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"Teaching business etiquette as the subtle, redefining confidence which enables people to excel and succeed in today's corporate culture."~ Cindy Grosso, Founder

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What is your EtiQ?

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Mind Your Manners

Why etiquette should top your list of holiday to-dos

You're planning to attend the company holiday party. Choose from the following:

a. Wear your 'girls-night-out' mini-skirt and halter-top.
b. Let the wine flow freely all night long resulting in Facebook-posted pictures of a lampshade on your head .
c. Forget to RSVP.
d. None of the above.

Hopefully, you chose option d. If not, be prepared to take some notes. For many, the upcoming holidays are rare opportunities to get out from behind the computer and socialize with friends, family and coworkers.

To remind us how to entertain with style and class, Hilton Head Monthly went straight to the experts: The Charleston School of Protocol and Etiquette.

"People spend a lot of time and money in throwing a party. It's a lot of work," said Cindy Grosso, the school's owner and founder. "You don't want to embarrass yourself and not be invited back. Because we're so busy and tech savvy, we don't really know the proper etiquette."


From the time a party invitation arrives at your door (or e-mail inbox), the wheels of etiquette are set in motion.

Etiquette is important all the time, Grosso said. People really don't want to embarrass themselves and they want to know the right things to do.

The first step to proper party going: RSVP. Grosso said responding to the invitation is perhaps the most overlooked rule of etiquette and the biggest deal for the party organizer who is trying to gauge a head count for food and beverages.

Once you're headed out the door, remember that timing is everything. While arriving fashionably late technically means 15 minutes, today it means arriving on time.

Don't be too early, Grosso warned. The host will be busy doing stuff, tying loose ends until her guests arrive. But don't be the last to leave. Don't overstay your welcome. There are some people who stay until the wee hours of the morning. You don't want to be that person.

When you finally arrive to the party, come bearing gifts for the host as a thank you for feeding and entertaining you.

I always keep house gifts around, like wine, chocolate or a house plant to give to the hostess, Grosso said. If you go to a party and didn't realize it or forgot it, you can always send a gift as a follow-up. Send flowers or an edible arrangement in addition to a thank you note.

If you brought a gift to the party, it's still important to write a thank you note.

Help the host by taking the time to mingle with other guests. Don't plop in front of the TV, trying to catch the big game.

When you're a guest at a party, the host invited you not because she thought you needed a meal but because she thought you'd have something to contribute, Grosso said.

Be careful about partaking in too much holiday cheer. Know your limits with alcohol because it could become a burden on the host.

You don't want to drink so much at someone else's house, because now they have another problem to deal with, Grosso said. Not only do they have to worry about the party, they have to worry about you getting home.


Party planning 101 always seems to begin with cleaning the house.

Appeal to the senses with mood lighting, sweet smells, proper party music and linens.

A hostess really needs to think about her guests, Grosso said. Make sure the guests have something in common. Make sure there are people in the room who could sort of co-host the party with (the host).

Give guests plenty of time to plan for the event by sending out invitations four to six weeks in advance. Remember guests aren't mind readers. Include whether the shindig is formal or informal, so guests can plan their party outfits.

Part of being a gracious host is being well prepared and not racing around at the last minute, Grosso said. If you're racing around, you're not conversing with your guests. If necessary, I recommend having help. If you're going to have a big event, have someone in the kitchen who can help you.

Author: Heather Bragg

Source: Hilton Head Magazine

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