Category Archives: Dinner Etiquette

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Does Your Date Deserve An Introduction?

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Just about a week ago, my friend Justin Kimpson extended an invitation to attend the Ford Freedom Award event  at the Max M. Fisher Music Center in Detroit.  I was already scheduled to be in town teaching dining etiquette for Deloitte, so the timing could not have been better. Now, we have been friends for quite some time, so there was nothing awkward, weird or out-of-place about going as his “fake date” for the evening; I was actually very much look forward to it.

Since we’re both native Detroiters, went to high school together and still work together in different capacities, we have a ton of mutual friends and colleagues, but since I travel quite a bit and formally live in Washington, DC now, Justin knows way more people than I do. There were several instances where Justin formally introduced me to people who I did not know, which was great. Now, I have no problem with working a crowd, introducing myself and joining in on conversations, but I must say, it is nice to be naturally pulled in and introduced.

I did, however, notice something very interesting that was occurring – lots of people were not introducing their dates, or were doing so as an afterthought. Now, it is understood that perhaps the lack of introductions were intentional for whatever reason, but if you are inviting someone as a date to an event (either in a romantic capacity or as a friend), it is your responsibility to engage them, at least during introductions. It is also wise to give some thought to the type of event that you are going to, and the type of person that your date is. In advance of extending an invitation, ask yourself:

  • Do I even have a +1 to extend?
  • What are my obligations at this event and will I have the time to entertain a guest?
  • What type of event is this and would my date be comfortable?
  • Have I given my date the heads up about what to expect, including attire expectations and any of my obligations that may leave them standing alone for a while?

Scarlet Says…events can surely be fun, and bringing a guest can take the fun up a notch, but without giving some thought to who you’re bringing, if they will enjoy and be comfortable there, and if you are comfortable enough to introduce them to others, you could be setting yourself up for a bad situation and a lousy night out. So, extend your +1 to events with care!

Until Next Time,

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Scarlet


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Hey! Dinner Party Over Here!

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This is the look of an excited dinner party hostess! In t-minus 3 days, I’ll host a wonderful dinner party for 10 and kick off a partnership with Hello Fresh! I’m not sharing just to share…I’d like you to consider coming to a dinner party in the future. Interested in attending a fun, engaging, swanky dinner party filled with great food (of course), delicious beverages and good company? Let me know by joining the guest list. We’ll let you know when a dinner party is headed to your area, so we can add you to a guest list in the future! SIGN UP HERE!

As a treat to our Scarlet supporters and readers, and because I am an avid user of Hello Fresh, you have an opportunity RIGHT NOW to try out your first Hello Fresh box at a deeply discounted rate. Hello Fresh provides weekly deliveries of farm fresh ingredients and delicious recipes to your doorstep. Visit their website and use the promotional code, Scarlet35, towards your first box. 

Happy Eating and feel free to share with a friend or two!

Until Next Time,

SC

Scarlet


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How To Entertain Like a Boss! National Etiquette Week – Day 5

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The E-Word – entertain, can really rattle some people. If you are used to being the guest versus being the host(ess), even considering entertaining family and friends may shake you up a bit. Contrarily, if you are the master host who regularly has family and friends over, today’s post will merely be a refresher, with perhaps a few new nuggets that you can use at your next event.

So, how is it done? How do you position and prepare yourself to host your own event? While being a seasoned, experienced and efficient event host takes a while to master, you can certainly pull off a dynamic event by following some key elements:

Mind Your Guest List

Your guest list just as important as the event itself. Unless you are in to planning and solely attending your own events, you’ll need some guests to make the event complete. Now, here’s the thing, which we mentioned in Wednesday’s blog post – Yes, YOU can host a dinner party too, all of your friends or acquaintances may not be complimentary of each other. So, this means that you’ll need to give some honest and careful thought to your guest list.  Complimentary personalities does not mean that everyone must be a parent, attended an Ivy League School or work in government. This just means that you will have to ask yourself some simple, yet effective questions in determining who is best to attend THIS particular event.

