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Holiday Gift Giving Etiquette Tips

December 10, 2017


Gift giving, especially during the holiday season when everything is so shiny and bright, can be fun! But holiday gift giving can also be tricky. For example: Do you buy a gift for your boss? What do you do when you’re caught by surprise—when someone gives you a gift and you find yourself empty-handed? Do you rush out and purchase a gift?

Keep in mind that the most important aspect of gift giving is that it comes from your heart. It’s truly a gesture of appreciation extended to those who have touched us in some way throughout the year.

If you receive a gift, graciously thank the gift-giver. If you don’t have one to reciprocate, remember the gift-giver isn’t giving you a gift simply to get one in return. A simple, “How thoughtful of you. Thank you so much,” will be appreciated by the gift-giver.

Other gift-giving tips include:

  • Avoid giving holiday gifts that have your logo on it. Gift-giving is a way to show your gratitude.
  • Stick to your budget. It really is the thought that counts.
  • Include a gift receipt. This tells the person that it’s OK to exchange the gift.
  • Your boss would probably prefer you save your money or purchase gifts for others rather than them. It can also make fellow employees uncomfortable if some people give a gift to the boss. Alternatively get together and purchase a group gift for the boss.
  • If you’re exchanging gifts with a colleague (or just a select few), be discreet. Choose a time before or after work hours to exchange gifts.
  • Regifting is tricky– my advice is to avoid it. If it is discovered that you have regifted, it’s uncomfortable for everyone.
  • It’s perfectly acceptable to give a gift to someone who doesn’t celebrate the same holiday.

In addition to gift-giving etiquette questions, this it the time “who to tip”—and how much to tip—is a topic of concern for some. Here are a few tips for holiday tipping that will help you plan for the season.

Happy Holidays!

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Posted by Margaret in Everyday Etiquette and tagged

To Gift or Not to Gift: Office Gift Giving Etiquette Tips

December 8, 2017

christmas gift
During the holidays, the rules for gift giving in the workplace are tricky. Many people are simply unsure of the protocol when it comes to inter-cubicle gift giving.

How much should I spend on a coworker?

Should I buy for my boss?

What should I buy my staff?

 All of these questions are common this time of year.

Gift giving during the holiday season provides you with an opportunity to say “thank you” to those people who have supported you during the year—and that includes coworkers and mentors.

There are no mandatory holiday gift giving rules when it comes to how much to spend, however, some workplaces have guidelines in place that you must adhere to when giving gifts at the office. A good rule of thumb is to spend no more than the tax credit allowed in your country for professional gifts. In the U.S., the IRS allows a $25 tax deduction for each professional gift.

When buying for your boss, keep in mind that he likely has enough gadgets and trinkets. Be modest and consider doing something unique this year, such as making a donation to one of his or her favorite charities in the recipient’s name.

If you’re the boss, it’s a good idea to keep your radar up all year—listening in for your employees’ hobbies and interests. This will save you time choosing the perfect gift to give each one during the holidays. And it will make them feel appreciated!

Some gift-giving inspiration 

Just can’t figure out what to buy? Here are a few ideas for you:

  • Wine. When you give someone a bottle of wine, they can enjoy it now or save it for a long time.
  • Chocolate. Dark chocolate is not only decadent, but it’s good for you! The perfect gift for everyone on your list!
  • Treat someone to a service. Giving someone “permission” to treat themselves is the perfect gift.
  • Food. During the holiday season, there are many stores that offer pre-made savory or sweet food hampers–or you can get creative and create a basket of goodies!
  • Gift card. A gift card from Amazon is always a favorite gift because it gives the recipient an opportunity to buy whatever she wants anytime of year – guilt-free!

If you’re thinking about giving gifts to your customers this year, make sure you think about this first:

  • Don’t give expensive gifts, but those intended to make the customer feel as though you appreciate them (not obligated to buy from you.)
  • Don’t send gifts to prospective customers. By giving a gift too early in your business relationship, the intention may be misconstrued. Gifts are appropriate only if you have an ongoing business relationship.
  • Don’t send promotional gifts. When sending a gift to a customer, refrain from sending something that’s tagged with your logo or brand. Save those items for trade shows and business events.
  • DO send something of meaning. Tying a gift to a customer’s hobby or outside interest shows that you value the relationship.

The most important aspect of gift giving is that it comes from your heart so if you’re wondering where to draw the line, go with your instincts. If you’re uncomfortable with the idea of giving a particular person a gift, then don’t do it.

