time to go.

Have a wonderful Superbowl and I leave you with a simple little toast to share with your guests:


“Here’s to the bird that flew the coop,

Without losing a single feather;

And may this time next year, 

We all be together.”

When it comes to men’s fashion, we’ve come a long way since the 1950’s when the simple white shirt, black skinny tie and dark suit was the only choice a man had.  Though some things are timeless and fashions do tend to reappear years later, today, men have the option of so many different ties, shirt hues, shoe styles, and other dapper accessories, that it is important to know what one should wear at the job interview, on the job or when meeting clients.

I love to defer to my friend and peer, Diane Gottsman of The Protocol School of Texas. Diane has a great quiz for men to take (or the woman who dresses her man!) with answers that may surprise you. 

Are you one of those people that just freeze up at the thought of how to enter a room and mingle with the other guests?  You don’t know anyone there and have no idea what to do besides stick to the wall and hope to get in and get out after making your obligatory appearance.  Some people are just naturals in this atmosphere but many find it a daunting experience.

A few tips that might help include the following:

  • Place yourself in close proximity to those gathered near the bar or the food (that’s where most people congregate at all gatherings).
  • Simply introduce yourself to someone and mention why you are there or what connection you may have.  They will almost certainly offer the same information back.
  • A couple of sentences are all that is necessary to “break the ice” as well as move on if it is more comfortable for you.  For example:  “Hi, I am Jane.  My daughter Britney is on the team”.  (At which time the other person will probably offer a similar sentiment).

Former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, as all busy diplomats, would find herself at many gatherings, cocktail parties, fundraisers, and events.  Having the sometimes uncomfortable obligation of making small talk, in her mind, she would go down the alphabet until a subject sparked a listener’s interest, starting with A. For example, A: Airline travel has sure come a long way in a short time, hasn’t it?; B: I just saw Beauty and the Beast at the theatre, have you seen it?; C: California sure has amazing weather, I’m so glad we have a nice day for this event? …and so on.

The following was taken with permission from The Freitag Funeral Home.

When someone you know dies, or faces a death in their family, your first instinct may be to help- but you may not be sure of what to say or what to do. It is natural to feel this way.

One of the highest privileges you can accept is helping a friend or family member during their time of grief.

The Condolence Visit.

While you may feel hesitant about intruding on the family during their grief, the condolence visit is important. It reassures the bereaved that while their loved one is gone, they are not alone; that while they have suffered a great loss, they are still connected to the living, and that life will, indeed, go on.

When should I visit?

Immediately upon learning of a death, intimate friends of the family should go to the home of the mourner to offer sympathy and ask if they can render any service. There are many ways you can be helpful, by providing food or assisting with child care, making phone calls or answering the door.

You may make a condolence visit at any time, before the funeral or after, especially in the first weeks following the death. If you call early you may certainly pay another visit to let the bereaved know they remain in your thoughts.

You may prefer to visit the family at the funeral home. This setting may be more comfortable for you and the family, as they are prepared for visitors. The newspaper will provide information about calling hours, or you may call the funeral home for instructions.

How long should I stay at a condolence call or visitation?

You need not stay long; fifteen minutes gives you enough time to express your sympathy and offer your support. Of course, if the bereaved indicates they would like you to remain for a while, take your cue from them and stay longer. Use your own judgment. If you feel your presence is of comfort, offer to stay as long as the family needs you and you are able.

What should I say?

Using your own words, express your sympathy. Kind words about the deceased are always appropriate. Depending on your relationship to the family, you may say something like: “I am so sorry about John. He was a good friend, and I will miss him very much.”

If the bereaved wants to talk, they usually simply need to express their feelings; they aren’t necessarily looking for a response from you. They may say things that seem irrational or pose questions that have no answer, and the kindest response is usually a warm hug, and a sympathetic, “I understand.”

What should I not say?

Do not ask the cause of death; if the family wants to discuss it, let them bring it up.

Don’t give advice. The family should be allowed to make their own decisions without influence from well-meaning friends.

Don’t make comments that would diminish the importance of the loss. Comments such as “you are young, you’ll marry again,” or “he was suffering so much, death was a blessing,” or “I’ve been through this myself,” are not comforting to the bereaved.

