Sunday Ask The Lady: Football Fracas

Cherished readers, Happy October and Happy Autumn! Today’s question comes from the host of football parties and The Lady feels that this just might be a situation that is quite common this time of year.

Dear Lady Hooper-Brackett,

Please give me the best advice you can on what to do about my cousin. She comes over every Sunday to watch football (we have about 20 people here each week as we enjoy watching the games). She is fine at first, but boy, once she has her fourth beer in her, she becomes a belligerent jerk. She thinks she is being funny with people, she picks on people, but she calls it ‘busting chops’; she is really rude and crass. She is hurting the feelings of everyone who come here. My problem is, I am completely a non-confrontational person. The thought of dis-inviting her is keeping me up at night. What do I do? 

Stressed Hostess

Dear Stressed Hostess,

The Lady certainly doesn’t advise speaking to her about this while she well into her cups. The Lady shudders to think what would happen. The Lady must admit that she cannot understand those types of people who feel the need to ‘bust chops’ as you said. How does it contribute to a pleasant time to pick on others?

When she is sober, talk to her about her behavior. If you are still scared to do this and it  still gives you insomnia…omit liquor from the Sunday get-togethers completely and see if  the same thing happens. If she is no longer jerky, then fine…all is well. But if she is still rude, The Lady fears you must tell her that she is no longer welcome.

No guest has the right to behave in the manner you described. She is showing disrespect to you, your home, and your other guests.

The Lady Hooper-Brackett

Wedding Wednesday: How Much Food To Serve

Cherished readers, two of The Lady’s correspondents in the past few weeks have asked this question (not a carbon copy but the general idea) so it must be a timely topic. Below you will find one of the emails.

Dear Lady Hooper-Brackett

My son is being married at the church of his fiancee, which happens to be in New York City. We live in Boston as do many of our friends and family who are invited to the wedding and reception. We will all be carpooling or taking the train to NYC (which you can imagine is costing the group of 48 both time and money) The bride and her family have decided to serve only “light refreshments” at the reception. And by light she means tea-time finger sandwiches, champagne, and small dainty desserts in addition to the wedding cake. Am I wrong to feel that they should serve something a little more substantial? Especially with the groom’s family numbering so many and traveling such a distance. I’ve offered to contribute and they politely refuse.

Starving Mother of The Groom

Dear Starving Mother of The Groom

First The Lady will say what you want me to say: HOW AWFUL! They should be ashamed at serving such meager cuisine.

Now The Lady will say this:

Traditionally, the bride’s family hosts the reception and provides the apres-nuptial bounty. In our modern times, there seems to be more cost-splitting going on, but this is the traditional role that the bride and her family play. Basically, what they are serving is perfectly acceptable. Even if they chose to serve only the wedding cake and punch or champagne, that is entirely correct.

NOW, with that being said…as you have been rebuffed in your efforts to contribute to the food kitty, The Lady advises this:

Since all of the starving Bostonians are traveling together anyway, after the wedding reception, find a restaurant in the city where you can play hostess, pay for the cornucopia of vittles, and eat as much as you like. Your relatives will have full tummies and can travel home in comfort.

Best Wedding Wishes

The Lady Hooper-Brackett

 

 

Sunday Ask the Lady: Dealing With Overly Friendly Pets

Cherished readers, The Hooper-Bracketts are definitely dog people. The Lady loves her little mixed-breed rescue dog (sometimes more than she likes people!) Today’s question comes from someone who doesn’t particularly like pets.

Dear Lady Hooper-Brackett, 

Full disclosure: I think most pets are smelly creatures and can’t stand when I am visiting a friends house and I am bombarded with attention from their pets. How can I politely let my friend or the host know that I do not like to be around their pets? 

Not Pet Friendly

Dear Not Pet Friendly,

The Lady can assure you that not all pets are smelly creatures. With that being said, The Lady believes that the most polite way to explain why a pet cannot be around you is to simply say, “I’m so sorry, but I am allergic to your dog/cat/ferret/octopus/beetle.” A good host should immediately remove their animal companion so as not to cause the guest undue discomfort. The Lady is also sure that the pet will also be thankful to be removed from your presence since you object to them so strongly.

Best Pet Wishes,

The Lady Hooper-Brackett

 

 

Sunday Ask The Lady: Uninvited Guests

Cherished readers, today’s question comes from a reader in Florida who finds that her prime locale attracts friends and family to forget their good manners and ‘drop in’ to see her whenever they are in the vicinity.

