Proper etiquette evolves over time. Overall this is a good thing. For example, in the Victorian Era single women could not even talk to a man without a proper introduction and intelligence in females was discouraged. Screw that!
But there are some staples that are falling out of practice that I wish would stick around.
At a recent gathering of my women’s social group, one friend brought the person who owned the house where we met a gift. The item was very specific to the hostess’s tastes so I thought she just did it because they were good friends. However, shortly after that, we held another event at the house of someone she had not met before, and she again brought a hostess gift.
I like the concept that when someone opens their home to you, you then show your appreciation with a gift. A bottle of wine is tradition for a dinner party, but it doesn’t need to be anything expensive. Flowers or veggies from your garden, a baked good or even have your children draw them a picture.
I really love this gesture. The hostess has cleaned, cooked and possibly decorated and with your gift you are showing your appreciation of her efforts.
Writing Letters or Sending Cards
My grandmother started a tradition in my family of sending letters and cards to family, friends and acquaintances. My mom has kept that tradition alive and passed it down to me, although, I find I do it less and less often as technology evolves
After hearing my mom say that checking the mail was sometimes the highlight of her day, I decided to send her a card for no reason. She phoned me when she received it and told me that it came at the best time as she was having kind of a bad day, and it made everything feel less overwhelming.
I think for an older generation, getting the mail has a bigger significance than it does for most people. Most of us know when we will be receiving something exciting, be it a package or check or something like that, but I think anyone would have a sunnier outlook to find something unexpected in the mailbox.
I challenge all of you to send a nice card or letter to an elderly person (or maybe even a particularly grouchy person), and see what results you get.
Offering Your Seat
I don’t think this one is dead yet, but I think we are slacking in teaching a younger generation, in general, to think about others ahead of themselves. If you are younger, in better health or just want to do something nice, then anywhere there is limited seating, such as a bus, subway, waiting for a table at a restaurant, etc., give up your seat for someone who might appreciate it.
Saying Please and Thank You
Common courtesy, yes, but these phrases have the ability to create a pleasant atmosphere for any interaction. Within these tiny words you are relaying that you aren’t taking the other person for granted and you appreciate whatever they did for you.
No Phones While Eating
Back in those weird days when families sat down to dinner together every night, it was a time to catch up and focus on your family. You looked at each other and discussed the day. You know…interacted with each other. What the hell?!?
But if you are taking time to share a meal with other people, shouldn’t it be common sense that you would focus on the people you are actually with and enjoy that time together. Constantly looking at your phone, you aren’t engaged in what is happening at that moment. Someone is right there in front of you, talk to them! Find out how they are doing and enjoy their company.
Holding the Door Open for Others
People still do this, but I feel like the less we interact with each other, the more this will die out. It shows that you are aware of those around you and forces you to acknowledge them. You automatically appear more open and friendly.
This goes for elevator doors as well. I’m a really big abuser of this. Riding in an elevator can be awkward, I know, but it doesn’t have to be. Just be friendly, make some small talk instead of standing there in silence and the ride will be over before you know it.
Waiting for Everyone to be Served
Etiquette rules are that everyone at the table should be served before you start eating. This gesture acknowledges the fact that others are still waiting for their food and you are concerned they get served as well.
If the person who hasn’t received their food yet insists that you start eating, by all means, you can start eating. When this happens though, I try to offer some of my food to them while they are waiting.
Assist Someone that is Struggling
I’m not really sure this one falls under ‘etiquette’ or not, but it was brought to mind while working on this post. If someone is struggling to cross the street, is stranded on the side of the road, or is carrying a heavy load, if you can assist, then by all means do it.
We can each make the world a better place one little gesture at a time.
What other rules of etiquette rules are dying out? Talk about them in the comments below.
Currently devising a plan to send at least one card on a weekly basis.