Religious & ethnic customs.

Customs may differ among various communities, ethnic groups and religions, and we have tried to indicate a few of the most important differences here. Please feel free to contact us for guidance, as we are well versed in the customs of many faiths. For more details, you may also refer to a more comprehensive guide, such as those by Emily Post or Amy Vanderbilt.

Mourning in the Jewish faiths.

In families of Jewish faiths, interment of the deceased usually occurs within twenty-four hours of death, at which time the family returns home for a seven-day period of mourning. The first days of mourning are reserved for the family; friends usually wait until at least the third day to visit. Calls are generally made in the evenings or on the Sunday of the week of the death; calls are not made on the Sabbath (from Friday afternoon until after dark on Saturday).

Remember, customs will vary depending if the family is of the Orthodox or the Reform Jewish faith. Please ask us if you need guidance.

The Formal Visitation.

A formal visitation provides a time and place for friends to offer their expressions of sorrow and sympathy. This practice is most common among the Protestant and Catholic faiths. The obituary notice should tell you the visitation hours and when the family will be present, or you may call the funeral home for this information.

Meet the family.

Upon arrival, go to the family, and express your sympathy with an embrace or by offering your hands. Don’t feel as though you must avoid talking about the person who has died. Talking can help the grieving process begin. Offer a simple statement of condolence, such as “I’m so sorry. My sympathy to you and your family,” or “Your grandmother was a fine person. She will be missed by many.”

If you were an acquaintance of the deceased but not well-known to the family, immediately introduce yourself. You may say something like, “Hello, we have not met, but George and I worked together several years ago. My name is Mary Smith.”


Do not feel uncomfortable if you or the bereaved becomes emotional or begins to cry. Allowing the bereaved to grieve is a natural healing process. However, if you find yourself becoming extremely upset, it would be kinder to excuse yourself so as not to increase the strain on the family.

Pay your respects to the person who has died.

Viewing the deceased is not mandatory. However, if offered by the family, it is customary to show your respects by viewing the deceased and, if you desire, spending a few moments in silent prayer. The family may wish to escort you to the casket, or you may proceed on your own.

Signing the register.

Always enter your name in the register book, using your full name so the family can better identify you. If you were a business associate of the deceased, it is appropriate to note your company affiliation if the family may not otherwise know you.


After you have spoken to the family, it is perfectly appropriate to engage in quiet conversation with friends you may meet at the visitation. Your simple presence will mean a lot to the family. You do not need to stay for the entire visitation, but try not to leave during prayers, if they are being offered.

Other Expressions of Condolences.

While there is no substitute for a personal visit if you are physically able to do so, there are many other ways to express your sympathy.


A floral tribute can be of great comfort to the family. If you can imagine walking into a room filled with the loveliness and the soft fragrance of beautiful flowers, you can understand how something so simple can be so meaningful.

You may send your flowers to the funeral home or the residence before the funeral. It is also appropriate to send flowers to the residence after the funeral. Your florist can guide you in selecting something appropriate within your price range.

There are only a few exceptions when flowers are not appropriate. If the family requests flowers be omitted, or that donations in lieu of flowers be made, you should honor the request. You should not send flowers to an Orthodox Jewish funeral. Flowers are not sent to a Catholic church, although they are welcomed at the funeral home. Protestant churches will generally accept flowers, but many families prefer flowers be sent to the funeral home, with the casket having a floral offering from the family for the funeral.

Mass Cards.

When the deceased was Catholic, mass cards may be sent instead of or in addition to flowers. Catholics and non-Catholics may arrange for a mass to be said for the deceased. Contact us for information about obtaining a mass card, which you may mail or give personally to the family, usually before the funeral. Or, you may leave your card on the tray provided at the funeral home. It is also appropriate to arrange a mass on the anniversary of the death.

Memorial Gifts.

A gift of remembrance is always appropriate, especially when the family had requested such a gift in lieu of flowers. It is nice to personalize your gift to the deceased, for example, by making a gift to his or her alma mater, or contributing to medical research for the disease they suffered. Or, the family will suggest a specific charity or other memorial fund.

