10 Timeless Etiquette Tips
I read my first Emily Post etiquette book when the 17th edition was released when I was only 13 years old. Even before then, I remember staying up late at night to read a book my mom gave me about how to be a lady. I was enamored with the class, beauty, and decorum of it all and even today, it’s something I highly value.
I fully understand that some of these rules and traditions are a bit outdated but still truly believe that much of traditional etiquette goes beyond societal standards and is rooted in kindness, respect, and human decency. Sure, you can do whatever you want and throw social cues out the window, but should you? Is that creating a more gentle, loving, and kind environment the world desperately needs right now? Perhaps not. Sometimes, and even most of the time, these guidelines can make a huge impact on the interactions we have with others and how confident we feel ourselves.
Everything from which fork to use at a dinner party to addressing mail is included in etiquette but other guidelines fall under simple manners that withstand the test of time. Today, I’d love to share my personal favorite etiquette tips in hopes that it inspires you to include a little bit more graciousness in your everday life.
Always bring a hostess gift
Keep it simple with fresh flowers, a bottle of wine, or fine chocolate truffles - just a little something to say thank you for hosting.
Send handwritten thank you notes
A simple note goes a long way so keep stationary on hand and write a thank you note as soon as you receive a kind gesture, thoughtful gift, or gracious favor.
RSVP always + promptly
When I asked about the most important pieces of etiquette on Instagram, RSVPing was a top reply. It’s imperative that you let your host know if you’ll be attending or not so they can properly plan, budget, + cook.
Don’t chew gum during conversations
In the same way that it’s rude to chew with your mouth open, you ought to not chew gum in a conversation; it’s distracting and unsightly.
If on a crowded train or in a busy public area, move your bag off chairs and offer the seat to someone who is standing
If you’d like to avoid placing your bag or purse on the floor, set it in your lap but allow people to have the seating, if available. They are more important than your bag.
Maintain eye contact with whoever is speaking and never interrupt them or begin a side conversation.
Interrupting or getting distracted by something else you’re looking at communicates that you don’t care about the person speaking. Excuse yourself if needed or save your thoughts for when they’re done speaking.
Dress for the occasion. When in doubt, slightly overdress.
It can be embarrassing to show up for an event in jeans when everyone else is in suits and dresses. Always confirm the dress code with the host, check online, or when in doubt, opt for something slightly dressier to avoid a fashion faux pas.
Don’t pick your teeth, nails, nose, or face at the dinner table (or really anywhere in public)
If you need to do personal grooming, excuse yourself to the restroom but try to avoid chipping away at your nails or removing something from your teeth while in the presence of others. No one wants to see the inside of your mouth or where you set your nail shavings after chewing them.
Stand when introducing yourself
When someone new enters the room or conversation and they’re standing, stand up to introduce yourself so you can look at them in the eye and stay engaged.
The basics of all basics: say please and thank you
Often. Graciously. Kindly.
If some of these seem a little silly or overdone, remember that you can never be too kind or gracious so perhaps be mindful of how you engage with others. If you’re looking for more resources, I highly recommend the Emily Post Etiquette books; your local library carries them or you can find it on Amazon!