How Similar Must Our Etiquette Backgrounds Be? A Fiancee’s Conundrum

Cherished reader, The Lady Hooper-Brackett is fortunate to be acquainted with many people and enjoys all of my friendships immensely. Recently, I was emailed by the daughter of a dear friend and asked my opinion :

The man to whom I am engaged comes from a family that is completely lacking in any sort of manners. They think I am fussy and cold and much too much of a nitpicker, and I think they are rude, crude, and basically barbarians. I am thinking of ending the engagement because when my fiance is with them, he follows their lead and acts like a boor. Should I end the relationship?

Well, you can imagine my dismay at reading the poor girl’s letter.  She is in quite a pickle, indeed.

Without telling what her to do, I pointed out a few important things:

  1. You have no right to dictate to his family that they should change and adapt your standards of manners.
  2. They have no right to ask you to change, either.
  3. You do, however, have every right to expect that you and your fiance will come to an agreement as to the standards you, he, and your future offspring will live.
  4. Relationships and/or marriages are more harmonious when people have similar backgrounds, and manners are a big part of backgrounds.
  5. If he is unwilling to establish the standards for the new family unit you are about to become, then I would think long and hard about marriage to him.

The Lady Hooper-Brackett maintains that it is easier and less expensive to break off an engagement than it is to get a divorce.

Best Mannerly Wishes,

The Lady Hooper-Brackett


The Impeccable Host: Entertaining With Grace

Cherished readers, the weather is getting warmer and I am sure that everyone is ready to entertain! But, The Lady Hooper-Brackett wonders if you know all that you could know about being the host with flair and grace? Let us explore…

The Host(ess) with the Most(est) According to the Lady Hooper-Brackett

Your smiling face should be the first thing that a guest sees when they enter your home. Greet everyone warmly and promptly.

Have a serving table nearby where arrivals can take a glass or a little morsel to eat.

Be prepared if someone hands you a hostess gift. Don’t try to balance them in your hands. Decorate a small table and use for the purpose of placing the gifts.

Take coats and wraps from your guests, place them in a closet or in the bedroom. At no times should a pile of coats be visible to arriving guests.

Be sure to introduce those who are arriving to those guests who are already there and make sure that all guests are making conversation and enjoying themselves. It is also your responsibility to diffuse hot topics and turn them to acceptable topics. See my earlier post on DANGER Topics.

Keep an eye on the refreshing offerings, making sure there is enough out for everyone.

If you are serving a seated, several course meal, place cards are a wonderful touch.

Relax and enjoy the evening! Remember you set the tone for your guests.

The Lady hopes that you will be the ultimate in graciousness and ease when you welcome your own cherished friends to your abode.

Best Hostess Wishes,

The Lady Hooper-Brackett

I Received an Invitation to a Wedding That I Don’t Wish to Attend; Do I Have to Send A Gift?

Cherished readers, I feel and fear that it is inevitable that we shall all be invited to celebrate the nuptial bliss of one or more couples for whom we frankly  feel no enthusiasm.  The conundrum is do we send a gift?

The Lady Hooper-Brackett would like to share that while the simple answer is that an invitation to a wedding ceremony does not obligate to you to send any gift, should you be invited to a wedding reception, then you are expected to send a gift whether you attend or not.  I know, I hear you protesting over the vast interwebs….however…the fact that you made the shortlist tells me that you have a good relationship with the sender or that you are close relations. It is sometimes better to just suck it up and attend, make the best of things, and be social. The Lady advises you thusly:

You should attend a wedding, reception, and/or send a gift if:

-the bride, groom, or their respective parents attended yours

-you are the child, cousin, sibling, aunt, uncle, grandparent, or parent of the bride or groom

-you work with the bride or groom and must see them on a daily basis

-your mother tells you must attend. Listen to her…she knows.

Incidentally, a wedding announcement does not bestow obligations on the receiver of such, though much the same as with an invitation to a ceremony, you may send a gift if you feel you have a relationship with the sender that warrants the sending of a gift.

Best celebratory wishes,

The Lady Hooper-Brackett

Manners in Conversation: Dangerous Topics

Cherished readers, The Lady Hooper-Brackett presents this to you as a general guideline when you are out and about and schmoozing…those times when you may have to be around others whose views and beliefs are unknown to you. It is always better to be circumspect; remember put people at ease.