Questions like:

  • What is the maximum number of people my venue can hold?
  • Is there a theme for this event? Is my guest list representative of people that I would enjoy being around and would they embrace this theme?
  • Does my guest list consist of people who will only talk about themselves or are they open to collective discussions?
  • Is my guest list filled with people who have picky personalities that would pick this event apart piece by piece and make my night a challenge?

Now, you certainly don’t want to alienate your potential guests solely because they are picky or have certain expectations, but you do have to ensure that your event goes the way that you planned it. In a perfect world, you’d be able to invite any and everyone, but if you really want to have a successful, enjoyable and peaceful evening, do give some thought to who’s on the list!

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You Are The Event Host. Embrace It!

The bottom line is that you are the ringer leader, the front runner, the pioneer, the champion and the torch bearer for the event. People will likely accept an invitation to an event in large part because YOU invited them. While there may be good food planned, perhaps an expectation of great music and maybe event a hosted bar, many people would forego all of those things if the host left little to be desired personally. This is why you have to own this thing. This is your name, your vision, your personal brand out here, so invest some thinking and some planning into this!

Before your first guest knocks at your front door, rings your doorbell or sends that text that says, “I’m here”, you should already be in “host mode”. Host Mode (or as I referred to it in my wedding planning days, GO MODE) is when the imaginary director in your head says, ACTION. It is when you turn on your gracious ability to ensure guests are comfortable,  snacks are being snacked on, libations are being poured and people are generally having a good time. Mentally switching to host mode ensures that you will be fully ready to engage with your guests instead of finishing up last minute things in preparation for their arrival.

As you think through your event and what’s going to happen, you’ll also have to make some decisions on what you’re not going to do that may conflict with your regularly scheduled life. For example, perhaps you are a huge fan of Game of Thrones (as many people are), but subjecting your guests to watch it just because the season finale is on and it happens to fall on the same day as your dinner party isn’t the best move. Now, if everyone that you invited is a huge Game of Thrones fan, perhaps its not that big of a deal, but if it will detract from the focus of the event or bore half of the crowd, perhaps its best to just save it for you to watch another day.

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What’s On The Menu?

Whether you decide to go the cheese and crackers route or spring for sushi and an array of the finest cured meats, it is in your best interest to give some intentional thought to your menu selection. The menu selection starts with one fundamentally important component for all events, the five words that most of us dread hearing or considering – HOW MUCH IS YOUR BUDGET?  Being honest, up front and accountable to your budget will make your event experience a positively memorable one. There’s nothing worse than wrapping up what you thought was a fantastic event, only to realize that you spent 200% of what you thought you were going to spend.

As you move towards actually selecting your food items, make sure that the items themselves are complimentary toward any activities that you have planned. Have you ever had a delicious meal and ended up feeling immobile for the remainder of the day? Do you want to have a philosophical conversation after the food is served? Are you planning to have open dancing? If your food selection has consisted of an array of comfort food like, mashed potatoes, short ribs, greens and cornbread, chances are your guests are going to be completely wiped out and very much uninterested in rigorous activities. When choosing your menu, be sure to keep your overall goals in mind.

Additionally, allergies are no longer a uniquely rare thing that just a few people have. About 1:5 people have some level of an allergic reaction to food. This means that if you took a quick poll of your immediate friend circle, at least one of those people will have a food allergy. Chances are, at least one of the people that you plan to invite to your event has a food allergy, so you may want to have multiple options to choose from, or if your guest list is small enough, take a poll to see what you’ll include and what’s left off the menu.

When guests arrive, you shouldn’t be still preparing food, cleaning up or getting yourself ready. There are ways that you can cook the meal yourself and still be in hostess mode when your guests arrive. If you go this route, you’ll just need to watch the time and ensure that you keep a to-do list to ensure that you’ll be ready to rock and roll when the first guest arrives. If you decide to go the route of cooking all of the food yourself as opposed to hiring a caterer, you may want to consider meal or grocery delivery that could assist with the added hassle of a trip to the grocery store.

As a treat to our Scarlet supporters and readers, and because I am an avid user of Hello Fresh, you now have an opportunity to try out your first Hello Fresh box at a deeply discounted rate. Hello Fresh provides weekly deliveries of farm fresh ingredients and delicious recipes to your doorstep. Visit their website and use the promotional code, Scarlet35, towards your first box. 

