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

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

 

Wedding Wednesday: Manners for Guests

Cherished readers, The Lady loves a good nuptial celebration…and realizes that some people may need to take a refresher on what is considered good etiquette for wedding guests (or prospective guests) Let us take a look a few general guidelines:

  1. Answer all invitations promptly. A general rule is to respond within a week of receiving the invitation.
  2. Although The Lady sees formal invitations sent less and less, should you receive one that is written in the third person, it must be answered in the same way. If a reply card is enclosed (which to The Lady means that it is semi-formal) you indicate your acceptance or regret on the card.
  3. It is bad taste to ask to be invited to a wedding even if you feel you have a close relationship with the bride or groom.
  4. If, after accepting an invitation, it becomes necessary to cancel, call the bride or groom and explain why as soon as possible.
  5. Asking to bring a friend to the wedding is bad form.
  6. Do not ask to bring your children if they haven’t been invited. Even if they are invited, consider their maturity levels before accepting for them. One of the worst things to deal with at a wedding is the bored or hyperactive child who runs around hell-bent on annoying people.
  7. It is rude to skip the ceremony and only attend the reception.
  8. You are not obligated to send a present if you simply receive a wedding announcement. However, if you are given an invitation to the wedding, customarily you are expected to send a gift (even if you do not attend.
  9. Remember that the day belongs to the happy couple. It is especially important not to do anything that will take attention off of them. (No inebriated toasts!)

Best Guest Wishes,

The Lady Hooper-Brackett

A Bit of Advice from Emily Post: The Uncomfortable Houseguest

Cherished readers, The Lady Hooper-Brackett is happily perusing the new volume of etiquette wisdom that she purchased yesterday.

In one section of this book, titled “You Can Send Yourself a Telegram” Miss Post offers a suggestion for removing oneself from an uncomfortable stay in someone’s home. And the picture she paints of the uncomfortable is most dreadful: it involves a lumpy bed, a room filled with mosquitos, near a room with a wailing baby, and the temperature of the room approaching a hundred degrees. Goodness. That does seem like a hellish environment. Miss Post suggests sending oneself a telegram the next morning, presumably to call one home.

The Lady thinks this was a fine idea. She also is glad that we now live in a world with much more technology and options at our fingertips. In our day and age, we would not have to spend a night in hell and then extricate ourselves the next morning. We could text a friend, have them call under the guise of an emergency, and pack to leave immediately.

The two admonishments that Miss Post (and the Lady Hooper-Brackett!) give is that one must never let your host family know how miserable you were and no matter how bad your brief stay, you must never complain, divulge, or otherwise confide that the visit was anything other than pleasant.

Woe to the next person who stays in the hellish accommodations.

Best Guest Wishes,

The Lady Hooper-Brackett

Guest’s Guide To Gift Giving

Cherished readers, as a tie-in to yesterday’s post about entertaining guests, today we shall look at the nice custom of guests bringing the hostess a small gift as a thank you for putting on a wonderful get-together.

The guest need not spend a fortune or spend an inordinate amount of time searching for the perfect gift. These types of gifts, in The Lady Hooper-Brackett’s opinion, should be simple and useful.

Some items you may wish to consider when choosing a gift for your host:

A bottle of wine

A box of chocolates

A bouquet of flowers

Some lovely cocktail napkins

A box of pretty stationery

Non-perishable foodstuffs (jams, jellies, mustards etc..) in a gift box or set.

A beautiful coffee table book (The Lady prefers photography or travel books)

Marble cheese cutter

If your host is an avid barbecuer, an apron or BBQ tool set

And because The Lady is fond of getting good deals on beautiful things….I will suggest that if you find a sale at one of the better department stores on some of the items on the list, you stock up and keep a shelf in a closet loaded with items to grab and go when you are asked over. The Lady has personally found appropriate items that any host would be proud to display at Dillard’s and Macy’s. (And though this fact will date her horribly….back in the day Filene’s had gorgeous things with which to gift your hostess!)

Best Guest Gift Wishes,

The Lady Hooper-Brackett

 

 

 

Hostess Hint: Setting The Table For Guests

Cherished readers, The Lady Hooper-Brackett spoke to a group of her friends about planning ahead for entertaining for guests. One easy way to take some stress off is to set the table ahead of time. Years ago a kind older lady gave me this tip and I have used it each time I’ve had guests.

Set your complete table the day before you will be entertaining. Lay out your serving dishes on the sideboard, also. Take clear shower curtains or other clear plastic sheeting and lay it over the settings and dishes. Keeps dirt and dust off and then you merely remove right before the guests arrive.

Incidentally, if you have eager young table setters, a cute way to have them remember where the silverware is to be placed on the table is thus:

Spoon and Knife….5 letters same as RIGHT

Fork…4 letters sames as LEFT.

The Lady hopes that the youth of the world will be as interested in good table settings. It is a nicety that we should all revisit in the civilized world.

Best Table Wishes,

The Lady Hooper-Brackett

Guest Towels in the Bathroom: Are They Off Limits?

Cherished readers, it is always an adventure to settle down with my cup of coffee in the morning and read through my emails to see what is concerning my darling friends. I came across an interesting problem this morning.

My friend went to a First Communion party at her niece’s house and when she used the bathroom facilities, was dumbstruck that her niece had only provided a small hand towel for the fifty or so guests that she had in her home. Her shock did not come from the fact that there was only one towel, however. The shock came from seeing others using the facilities and then discovering that the towel was perfectly dry…it had not been used! She found wet spots near the sink and the soap was wet, so hands seemed to be washed…so why not use the towel?

The Lady Hooper-Brackett can recall a time in her childhood when she was admonished by her dear mother to not use the ‘guest towels’ that were specially hung on a bar near the sink. So, I never used them. She had elevated them to sacred status in my impressionable mind. For years, even when using the facilities in other’s homes, I avoided touching the guest towels and wiped my hands on my pants! (Yes, I know…the horror of it!!!)

I believe that there can be a solution to this problem, however.

  1. Provide enough small washcloths for a couple of dozen to use. A beautiful stack right next to the sink. As the host, you use the first one…crumple it up, place it in a basket near the sink, and hope that this subtle message tells other guests…it is OK to use the towels! They are no longer sacred and off limits!
  2. Get a festive box of disposable paper towels and leave them near the sink. Perhaps guests do not want to feel that are creating more laundry for the host, but will feel free to use paper towels.
  3. Leave no towel in the guest bath at all, after all no one is using it anyway.

Best Clean Hand Wishes,

The Lady Hooper-Brackett