Etiquette Blog

Valentine’s Day

Posted on February 10th, 2015

Dear Etiquette Anne,

With Valentine’s Day approaching, I’m not sure how to properly show affection to a young lady I’m interested in. Can you please help?



Dear Clueless,

What a great question! Many young admirers often wonder how to appropriately demonstrate affection. Here are a few guidelines I would suggest you follow. First, make sure your romantic gestures reflect the stage of your relationship. If you’ve just recently met this young lady, it would probably be a bit “over the top” to send her an expensive piece of jewelry or surprise her with a candlelit dinner. Perhaps, for a “budding” romance, send a bouquet of flowers with a thoughtful note expressing your gratitude for her friendship. For a more serious relationship, grand gestures are often much appreciated on a day like Valentine’s Day. A carefully planned date night at a favorite restaurant, a picnic (with
all of her favorite foods), or even a special day spent visiting locations of past, memorable dates would all be good ideas.

Second, make sure to think of your significant other when planning any special dates. It is often easy to plan a date that sounds perfect to you without considering what would be special or enjoyable for the other person. Although fly fishing or white water rafting may be your favorite activity, if this young lady dislikes outdoor water sports, perhaps choose another option.  Mutually enjoyable dates are the best kind. Carefully selecting a date that your significant other will enjoy shows authentic concern for her specific interests. A little thought goes a long way!  Finally, remember that one of the best gifts you can give to another person is your undivided attention. In a very distracted world, often the best way to communicate love and affection is to remove distractions and sit down for some quality conversations. I suggest turning off your cell phone (or silencing it at the very least) and preparing a list of questions to truly get to know your sweetheart.

Etiquette Anne

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Summer and Weddings

Posted on June 18th, 2014

Hello cotillion family,

These glorious summer months bring sunshine, a break from school and often many, many wedding invitations. From what type of cake to serve to what to wear, preparing for a wedding can be complex to say the least. (Although, I have heard September is the new June, let us not get caught up in the details…)

Here are the answers to a few of the most common wedding etiquette questions:

1. Should I bring a gift to an engagement party?
Gifts are traditionally not expected at an engagement party, but if you are particularly close to the couple, you can bring a small gift to mark the occasion. Do not expect gifts to be opened during the party.

2. Can I bring my children (or can I bring a date)?
Do NOT bring a date unless the inner envelop of the invitation is addressed to “Anna and Guest”. Also, do NOT bring you children unless the inner envelop of the invitation is addressed to “Mr. & Mrs. Smith Peter, James, John”. Take the time to read the inner envelope and do not jump to conclusions. In addition, please refrain from calling the bride (or groom) and asking for an exception.

3. Can I take pictures during the ceremony with my phone and upload them?
Consult with the bride before the ceremony to determine what she desires and what the venue will allow since photos can be very distracting during such a special time. When in doubt, tuck away the camera or until after the ceremony. Always remember to silence your phone for the duration of the event. In some more casual settings, the bride and groom may opt for a hashtag (such as #winterswed) to collect all photos from guests.

My husband and I selected a day in early June for our wedding in 2012, and it took us a solid nine months to plan and prepare for our special day. My one word of advice for new brides: spend more time preparing for your marriage than planning the wedding. There is a great tragedy to be found in planning for the wedding and neglecting your marriage. Your wedding day and the flowers you chose to compliment the perfect bridesmaids dress will come and go in a flash, but the time you spend preparing and building the solid foundation for your marriage will help the union last a lifetime. I am eternally grateful for the marriage preparation my husband and I completed before our vows.

Wishing you and your family a very happy and meaningful wedding season!

All the best,

Etiquette Anne

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Posted on May 27th, 2014

Hello cotillion family,

Can you believe May is upon us? This year is just flying by for us! The winter months seem to sluggishly crawl, but, for me, once the weather warms up, it’s just like a race. Hello summer sunshine, good-bye sense of time.

Chances are you know someone who is graduating this year. Or maybe it is YOU who is graduating this year, and if so, I would like to offer a very warm NLJC, congratulations!

With so many types of graduations this month, I would like to discuss the proper way to give and receive a graduation gift. Graduation from high school or university is an incredible accomplishment, and one to be duly celebrated. When someone special in your life reaches this remarkable milestone, it is appropriate to send a gift to the graduate commemorate the occasion. It is also appropriate for the graduate to reply with a thoughtful, sincere message of thanks. Giving and receiving gifts is always a two-way street, friends!

Giving a graduation gift:
If you receive a graduation invitation from a close friend or family member, it is appropriate to send a gift. This may be a nice leather journal, monetary gift, or perhaps a favorite book. If you receive a graduation invitation from an acquaintance it is appropriate to acknowledge the invitation and respond with a card of well wishes. A gift is not required in this case.