Ok…now back to the list…

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How Wet Is Your Bar?

Right up there with your food selection choice lies another event component that requires some intentional thought – the bar and beverage choices. Generally speaking, your beverage choices are:

Wet Bar: consists of complimentary alcohol beverages during the event. (also referred to as an Open Bar)

Dry Bar: is completely void of alcohol or in some cases, alcoholic drinks that you can purchase.

Moist Bar: may consist of complimentary beer and wine and in some cases alcohol is available for purchase. Your decision to serve (or not serve) alcohol at your event is completely yours, but if you decide to, consult your budget first. Alcohol and food are usually the most expensive elements of any event. While an open bar is certainly attractive and will be very welcomed by your guest, if you are looking to reduce costs, consider a moist bar.

Also consider that, there are many people who do not consume alcohol or consume it, but are at a particular point in their life where they can’t consume right now, like pregnant women or people who are on specific medications. Of course you can have carbonated beverages, juice tea and coffee on- hand, but you could also take it one step further and have non alcoholic cocktails.

Scarlet Says…at some point in your life you just might get an urge to switch roles from guest to event host, and when you do Scarlet wants you to make sure that you are cool, calm, collective and pleased with the event outcome. Give yourself sufficient planning time, use these tips to your advantage and most importantly take time for you to actually enjoy the event yourself. Happy Planning!

Until Next Time,

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Scarlet


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Yes, YOU Can Host A Dinner Party Too! – National Etiquette Week – Day 3

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What visual comes to mind when you hear the words dinner party?  Do you think fancy schmansy? Do you visualize infused cocktails and dishes that require directions to eat? Do you envision dressing up in your finest attire?

If you answered yes OR no, you’re wrong AND you’re right!

Scarlet Says, a dinner party is a social occasion at which guests eat dinner together. There is a lot of flexibility in that definition. The bottom line is that a dinner party can be fancy or casual, at a restaurant or at your home, filled with the finest meats and vegetables prepared by a private chef or prepared by you in your own home.

If you are invited to, or plan to have a dinner party, relax – it’s really going to be just fine.

When we decided to host a couple’s dinner party last year, there were some very specific goals that we wanted to achieve. These items can apply to other kinds of dinner party’s, so let me give you the scoop:

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Food: Decide what you’ll serve and the entire serving/display plan behind it. Food is of course a very important component of a dinner party. One of the highest focal points of the party will in fact be dinner, so it’s in your best interest to get this part right. For the couple’s dinner party, we decided to hire a chef. Chef Samaya prepared a delicious 3-course meal and relieved the stress and hassle of preparing the meal myself. It’s important for you to be present at your event. When guests arrive, you#1 Dinner Party-12#1 Dinner Party-38 shouldn’t be still preparing food, cleaning up or getting yourself ready. There are ways that you can cook the meal yourself and still be in hostess mode when your guests arrive. If you go this route, you’ll just need to watch the time and ensure that you keep a to-do list to ensure that you’ll be ready to rock and roll when the first guest arrives. If you want to go the route of cooking all of the food yourself you may want to consider meal or grocery delivery that could assist with the added hassle of a trip to the grocery store. As a treat to our Scarlet supporters and readers, and because I am an avid user of Hello Fresh, you now have access to try out your first Hello Fresh box at a deeply discounted rate. Hello Fresh provides weekly deliveries of farm fresh ingredients and delicious recipes to your doorstep. Visit their website and use the promotional code, Scarlet35, towards your first box.

Beverages: Right up there with your food selection choices lies another event component that requires some intentional thought – the bar and beverage choices. Alcohol and food are usually the most expensive elements of any event, so mind these items carefully as it relates to your budget. While a completely open bar is certainly attractive, and will be very welcomed by many of your guests, if you are looking to reduce costs, consider a moist bar, where perhaps there is just beer, wine and non alcoholic beverages. We decided to have wine, a selection of liquor and non alcoholic beverages. For dinner, we served a selection of white and red wines and for desserts on the roof, we served more wine and a selection of dark liquor. Remember that there are many people who choose to not partake in the consumption of alcohol. As a hostess, its important for you to ensure that there are beverage options for everyone.