  1. Money is a dangerous topic, expecially directly asking someone what something costs, how much they earn. The person who is asked such questions, has every right to ignore the asker.
  2. Age is subject to be deftly avoided due to the sensitivity some people have about their age. Let’s face it, yes…if you are entering a contract with someone, then the question is appropriate, but not in general social situations. If someone asks you how old you are, feel free to ignore this one, too.
  3. Gossip can cause all sorts of problem. avoid being the spreader of this muck. Want to stop a gossiper? Ask them pointedly “How do you know this?” It is funny how most gossipers won’t be able to answer.
  4. Advice is only given if it is asked for, and even then, I’d be uncomfortable giving it.
  5. Religion and politics….avoid at all costs. Yes, even in this time of wicked polarization on both subjects.

Best Converational Wishes,

The Lady Hooper-Brackett

Writing Thank You Notes: Someone Gave Me a Gift of Money.

Good day, cherished readers. Today let us examine the proper procedure for writing a note thanking someone for their gift of money (or even a gift card, as this is also common) I have included a sample letter after my basic guidelines.

The Lady Hooper-Brackett believes that a true and proper letter…pen and paper!…is the only way to thank the person who has sent you a gift. No texting or emailing.

The amount of money gifted to you is never mentioned, no matter how large it may be. It is proper to say what you intend to use the money for and you may also include some comments on life or inquire after the person you are writing to.

A sample letter:

Dear Mrs. Booboo,

Thank you so much for thinking of me on my birthday! I have deposited your gift in my living room furniture fund for when I move out in the fall. I hope you will come visit me when I am in my new apartment. I am excited to have my very own place!

How are you and Mr. Booboo? I hope your own move to Miami went smoothly and that Mr. Booboo is doing well at his new job.

Thank you again for your generous gift. I hope to see you soon!

With love,

Susie Grateful

As you can see, the note needn’t be long, but it must be sincere. In addition to expressing thanks, Susie asked after Mr. and Mrs. Booboo as she remembered t is nice to recall details about others. Susie gets high marks from the Lady Hooper-Brackett.

Best thankful wishes,

The Lady Hooper-Brackett

Household Tips: Help, An Oafish Guest Spilled Wine on My Tablecloth!

Hello cherished readers, I’ve no doubt that in the course of entertaining friends and family, there has been an instance where someone with a bit of clumsiness knocked over a glass of ‘something’ onto your table linens. One hopes that it was only water…but if it was wine…here is something that may help. *

Firstly, never show by word or action that you are peeved at your esteemed guest. Though your teeth may be clenched so hard you are cracking your crowns, smile and tell your guest that all is well.

When your guests have left, you may then feel free to scream and curse and cry over your Great-Great-Great Aunt Catherine’s linen tablecloth that she sailed across the Atlantic with when she emigrated to our fine country.

This tip is for fabrics that are bit stronger, so please do not use on flimsy fabrics. Boil water, preferably in a kettle for ease of pouring. Cover the stain with salt and set your timer for five minutes. When your timer dings…fasten the stained area over a bowl with a rubber band. I would use as large a bowl as you can find. Put in sink or tub (can be messy!) and cautiously pour the boiling water over stained fabric from about a foot above the bowl. Please do not burn yourself.

Best tidy wishes,

The Lady Hooper-Brackett

A word from The Lady:

*this tip has worked for The Lady Hooper-Brackett and her friends. No guarantee that it will work for you is implied. You assume all risk in trying.*

Serving and Eating Corn on the Cob

Summer is coming…and corn will be served.

Cherished friends and readers, as summer approaches we must be prepared for the variety of offerings we will find at outdoor entertainments and barbecues.

Corn on the cob is a delightful side dish that is served only at the most informal of gatherings. The very eating of the corn from the cob can be quite messy, so one would certainly NOT serve it to those wearing their most formal clothes. So how can one graciously consume this summertime staple?

Grasp the ends of the corn cob firmly and rather than eating it in large mouthfuls…be mindful of how things look and eat in neat little rows all the way across the cob. Also, when buttering or salting the cob, do just a few rows at a time. To do the whole cob at once will result in a slippery mass in your hand and quite possibly grease stains on your shirt.

It is proper to cut the corn off the cob with a knife, but a thoughtful hostess will do that procedure for you or send it to be done in the kitchen. Do not attempt at the table or your poor cob might slip from your grasp and make a unholy mess.

Toothpicks become a necessity when serving corn on the cob, so if you are the hostess have them available for your guests. And if you are a guest…remember…no picking the teeth at the table. Retire to the bathroom to do this procedure.

Best corny wishes,

The Lady Hooper-Brackett