A rehearsal dinner is much more than grabbing a bite to eat after doing a run-through of the ceremony before the wedding day. It’s an opportunity to bring together your inner circle – the bridal party, closest family members and friends — to celebrate the upcoming event in a more casual, less stress filled manner before the formalities of the wedding ceremony.
Here are some questions I have collected and the information needed to create a memorable gathering before the big day.
Who do I invite to the rehearsal dinner?
The guest list should include everyone who plays a role in your wedding: soon to be parents-in-law, attendants, groomsmen, those who are doing a reading at the ceremony, and the officiant, along with their spouses or dates. Other frequent additions to the guest list are close family members and friends, grandparents and out-of-town guests. While written invitations are not necessary, it would be a good idea to get something down on the calendar. Doing so is a courtesy for those who will be traveling from out of town; they may need to make arrangements for their children in advance, especially for an adults-only affair.
When does the rehearsal dinner take place?
Typically the dinner is held a day or two before the wedding, following the ceremony rehearsal. For Saturday weddings, rehearsals often occur on Friday, early evening, allowing everyone to get to the venue while also taking into consideration rush hour traffic and work schedules. Customize the schedule to work for yourself and your guests. Hosting a rehearsal lunch or brunch is an alternative option.
Where should the dinner be held?
The easiest scenario is to hold the rehearsal dinner at a restaurant. The main requirement is that your party can be seated together, so it helps if you choose a restaurant with a separate private room for groups (or at least a place where your group can be seated nearby). This can be a great opportunity to highlight a local hotspot to your out-of-town guests. If you have a friend or relative with space and the inclination to host, it can be at someone’s home.
How formal should it be?
Consider this meal a low-key opportunity for friends and loved ones to get to know each other better. It doesn’t have to be a formal, lavish affair; the wedding is the main event, so let the rehearsal dinner be a more simple, relaxed occasion.
Traditionally, the groom’s parents paid for the rehearsal dinner, with the bride’s family paying for much of the wedding expenses. Today, however, the rules are more relaxed and there may be many variations of splitting the cost of the wedding to include who hosts and pays for the rehearsal dinner. For example, if the couple is paying for their wedding, including the pre-ceremony meal, it’s perfectly fine to trim the guest list to the most vital attendees and consider a less expensive setting, such as a microbrewery or an outdoor music and BBQ venue.
Do we need place cards?
There’s no need to create a formal seating chart unless you feel that certain people would enjoy sitting together. Although it’s not necessary, it might be helpful for a larger group to break the ice with new faces, given that people who know each other well tend to group up and unwittingly make new guests feel uncomfortable. Ideally, the bride and groom would have a central location where they can preside over the group, and all of the guests can see them, with their parents and best man and maid of honor seated close by.
Who makes the first toast at the rehearsal dinner?
Parents of the groom (the hosts) make the first toast. It’s a thoughtful way to acknowledge and unify the group before the meal. Welcome everyone to the dinner and thank them for taking the time out of their day to start the celebration.
The bride and groom can also give a short speech either after the host or before the evening ends, thanking everyone for attending. The best man or maid of honor are also good candidates for offering a toast.
Is it okay to talk “wedding day business”?
If there is anything your guests need to know about the wedding day – for example, details about group transportation for out-of-town guests – you can certainly use the floor at the rehearsal dinner to make a quick, friendly reminder. But don’t get bogged down in logistics for the big day. Hopefully, most of these issues will have been addressed at the rehearsal.
Any other advice?
The wedding day is guaranteed to be a whirlwind; take this evening to enjoy the people you are closest to and who play the biggest roles in your wedding and your lives. The couple will be busy mingling with their entire guest list after the wedding so if there is something special they would like to share, do it at the rehearsal dinner, one to one before the wedding frenzy begins.
As a recent college graduate, finding a job can be an overwhelming task. There are strategies to help you navigate the application process and set you apart from other candidates. Keep reading for my job search etiquette tips.
Prepare Your Resume & Cover Letter
Before beginning your job search, make sure to have an updated resume reflecting your education, internships, skills and accomplishments. The document should capture your qualifications in 1-2 pages and be available in print and digital formats. Tailor it to highlight your experience which best aligns with the position you seek. In addition, create a succinct and professional cover letter to include with your resume. The cover letter should emphasize your drive and enthusiasm, acting as a window to your personality.
Utilize LinkedIn Jobs
LinkedIn Jobs is a great tool for graduates looking for employment. If you have not already created a LinkedIn profile, there are great features at your fingertips. Choose a business-appropriate picture, post your current resume information and build your network with professionals, professors and students you have come to know through your college experience. Often, companies across the country will use LinkedIn as a way to recruit job seekers to their open positions. Do not hesitate to reach out and apply to organizations through the platform. Prospective employers will appreciate your initiative. Even if you don’t find the job you are hoping for right away, LinkedIn can help you establish valuable business connections.