We can provide you with the appropriate card to inform the family of your gift. You should also provide the family’s name and address to the charity so they can send proper notification. It is also acceptable to mention your gift in a note of condolence, without mentioning the monetary amount. You might say, “Because Aunt Louise loved the ballet so much, we have made a gift to the city ballet in her honor.”

Cards and notes.

Sending a card of sympathy is always in good taste, even if you were simply an acquaintance of the deceased. If the family is not likely to recognize your name, it is kind to add a few words to your expressions of sympathy, such as “Margaret and I were classmates in college…”

If you were well-acquainted with the deceased and/or the family, a personal note is a gracious way to convey your feelings. These letters are often saved and treasured by the family. Like flowers, they are tangible symbols of caring.

The best letters are simple but sincere expressions of your sympathy for the family, of your affection for the deceased, and your desire to be of some help to the family. Try to relate a personal and fond memory of the deceased- how you first met, perhaps- and also tell how he or she may have influenced your life. And of course, all notes should be handwritten.

Phone calls.

If you are local, a visit is preferred. Out-of-town friends should telephone as soon as possible to offer condolences and offer their services. Keep your call brief, since many others will be calling at this time. If a friend or family member is fielding phone calls for the mourners, be sure to leave your name and a brief message, and ask if there is a good time when you may call again.


Telegrams are appropriate from those who are not intimate with the family, for example, a business associate or a former neighbor. The family will appreciate your message of concern.

Gifts for the family.

The most welcome gift at this time is food. The bereaved may have little interest or energy for managing household duties. Also, there may be several visitors in the house who need to be fed. During the days immediately following the death, bring substantial dishes that require little preparation other than perhaps reheating. Or, you may want to bring something to help the family with their hosting duties, such as cookies or some other food they may serve to visitors.

It would also be kind to remember the children, who are going through a difficult time. A small gift such as a book or a quiet toy like a puzzle would be appropriate.

Give of your time. Volunteer to undertake a specific task to ease the family’s strain- watch the children, care for the pets, vacuum the house, run errands.

Money is not an appropriate gift, although exceptions may be made when the family is left in extreme financial difficulty. In that case, friends may wish to pool contributions to make a gift of assistance.

The Funeral Service.

The funeral service will differ depending on the religious and personal beliefs of the family. The service may be held at a church, temple, funeral home or residence. Most families choose the funeral home as the setting, with a brief service often following at graveside.


Whether the service is held at the funeral home or at a place of worship, enter quietly and be seated. Depending on the size of the funeral, you may be assisted by an usher. The first few rows are usually reserved for family members, but you should feel free to sit closely behind them to offer your support and comfort.

The ceremony.

The ceremony is generally conducted by a member of the clergy. Do not worry if you are unfamiliar with the religious customs of the family. Follow the guide of others.

Conclusion of ceremony.

Often, the family will want a few private moments with their loved one after the ceremony. If you are informed that the service is concluded, you will want to leave promptly, and wait in your car if you plan to be part of the funeral procession. You are not obligated to participate in the procession, but the moments can be difficult for the family.

Please turn on your headlights so you will be identified as part of the procession, and remember to turn them off when you arrive at the cemetery.

At the cemetery.

If there is a graveside service, the chairs at the casket are reserved for immediate family members. You may be asked to stand for the brief graveside service, which may include a short prayer or other words of strength and encouragement. An announcement is generally made at the end of the remarks indicating if the family will be receiving visitors at home following the service.

What is appropriate dress?

Black is not required today for the visitation or the funeral. You should dress in a way to show respect to the family and other mourners. This usually means a suit and conservative tie for men, and conservative clothes for women. Children should be dressed in their better clothes, such as what they might wear to church. The most important thing is not how you are dressed, but that you are there.

Should children come to a funeral?

Parents are the best judge of whether their child is old enough to comprehend death and whether attending the funeral will be meaningful to them. It is important that children be allowed to express their grief and share in this important ritual. Children can also be naturally uplifting to those in grief, a hopeful reminder of the future. If you bring young children, carefully explain to them the importance of being on their very best behavior. If a very young child becomes cranky or noisy, remove them promptly so as not to disturb the dignity of the occasion.

