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Social Etiquette and Good Manners/Questions Answered by Expert Constance Hoffman

SubjectDate Asked
An awkward letter9/20/2016
  Q: acquaintance whose father died a month ago. She and I are not close - that's why I didn't hear of ...
  A: Jo: Focus on your friend, not on the person who passed. Keep your message simple and supportive ...
Vests8/18/2016
  Q: Hoffman, Do you have any thoughts on men wearing vests? I enjoy wearing them, but would like to get ...
  A: The shoulders of the vest should always lie flat against your body and below any collar points. If ...
Serving etiquette6/5/2016
  Q: I hope you could kindly enlighten me on serving etiquette. I have helpers at home (maids) and they ...
  A: Your helpers should not be placing the serving trays on the table while guests are present. Should ...
Business dinner1/12/2016
  Q: Hoffman, Best wishes for a happy and healthy new year ma'am. I may be attending a dinner next week ...
  A: Todd: If you are wishing to obtain a position in law, by all means attend as many functions/dinners ...
Standing in Doorways1/6/2016
  Q: As a business owner I am often frustrated by individuals who choose to stand and block entry ...
  A: I suggest a few ideas. Say "excuse me, but I need to get thru......" , or as a leader, when you ...
Hand Shake or Hug12/4/2015
  Q: There is a young female, 22 years old, who will be resigning from her job. We currently work ...
  A: Unless there is a long term, close friendship between the parties it would be best to offer a hand ...
Sneezing & Etiquette8/31/2015
  Q: If a person sneezes and someone says "bless you", is it appropriate for the person who sneezed to ...
  A: The Greeks and Romans took sneezing as a sign of wellness and expressed their good wishes to the ...
Job8/31/2015
  Q: Are there any social etiquette rules that suggest that a person shouldn't ask someone else what ...
  A: A person should not inquire what the profession is of another. Its the adult version of What ...
Short sleeves6/5/2015
  Q: Hoffman, Can I ask your advice on short sleeved dress shirts? Are they ever acceptable as far as ...
  A: Stepping into most workplaces, you would hardly ever see men dressed in short sleeve shirts, and the ...
Soda cans on formal dining table11/29/2014
  Q: For thanksgiving, I have set up s nice dining table with table cloth and napkins, candles. When my ...
  A: Hosting any event in your home allows you to determine how you wish the event/food to be utilized. ...
language10/25/2014
  Q: my wife and i are french canadian when invited at English canadian friends for diner is it polite of ...
  A: As a guest in someone's home, it would be considered rude to speak in French should the other couple ...
stepdads wife7/14/2014
  Q: after 10 yrs of abuse and addiction I left my partner. he was never physical around my children ...
  A: Having a son about the same age as yours, I understand your desire to protect and give advice. ...
Awkward way of sitting6/12/2014
  Q: my name is Ashley, 19 and I have an awkward question to ask. As everyone knows girls normally cross ...
  A: Ashley: Thank you for your question as well as the visual so that I might completely understand. In ...
Pet Condolence Etiquette4/23/2014
  Q: Recently, my friend's elderly dog suddenly and unexpectedly passed away at home. The veterinarian ...
  A: Alicia: Thank you for your question. I am sure that your friend is dealing with a lot during her ...
Pet Condolence Card Etiquette3/18/2014
  Q: I have a question about the proper etiquette for a condolence card for a pet owner. My friend ...
  A: Alicia: Thank you for your question. My condolences to your friend during her loss. This is one ...
Proper Inside Format for a letter2/16/2014
  Q: Can you please advise the proper way to title a former First Lady in the inside address of a letter. ...
  A: Paulette: She is to be addressed as a private citizen. So, for example, most formally, Nancy ...
Dedicated Plaque Etiquette1/28/2014
  Q: 15 years ago, a well-liked co-worker passed away and our small local business employees planted a ...
  A: Peggy: Thank you for your question. The memorial maker should stay with the tree unless the new ...
Is my boyfriend being rude, or is it just me?1/13/2014
  Q: My boyfriend and I have been together 5 years. We're not officially engaged yet, but it's to the ...
  A: Rachel: Thank you for your question. My best advice is change the dynamic as it is not working for ...
death of former mother in law11/7/2013
  Q: What is an appropriate way for me to honor the death of my former mother-in-law,my adult childrens ...
