Flu season etiquette

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Throughout each week, I meet with countless editors, public relations and marketing people, other reporters, sources and of course friends and family. There always is a lot of handshaking, hugging and likely a few pecks on the cheek. I’m a huggy, kissy, handshakey kind of gal, so alll of the above is fantastic — except during cold and flu season.

I had this conversation at a recent happy hour meeting with a long-time source. He owns a successful PR firm and is shaking hands all day. Between sipping bubbles and sharing cheese, he mindfully slipped off to the washroom to give his hands a good scrub. We discussed our flu-avoidance strategies, which for us both involves loads of hand sanitizer (I keep a bottle stashed in the car and in my purse) and frequent handwashing.

One could avoid handshaking and opt for a quick fist bump a la notable germ-o-phobe Howie Mandell. This is acceptable only if you know the other party very well and are in a casual environment. I do not recommend it in business meetings outside the music industry or you likely will be be met with confused looks and awkward moments.

If you already are sick and staying home is not an option, it’s acceptable to head friends and associates off at the pass and preempt contact with a simple, “You may not want to shake hands with me. I think I’m coming down with something.” A source did this with me at lunch last week and I was grateful to her for it.

At home, be sure to swap communal hand towels in the washroom and kitchen with fresh, clean replacements throughout the week. If they aren’t delicate linen or vintage, wash them in hot water as an added measure.

It’s both proper work etiquette and good common sense to wipe down desks, phones, keyboards and other items at your work station with disinfectant a couple of times per week. Offices are a cestpool of germs and desks and keyboards are where everything disgusting and contageous go to live. Do yourself and your co-workers a favor and clean often.

Finally, always sneeze into the inside of your elbow — NOT in your hands. But you already knew that one, right?

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Question: If I buy a drink for a friend, is he obligated to leave the tip?

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Today’s question surrounds cocktail etiquitte. The asker wants to know if when buying drinks for a friend, if the friend is obligated to offer up the tip. Also, if said friend doesn’t, does the buyer have the right to be annoyed?

We advise that while it would be a lovely gesture for the friend to offer the tip, he isn’t obligated to do it. If he doesn’t, it’s of course a free country, but it was a gift to buy the drink, so you are obligated to absorb the cost of the tip and keep your annoyance to yourself. After all, you knew that was part of it when you bought the round. No matter what though, a hearty thank you is required and cheers to the buyer’s health.

This conversation does have us thinking that from now on, we’ll at least offer up tip money when given the gift of a delicious adult beverage.

What do you think? To offer tip or not to offer tip?

Cheers!
M

Question: Do I have to go to my high school friend’s wedding?

Photo from FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Happy Tuesday! Last week during a small celebratory gathering at Houston’s hippest cocktail and caffeine purveyor, Double Trouble, a friend asked a pressing etiquette question: Do I have to go to my high school friend’s wedding?

Our friend tells us that after not seeing or hearing from her high school chum for years, an invitation arrived in the mail. Having recently bought a home, a plane ticket to a destination wedding for a long lost friend isn’t in her budget.

The easy solution: Send a lovely card with your regrets and a small, thoughtful, but budget conscious gift for the bride and groom. In your R.S.V.P., it’s not necessary to explain, a simple “I’m sorry I won’t be able to attend the wedding,” or “I have a prior commitment that day,” or similar will do.

Do you have an etiquette or style question? Email us at charmfinder@gmail.com.

Cheers!

M

 

Re-find women: Ladies who inspire

Today, we are starting a new feature called “Re-find women: Ladies who inspire.” Our first lady is a dear friend, Rita Marroquin.

Re-find lady Rita Marroquin

Rita is an Independent Stylist with Stella & Dot Jewelry (click here to visit her site), is in school at the Aveda Institute to become an esthetician, teaches fitness classes, feeds the homeless, mentors at-risk youth, volunteers with cooking classes at Central Market, runs in tons of races and does it all with class, style and a beautiful spirit.

We are so proud to call Rita a friend and so inspired by her can-do attitude and fearlessness in life and in making a complete career change by starting her Stella & Dot business and going to school.

Thanks for the inspiration Rita!

Cheers!

Melanie

The definitive guide to e-mail etiquette

Today we are caught up in a whirlwind of production for the day job newspaper duties, so this will a brief, albeit important missive. Click here for what we at Re-find think is the best, quick hit list of e-mail etiquette tips we’ve seen to date.

Admittedly, we’ve committed one or two on this list, but we give ourselves points for getting it mostly right most of the time. We are however fans of emoticons and when e-mailing other emoticon-o-philes, we let our guard down and smiley face with the best of ’em.

Enjoy the list and when you are done, share with us your e-mail etiquette pet peeves.

Cheers!

 

Common courtesy makes you uncommon

Hello, readers. Today, let’s discuss common courtesy. It’s the little things that matter, such as listening, saying please and thank you and as we’ve said 8,352 times, essentially, just being kind. This is particularly important in business.

Yesterday, we read this blog post on Peter Shankman’s blog (he’s the social media entrepreneur/author/all around adventurous guy). The post is called, “Five things people don’t do — that you should,” and we agree 100 percent with everything on this list, not only for business, but for all areas of life.

Tips such as “pay attention,” and “know when to shut up” can go a long way and, as Shankman mentions, help you stand out from the crowd both professionally and personally, because frankly, most people don’t do either one.

If we only did those two things, imagine how much more people would want to be around us and work with us. Read the entire list, it’s good stuff.

Cheers!

M

Friday fun and frivolity, plus March Madness and sporting event etiquette

Happy Friday readers! Today is a good day for a little fun and relaxation to help ease into the weekend. First, let’s all take a moment to stop and smell the wildflowers:

 

Wildflowers!