Immediately After the Funeral.

Immediately after the funeral, the family often extends an open invitation to join them for food and a quiet reception at home. This provides an opportunity for friends and family to talk, and provides some rest and refreshment, especially for those who have traveled to the funeral.

It is a nice gesture to offer to bring food ahead of time for this post-funeral gathering. Your offer of food at any time in the days, weeks and even months after a death will be greatly appreciated by the family who will be busy attending to other details while also trying to cope with the day-to-day routine. Be specific in your offer; for example, you may say “I would like to prepare a chicken casserole for your dinner; may I bring it over on Thursday?”


After the difficult and busy days surrounding a death, the family is faced with the challenge of resuming their lives. Your understanding and help at this time can be a major comfort.

What should I say when I run into the bereaved in public?

What you say depends upon whether or not you have already had contact with the bereaved. If you have already paid a condolence call, or attended the visitation or funeral, simply greet your friend warmly and express an interest in their well-being.

If this is your first meeting since the death, your impulse may be to express your sympathy. However, it is kinder to not bring up the death directly, as you may bring about tears, which, in a public place, could be painful to your friend. Rather, be tactful with your comments, perhaps saying something like, “I understand these must be difficult days for you…” If you wish, inquire when a good time might be to visit, or make a specific invitation to lunch or dinner.

What can I do to help later?

The family will continue to need your support for many months to come. Don’t disappear after the funeral. Drop a note or make a phone call on a regular basis. Ask them to lunch. Continue to include them in your social plans; they will let you know when and if they are ready to participate.

It is also especially kind to remember the family on special occasions during the first year of their bereavement. A note to the widow or widower on his or her wedding anniversary, or a phone call on the birthday of the deceased will be appreciated. Don’t worry that you will be bringing up the pain of the loss; they are well aware of their loss. Rather, your acknowledgement doesn’t just recognize the death, it reaffirms that a life was lived.

The following information is provided by The Rochester Funeral Home:

Anyone who presented or sent a gift or card to the family, deserves a thank you note. Examples would be to thank anyone who has sent in a memorial contribution, brought food to the house of the grieving family, sent flowers, or in some other tangible way acknowledged the death. Those visitors who attend the calling hours do not require a thank you card.

It is suggested that thank you notes be sent within two weeks of the death. In the past, thank you notes included a personal letter from the grieving family, but today a simple thank you card with a signature, is accepted. Many people include a personal note or a hand written thank you, but that is a personal choice.

A personal note is recommended for thanking your clergy person. If an honorarium or offering is sent, send it in a separate envelope. Do not include it with the thank you note.

A separate note to each pallbearer is recommended. Personal messages of thanks will be appreciated by each individual who graciously assisted in this important task.

For individuals, you may wish to include a personal word or two of thanks on the acknowledgement card. For groups or organizations, send the note to the leader of the group and remember to include all the members of the group in your note. If individual member names appear on the floral card, a separate note should be sent to each one. You do not have to include a personal message in this instance.

Flowers that were sent from a group of neighbors or employees, require a separate thank you to each name included on the floral card. You may or may not include a hand written message of thanks.

Friends who have volunteered their help in any way-such as driving a car in the funeral procession, helping the family with arrangements or food, etc. deserve a separate written thank you.

As stated earlier, it is not necessary to send thank you cards to friends or visitors that stop in at the home of the grieving family or that attend the calling hours at the funeral home.

If the neighbors or friends who have volunteered their help are close to the family, you may feel better thanking them in person. In this instance, use your own judgment to determine if a written note is necessary.


The American School of Protocol recently posed the question on their Facebook Page as to the appropriate dress code for a funeral and it inspired me to write a post about the subject.

While it is becoming more acceptable to wear brighter colors, usually if it is a Celebration of Life type memorial, subdued colors and conservative dress is still the most appropriate form of respect for the somber occasion.

Rochester Funeral Homes states:  “Out of respect for the family, try to keep your dress simple but not too casual. Many orthodox cultures still adhere to the traditional black attire, and if you opt for that choice, you will never go wrong”.