  A: Ms. Koch: I am sorry for the loss of your former mother-in-law. It must be a difficult time for ...
hair and barber tipping11/3/2013
  Q: CAN A NEW TREND BE SET ? Because most people don't get the hair cut they want. If they held their ...
  A: Deanna: Thank you for your question on tipping. Since a tip or gratuity is based on a service ...
Splitting cost of party9/15/2013
  Q: My sister and I are planning to throw a 50th Wedding Anniversary for my parents. We have decided to ...
  A: Congratulations on your parents upcoming 50th wedding anniversary. This is monumental and desires ...
"Hosted By" on Formal Dinner Pary Invitation8/20/2013
  Q: I am composing formal invitations for my mother's 70th birthday party, which will be a dinner at a ...
  A: Sarah: Thank you for your question. And Happy 70th to your mother. Please include your ...
Son3/18/2013
  Q: My son is graduating from the fire academy. I am wondering who should pin his badge on him myself or ...
  A: Congratulations to your son and to you, proud mother. The person to pin the badge should be the ...
wearing coats indoors2/4/2013
  Q: My wife and I arrived at the home of some close friends for a nice dinner and socializing. It was ...
  A: Bill, thank you for your question. If indeed the coat was a winter outdoor coat, your wife should ...
Parent's 50th wedding anniversary2/2/2013
  Q: My parents are going to the beach to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary. The problem is: no ...
  A: As much as you would like to share your parents 50th, it is their special celebration and thus how ...
Death of a student1/17/2013
  Q: One of my middle school students has lost both of her parents and the grandmother that was helping ...
  A: My heart goes out to this little angel. I suggest perhaps an album of candid photo of her classmates ...
Bridal Shower1/15/2013
  Q: I am hosting a bridal shower for my daughter in law to be. What is the correct way of mentioning ...
  A: A mother-in-law can host a bridal shower for her relatives and friends. Generally the first bridal ...
greetings in the morning1/4/2013
  Q: Every morning Monday to Friday that staff enters an office where there are two people sitting at the ...
  A: Mary: Thank you for your question. Typically the party entering the room verbally greets those ...
Addressing an envelope11/25/2012
  Q: How do I address a invitation to an anniversary party where the husband is an MD and the wife is a ...
  A: The envelope can be addressed The Doctors Smith or if keeping the names separate, then the woman's ...
Mailing out Wedding Gift10/17/2012
  Q: I appreciate your time in answering my question. If you are not able to attend a wedding, is it o.k. ...
  A: The proper etiquette is to have gifts delivered to the bride's home before the day of the wedding. ...
emails10/9/2012
  Q: This is very subjective I know, and it involves feelings more than etiquette. But given the fact ...
  A: If you enjoying staying in touch and don't mind initiating the correspondence, by all means ...
Family outings/dinner out10/8/2012
  Q: I want to know when my husband and I go out with the kids (16, 11, 9), to meet my husband's sister's ...
  A: Dianna: My first response is that you and your husband need to be singing from the same song sheet ...
extended family relationships after divorce10/2/2012
  Q: My ex-husband and my brother were close friends for many years before we got divorced. My brother ...
  A: I have to agree with your sister-in-law. Your brother and his wife are free to have relationships ...
"have a nice day" sign to not reply?9/17/2012
  Q: When someone emails from work, or even not from work, and ends it with "have a good day" or "have a ...
  A: Lee: Ending an e-mail with "Have a good day: or Have a nice weekend" is a friendly ending not a ...
etiquette after a stillborn8/15/2012
  Q: My cousin Joan and I were raised in an extended Italian family. My children and I have remained ...
  A: Anne: I believe that your son needs time to heal. Allow him to do this at his own pace; when he is ...
Volunteer work6/27/2012
  Q: Hoffman, I have been accepted to serve as volunteer mediator in my county beginning this fall. My ...
  A: Based on your three sections, it would be placed under experience. Even if you were not paid a ...
Problem colleague6/11/2012
  Q: I am a special needs teacher who shares a room with a colleague. Just recently she has taken to ...
  A: Joan: Thank you for your question. This does seem quite uncomfortable thus my suggestion is to ...
sweet 165/22/2012
  Q: I have a question does the sweet 16 birthday girl include her siblings in her court? reason being is ...
  A: The main public role of the court is to perform the first big dance of the party, following the ...
graduation invitations4/23/2012
  Q: how would I word an invitation that they only need to bring and only if they want a gift for the ...
  A: There is no need to indicate on the invitation anything regarding gifts. This is considered tacky ...
Graduation Open House4/13/2012
  Q: I am holding an Open House for my only child and want to invite many of my friends as well as my ...
  A: In the past, any reference to gifts on invitations was considered in poor taste but in light of the ...
introduction3/22/2012
  Q: If an older person is sitting and being introduced to a younger person must the older person then ...
  A: The general rule is that both parties, no matter the sex, are standing/rise for introductions as a ...
your opinion please2/26/2012
  Q: How far can I go in exemplifying good manners to children who are related to me only by marriage? I ...
  A: Correcting other's children is a no-no unless the are doing something to harm themselves or someone ...
Memorial Gifts2/15/2012
  Q: What is the proper way to handle Memorial gifts, in lieu of flowers? Our church Senior Warden's ...
  A: Yes, the wife should have opened and has every right to view the memorial monetary gifts should the ...
Social Introductions of New Wife1/13/2012
  Q: My husband and I have been married about a year and a half. He has a son who is a senior in high ...
  A: Absolutely introduce yourself. Allow a break in the flow of the conversation, reach out your hand, ...
debutante ball12/23/2011
  Q: I am a 17 year old girl and one of my Guy friends asked me to be his date for his sisters debutante ...
  A: It'll be better to be overdressed than under dressed at a deb ball, especially as you know that the ...
party etiquette with dietary needs12/6/2011
  Q: What do you do if you are going to a relatives house for Christmas and you will not be able to eat ...
  A: I assume the relative is distant if they are not already aware of the dietary needs. Non-related ...
picking up the check9/23/2011
  Q: Our family is going to a restaurant to celebrate our parents 50th wedding anniversary. In attendance ...
  A: Congratulations to your parents on such a fabulous milestone. I am pleased to learn that you and ...
Open House Gifts9/16/2011
  Q: My husband and I recently bought OUR first home. He had one, I had one, now WE have one. So many ...
  A: Dalice: Congratulations on your new "together" home. Hand written thank you notes for your guests ...
Hostess etiquette9/4/2011
  Q: At a recent birthday lunch and party, the hostess cut some of the birthday cake for several of the ...
  A: Bill: The poor guest of honor. The hostess was completely out of line. Should she had been aware ...
50th Anniversary gifts7/25/2011
  Q: We are planning our 50th Wedding anniversary celebrations. We have a notion that invitations going ...
  A: The printing of 'No Gifts Please' on the invitation is not acceptable. Family members and attendants ...
divorce and extended family7/24/2011
  Q: When you are divorced, are you legally related to your ex's sister, nieces, aunts, etc? Are they ...
  A: This is the trickiest area. I favor some creative ambiguity, especially in everyday speech. ...
Co-Workers and Baby Shower7/8/2011
  Q: I am getting a list of guests together to hand off to my mom and mother in law for my upcoming baby ...
  A: Megan: Congratulations on your upcoming birth. There is nothing better than being a mother! I ...
Graduation Gift6/24/2011
  Q: I have a daughter in her mid 30's who just graduated from College.She started right after High ...
  A: Ken: Congratulations on have a daughter who has continued her education. Regarding a gift, ...
Addressing Government Officials6/22/2011
  Q: What is the correct way to address a city major in correspondence? Would I use the word Honorable ...
  A: Julia: Thanks for asking this important question. I am going to assume that you are in the US. It ...
Weird Relatives !5/4/2011
  Q: I would like some clarification on this rather thorny matter. I live in the USA though I have a ...
  A: Paul: Ideally guests give gifts to help the couple commemorate the occasion and start their new ...
graduation announcements5/2/2011
  Q: Is it appropriate to send graduation announcements to someone who has a graduating daughter or son ...
  A: Stephanie: Feel free to send a graduation announcement, assuming the other child is not graduating ...
Wedding4/30/2011
  Q: My daughter will be getting married can you please tell me whether she has to walk up the aisle on ...
  A: Tradional Wedding: The father walks to the bride's right. They come down the aisle with the bride's ...
Dual honoree Graduation Party4/27/2011