 

Springtime in Texas is synonymous with wildflowers. We happened upon these while taking a walk in the neighborhood yesterday. We are not very good at identifying plant life, but we think this is Showy Evening Primrose or Oenothera speciosa.

Readers who know something about flowers, please feel free to weigh in or correct our guess.

What we do know is that we love wildflower season and will enjoy it while it lasts.

Next, we ran across something the other day that we think is not only a hoot, but also rather ingenious. The Garden & Gun Southern Food Bracket. Click here to see how your favorites foods and flavors fare during this entertaining (and hunger inducing) take on March Madness. We are pulling for pulled pork barbecue.

Regarding the real March Madness, for the record, the Re-find gang bleeds blue — Kentucky blue! The University of Kentucky Wildcats will battle it out against the Ohio State Buckeyes (it hurts to type that school’s name and mascot). We’ll do our best to be on our best behavior during the game and to practice good sportsmanship, but sporting event etiquette is a bit tricky, given smack talk is not only acceptable, but also expected. That said, always keep it friendly.

Have a great weekend and GO CATS!

Cheers!

 

Mr. Telephone Man: The new phone etiquette

Hello! Today, we’d like to discuss telephone etiquette. Who actually calls anyone these days, right? Which is why we feel a little refresher course is in order.

No calls after 10 p.m.

Recently, a reader told us the harrowing tale of 1:30 a.m. call from a hammered merrymaking friend. During the work week. No, it was not, as she worried, an emergency, which we both agreed is the only time adult humans should call one another at 1:30 a.m. Otherwise, consider the “cutoff” 10 p.m. for the childfree and 9 p.m. for parents, unless you literally just left that person after cocktails, dancing or some other event or you’ve been told specifically by the other party that calling later is A-OK. (Enjoy this clip from “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” where Larry thinks the “cutoff” is 10:30 p.m. and he gets a lesson from Julia Louis-Dreyfus).

This morning, we received a lovely text message at approximately 7 a.m. (CST) from a much-loved family member in the Eastern timezone, where — if you don’t want to do the math — it was around 8 a.m. Normally, we’d be against any form of communication at this hour, but we’ll give him a hall pass, because he knows what time the Re-find gang gets movin’ in the  mornin’. Typically, one should refrain from calling until after 9 p.m. in the timezone of the other party.

Please note that the same rules apply for texting, because many people keep cell phones near the bed for reasons we can’t fathom, other than perhaps they don’t own an alarm clock.

Additional things to note:

When you call, ask “Is this a good time?”

If you are the caller, it is up to you to end the call in a timely fashion. The recipient is at your mercy, don’t make it awkward for him or her.

Try “setting an appointment” first, so that you can ensure that it’s a good time to chat and that the person isn’t caught off guard, because quite frankly, the telephone is an interruption, no matter how cute the ringtone.

Speaking of ringtones, go with the least annoying type and keep it on a low volume. Don’t be “that person.”

Speaking of “that person” don’t have private conversations in public, where others can overhear; don’t talk loud, you aren’t that important, even if you are that important; don’t talk or text or FB or anything involving your phone at the dinner table or when you are supposed to be socializing with the people in front of you.

And breathe.

If you want to read more about phone culture, read this fun story from the New York Times, “Don’t call me, I won’t call you.”

What’s your biggest phone etiquette pet peeve?

On that note, have a great day! We’ll call you later.

Cheers!

Q: Do I give a hostess gift at dinner out?

Hello readers and happy Wednesday!

Recently, a reader asked if, when meeting her boyfriend’s parents for the first time, she should give a hostess gift at dinner out or wait until the dinner party moved back to their home.

In this situation, it’s appropriate to wait until going home, because unless the gathering is, for example, a birthday or anniversary celebration one wouldn’t bring a gift to a restaurant dinner.

Next, we brainstormed on a few hostess gift ideas for the return to the parent’s house. Here’s a list that will work not only in this situation, but any time you need to bring a gift. We recommend keeping a few of these items on hand for last-minute or “emergency” giving.

A host or hostess gift is a simple gesture of thanks in advance. A bottle of wine is a fast and easy classic, but if your hosts are teetotalers or you are feeling creative, consider the following simple and thoughtful gifts.

For her we recommend “fancy” guest soaps (we love Anthropologie for these, but one can find lovely soaps at nearly every department store, gift shop, drug store and sometimes even at the supermarket).

Most of us can never have too many tea towels or linen napkins. We found these cute little numbers at the Girlscantell shop on Etsy.com:

Coffee lover flour sack tea towels, $20 for set of two, image courtesy Girlscantell

For him, you might need to get a little craftier, so we decided that a single-handed salt and pepper mill might do the trick. Or a professional corkscrew with foil cutter, which we found at Sharper Image for $39.95.

A tasty item that anyone would love is Bella Cucina Walnut Sage and Pumpkin Spice pesto, $12:

Image courtesy Bella Cucina

The Bella Cucina olive oil is also divine. We love all things lavender and Becker Vineyards in Stonewall, Texas has it. Get lavender bouquets, room spray, body scrub, soap and everything else you can imagine made out of the fragrant purple flower at 830-664-2681 or www.beckervineyards.com.

Finally, a shameless plug for Re-find’s new gift shop. Click here to learn more about the Store. Today, we’re featuring the Le Cafe notecards, because you may just want to send a thank you card to the host and hostess after the lovely dinner out or at their home.

Le Cafe mug and notecards

With these gifts (and a thank you note), you’ll be invited back in no time.

Cheers!