San Diego Etiquette Consultant Receives Certification from Prestigious American School of Protocol

It sounds simple enough…but there is a skill to properly holding one’s knife and fork to yield peak performance of the utensils and to present one’s self with proper social grace.  In either the American or Continental style of dining, the following is the correct manner in which to hold the knife and fork:

  • Grasp the utensils’ handles in the palms of the hands.
  • Place  the index fingers on the back of the fork and knife.
  • Gently apply sufficient pressure on the top of the fork and knife where the tines/blade meet the handle.
  • Cut from the top down.
  • Do not apply too much pressure — food will fly off the plate.
  • Use proper “finished” and “resting” positions when not using the flatware.


For more than 200 years, the American flag has been the symbol of our nation’s strength and unity. It’s been a source of pride and inspiration for millions of citizens. TheAmerican Flag has been a prominent icon in our national history. Here are the highlights of its unique past.On January 1, 1776, the Continental Army was reorganized in accordance with a Congressional resolution which placed American forces under George Washington’s control. On that New Year’s Day the Continental Army was laying siege to Boston which had been taken over by the British Army. Washington ordered the Grand Union flag hoisted above his base at Prospect Hill. It had 13 alternate red and white stripes and the British Union Jack in the upper left-hand corner (the canton).

In May of 1776, Betsy Ross reported that she sewed the first American flag.

On June 14, 1777, in order to establish an official flag for the new nation, the Continental Congress passed the first Flag Act: “Resolved, That the flag of the United States be made of thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new Constellation.”

Between 1777 and 1960, Congress passed several acts that changed the shape, design and arrangement of the flag and allowed for additional stars and stripes to be added to reflect the admission of each new state.

  • Act of January 13, 1794 – provided for 15 stripes and 15 stars after May 1795.
  • Act of April 4, 1818 – provided for 13 stripes and one star for each state, to be added to the flag on the 4th of July following the admission of each new state, signed by President Monroe.
  • Executive Order of President Taft dated June 24, 1912 – established proportions of the flag and provided for arrangement of the stars in six horizontal rows of eight each, a single point of each star to be upward.
  • Executive Order of President Eisenhower dated January 3, 1959 – provided for the arrangement of the stars in seven rows of seven stars each, staggered horizontally and vertically.
  • Executive Order of President Eisenhower dated August 21, 1959 – provided for the arrangement of the stars in nine rows of stars staggered horizontally and eleven rows of stars staggered vertically.

Today the flag consists of thirteen horizontal stripes, seven red alternating with 6 white. The stripes represent the original 13 colonies, the stars represent the 50 states of the Union. The colors of the flag are symbolic as well: Red symbolizes Hardiness and Valor, White symbolizes Purity and Innocence and Blue represents Vigilance, Perseverance and Justice.

If you have suggestions, comments or questions about any current or historical American Flags, visit this discussion board . USA Flag Site does not sell flags. Visit American Flagpole & Flag as a good source of American Flags for sale.

This post permitted by:   USA Flag Site

I absolutely LOVE this blogsite from Classy and Fabulous.  You must check it out as they have SO MANY wonderful ideas.  Take a look at this beautiful place setting.  To properly set your table, remember a few simple tips:

  1. Drink/Right – Food/Left (Five letters in Drink and Right; Four letters in Food and Left)
  2. BMW – A simple way to remember that “bread, meal, water” are placed from left to right. (Bread and butter plate is to the upper left of the plate while beverages are to the upper right of the plate.
  3. Fork/Left – Knife & Spoon/Right – If you remember that “fork” has four letters just like “left” while “knife” and “spoon” has five letters just like “right”, you will remember to set your fork/s on the left and your knife/knives and spoons/on the right.


Village News article on Flag Etiquette

Napkins – Placement and Protocol:

A truly formal table has only one correct placement for a napkin, to the left side of the place setting. The napkin should be folded with the closed edge to the left and the open edge to the right. There are no exceptions!  This rule applies for rectangular, triangular, and square shape folds.  Silverware should never be placed on the napkin. Note: Less formal affairs may allow a fancy folded napkin to be placed in the center of the place setting. (Although, you will find many wedding events and other special gala tablescapes routinely dressed with the napkin in the center of the plate).  Heck, if it’s good enough for the Queen (above photo)….

