Dining etiquette history is excellent cocktail conversation

Do you know the difference between ‘Service à la française’ and the other ‘Service à la russe,’ and which one is used in the U.S. today?  Do you know why  forks were placed on the table with tines down in the 17th century?  Read more about the Art of Dining.









London Etiquette Guide For The Royal Horticultural Society Chelsea Flower Show


The RHS Chelsea Flower Show is the most well-known horticultural show in the world, attracting more than 150,000 visitors to the grounds of the Royal Hospital Chelsea every year.

This year’s event will be no different, as gardening aficionados head to West London to enjoy floral displays, show gardens, flower-arranging demos and new gardening tools and gadgets.

If you’re going this year, here’s an etiquette guide to all things Chelsea.

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You won’t find a dress code for the show on the Royal Horticultural Society website because, strictly speaking, there isn’t one. But it’s a good idea to observe a few things:

  • The weather could be hit-and-miss, so dress accordingly.
  • Day dresses for women, a jacket-and-tie for men.
  • Wear flats or strong shoes as you’ll spend a lot of time walking.
  • Floral prints would be most welcome.
  • Make sure to carry something waterproof though, in honour of the Great British Weather.
  • Unlike other society events, hats, especially ones that block views of the gardens, are a big no-no – the gardens, after all, are the real stars of the show.
  • Selfie stick? We couldn’t possibly comment.



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If it’s your first time, it’s a good idea to go to Chelsea armed with some knowledge of the show. So here’s a potted history:

  • The Chelsea Flower Show is one of the main events of what’s called the Season – the British social calendar that also features events like Royal Ascot and the Henley Regatta.
  • The show was first called The Royal Horticultural Society’s Great Spring Show, and was first held in 1862 at a now non-existent garden in Kensington. From 1888, it was held in gardens on the banks of the Thames, before in 1913 it moved to its current site at Chelsea Hospital. The only interruptions in its reign here have been the gaps in the two World Wars.
  • The Royal Family have a strong association with the Chelsea Flower Show and regularly attend. Last year, the Queen was joined by the Duke of Edinburgh, the Prince of Wales and Prince Harry.
  • The show awards gardens four grades of award: gold, silver-gilt, silver and bronze.
  • The heart of Chelsea is the Great Pavilion, where plants are exhibited.
  • Today, it is the most important horticular event in the world, attracting thousands of visitors and generating major media attention.



Despite its regal outlook, food and drink is a big part of a Chelsea Flower Show experience. Last year, 6,000 sandwiches were served, 43,447 cakes and pastries were consumed and 23,823 glasses of Champagne were drunk!

There are plenty of places to grab a bite to eat and enjoy a drink in the sunshine, including restaurants, Champagne lounges, food courts, picnic areas and vendors.

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Astound your companions with some fun facts they probably didn’t know about the event…

  • Want to take a gnome to the show? You can’t – show rules prohibit the use of coloured sculptures.
  • The show’s Great Marquee was named in the Guinness Book of Records as the world’s largest tent at 3-and-a-half acres.
  • In the 1920s, a campaign to ban foreign exhibits at the show was waged. The RHS refused, saying: ‘horticulture knows nothing of nationality’.



The 2017 Chelsea Flower Show is held Tuesday May 23rd – Friday May 26th from 8am to 8pm, and on Saturday May 28th from 8am to 5.30pm.

The nearest tube station is Sloane Square, buses 11, 137, 211, 360 and 452 all stop near the show and the nearest mainline train station is London Victoria.

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Tuesday and Wednesday are RHS members days, so you’ll need to be signed up to the Royal Horticultural Society to attend the event. Ticket costs range from £28 to £70, depending on the time you go.

Both members and non-members can attend on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, with prices for the public starting from £35. The cost will depend on the time you go. Full ticket prices can be found here.

Tips For How To Eat Tricky Foods


Roasted asparagus–finger or fork?

One of the trickiest moments to navigate at the dinner table is when you have no idea how to eat something that’s on your plate. Do you eat it with your fingers or with a fork and knife? Do you cut it all up at once or just cut a piece and eat it before cutting another piece? Here are a couple of foods that can cause you to stop and wonder, “How do I eat that?”


Cold Asparagus
This tasty vegetable has a reputation as a finger food. But be careful. It is only considered finger food when served separately as a cold dish on its own plate. In that case, you can pick up the asparagus by its stem end and take a reasonable bite from the tip. Of course, you don’t have to eat it with your fingers. You can use your knife and fork to cut and eat bite-size pieces. Tricky Food Tip: If you’re not sure it’s okay to pick up the asparagus with your fingers, then opt for the fork and knife or wait to see what your host does with his or her asparagus. If the asparagus is warm, then eat it with a fork and knife.
messy food

Cherry tomatoes can make a mess.