Use Your Resources
Making connections and networking can be one of the most important things you do during this time. Take advantage of local job fairs or your university’s Career Service Center. Let your hunt be known to friends and family. Keep track of the companies you have applied to and follow up with them via email or a phone call.
Showing a genuine interest in the position will help you stand out among the other applicants. If after several months you are still struggling to find a job in your field of interest, consider reaching out to a recruiting firm. They may have resources you haven’t tapped into yet.
Be Interview Ready
Interviews can be intimidating, but there are steps you can take to ease the process. Carefully research the company and position to which you are applying. Have a hard copy of your resume ready to hand the interviewer (along with a few extras, just in case you meet with several people) and references available upon request. Prior to the interview, run through a few mock interview questions with a friend or mentor. You will feel more confident when you have rehearsed in advance. After the interview, email a thank you note and follow up with a handwritten card expressing your desire to work for the company.
Keep A Positive Attitude
The job hunt can be tedious. Be patient and give yourself grace if you do not get the position or job you desire. If you are turned down by a company, reach out to them and ask how you could do better in the future. Use this time to figure out what you want in a career, a company and your future. Stay positive and continue your search.
If you are looking for an alternative to the standard graduation party, how about hosting a Pancake Brunch? Graduates have enough on their mind, and so do their parents.
Usually, the grad wants to attend their friends’ celebrations, held on the same night, while parents would like them to stick around to visit with out of town family members. Having a celebration earlier in the day offers an opportunity for the new graduate to spend a little quality time with family and friends who have traveled far and wide in honor of the occasion.
Start With the Table
Collect your serving trays and cake stands and lay them out on the table. Add a few bowls filled with fresh fruit, nuts and toppings. Make a list of what you will need: strawberries, blueberries, sliced bananas, colored sprinkles, whipped topping, yogurt, granola and chocolate chips.
Don’t forget to pull out your tablecloth and inspect for stains. Toss it in the washer and dryer to get out the wrinkles. Add some pretty plates and napkins. Count your utensils, platters and antique syrup pitchers.
Decorate and Personalize
With so many delicious items on display, decorations can be a breeze. Graduation cap party picks add a nice touch and serve as mini fruit skewers. Or, bake a batch of lemon berry muffins and adorn them with graduation cupcake toppers or wrappers. Add custom table markers (labels) to identify each food item. It’s a fun way to bring in some color and creativity. Either use a label maker and have the kids embellish the label or download a template online. Get crafty and use your imagination.
Keep Dietary Restrictions Front and Center
Always ask your guests if there is any food they should steer clear from eating. Cross-contamination can be a big issue if you are setting out bowls and people use the same serving utensils for multiple food items. If you have a guest with a severe allergy or medical restriction, set their food out in a location where there is no risk. Avoid using the same cutting boards, sponges and serving pieces.
Spread it on Thick
Reach for jars of Nutella, Peanut Butter (if no restrictions), Cookie Butter from Trader Joes (my favorite!), pancake or Vermont maple syrup and chocolate sauce. Aim for room temperature for easy pouring and spreading. Place the thicker spreads in separate bowls and add a spoon or knife.
Stack Up the Fun
On the day of the party, have several burners going to make the pancakes. Add waffles, an egg casserole and whatever else you think your guests will enjoy. If you are limited on time, find a great frozen pancake or waffle and spice it up with the toppings. No one will judge your efforts!
The beauty of this event is conversation will flow naturally and guests will be comfortable. If you are looking for something low maintenance that suits the tone of the gathering, consider a few rounds of “guess who said the graduation quote.” I came across a downloadable online with everything you need. Another idea is a graduation advice tree (just a few supplies are needed).
Say ‘Thank You’
Use your new stationery! Write out your thank you notes as soon as you graduate. Keep it short and sweet (and from the heart). Mention the gift and how you plan to use it. Finally, sign off with an appropriate closing such as, “Love, Fondly, or Sincerely,” depending on your relationship with the gift-giver.
In honor of National Etiquette Week, I have pulled together a list of mannerly reminders that can be put to good use daily. Though these gestures may seem small, they are by no means insignificant.
Greet With Your Feet
Remember this rhyme as you stand up for all introductions – both men and women, girls and boys. Remaining seated as you reach your hand across a table or desk is awkward and gives the person standing the illusion of power. Use body language to your advantage as you rise and extend your hand for a firm handshake.
Smile With Your Eyes
A genuine smile can be detected by the movement of your facial muscles as your eyes change shape. Psychology Today breaks down the science behind a genuine smile (also known as a “Duchenne smile”). “The Duchenne smile involves both voluntary and involuntary contraction from two muscles: the zygomatic major (raising the corners of the mouth) and the orbicularis oculi (raising the cheeks and producing crow’s feet around the eyes).” Show your teeth to make sure your smile appears genuine.