Receiving a graduation gift:
If you are fortunate to receive a gift for our graduation accomplishment, it is always appropriate to respond with a hand-written thank you note. Choose stationery that reflects your personality or my personal favorite, simple, classic white notecards with a black embossed monogram. Always use a black pen with transcribing yoru note. It is best practice to first compose your note through a computer program to ensure there are no spelling errors and the sentence structure is exactly what you want before you begin with your pen. The letter should include an expression of gratitude, how you plan to use the gift and a short update on yoru plans post graduation.

Congratulations to all of our graduates this month!

Yours truly,
Etiquette Anne

Elizabeth Anne Russell

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The Power of a Thank You Note

Posted on March 24th, 2014


Thank You notes. What a purely simple yet tremendously powerful tool. I’m a huge fan, and you should be too.

A few sincere words on a hand written card shows an interviewer common courtesy and respect, demonstrates appreciation for a gift  or spreads encouragement to someone in your life.

Writing thank you notes is much easier than you would imagine. Invest in a box of stationery, grab your favorite black pen and a sheet of stamps. Store these items in your desk drawer or on a shelf at eye level. Find a place that is easily accessible and convenient to a desk space. There is a very simple 5 step formula that may be used to compose your notes. Please do not agonize over this. Remember – a thank you note sent is better than not sending a thank you not at all!

Step 1 – Greet the giver.

Dear Aunt Donna,

Step 2 – Express your gratitude.

Thank you for the pink wool scarf.

Step 3 – Discuss use.

I will enjoy wearing it during the chilly winter months.

Step 4 – Show appreciation.

Thank you again.

Step 5 – Salutation.



Sign your name (cursive if you fancy), and it’s time to mail your thank you note.  The process may be simple, but I promise the impact is powerful.

Ok, now it’s your turn. Ready, Set, Go write a thank you note!


Etiquette Anne

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Rules To Be A Gentleman

Posted on August 1st, 2013

Last week, we discussed the common rules to being a Lady. In this week’s blog we will share a few helpful hints on How to be a Gentleman.

  • A Gentleman Doesn’t:
    • Swear or use inappropriate language.gentleman
  • A Gentleman Does:
    • Use kind words that are always encouraging to others.
  • A Gentleman Doesn’t:
    • Talk or brag about himself continuously.
  • A Gentleman Does:
    • Only says what is necessary and gives others the opportunity to talk as well.
  • A Gentleman Doesn’t:
    • Show negative sportsmanship when losing a game.
  • A Gentleman Does:
    • Keep the same attitude in a sporting game, win or lose.
  • A Gentleman Doesn’t:
    • Uphold sloppy hygiene.
  • A Gentleman Does:
    • Maintain an appearance that radiates dignity for himself.
  • A Gentleman Doesn’t:
    • Disregard manners as old fashioned.
  • A Gentleman Does:
    • Be polite to everyone, including opening the door for the person in front of him.
  • A Gentleman Doesn’t:
    • Start a fight.
  • A Gentleman Does:
    • Keep calm in any difficult situation
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Rules To Be A Lady

Posted on July 22nd, 2013

LadyIn today’s society, sometimes it may be hard to remember the simple task of having good manners. Here are a few tips relating to the Do’s and Don’ts of being a Lady.

Check back next week for Do’s and don’ts of being a Gentleman.

  • A Lady Doesn’t:
    • Answer “Yep” or “Nope.”
  • A Lady Does:
    • Answer “Yes, please”  or  “No, thank you.”
  • A Lady Doesn’t :
    • only say “hello” when being introduced.
  • A Lady Does:
    • offer a kind greeting, says “A pleasure to meet you” and asks ”How they are doing?”
  • A Lady Doesn’t:
    • let the person introducing her struggle with her name.
  • A Lady Does:
    • come to the rescue when someone has forgotten or mispronounces her name by offering it herself.
  • A Lady Doesn’t:
    • Say something nice just to have something to say.
  • A Lady Does:
    • Pay compliments with sincerity and only when she means it.
  • A Lady Doesn’t:
    • Ever let others down.
  • A Lady Does:
    • Keep her promises.
  • A Lady Doesn’t:
    • Ignore others when she sees that they have an obvious need.
  • A Lady Does:
    • Offer to help others in need.
  • A Lady Doesn’t:
    • Wear immodest clothing that draws attention to her body.
  • A Lady Does:
    • Remember to respect others and herself with each wardrobe choice.
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What Junior Cotillion Means to Me

Posted on July 9th, 2013

What Junior Cotillion Means to Me is an annual contest that is held to give students an opportunity to compose an essay about their favorite aspect of participating in cotillion.  Thousands of essays come into the corporate office every year but only one is selected as the winner. Five finalists are also chosen.