Cherry Tomatoes 

If the cherry tomatoes in your salad have already been cut, then spear the cut side of a piece with your fork and pop it into your mouth. When cherry tomatoes are served whole, the task of getting them onto your fork and eating them becomes more challenging. Simply spearing one with your fork is difficult, as it can quickly slide away from your fork and hopefully doesn’t scoot off the plate and into your lap. To prevent this, use your fork to push the tomato against the side of your knife. Use the side of the knife to hold it steady as you insert the tines of the fork into the tomato. Then pop it in your mouth and close you lips tightly before biting into it. You don’t want seeds to fly out of your mouth and across the table.

Who Would You Most Like to Have Dinner With?

Who do you want to have dinner with?

Role models have the most influence for good manners, particularly manners at the table. It’s tough to be a good role model with dining etiquette if your kids are regularly eating in the back of the mini-van on the way to soccer and dance lessons and hockey practice, but keep this in mind…your kids preferring eating with…watch the linked video to learn who.

Business Dining Etiquette…Pace Yourself

Business Lunch

Sadly, a business meeting dinner is not about the food…it’s a meeting…with food.  Avoid arriving at the restaurant feeling ravenous…it’s hard to concentrate on the task at hand when your stomach is grumbling.  Be a mindful diner and try not to finish well before everyone else – pace yourself. It is more about the conversation and networking than the meal.

Civility in Public Life: Collegiality Really Matters Says Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg


AC horz

Remarkable Friendship Of Supreme Court Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg And The Late Antonin Scalia Inspires 2017 Allegheny College Prize For Civility In Public Life

MEADVILLE, PA (April 7, 2017) – One of the nation’s oldest liberal arts colleges will honor the remarkable friendship of two U.S. Supreme Court Justices with the sixth annual Allegheny College Prize for Civility in Public Life. Allegheny College President James H. Mullen, Jr. will award the 2017 prize to Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and posthumously to Justice Antonin Scalia during a ceremony at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., at 2 p.m. Monday, April 10. Justice Ginsburg and the family of Justice Scalia will be in attendance and will offer remarks during the ceremony.

“This award is particularly timely because we are in a worrisome age in American political discourse,” said Mullen. “We are in an era when one of the most positive and powerful traditions of American democracy – the tradition of friendship between ideological rivals – is imperiled. And one of the most ominous threats for democracy – the systematic demonization of adversaries – is on the rise.

“That is why the 2017 Prize will honor the remarkable friendship of Supreme Court Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Antonin Scalia. Their disagreements on a number of the key issues of our time were acute, representing opposing interpretations of the Constitution. Yet they forged a friendship grounded in mutual respect for the intellectual integrity and love of country that each brought to service on the Court. In challenging each other’s opinions, they made each other better justices and through the friendship that grew between them and their families, their lives were enriched both personally and professionally. And, perhaps most importantly, through their friendship, they made the Court and our democracy stronger.

“Theirs is a powerful example for our civic leaders – an example we need now more than ever and an example our leaders should emulate in carrying out the nation’s business. This is a moment when the Justices’ message, and the message of the Prize, needs to be heard.”

A September 2016 Zogby Survey on Civility in U.S. Politics commissioned by Allegheny College revealed a chilling decline in such friendships. The percentage of voters who believe elected officials should pursue personal friendships with members of other political parties dropped from 85 percent in 2010 to just 56 percent in 2016.

Accepting the Civility Prize on behalf of Justice Scalia will be his wife, Maureen, and son, Gene Scalia. Also attending will be Governor Tom Ridge, a longtime advisor to Allegheny College on the Prize and a champion of civility.

The Allegheny College Prize for Civility in Public Life was created in 2011 to annually recognize two public figures, one liberal and one conservative, who argue passionately but with civility for their beliefs.

Previous winners include:

  • The inaugural award was bestowed at the National Press Club in 2012 to political journalists David Brooks and Mark Shields, in recognition of their longstanding record of civil commentary.
  • In 2013, the College awarded the Prize to Senators Dianne Feinstein (D) and Lindsey Graham (R)for their efforts to exemplify civility while leading debate in some of the most contentious issues of that time.
  • The “Women of the Senate” were honored in 2014 for banding together to help end a government shutdown and creating a more civil climate in Washington, D.C.
  • In 2015, in recognition of Allegheny’s bicentennial celebration, noted historian Douglas Brinkley helped select the recipients, former Montgomery (AL) Police Chief Kevin Murphy and Congressman John Lewis (D-GA). Murphy took off his badge and gave it to Lewis as an act of contrition for the police department’s treatment of Lewis in 1961.
  • In 2016, the Prize went to Vice President Joe Biden and Senator John McCain, in recognition of powerful moments of civility during modern presidential campaigns.http://sites.allegheny.edu/civilityaward//


Airplane Etiquette: Who gets the middle armrests

Airplane Etiquette:  Who gets the middle armrests

According to the Global Strategy Group, 56 percent of Americans would rather get stuck in traffic or go on a blind date than sit in the middle seat on a full flight.  Worry no more, the middle seat passenger should get both armrests, according to Contemporary Etiquette Institute and Emily Post. Print this out to slip into the pocket of the seat in front of your seat partners (before they arrive).