The proper protocol when excusing oneself from the table, whether during or after a dining experience, is to gently place one’s napkin to the left side of your place setting. This rule is not negotiable for the simple reason if one’s napkin were soiled it could damage the seat covering, damage that may be either costly to repair or irreplaceable. While the risk for soiling a cloth also exists, the cloth can be laundered with relative ease.

Upon completion of a dining experience, a napkin folded with a crease and placed to the left side of your place setting indicates to your host or hostess that you wish to be invited back.

The expression, “to make ends meet”, derives from the 1729 French Court. The dress code for men included decorative stiff ruffled collars. When dining, a napkin was tied around the neck to protect their collars, hence the expression.

Credit:  Parts of this post  have been excerped from:

It is not uncommon for working peers to develop relationships over the course of time (or sometimes instantly).   There are many opportunities that present themselves from the office lunch gatherings to the annual Christmas party to the dangerously riskly  “boss/secretary attraction”…and we’re just discussing the “single and available” group here!

With that in mind, I’d love to share some wonderful tips from a peer of mine in the image and etiquette field, Ms. Pat Elke of Advancing With Style. Pat shares some very insightful thoughts on how to handle office romances as we approach Valentine’s Day.  Enjoy the read!

Etiquette 101 and 102 at The Elder House

Magnolia School On Air Promo

Recently I had to visit a local county courthouse to file some business papers.  The lobby area was similar to your typical DMV office only less crowded and noticably cleaner.  I noticed a diverse group of people ranging from “excitedly happy photo-shooting about to get married” couples to construction workers, business associates and more.  I arrived as early as possible but not quite early enough so I had to stand in line for about 45 minutes.  I didn’t mind.  I always bring a book or magazine when I visit any government office!  Unfortunately, I could hardly hear myself think or absorb the written word because one of the  seated customers, who apparently had complete disregard for every person in the place including the staff, decided to show a video clip of her dancing grandchild boldly displayed from her cell phone!  The  music was turned up as loud as her Blackberry or whatever she had would allow and one could’t help but see the little dancing creature on the screen, because she kept holding it up and showing other members of the family on either side of her chair.

Now I didn’t mind so much that someone wanted to share in their grand-ternal joy, but after about 20 minutes of hearing this scratchy loud music and the incessant chatter of the performer,  I had to use all the grace I could muster to tune it out and count the minutes before my turn was next at the window.

Clearly it even disturbed the staff, who needed to concentrate on the various business licenses, marriage documents, and more that they were processing at the time.  I even told the service agent when I reached her window…”someone on your staff should make it clear that this is disturbing everyone and that cell phones should be used only outside the lobby area”; and while she seemed just as annoyed, apathy is the prevailing emotion of many government employees.

I think cell phone etiquette is at the top of the list for the most common display of ill-manners.

Flag etiquette and protocol entails a variety of codes that apply to state and military flags. Wikipedia lists several rules of respect that are outlined in the U.S. Flag Code.

When flying the United States of America flag, one may also refer to the National Flag Foundation to answer a multitude of questions from folding, raising and lowering, displaying on vehicles, flag groupings, half-staff ceremony, and more.  The American Flag is a living symbol of our country and represents the past and present sacrifices for freedom and liberty.  It is an honor to fly my American flag high upon it’s mast in dedication to those sacrifices and to respect the code and protocol of it’s proper usage, handling, and ceremonial display.

Please visit the National Flag Foundation for all  protocol on our American Flag.

The flag of the United States is a living symbol that calls to our spirit, reminding us of the greatness of America. We cherish and uphold it because it is the standard of honor under which we live.  The proper name of the nation’s symbol is the United States Flag; however, it is sometimes referred to as Old Glory.

We view the flag with devotion, for it represents our national heritage of noble deeds, splendid accomplishment, and untold sacrifices which combined to establish the moral character of our country. Our flag is a symbol that makes our past one with the present and makes the present a foundation for tomorrow.

It signifies a people dedicated to liberty, justice and freedom for all.