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Posted by Margaret in Everyday Etiquette and tagged

Delegating for the Holidays

December 5, 2017

christmas-funny-womanThe holidays are always such a magical time. When I first smell that sharp, festive scent of scotch pine in the winter, I know the season is finally here. My family and I celebrate Christmas, and I just love getting into the spirit of the season by listening to Christmas carols and wrapping all the gifts.

My family has a pretty funny history when it comes to gift wrapping. We have gone through several present-wrapping phases. There was a time when we wrapped everything in newspaper, saving money on gift wrap and recycling old newspapers in the process. It was always fun to see what headline you got. A few years later, my sister-in-law made us all reusable gift bags, and we started putting Christmas presents in these bags. However, we always seem to go back to the colorful paper and ribbons, even if wrapping presents with gift wrap takes more time.

I don’t always have time to wrap gifts myself. Some years, I hire a teenager to lend me a hand and do the gift wrapping. It’s a nice opportunity for a young person to earn some extra money during the holidays. Hiring someone else to take on gift wrapping also helps me from getting overly stressed by everything I need to do during the holidays.

During the holidays, we can be doing a lot of dining and entertaining. Women in particular have a tendency of wanting to do everything — I know this from personal experience. There’s this desire to attend all the events, make sure the food is delicious, the house is perfect, the presents look pretty sitting under the tree, and be the best hostess at every event. It is incredibly demanding and can take a lot of the fun out of the holidays, but one strategy can help you finish your to-do list without all the stress.

If you are in charge of planning an event — such as an office party, a family gathering, or even a Christmas caroling outing — start by identifying everything that will need to get done. Pick out the tasks you will most enjoy doing and assign those tasks to yourself.

Next, print out the rest of the tasks on individual slips of paper and put them all into a hat. Pass the hat around to everyone who will be attending and have them draw a task at random. Each person who will be attending the event now has a role in putting on that event. Delegation can be a very important tool when planning, yet it’s not something everyone takes advantage of.

This method can be very beneficial in the professional settingl. Everyone is chipping in and working together as a team toward a common goal. People can practice teamwork while getting to know their co-workers better.

Whatever tasks this time of year brings, I find that when to-do items can be shared or delegated, everything gets done, and you can still enjoy the pleasures of the holiday season.

Happy holidays!

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Posted by Margaret Page in Newsletters, Uncategorized and tagged ,

What’s Your Name?

December 4, 2017

rememberThere’s something uniquely miserable about forgetting someone’s name. Not only can it make you appear thoughtless or inconsiderate, but it can make the mystery person feel small. And this faux pas can be disastrous when you’re trying to make business connections.

You’re more likely to encounter this delicate situation during the busy holiday season. But don’t panic! A few simple strategies can help you save face.

 Don’t try to guess. The only thing worse than blanking on a name is using the incorrect name. If you’re not certain, keep your mouth closed! Better not to refer to Janet as Eva.

Follow the clues. See if you can extract information with a few carefully worded questions. For example: “When did we last see each other?” or “It’s so good to see you! How long has it been?” Hopefully, you’ll gather enough nuggets of information to trigger a memory and recall a name.

 Ask for help. If you’re in a group setting — at a networking event, for example — discreetly ask a friend or colleague for the person’s name. If you don’t have the opportunity for a private moment, ask the mystery person to introduce himself to your friend: “Please say hello to my colleague Celeste!”

Play the introduction game. At the first opportunity you get, ask the mystery person to introduce herself to someone else you know: “Have you met Jason?” That gives you the opportunity to be courteous while also prompting the mystery person to divulge the information you need.

Fess up. If all else fails, be honest. It’s best to keep it simple by saying, “I’m so sorry. I remember meeting you but I just can’t seem to recall your name. Could you please remind me?” It’s not ideal, but it’s a better option than flailing — or, worse — using the wrong name.

How do you cover your tracks when you can’t remember a name? Or, even better, what do you do to remember names? Tell me in the comments.



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Posted by Margaret Page in Business Etiquette, Communication, Etiquette Tips, Everyday Etiquette and tagged , ,

Ecard or Mailed-Out Holiday Greeting – That Is But the Question?

December 4, 2017 snowman

The holidays are such busy time of year and there is often a sense of obligation when it comes to who to send cards to–and that can add to the stress of the holidays. If you haven’t sent your cards out already, you know what I mean. You’re busy!