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The Guest List: The guest list was and always will be a difficult thing for us, especially as it relates to dinner party’s. It was decided to have this dinner party at our home. Our dining room table sits 10 people comfortably, so really the choice was made for us regarding the maximum amount of people. Now, we have well more than 10 friends who are in a relationships, so there still was some narrowing down that had to happen and knowing that we would have future dinner party’s in the near future helped with decision-making as well. We would have invited everyone if we could, but that size dining room table doesn’t exist yet. When deciding your guest list, think about personalities. Now, here’s the thing (that you may not want to hear, know or be aware of). All of your friends or acquaintances may not be complimentary of each other.

So, this means that you’ll need to give some honest and careful thought to your guest list. You may be thinking, “but they’re all my friends and I’m the connecting link, so why wouldn’t things all go smoothly”. Look, bottom line is, there a ton of different personalities just within your immediate friend group alone. The way that some people approach, respond or react to things may not be something that you want to have to deal with at dinner. Now, odds are your event will very likely (and hopefully)  be a smooth, harmonious and pleasant event, but giving a few moments of thought to who’s personalities mesh together  (and whose does not) could be the difference between a success or a disaster.

#1 Dinner Party-124The Environment: One of the most enjoyable elements of the event was having desserts on the roof. The formal party of a dinner party, which usually involves sitting down in front of nice dishes, a well set table and being served is all well and good, but if there is an opportunity to break up the formalities, change environments and continue with the fun – do it.

Get Your Guests Involved: If there is a wine aficionado in the group who insist#1 Dinner Party-43s on opening and pouring the wine, let them. If your best girlfriend wants to come early to help you put the final touches on things, let her. I personally take my hosting duties seriously and do 95% of the work myself – but it’s because I enjoy it. But, if you’re going to be run down and tired, and not fully able to enjoy your event because you’ve tried to do everything yourself, consider commissioning assistance or  at a minimum, accept  the offer when someone wants to help.

Scarlet Says… dinner party’s come in all different shapes and sizes. The next time that you remotely consider having one or maybe just inviting people over, allow your mind to wander a bit into creative and non-traditional possibilities. The most important thing is to plan. Make to-do lists and give yourself enough time to comfortably plan for the event so that when dinner is served, you can sit back and enjoy the occasion just as much as your guests. #1 Dinner Party-24

Until Next Time, 
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Scarlet


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I Bet You Think This Weekends About You

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Hosting out-of-town guests can be exciting, but sometimes equally as anxiety inducing. So, it’s no surprise to me that this past weekend while hosting my dad and aunt, there was a bit of a mix of both emotions as I worked through what types of activities would ensue.

Both my aunt and my dad have visited me in the past, so it wasn’t a complete guessing game about what types of things they wanted to do, but yet, I still should have asked.

When people are way from home, it is my belief that making them feel as comfortable as possible will result in everyone’s experience being enjoyable, relaxing and filled with positive memories.So, I did just that. I also took the liberty of scheduling some things that I knew they would enjoy, including a game night, a few jazz related activities, plenty of food outings and even a surprise drop in visit from other family visiting the area over the weekend.

Now, for me, this amount of weekend activities seemed pretty appropriate. But, I quickly learned that for my dad and aunt, it was a bit too much. I am very much used to a weekend filled with hustle, bustle and more hustle. It’s common for me to fit in 100 million things into a weekend trip somewhere, but that’s just me. My aunt and dad were more than happy with one day time outing and a delicious meal of some sort every day. So, during one of the completely overfilled days, one of them said, “maybe we can just go back home after this”.

And then it clicked…

Scarlet Says… Just like the evolution, growth and change of almost everything else in our lives, even the Golden Rule itself has advanced. Let’s make it a point to embrace not doing unto others as you would have them do unto you, but instead, treating others how they want to be treated. The next time you host someone at your home or are entertaining out-of-town guests, just ask them, “what would you like to do with your time here”, then take it from there!