It is our companion around the world. It summons confidence on sight. There is a magic in its folds that continually renews the hope that this nation, under God, will long be an example everywhere for all who love freedom with honor.

We give homage to the flag because it stands for the courageous, earnest, and unselfish experiences of our people who have given us strength as a nation and pride as citizens.

We respect our flag because we have respect for our fellow citizens, and because our love for country finds its center in our flag.

The customs and traditions which surround the display and use of our flag are guides to the means by which we as proud and grateful citizens may demonstrate the ultimate respect for the flag of our nation. In honoring and saluting our flag we demonstrate affection for our nation, fellow citizens and the proud future we share.

Please visit The National Flag Foundation for all rules of protocol for the United States Flag.

Writing a Thank You note is a very simple gesture of showing appreciation for something one has received from another.  It could be a service, gift, meeting,  lunch, dinner, or time spent in someone’s home or office.  It should be sent the same or next day when possible and need only be a sincere and thoughtful expression of how grateful one is for whatever was received.

Try picking up a couple of boxes of different style “Thank You” note cards from dollar stores or fine stationers if you choose.  I like to keep a variety of simple styles, elegant cards, and also business or professional appearing cards.  This way, if one is thanking a gentlemen, business associate or employer, choosing a less feminine card might be more appropriate; however, all Thank You cards are appreciated.  Two to three lines of communication is appropriate and should always mention the particular gift or event.

It is impolite to use your cell phone when in the company of others, unless they are partner to the conversation, i.e.,  you are calling for dinner reservations for those in your company at the time.  In today’s business climate, people inappropriately use their cell phones in airport seating areas, restaurants, bars, commuter trains, and even in line at the bank .

There is rarely such an urgency to take or make a call that cannot wait until more private circumstances permit.   Turn off your ringer when dining or meeting with someone.  No matter if it’s a friend, client, or family member…vibration works fine…at which time you may subtly glance down to see if the call is urgent.  At that time, excuse yourself and take your phone to a private area to make your call.

Here are some great tips on Cell Phone Etiquette from my friend Diane Gottsman of The Protocol School of  Texas:


  • Do avoid checking your cell phone or smart device during a business meeting. Admittedly, the urge to check the time on your phone, leads to checking your emails and text messages, which leads to answering correspondence while sitting in an important meeting with your client of boss.
  • Do notify the presenter before the meeting begins if you’re expecting an urgent call. By doing so, he/she won’t be offended (they still will feel the sting!) if you have to excuse yourself to take a call. Sit in the back so you can exit discreetly.
  • Do turn your cell phone on silent whenever possible before entering a presentation or meeting. The vibrate setting is still disturbing when your phone is on a conference table, in your bag, or on the floor but at least shows you were attempting to show good manners.
  • Do carefully select a discreet ring tone and set your ringer volume on the lowest setting possible. Save the latest Lady Gaga for your personal time.
  • Do remember to include an email signature for all email messages you send/reply to via phone. The email signature that you’ve set up on your computer will likely not carry over. You may also wish to remove the “sent from my iPhone” or similar message that is automatically included at the end of emails you send from your cell phone.


  • Don’t text or email during a business meeting or presentation. If you must email, wait for a scheduled break in the agenda and step outside to send your quick communication.
  • Don’t update social networks during a business meeting. Although Facebook, Twitter, and other networks/apps may be tempting (especially during longer presentations) practice good cell phone etiquette by just saying “no.” Unless you’ve been designated to LIVE tweet from a conference, keep your hands off your cell phone.
  • Don’t bring personal cell phone calls into the office when returning from your lunch break. End the call before you enter the building whenever possible or you’ll risk your colleagues catching the end of an otherwise private conversation.
  • Don’t deck out your cell phone in bling or otherwise tacky skins or cases. Your phone is an extension of your personal brand. Hot pink, diamond-encrusted phone accessories can take away from an otherwise professional appearance. Choose a sleek and understated cover instead.
  • Don’t assume clients or coworkers text. Email or telephone is more professional and appropriate for office communication unless you know for certain that texting is the preferred method of choice.
  • Don’t send out mass text messages or photos to your entire contact list. Not everyone will be interested in your latest vacation photo or the picture of your best friend’s new baby girl.