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Posted by Margaret Page in Newsletters

Hi There! The Etiquette of Salutations in Business Communications

August 12, 2017

Envelope & Pen
A friend of mine recently commented that a large number of emails she has received over the past few months seem to begin with “Hi!” or “Hi Jane!” While that’s an appropriate salutation if you are sending a note to a friend, it is not appropriate if you’re reaching out to a business contact—or someone you don’t know personally. An email is a letter, and should be treated as such—from beginning to end.

With our ability to fire off quick emails and send texts that include short-forms of words (LOL) and fun emoticons, when writing a business letter, here are salutation tips to remember…that never go out of style.

Most of the time, in the business arena you will start your e-mail or letter with “Dear Mr. or Mrs. or Ms. or Dr. Hyde or even Dear Margaret –whichever is the appropriate way to address the recipient depending on your relationship with them. Also consider the industry norm and even the culture you are communicating with.

However you begin, the salutation ends with a colon. You know the punctuation mark that’s used in happy faces :0). (Although most people incorrectly use the semi-colon; in salutations.)

It is important to note that traditionally, “Mrs.” Was used for married women and “Miss” was used to address unmarried women. Because this distinction was made only for women—with men always being referred to as “Mr.” regardless of marital status –we now use “Ms.” in salutations to address women unless you know they are married. Most of the time, you will start your letter with “Dear Mr. or Mrs. or Ms. or Dr. ______–whichever is the appropriate way to address the recipient—followed by a colon.

Unless you know that the person you’re sending the e-mail or letter prefers “Miss” or “Mrs.,” always use “Ms.” when addressing her in a formal manner.

If your business letter or email is not being addressed to one particular person at a company, the best practice is to address the company, the department or the specific role. The more specific you are, the more likely your letter will make it to the hands of the appropriate person. If, for example,you’re sending a cover letter with your resume—and you don’t have the name of the human resources director (although it might be better to do some digging as that will probably get your letter to the top of the pile), address the letter with “Dear Human Resources Director.”

As busy as we are today, it’s highly likely that your business correspondence is being sent via Internet rather than through the post office. It’s important to note that even though it’s so easy to send a quick note to a client or business contact by email, the salutation sets the tone for the remainder of the email message.

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Posted by Margaret in Communication, Etiquette Tips, Everyday Etiquette and tagged

The Fundamentals of Photo Etiquette

July 3, 2017

camera in a cameraFacebook and other photo-sharing networks growing life wildfire, many of us have had this unfortunate experience, and the feeling that follows is downright awful! Such careless regard for others’ feelings translates to bad photo etiquette.

Remember, permission is very important, for both taking and sharing a picture of someone else.

This lesson is especially important in dealing with other cultures. All around the globe, people believe that when someone takes your picture, they trap your soul. Carelessly snapping shots of an Australian Aborigine or Native American could be considered a grave offense, and even land you in jail!

Even with your average tech-savvy person, always ask permission before posting pictures of other people online. There are many reasons they might decline, and their privacy must be respected.

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Posted by Margaret in Everyday Etiquette and tagged , , ,

Did you know…? About forks?

June 30, 2017

While the knife and spoon have long been accepted as common eating utensils, the fork had a much harder time earning its place at the table. The fork’s similarity to the pitchfork, a sign of the devil, was the source of most resistance.

Imagine the astonishment then, in 1004, when Maria Argyropoulina, Greek niece of Byzantine Emperor Basil II, arrived in Venice for her marriage with a case of golden forks to use at the wedding feast. She was roundly condemned by the local clergy.

When she died of the plague two years later, Saint Peter Damian suggested that it was God’s punishment for her “forked” ways. The devil took her!

By the 1400s dining forks were appearing in Italian cookbooks, and shortly thereafter, another noble marriage influenced the public’s perception of the fork. Catherine de Medici arrived from Italy to marry the future French King Henry II, and with her she brought several dozen intricate silver forks. Wealthy French families eagerly adopted the new Italian influence. (Who knew the fork was once pop culture?)

Well into the early 1800s, forks were still considered a novelty by some, and the source of great confusion to others.

By the first World’s Fair in 1851, the fork had finally gained widespread Western acceptance as a popular eating utensil. It even had its own set of rules to help the confused or socially self conscious. Perhaps that was the point when the fork’s reputation as the ultimate symbol of etiquette issues was first forged.

So, the next time you sit down to a formal meal and feel a hint of panic at the sight of three forks, don’t sweat it! Your ancestors didn’t get it either, but in time, there’s hope for us all.

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Posted by Margaret in History of Etiquette and tagged

Many Dimensions of Your Path

June 15, 2017

Other people may be there to help us, teach us, guide us along our path,
but the lesson to be learned is always ours.”