Until Next Time,

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Scarlet


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My Kids & Family Are Great, But What About Me?

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Aggravated ParentThink about your friends who have children. How do your conversations typically go?

This weekend while visiting home (Detroit), I was so elated to catch up with quite a few of my friends, many of whom have or are expecting children. The conversations with my friends with children or a spouse always started out with the normal pleasantries, including the “how are you’s” and “how’s the job”, etc. In almost every case, the next few questions (for those that have kids) b-lined right for their family. Because I genuinely wanted to know how their children and partners were doing, I innocently asked, “so, how are the little ones” or “how is your other half”. In almost every case, they said “fine, they’re all doing fine” and were ready to move on to another subject. Now, I’ve encountered some unfortunate responses in the past when I’ve asked about the family, so I tread lightly when asking these days. There’s nothing more uncomfortable than learning about a recent divorce or a child who is terminally ill, while innocently asking, so “how’s your family”, but it happens and when it does you sympathetically deal with it.

The one thing that I picked up on this past weekend is a simple concept that most parents will likely appreciate and it is this…while people might have children or a spouse, they are more than just a parent or a spouse. So, let’s just be honest here. You do sometimes run across that (maybe new) parent that ONLY talks about their children and acts as if they did not exist before their children or spouse came along, and for those people carry on. But while my friends who are parents and have partners are great in both of those roles, the reality is that most of them want to be and are more than that. Being a parent or a spouse/partner is fine and awesome, but there are so many other roles that a person is, will be or wants to be and that too should be considered and respected.

Scarlet Says…It is perfectly fine and courteous to ask about your friends’ family when you see them. But, it’s OK as well to continue the conversation and ask about them. How are they doing? What’s new with them? What goals do they have? Allow your friends to be more than just one thing, if they want to be. Life can be much too short to do, experience, be or strive for just one or two things and while having a family and a spouse can be magical, so can all the other things that are possible as well.

Until next time,

Scarlet

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So, How’d You Do?

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Photo Courtesy of: Sports Grid

Photo Courtesy of: Sports Grid

Now that one of the biggest sports weekends of the year is over, it’s time to rate yourself! How did you do? Were you in compliance? Well, Scarlet has to throw in her draft pick choices! We’re not talking about the player choices… we’ll leave that up to you! Let’s talk about the draft party pick choices. As you prepare to have people over later this year, or even engage in conversation about who you think will go to which team, consider these few things:

  • Having People Over? : Where will your guests sit? The NFL draft is a lengthy process. Think through where people will sit. Now, this doesn’t have to be a fancy affair where you rent out fancy chivari chairs and such. Some bean bags and folding chairs will likely do.
  • Engaging In Debate: Debates are fine. I mean, who doesn’t get rowled up about a great player coming to their home team?! But, don’t let your passion for the game result in ruining a friendship or two. Debate…in moderation please.
  • Food. Drink. BYOB. : If you’re inviting a few folks over, plan to at least have a few snacks for them to nibble on. Don’t feel indebted to laying out a four course meal, but remember that for many, the draft starts during peak dinner time. You might even consider having guests bring a dish or beverage to keep the party going.
  • Are You An Internet Thug?: Avoid being that human that uses the internet to post, say, share and communicate things that you know you wouldn’t say in real life. Some friendly back and forth banter and maybe even some good old fashioned smack talk is OK, but when you seek to cross the offensive line or make personal jabs about someone, you’ve probably gone too far.
  • Bring Something: If you are lucky enough to be invited over to an NFL Draft Party, bring something…anything. There are always the safe go to’s for this kind of shin dig like: wine, beer, chips, pretzels, dip, salsa, etc! If you know the host(s) well, do go out on a limb and bring something that you know they’d like. Whatever you do, just don’t go empty handed.

Enjoy your many other sports weekends this year!

I’ll see you again soon!

SC

– Scarlet


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Scarlet In The Middle…Where She At?

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1908365_10106561465178004_8015367759681770425_nI’m wrapping up what was a fantasmal weekend! We had the joy of hosting one of our favorite couples for a few days. We are those people who thoroughly enjoy hosting guests from out-of-town. I’ll admit – we are certified hosting junkies and we love it!