Better yet, greet your seat mates with a smile and a hello when you buckle up, and set your sights on an easy flight.

Business Etiquette: Who opens the door?

Who opens the door

Gender no longer determines who opens the door. Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums/Flickr

Manners such as please and thank you never go out of style, but etiquette isn’t etched in stone.  The majority of outdated customs stem from one thing…gender.  In today’s business world, gender no longer rules the day, rather professional standing or whether one is the host or visitor determines behavior.

The thing is, etiquette isn’t etched in stone. Social mores change over time. So some manners that would’ve been acceptable a few decades ago might make you look out-of-touch in a contemporary setting.

The rule of the day was for men to open the door for women.  The new guideline is whoever gets to the door first, regardless of gender should open the door and hold it for the person behind him or her.  The savvy junior executive will get to the door before the senior executive and hold the door.

When it comes to etiquette and good business practice, be courteous to everyone.  Kindness goes a long way when it comes to success.


Networking Tip: What to do if you’re stuck talking with someone


Networking doesn’t have to be scary

Remember: networking events have different rules from everyday life. You’re free to excuse yourself after even a very brief exchange. A way to break free is to verbalize your purpose for coming to the event: You can simply say, “Well, it was really nice talking with you. I should be sure to mix and mingle with everyone here.” Exchange business cards if you want, but don’t make promises of connecting later unless they’re genuine.

In the same way that it’s easier “to find a job if you already have one,” it’s easier to find a new conversation partner if you already have one. If you’re stuck talking to “Joe” and you see someone walking by alone, it’s great form to smile, make eye contact and extend your hand to introduce yourself as a way of inviting the new person to join you and Joe. Once that person joins, you can focus on them instead. Or you may just slide away from Joe more easily since he’s now talking to the new person you brought into the circle.

Wine Tasting and Tasting Room Etiquette

Here are a few helpful tips while visiting wineries or wine tasting rooms…Cheers!
• Do not wear perfume or cologne. You don’t want to be “that” person who confuses the smell of others with scents interfering with the wines.
• Some visitors are new to wines, so if you have tasted a wine you do not like, keep it quiet and move to the next.
• Don’t be a wine snob … there’s always someone who knows more and there’s no one who knows everything — even if we think we do. We are constantly learning something new from each other.
• Your host/hostess is there to answer questions and talk about their wines. Be kind and courteous.
• Don’t pretend you are in the industry, unless you are. It never works out. It is also insulting to those who actually are. Besides, they’re very smart with their questions to weed it out if credentials cannot be produced.
• Eat before you go. We all know that a server, no matter the state, cannot serve one who has overindulged. Many places offer small crackers, pretzels or maybe small bites of cheese. These are meant as a palate cleanser, or a wine pairing and not as a meal.
• Sipping and spitting are part of the experience, no need to feel as if you need to drink each pour. Not liking every wine is natural, so don’t feel guilty about dumping the wine. Like the wine? The best compliment is to buy a bottle or two!
• It is acceptable to buy one tasting and share the glass.
The wines are presented in a particular order for tasting. If you are unable to choose your own flight, then just cover your glass with your fingers to signal “pass” instead of saying aloud “no.” If you try it and don’t like it, remember someone else might.
• Do not attempt to pour your own glass.
• Do not pick the grapes. If you are able to go on a tour of the vineyard, please leave the grapes alone. The grapes are for pictures only. Imagine if everyone who walked through took a few to taste; there wouldn’t be much left to make wine.
• Last call for alcohol. If you walk in within 10-15 minutes of closing, don’t expect a full tasting menu to be served. And don’t ask for the most expensive bottle to be poured.
Wineries are dictated by their permits for hours of operations much like liquor stores, so closing means closing.
• Under-aged visitors are not encouraged and some do not allow them, so check the website or make a phone call beforehand. If they are allowed, by law, most states require that they are at your side at all times.
It is courteous to remember that most people visiting are on a vacation or weekend getaway and are escaping for adult time.
• Should you tip? Tipping is not required, but much appreciated if your host/hostess did an excellent job and went above and beyond.

How to strengthen a relationship…

Encouragement can come in many forms.  A handwritten note, or a thoughtful email can be the greatest tonic for strengthening a relationship.  Is there someone who would benefit from a kind word from you?

How to build your EQ

Build your EQA little trick for building your EQ…The next time you get frustrated with someone, ask a simple question: Do you believe the person is doing the very best that they can? An empathy builder for sure…and a clear path to being more accepting of others…very good arsenal for your manners bucket.