Amelia Banks Rivers (student of the Coweta county, Georgia chapter) was the winner of this year’s contest. Amelia was chosen for the entertaining and inventive poem she wrote encouraging her fictional friend “Polly Proper” to join Junior Cotillion.

Contest winner, Amelia Rivers, holding the winning plaque alongside local director Rosalyn Boyd.
Contest winner, Amelia Rivers, holding the winning plaque alongside local director Rosalyn Boyd.

“Polly Proper wasn’t proper.
She wasn’t proper at all.
She slurped and burped at dinnertime
And danced badly at the ball.
One day I said to Polly Proper,
“You really ought to go
To Junior Cotillion
Where you will learn all you need to know
About the waltz, thank-you notes,
And how to set a table.
With a little bit of practice,
Soon you will be able
To move with grace
And speak with ease,
Even dine with the President.
But… no burping, PLEASE!
Junior Cotillion is like
A training ground for life
Where you learn to get along with others
Without any struggle or strife.
Above all, dear Polly, I want you to know
What Junior Cotillion means to me.
It helps me to grow and blossom into
The young woman God wants me to be.”

The prize for the winner is a $500 scholarship to the camp or educational program of their choice, as well as an engraved plaque for this achievement.  Amelia has decided to put her scholarship winnings towards a summer camp adventure at Robotics Explorer in Atlanta, Georgia.

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Independence Day Etiquette

Posted on July 1st, 2013

This week will mark the 237th birthday of our Nation. The revolutionary war solidified the breaking point for the 13 colonies and their struggle to become independent. The resolution soon to be deemed as, “The Declaration of Independence” stated those 13 colonies as being independent from Great Britain and on July 2, 1776 the Constitutional Congress voted in favor of this decision. Thomas Jefferson drafted this now famous document, which became the start of this great nation.

Most associate this exhilarating holiday with fireworks, cook outs, and gatherings, but can sometimes not practice proper manners and etiquette in the process. Here are a few tips to remember while celebrating:

Being a good Host:

  1. Be Prepared. Remember to be prepared for the unforeseen. Always have extra food and supplies in case more guests arrive.
  2. Mingle with Everyone. Do act as a host and not a guest, but do not forget to speak to everyone. Guests may leave feeling unwelcome if you forget to make time to mingle.
  3. Be Gracious. Possibly the number one rule of holding a party is assuring that you are gracious to each guest. Be kind, courtesy, and welcome everyone.

Being a good Guest:

  1. RSVP. Informing the host that you will be attending the party is an important factor of being a good guest. This information will assure that the host has enough food for everyone.
  2. Be on time. Unless the party has been marked as “drop-in”, always arrive promptly when the party begins.
  3. Bring a Gift. Although it may seem old fashioned, a host will always appreciate a small gift. This will show your appreciation to the host.
  4. Say thank you, then say it again. When attending a party, the magic words Thank You can never be said enough. Writing a thank-you note can never hurt either.

Now that you know the basics of being a good host and guest, go enjoy your long weekend, and always remember to treat others with honor, dignity, and respect.

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Ways to Respect Memorial Day

Posted on May 28th, 2013

Gatherings, long weekends, and the unofficial start of summer is what has traditionally marked the American holiday Memorial Day.  Many enjoy their day off with quality time with friends and family or even a community cookout, but few remember the significant meaning of this day.

On May 5, 1868 General John Logan first recognized the holiday by placing flowers on the graves of fallen soldiers. This tradition was carried on, until which that day declared Memorial Day a holiday in 1971.

Many traditions that have been continued throughout history have recently been forgotten. It is important to remember the proper way of handling American traditions on Memorial Day.

Here are 6 guidelines of respect to remember on Memorial Day:

  • The American Flag should never be used as drapery.
  • The Flag should never be used for any advertisement purposes – this includes clothing, cushions, handkerchiefs or anything intended for temporary use and to be disposed of after.
  • When the flag is lowered no part of it should touch the ground.
  • The flag is displayed at half-staff until noon and full staff until sunset on Memorial Day.
  • Three o’clock in the afternoon local time is the national “moment of silence” for the remembrance of fallen soldiers.
  • When the pledge of allegiance is recited or the national anthem played, citizens should remove all hats, stand at attention placing their hand over their heart.

Memorial Day was intended for Americans to come together and remember those who gave their life for our freedom. Before enjoying the cookout, be sure to take a moment and remember the importance of this holiday.

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Honesty. Integrity. Manners.

Posted on May 24th, 2013

There are two words that have been on my heart this week. Honesty and Integrity. These are two valuable traits that are slowly slipping away from our culture’s main value system, and I believe good manners are impossible without them.

What do these two words mean to you? I would love to hear insight from readers.

Keep it classy,

Etiquette Anne

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