So, of course these last few days have been chock full of outings, spirits, more outings and of course an infusion of our friends co-mingling and meeting our other friends.

Yesterday, we  engaged in what most social people engage in on a pleasant Sunday afternoon in DC – BRUNCH!  After we reluctantly had to cancel our initial brunch plans at Zengo in Chinatown, I was on the hunt for a new location a little later in the day. I was slighty bummed because our experience at Zengo’s was quite magical….

But, enough of Living In The Past. I ended up discovering a lovely restaurant called Central Michel Richard on Pennsylvania Avenue and it too had a magical spread that was appropriate for entertaining both out-of-town and in town guests, so we did just that. Alongside our out-of-town friends, we invited one of our other friends. The four of us arrived before she did so we all grabbed our seats and started the beverage ordering part of the meal. At this point, we were all famished, so the main focus was definitely on the food, but there was another interesting subject that came up in the midst of getting settled in – the subject of who sits where.

Considering my affinity for a good dinner party, I am normally always cognizant of who sits where, why they are sitting there and if they are sitting next to someone who makes sense. In a casual setting such as brunch among my friends, I tend to be a lot more relaxed? But should I? Well, yes I should be more relaxed, but with the awareness that these are all my friends. Key word – my. Everyone here may have met and been acquainted with each other, but they aren’t all friends. The common denominator is me and should be very much kept in mind.

When the comment about who should sit where came up, it wasn’t in an effort to say there was dislike towards someone or a desire to not talk to or connect with other people. It was instead to say, “hey, you are my friend and while I’m here visiting, I’d like to sit with you connect with you more and soak up the little time that I have while we’re together.”

Scarlet Says… We all have the right and need to relax, turn down and not take ourselves so serious. But, keep in mind that when you take on the responsibility of hosting, entertaining or having guests, technically, you are still in a sense, on. Also, keep things in perspective. While it is essential for you to connect and introduce your friends to other people, the connector is still you and there is a bond that you have that is important and should always be considered, even for things as simple as where shall we sit?

Until next time,

SC

 

 

 

 Scarlet


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Do You Like Sushi?

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“Do you like sushi” is a question that we often ask students in our youth etiquette classes? Most students say “no”, which is always so interesting because we also ask ” who does not like sushi and has not tried it” and many of them raise their hands to this as well. How can you not like something if you’ve never tried it? Well, we’ve probably all been guilty of responding this way at some point in our lives.

Now there are clearly some things that you can probably adamantly say, I’ve never tried it and I don’t want to because its illegal and immoral and we’ll likely agree – steer clear of those items. But, for other things, why not? Why are we so reluctant to try new things – the things that won’t harm, destroy or ruin us? Many times, it’s because, we’re comfortable. We’ve become comfortable, with our jobs, in our relationships, with our daily processes and systems.

The other major reason why we avoid new things is because we don’t know the protocol, the process or the rules around them. Think about how comfortable you become with an idea, an initiative or an experience once you learn that you’re doing it the “right way”.

Scarlet Says…as you navigate your way through this thing called life and are presented with the opportunity to experience new things, take a breath and just do it. Our job at Scarlet Communications is to arm you with the protocol and etiquette that’s necessary for you to enjoy it all. So, let us do our job and you do yours – enjoy life!

Until next time,

Scarlet

SC


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International Tipping Guidelines

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International leisure travel is exciting, but there are some things that you should keep in mind in order to ensure a successful getaway.

The one thing that you’ll certainly need on this journey is money. Even if it’s an all-inclusive, all expenses paid journey, you still need a bit of pocket change – just because. Also, there may be a hostess, maitre d’ or hospitality professional that goes above and beyond and you just want to show your appreciation.

The tipping rules can vary widely from country to country, so Scarlet wants to ensure that you are well prepared and aware of the standards.

Check out the international tipping guide, by clicking here

Safe and happy travels!

Until next time,

SC

Scarlet


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Thank you for stopping by to see us. What other kinds of etiquette do you think we should teach?