– Unknown

Forest Lane Forest Path Away Autumn Nature

Feeling like you’re “on the right path” is crucial to being satisfied with your life. Most of us know this, but when it comes to determining what the “right path” is, many people are unsure.

Your path is a way of being in the world that fulfills you and calls forward your own unique gifts. If you’re wondering if you’re on the right path. well then you’re not. How do I know that? Because when you’re on the right path, you know it. It feels absolute and undeniable – it’s just right, and no one can convince you otherwise.

If you aren’t feeling that level of clarity and conviction, it’s time to do some investigating. Think about the following questions: What makes your heart sing? What makes you so excited that you can’t wait to jump out of bed in the morning?

When presented with these questions, some people get very excited as they tap into their own reservoir of personal inspiration and energy. But others get anxious, frustrated, even depressed by these questions — because they can’t feel their own passion anymore. Maybe they lost faith in the possibility of their dream, or someone talked them out of it. Or they just got swallowed up by the demands of day-to-day life and forgot to keep dreaming.

For those of you who are confused about your path, a few questions can get you thinking in the right direction:

  • When you were a child, what did you always want to be? Why? This line of thinking can call forward some of your innate talents and core passions.
  • Who do you admire, or aspire to be like? What do you like best about this person? These questions can reveal some of your intangible goals.
  • What roles do you play in your life (i.e. parent, boss, confidante, etc.)? How would you like to show up in each of these roles?
  • What is your most cherished compliment? Why is that important to you?
  • What would you like to experience in life?

If you’re ready to take action on a path that inspires you, please take some time for the following exercise. Not only will you walk away with some valuable insights about your life, but you’ll also have the clarity to make changes and take steps in a direction that resonates deeply with you.

As a coach, I recommend:
Go to my website and download the Wheel of Life.

This wheel represents your life. On a scale of 0-10, where the center of the wheel is zero and the outer edge is 10, indicate your level of satisfaction in each area of your life by shading in that section of the wheel. (For example, if you’re fully satisfied, shade the entire section; if you rate that area of your life at a 5, start at the center and shade halfway to the edge.)

Once you’ve finished shading, take a look at the shape of your Wheel of Life. Is it full and smooth, or uneven and jagged? This wheel is the vehicle you are using to travel your path. how bumpy is your ride?

Now, choose an area of your life that you’d most like to improve and brainstorm three action steps that will improve your experience in that area. For example, if you scored low on Health, you could schedule an appointment with the doctor, join a gym, improve your diet, take vitamins, eat more nutritiously, and so on.

Commit to raising your rating by 1-2 points in the next week, and another increase within 30 days. With consistent steps in the right direction, a rewarding path is only a matter of time.

Have fun with this – after all it’s your life! Your path!

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Posted by Amazing Editor in A Page of Insight and tagged , ,

The Business Lunch Demystified

June 10, 2017


Lunchtime is a great opportunity to be productive and network. Here is a healthy serving of guidance to help you thrive in a business lunch.

No matter where you go for your business lunch, be on time. If you live in a big city, you know that traffic can be terrible. Even in the worst traffic scenarios, you can be on time if you plan ahead. Arriving early gives you time to use the restroom to check your appearance, fix your tie, reapply lipstick, make sure your shirt is tucked in, etc.

At your lunch meeting, enjoy your meal, be yourself, and remember to exchange any important information before you leave the table.

In Japan, meishi koukan is the formal exchange of business cards. The practice is very important in Japanese culture, and their long list of proper steps in the business card exchange is taken seriously. While we are not so formal in North America we have adopted the Japanese custom of handing a business card to someone with both hands with the print readable to the receiver. Your business card needs to be pristine and accurate. Look the person in the eye as you hand them your business card.

No matter the type of business lunch, whether it is an interview, a sales pitch, or just a get-to-know-you meal, remember your table manners. Keep the phone on silent and put away, and keep your handbag on a hook — never on the table or floor. Know and practice napkin knowhow, silent service code, and be silverware savvy.

Before you meet for your next business lunch, have an outcome for that lunch in mind. If you invited someone to lunch let them know why you are wanted to meet with them. It is good form to pay for your guest if you extended the invitation. If it is a mutually agreed upon luncheon, be prepared to pick up the tab, at least for yourself, when the bill arrives. Most importantly, be polite, stay focused on the outcome, and enjoy the conversation.


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Posted by Margaret Page in Business Etiquette, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , ,