Etiquette: August 02, 2007

4th of July American Flag Fruit Skewers

July 03, 2013

Fruit is essential at a summertime soiree: Not only does it balance out all those salty snacks, but it's a healthy dessert option, too. Every barbecue, picnic, or outdoor party would benefit from including a fruit salad, but the 4th of July calls for something special. These bright and delicious fruit skewers were inspired by the American flag and are super easy to make. Try the simple recipe below to make a patriotic treat perfect for Independence Day. 

American Flag Skewers
Time: 20 mins.

Materials:

  • 12 wood skewers
  • 1 lb. strawberries
  • 6 oz. blueberries
  • 3 bananas
  • Serving tray

Directions: Rinse and dry berries. Chop the stems off strawberries, then cut into halves from stem to point. Cut the point off strawberries and set aside. Slices bananas and set aside. Starting with the blueberries, skewer about six on top and alternate between two banana slices and one strawberry slice until you reach the end. Place on a platter and keep refrigerated until serving.

4th of July Tablescape

Check out our Festive 4th of July Décor post for more ideas and browse our collection of 4th of July Evite invitations. Share your favorite 4th of July recipe with us in the comment section below.

 

Shower etiquette: do you invite out-of-towners?

June 11, 2009

cupcakescupcakescupcakes

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When someone is throwing you a shower – bridal, baby or otherwise – it’s amazing how quickly one small decision can turn your happy little shower into a nasty storm.

One of the questions that tends to stump brides, moms-to-be, family, friends and etiquette experts alike is whether to invite out-of-town guests.

Here’s why it’s such a pickle: As a guest of honor with a big day approaching, you want your nearest and dearest to celebrate with you – even if your nearest don’t actually live anywhere near you. However, inviting people who you know can’t attend could be interpreted as saying, “Hi, I know you can’t come, but I’d like you to send me a gift anyway.”

So, you may think it would be better to stick to only inviting people who live locally? Okay, as long as you don’t mind offending certain people who will feel totally hurt and left out. They may not even want to attend but just want to receive the invitation and feel included.

So what’s a showeree to do? Well, don’t assume there’s one universally accepted answer. Advice is decidedly mixed, with strong opinions on both sides.

But we do have a great way to keep everybody happy. Add all of your favorite people to your Evite invitation, and once it’s sent, send each non-local a personal message letting them know that you want them to feel included but realize they probably won’t be able to attend. And let them know you don’t expect them to send a gift.

And yes, guests, it’s perfectly okay not to send a gift if you’re not attending. You can if you like, but it is not required. A card of congratulations, however, is always appreciated.

be my "and guest"

May 21, 2009

ring-a-ding-ding

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Since we're at the beginning of another wedding season, we thought this would be the perfect time to address the perennial etiquette discussion of inviting guests with "and guest." Whether you're doing the inviting or getting invited, there are things to keep in mind to avoid a sticky situation.

Guests:

The rule is generally clear-cut: If your invitation doesn't include "and guest," then you're flying solo. Keep in mind that the bride and groom are tallying an exact headcount and paying per head. Showing up with someone unexpectedly or RSVPing with a guest will at most cause problems and at least lead to an awkward conversation.

There could be instances where the bride and groom may have overlooked your guest. If the wedding is being hosted by distant relatives or friends who live across the country, they may not know about your significant other. General etiquette suggests that your other is significant enough to require an invitation if you live together or are engaged or married. If you think that your lack of and-guest was an oversight, then definitely give the bride or groom a call.

Hosts:

In the interest of keeping your guests happy, here are a few things to consider during the invitation process.

  • If a guest is single and doesn't know anyone else who you've invited, it's courteous to invite them with a guest. This is especially the case if that guest has to travel to get to your wedding.
  • As mentioned above, if a guest lives with or is engaged to someone, their significant other should be invited. When inviting their guest, go the extra mile to find out that person's name (correct spelling and all).
  • Be prepared to receive an RSVP or two with an unexpected write-in. It's not necessarily a pleasant surprise, but one that most couples (present company included) have to face.

invitation wording: adults-only party

April 15, 2009

pinwheel, pinwheel, spinning around, look at my pinwheel and see what I found

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Reader Rochelle asks, "How do you tastefully tell people to leave the kids at home...it's an adult-only affair?"

Answer: Carefully, Rochelle. Very carefully.

While there are, of course, many good reasons why someone would choose to turn their party into a kids-free zone, this can be a very sensitive issue for some people, mainly parent-type people. They may feel they are less welcome at your event or that you are rejecting their kids.

Here's how to avoid hurt feelings:

  • Keep it positive. Sometimes wording can make all the difference. A phrase like "adults only" sounds a bit less negative than "no kids allowed."
  • Add an explanation. You'll avoid questions later if you pre-emptively explain your reasons in your invitation's message to guests. No need to over-apologize; just keep it honest and simple: "Sorry, money is tight right now," "Unfortunately, our place isn't kid-proof," "We're too limited on space to invite everybody," "Thought it would be fun to get together with just the grownups. Kids invited next time!"
  • Make no exceptions. Some guests may contact you to ask if their kids can attend. While you may be tempted to give in, it's best not to — or you'll risk upsetting the guests who respected your wishes. If asked, tell them you don't think it would be fair to other guests. You can also offer to help find a sitter or see if any other guests want to share a sitter so the kids can have their own mini party while you have yours.
  • Smile and roll with it. If some guests show up with children in tow, resist the urge to say something or get upset. As a host, it's your job to make guests feel welcome (even if they aren't). You might even want to have some kid-friendly food and drinks on hand, just in case.

popping the cork on wine etiquette

March 31, 2009

one for me, and...one more for me

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Reader Christen asks, "If a guest brings a bottle of wine as a gift, is the host/hostess supposed to open the bottle of wine for all the guests to enjoy, or is it ok to save it?"

Excellent question, Christen! Technically, a host gift is just that: a gift. And the recipient is entitled to enjoy that gift however he or she likes. That said, a gracious host considers the gift and the giver when determining whether to open the bottle. And smart guests find a polite way to let the host know if they would like their gift enjoyed at a certain time.

If you're a guest who hopes to share the wine you've brought with the group, present it to the host with that suggestion: "I thought this could go well with the BBQ we're having." Or, if you don't want your gift to get lost among the other bottles on the wine table, let the host know: "This is something for you to enjoy another time."

As a host, you can prevent any post-party wine whining by asking your guests if their bottle was meant for the group. Something as simple as "Thanks so much for the wine. Should we open it tonight?" resolves the issue for both of you. Or if you don't want to open the bottle, let the guest know you appreciate the gift and look forward to enjoying it later.

A gesture that's always appreciated by guests when they bring you a special bottle? Suggesting you'll share the wine with them another time. The guest knows the gift was appreciated, you both have new, fun plans, and you both know you'll get to taste what they brought. Cheers to that!

question of the week: splitting the check

March 23, 2009

qwestyuns. I haz dem.

Even though I go out to dinner with the same group of friends almost every Friday, we still have difficulty when it comes to splitting the check at the end of the meal. Dividing everything evenly is definitely the easiest way to go, but it's usually not the fairest. What if one person had wine when another person just drank water? But you could argue that since it's usually the same group of people, it all evens out week over week.

We want to know what you guys do in these situations. And if you have some genius method to making things simple and fair, by all means, tell us in the comments!

And here's one of my favorite tips for when each person is paying a different amount: Always carry a pen with you to write down how much the server should put on each card. We flip the check over and write out each person's last name along with exactly how much to charge. The server is always so grateful for not having to remember which of the half-dozen cards goes with which amount.

two much?

October 09, 2008

Another shower? Duck and cover!

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In the spirit of debate season, we want to get your opinions on one of our most common party-planning questions: Should there be a baby shower for the arrival of a second baby?

Not being a mom myself, I hadn't realized what a hotly debated topic this was. It seems that everyone has their own (adamant) views about whether a second shower is a welcome celebration or just downright tacky. The main sticking point is that people don't want to be expected to buy expensive gifts (thinking that the parents should have everything they need from their first shower), not that they don't want to celebrate the second baby.

I went to Emily Post, the classic etiquette source, to get a traditional take on this dilemma. She says that it's perfectly fine to throw someone a baby shower for the second baby, as long as "the guest list is comprised of guests who did not attend a shower for the first baby, with the exception of close friends and family members who would be upset not to be there."

More and more people are throwing a smaller celebration (some call it a "baby sprinkle," which is appropriately adorable) that's more about friends and family spending time with the expectant mom than showering her with gifts. Another option is throwing the parents a sip and see after the baby is born where everyone can meet the little one.

Many people do agree that there are extenuating circumstances, such as a several-year gap between children, in which a second shower would be more acceptable. What do you think about a shower for baby number two?

question of the week: yes, no, maybe?

September 15, 2008

qwestyuns. I haz dem.

When you've just sent an Evite invitation, there's nothing more annoying than opening it obsessively and seeing all the guests' names just sitting there in the "not yet replied" section. Oh wait, there is one thing more annoying: seeing all the names in the "not yet replied" section next to the date that person viewed the invitation ... but didn't reply.

I feel your pain, party hosts, but there are often good reasons why someone didn't reply right away. They might not be sure of their availability; they might be short on time; they might want to see if certain other invitees are (or are not) attending. To give fellow hosts some peace of mind, let us know when you reply.

party time

August 01, 2008

Absolut-ly fabulous

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Question: What time should you arrive at a party?
Answer: That depends.
Sarcastic Response: Wow, thanks. That's so helpful.

The right time to arrive at a party is a common etiquette question, and there isn't a set time that works for every situation. It depends, in part, on the type of party and the other attendees.

That said, here are some general guidelines to keep you from making a social gaffe:

  • For an event at a specific time, like a restaurant reservation or play, do your friends a favor and arrive early. Showing up even a few minutes late could cost you the table or make you have to wait in the lobby until intermission.
  • For an event on a schedule, like a dinner party or a book club, arrive within 15 minutes of the start time.
  • For a casual event, like a barbecue or house party, consider the people invited to assess whether they're likely to show up on time or roll in a few hours later. If you're still unsure, ask the host what time they suggest.
  • For a house party, do not show up early unless the hosts have explicitly said you can. They will be in the shower. And even if you offer to help (no, not in the shower), you could still be in the way.
  • Hint for party hosts: If it's important to you that guests arrive at a certain time (like before the guest of honor at a surprise party), make that crystal clear in the invitation. Don't just assume the stated party time will get the point across.

q: should I bring a host gift?

June 06, 2008

mine... mine... also mine...

Absolutely. If you've thrown a party, you know how much time, effort and money go into it. Bringing a gift for the host can help offset those costs, and it's a handy way to help yourself get invited back. And by the way, guys, a "host gift" does not have to be something girlie like scented soap. It can be beer and stuff.

So the next question ... what should you bring? That depends on how formal the party is and how well you know the host.

For a casual get-together, beverages or food for the party is always a welcome gift. If you don't know the hosts well, stay away from alcohol in case they don't drink.

For a gathering that takes more time and planning, think like a party planner: Give a gift the hosts can use at the party if they're in a pinch. Some party staples people can always use more of include pitchers, vases (especially handy if another guest commits the party foul of bringing cut flowers with no vase; see below), wine openers, wine stoppers, coasters or a CD of party music. Place your unwrapped gift in a party bag filled with tissue paper so the hosts can easily bust it out if necessary.

At a more formal event, bring a gift that lets the host indulge after all of their planning: muffins and tea for the morning after, a bouquet of flowers, a good book or gourmet chocolates. For a really lavish affair hosted by a close friend, spring for a gift certificate for a massage or an after-party clean-up service.

Some gift ground rules to keep in mind:

  • Don't upstage the host. If you're bringing food or drink for the party, find out what the host plans to serve and bring something that would complement it. In other words, a flaming baked Alaska would be a tad much at a pizza party.       
  • Don't add to the host's stress. If you're buying flowers, have them arranged in a vase so the host doesn't have to run around looking for one. If you're bringing a dish, plate it.
  • Do include a note. Hosts have a million things to think about during a party, and trying to remember who brought those great chocolates will drive them crazy the next day.