Dear Lady Hooper-Brackett,

My husband and I moved to Florida three years ago and we love it here. Apparently, most of our friends and family from back in our old state do, too. Little did we know how much everyone loves it down here, especially in the winter. I can’t tell you how many times we have been spending a quiet weekend when the doorbell rings and we answer it only to find our distant cousins, former neighbors, and long ago coworkers waiting on the doorstep. They almost always invariably say, “We couldn’t come down to the theme parks without stopping in to see you.” The problem is, we have never actually issued invitations to any of them, never mind a standing invitation to just come by whenever they are in town. This is annoying enough, but there have been times they have actually brought their bathing suits in order to use our pool. My husband and I are not rude people and we do not know how to stop this from happening without being rude. I am tired of having our peace and days interrupted. We both run our businesses from home and it is very disruptive. 

Frustrated in Florida

Dear Frustrated in Florida,

The Lady is not sure how you’ve managed to keep your cool! The Lady is very disappointed to learn so many people have terrible manners. Naturally, it is extremely rude to just stop by unannounced especially in this day and age of cell phones and instant communication. There is absolutely no excuse for just showing up anywhere and expecting to be entertained. The Lady thinks that perhaps some people see where you live as not really being part of the real world but as some place of permanent vacation.

It is imperative to stop this intrusion for your own sanity or it will continue to get worse. If you continue to open your door and find the uninvited do not allow them inside. Tell them “I am so sorry, hubby and I are working and cannot take any time away from that to see you. Will you call first the next time you would like to visit and we will see if we are able to arrange a visit.” And leave it at that. It is NOT rude to do so.

Best Visitor Wishes,

The Lady Hooper-Brackett

 

Food Friday: Six Course Formal Dinner

Cherished readers, today rather than looking at individual foods, let us examine the courses to serve at a formal dinner. The Lady realizes that these occasions are few and far between for most folks, but there is certainly nothing wrong with a little knowledge on this fine Food Friday. The Lady bases her thoughts here on the advice and training she received from numerous etiquette books and applies these guidelines to her own entertaining.

Six courses is the maximum number to serve at even the most formal of gatherings. More than this and your place settings will be huge and your guests confused.

  1. Choose one: Fresh fruit cup, soup, shellfish or melon. The shellfish selection may include oysters, shrimp, or clams.
  2. Fish course (which you would omit if you served shellfish in the first course) or a dish such as sweetbreads (not sweet breads. Google if you don’t know what this is. As an aside, The Lady prefers to serve the fish course as a matter of courtesy for those who will not eat sweetbreads.)
  3. The entree, which may be chicken, turkey, or roast beef. You may also consider a vegetarian option for those who are not meat eaters.
  4. Salad. The salad may also be served with the entree in a separate side dish. It is entirely correct to serve the salad after the entree, despite the custom to serve it first in restaurants.
  5. Dessert
  6. Coffee (or tea, port wine, brandy)

A well-balance menu is imperative and should be easy to achieve with this number of courses. Strike a balance between rich dishes and the more simple ones.

The appearance of the food should also be considered. Think of color…don’t serve all white foods with white sauces on white plates (Ohhhh how boring!) Don’t serve all sweet or all savory dishes. Aim for a beautiful balance so that the foods may be enjoyed thoroughly.

Arrange vegetables neatly in the serving dish. Arrange the meats neatly, also, rather than just piling them high on a platter. Make it interesting for your guests. Appeal to all of the senses!!!

Best Dinner Wishes,

The Lady Hooper-Brackett

Thursday Ask The Lady: Denied The Recipe

Cherished readers, today’s question is an interesting one and one that The Lady had to think about just a little in order to answer.

Dear Lady Hooper-Brackett, 

We recently had dinner at a friend’s house and she served the most delicious dessert! I asked her for the recipe and she seemed taken aback and flatly refused to give it to me. I can’t help but feel slighted…just who was at fault here? 

Dessert Lover

Dear Dessert Lover,

The Lady believes that asking for a recipe for a meal or dish that you truly enjoy is not rude. Quite truthfully, it is a sincere form of flattery. The host should never be insulted to be asked. However, The Lady believes that the host is justified in refusing to divulge the recipe in the following circumstances:

They received the recipe from someone who made them promise never to give it out.

The recipe is a family heirloom (of sorts) and is handed down with the expectation that it will remain a family secret.

The Lady also looks at the situation in this way:

What if your host PURCHASED the dessert and served it to you under the subterfuge that it was their own creation. In this instance, there would be no recipe to pass on. (What a tangled web we weave!)

Best Dessert Wishes,

The Lady Hooper-Brackett

Vintage Emily Post : Table Manners

Cherished readers, on of The Lady’s favorite pastimes is watching vintage and retro videos on YouTube. Today I am sharing a video from the Doyenne of  Etiquette, Emily Post. I cannot help but wish these types of educational film strips would regain popularity in the schools. I hope you enjoy!

Best Thursday Wishes,

The Lady Hooper-Brackett