When writing a sympathy note, the most thoughtful way is to say what you truly feel.  A brief and heart-felt line or two expressing the genuine feeling you had for the deceased is always appreciated by those who are mourning their loss.  Try not to dwell on the details of an illness or the manner of death.  Other common but well-intended mistakes,  are saying such things as the loss is a “blessing in disguise” or “they’re in a better place now”.  This is little comfort to the emptiness the family is experiencing.  Always ask if there is anything you can do to help.  Often, just bringing a casserole or providing a dinner now and then in the first few weeks or months can be a huge help to the family.

R.S.V.P. is an abbreviation for the French phrase “respondez s’il vous plait”, which translated, means “Respond if you please”, or more loosly, “Please respond”.  One should respond to an invitation, whether it is by snail mail, electronic, or telephone – as soon as possible.  More formal invitations will sometimes have a deadline for responding so that the host can provide caterers and other vendors with head-count information.


Even a casual invitation – or a request of a friend or business associate – should be replied to promptly when possible.  To RSVP  is the polite and respectful way of “answering” your neighbor, friend, or host in the most timely manner so they can move forward with their plans.

If the invitation is formal, as in a wedding or reception event, usually a self-addressed and stamped envelope with the details will be provided for one to return with great ease, albeit replacing a once beautiful tradition of handwriting one’s reply.  Other less formal invitations and requests may come electronically…and may also be answered in the same manner. Following up with a phone call to an electronic reply is always a good idea just to make sure your recipient received the information.

With travels and the busy schedules of so many, emails get lost, forgotten, or missed so it is always a good idea to follow up if one hasn’t received a reply when needed.

Welcome to my blog!  Here you will find etiquette tips from me, as well as many of my etiquette consultant peers, trainers and top leaders in the industry like Diane GottsmanJacqueline WhitmorePeggy NewfieldDiane Diehl, and many more . 

For openers, here are a few personal and professional facts about me:

I have owned my own DJ/Karaoke business, Jonnie Fox Rocks,  since 1991, which grew out of my love of singing. You can hear a few songs from my CD  if you’re bored. While I had a wonderfully successful and exciting career in the industry, I truly wanted to do something else in the next phase of my life and all I knew, is that it had to be something, like singing, by which I would be impassioned .  I truly love “all things etiquette”, whether it’s honoring our country’s flag, attending a theatrical performance, dining in elegance or simply holding a door for someone.  The truth is….there is etiquette for just about everything…and that doesn’t mean a “hard and fast rule”, rather, there may simply be a “better, more polite, or appropriate way”. 

While my interest in etiquette travels all the way back to the 1970′s when I did my high school term paper on the subject, my desire to teach etiquette came to me in an “aha moment” in early 2010.  It was then that I made the entrepreneurial leap to open The Magnolia School of Etiquette and Protocol.  While developing my own curriculum, working on my website and teaching children’s etiquette in local schools, I chose to expand on my “life-skills” of the subject by attending and graduating from the prestigious American School of Protocol in Atlanta, GA.

I have been blessed with so many wonderful clients including children, teens and young adults who attend my classes, events and seminars and who graciously refer their family and friends to me.   Please check out many of our photo albums of students and events on our Facebook page.

I am married to a wonderful and supportive husband and receive my greatest pleasure in being the mother of our one and only child, a son who is 13-1/2 (as he would say) at this writing. Like most moms, I stay busy playing chauffeur, keeping up with basketball, golf, and school activities, but mostly, just being the best mom I can be throughout each age of development…definitely known as “continuing education”!

I also love to cook and entertain.  As I was born and raised in New Orleans, I enjoy the reminscent bouquets and tastes of some of my favorite Big Easy recipes, like Jambalaya, Shrimp Gumbo, Red Beans and Rice, and Muffalettas. 

In closing, I am delighted to welcome guest bloggers in the etiquette and associated fields so please, feel free to contact me if you would like to contribute and to all readers, remember, etiquette is NOT about snobbery and class warfare, it is about making others feel comfortable and how comfortable you are with your “character, confidence and credibility”.