  Q: I have recently been invited to a "dual honoree graduation party" hosted by the parents of the two ...
  A: It really depends on what you can afford. Any amount is "acceptable" because it's a gift. I'm sure ...
Invites to Housewarming4/10/2011
  Q: Is it proper to invite your soon to be ex-husband's father, and sister to your housewarming party? ...
  A: Sheri: Inviting them depends on the close relationship you have with each of the individually as ...
Tipping the Boss4/8/2011
  Q: I am a good tipper...25 - 35% of every check. I tip the Stylist and the shampoo girl. But I have ...
  A: Lori: If you feel like tipping, give it to the employees, not the owner. The owner should be making ...
Boyfriends manners part #24/8/2011
  Q: Here is the last issue regarding the German boyfriends manners. I am American and this is my first ...
  A: Lee: If you are okay with him burning your CD's then suggest he take 5 at a time, and exchange each ...
Boyfriends manners4/8/2011
  Q: This is a multiple part question/issue regarding manners and etiquette. I will try to fit it into ...
  A: Lee: Although I agree your new friend should have asked before helping himself to something to eat, ...
name cards4/6/2011
  Q: I am writing to inquire whether or not it is appropriate to use your new degree letters behind your ...
  A: Le: Thank you for your question. Graduation announcements should reflect your accomplishment by ...
Baby Shower conflict among co-hosts3/30/2011
  Q: I agreed to co-host a baby shower for my sister-in-law. My sister-in-law wanted to have it at my ...
  A: You have been placed in a nasty situation by the co-host. She is in the wrong. Based on your ...
BOSS ANNIVERSARY3/17/2011
  Q: I have a question in reference to my boss who's wedding anniversary is coming up on the 30th. I ...
  A: Sabah: Thank you for your inquiry. I suggest a plant instead of flower as it is less personal and ...
Attending the funeral of my boss' brother3/7/2011
  Q: Should I attend the funeral of my boss' brother? I do not know the brother and the funeral is a two ...
  A: Dianne: I am so sorry for your boss' loss. The main purpose of having a funeral,other than to bury ...
interruptions3/5/2011
  Q: My wife constantly interrupts our boys and myself. She will ask a question, then interrupt with ...
  A: Darrell: Thank you for your question. First let me explain how we "operate" which is no excuse for ...
7 yr olds Birthday Party2/10/2011
  Q: I am throwing my 7 yr d old daughter's birthday party at Chuck E Cheese. I invited her classmates ...
  A: Laura: It was rude of the parent to make to inquiry as the invite was specifically to you daughters ...
birthday party invitations2/3/2011
  Q: I was invited to a birthday party at a restaurant for a close friend. Appetizers were preordered ...
  A: Ms. Rosinski: I too am stunned and appalled. An invitation to attend a celebration, unless stated ...
Are Placemats Optional for a Dinner table.1/8/2011
  Q: I have a Dinner Table for 6. It is dark brown in color (wood). Itis covered in Glass on the top. ...
  A: Placemats are not mandatory nor are runners or table cloths. Just make sure that when cleaning the ...
Birthday Cake for my son12/31/2010
  Q: I need you help answering a question that is making my blood boil! I am 62 and I have my 37 yr. old ...
  A: Ms. Waters: You are exactly correct. When attending any event/function, public or privately hosted ...
Being Whistled at by my Wife12/22/2010
  Q: As of late, my wife has taken a liking to whisteling at me in public places, in close quarters ...
  A: : Whistling to get someone's attention is in poor taste. Just as is snapping your figures to get ...
Insatiable Charity12/19/2010
  Q: Recently, I received a Christmas card from a charity I once donated to. Enclosed was a note which ...
  A: Elizabeth: Please don't be offended, as charities often contact past donors to solicit for further ...
Retirement Party for Mom12/15/2010
  Q: My mother is planning to retire in the next six months. She has worked in the upper management of ...
  A: Heather: Since your mother has been with the same employeer for such a long time, perhaps you know ...
Email Christmas cards12/12/2010
  Q: Is it proper to send Christmas cards to acquaintances, and some family, by email?
  A: David: While technology is very useful and efficient, sending sentiments such as birthday, ...
2 Families living under the same roof12/3/2010
  Q: My sister's daughter, her husband and their baby are living at my sister's house where my sister ...
  A: Rene: In today's world, many families are combining their living situations for many reasons. ...
Christmas Gifts11/30/2010
  Q: I need an unbiased opinion. My husband and I will attend a Christmas party with my extended family. ...
  A: Brenda: Congratulations on the upcoming birth. Gift giving is just that, giving. A request should ...
What should I wear to the theatre?11/26/2010
  Q: A week from now a friend is picking me up and taking me to a play in DC. Unfortunately, I have no ...
  A: Lizzy: As a major theatre buff, I hope you enjoy your upcoming performance. I love to "dress" for ...
Housewarming Hostess Gift11/22/2010
  Q: I recently bought my first home and my best friend and her mother have decided to throw a ...
  A: Erin: How wonderful that your mother and best friend wish to honor you and your new home with a ...
I need an approprate way to respond to this comment11/20/2010
  Q: I am 31 and have struggled with depression and anxiety my entire life. I also have a 7 year-old son. ...
  A: You are correct the remark is offensive and rude. When an unnecessary comment is made such as the ...
50th birthday party11/17/2010
  Q: My family is hosting a 50th birthday party for me, and i want to invite some co-workers. The event ...
  A: Jane: Happy upcoming 50th birthday. Unless the gathering is for ladies only, you should indeed ...
50th wedding Announcement11/16/2010
  Q: My parents are celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary. They only want a small dinner party, but ...
  A: What a wonderful gesture to included your parents friends in their special tribute. Please make ...
Thanksgiving ivitations- adult kids' ex's and new mates11/13/2010
  Q: For this Thanksgiving, we are faced with how to handle inviting our adult kids, their new love ...
  A: Holiday get-togethers need not be stressful. Please chat with your children regarding their ...
Birthday Cards10/30/2010
  Q: I am married and all my other close relatives live 1,300 miles away. My birthday was today and I ...
  A: First, Happy Belated Birthday Vicki. For many people birthday are a very important celebratory day. ...
cancelled plans involving money10/26/2010
  Q: I made plans to see an event at a local theater with a friend. She bought our tickets in advance of ...
  A: Stacia: Let me keep you savage your friendship. Although it was beyond your control to have to ...
RSVP for Retiring Director10/21/2010
  Q: My director, who has a long history of upper leadership positions, including State Representative ...
  A: What a wonderful gesture to provide a retirement party for such a distinquished leader. I am ...
Receiving Gifts10/19/2010
  Q: My question is about receiving gifts. If you are given a present of an exact thing that you already ...
  A: To reply to your first question regarding receiving a gift that is a dulpicate. It is best to keep ...
Uninvited people10/17/2010
  Q: I recently was invited to a party (one that sells things, such as Mary Kay, Pampered Chef, etc.) by ...
  A: You are not overreacting. In your situation the invitation was only to the one person you invited. ...
Hostess gifts for Progressive Dinner Party9/23/2010
  Q: My husband and I are going to a Progressive Dinner Party with some friends/acquaintances from our ...
  A: Julie: Host/hostess gifts are a much needed touch of saying thank you. Never bring flowers unless ...
Money card9/21/2010
  Q: I have a coworker who is leaving after 7 years. She is becoming a Army wife. Is it proper etiquette ...
  A: Providing a greeting card and a gift is a perfect way to show your appreciation to a departing ...
How do yo ensure that the bill is split evenly?9/19/2010
  Q: How do you ensure that the bill is split evenly? When it comes to meals, I'm not very good at ...
  A: Mike: Thank you for your question. Prior to meeting with your friend, please contact him directly ...
Cloth Napkins9/18/2010
  Q: After dinner should you place your napkin inside your plate,or never place it in your plate? Thanks ...
  A: Bobbie: Thank you for your question. After a meal, once the party is ready to depart the table for ...

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Constance Hoffman

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Expertise

As a professional etiquette coach and trainer, I am able to assist with any and all of your questions pertaining to social and business skills, party manner, appearance, communication both verbal and written, tipping, email manners and social media, and of course entertaining and dining etiquette.

Experience

As owner of Social and Business Graces, I have been teaching children and adults for over 15 years.

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Owner of Social and Business Graces

Education/Credentials
Owner, teacher, coach and author of "Tips on Tipping".

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