Offer a One-Handed Shake
Unless you know a person very well, do not use both hands (putting one hand over the other like a preacher or politician). The perfect handshake involves a firm, but not too firm grip that engages the entire hand. The connection should be between the fold of skin between the index finger and thumb. A few shakes from the elbow, a smile and good eye contact deliver a confident handshake.
Update Your Social Media Profile
If you are holding a drink, wearing a skimpy bathing suit or making a flirtatious face, consider changing it to something more “neutral.” Potential clients (and employers) do their social media homework. Your results should be positive and reassure them that you are the right person for the job.
Groom Your Nails
A rule for both men and women, tidy nails translate into good manners. This doesn’t mean you have to wear loud nail polish, but nails should be clean and groomed. Well-manicured hands signal self-confidence and attention to detail.
Dine Like an Ambassador
Familiarize yourself with basic table manners (B and D Rule): Bread plate on the left and drink on the right side of your plate. Knowing this placement resolves the confusion of which is your water glass and which is your neighbor’s.
Napkin Stays in Your Lap Until the End of the Meal
When excusing yourself during the meal, rest the napkin on the seat of the chair. At the end of the meal, the napkin is placed on the left side of your dessert plate. Additionally, dinner napkins are placed on the lap with the fold toward the waist, while luncheon napkins are smaller and remain open.
Pass Food Counter Clockwise
Refresh your dining etiquette knowledge to make a great impression. These reminders are helpful for both the young professional and seasoned executive.
Break apart one piece of bread at a time. If you desire butter, place a small portion on your bread plate and then butter, one piece at a time.
Learn How to Give a Toast
A simple reminder is the three S’s: Stand Up, Speak Up and Sit down. It is not necessary to clink glasses, but it would be rude to refuse a clink if someone reaches towards you.
Send a Thank You Note
When it comes to expressing gratitude, there is one tool that creates a ripple of benefits for both the giver and the recipient: the handwritten note. A thank you note has the power to strengthen a relationship, seal a deal or land a job offer.
Most moms know the familiar feeling of juggling multiple balls in the air as well as the guilt that can sneak in when it comes to doing something for herself. At the end of the day, she has taken care of her family but has little time left to nourish her heart or quiet her mind.
You may enjoy this popular quote about self-care: “When you take time to replenish your spirit, it allows you to serve others from the overflow. You cannot serve from an empty vessel.” It rings true for so many of us. Along those lines, consider this blog as your permission slip!
It’s really okay to…
Take a Nap
There is great value in rest and if you have the luxury of time, take advantage of the opportunity to close your eyes. Studies show a nap is an excellent way to enhance performance, restore alertness and reduce mistakes. Good enough reason to try it! Napping can have extraordinary benefits if used correctly. Learn how to leverage napping as a proper tool, on the National Sleep Foundation website.
Expect a Kind Tone of Voice
As much as we ADORE our kids, they sometimes get a pass when they speak to mom disrespectfully. It’s important to set age-appropriate boundaries and calmly discuss your expectations with your teen or adult child. Ask if they are having a problem requiring assistance, and acknowledge they may be going through a difficult time. Avoid reacting in the same disrespectful tone, and don’t sugar coat it as if it isn’t happening. “I’m uncomfortable (or embarrassed) when you speak to me in that tone, especially in front of other people. I love you, and if I have done something to upset you, I want the opportunity to make it right. Please work on speaking in a tone of voice I can hear without me feeling hurt or offended. I promise to do the same when speaking with you.”
Enjoy Uninterrupted Friend Time
A gentle reminder for children (and partners): When mom finally has the afternoon or evening off for quality time with her girlfriends, unless you are bleeding, or it is a true emergency, don’t call her! Handle mealtime on your own and make use of the microwave if needed. Even grown kids rely on mom to take care of the tiny details which could easily be tackled by a kid half their age. Let mom relax without having to worry about rushing home because you are out of bananas, toilet paper or your favorite cereal.
Shake Out the Jeans
While every mom wants their kids to look their best, teaching children to assist with some household responsibilities is “a good thing.” Not everything needs to be ironed to perfection. Let the kids take their own clothes out of the dryer and shake them out. The wrinkles will be less prominent, and you will teach them a lesson in responsibility at the same time. My favorite is Wrinkle Release by Downy – it’s saved me in a pinch and is great when traveling.
Skip the Salad
While good nutrition is imperative to healthy living, buying a takeout meal or skipping the greens one night isn’t going to turn the world upside down. Give yourself a pass for takeout or Uber Eats after an especially hectic day. Get the family involved in meal planning and prep (guilt-free!).
Reinvent Yourself (or Start a New Adventure)
Just because you have family responsibilities doesn’t mean you have to put your dreams on hold indefinitely. In fact, your children may benefit from watching you work hard towards a big goal. Gone are the days of wondering what might have been; create a plan and take small steps towards your future.
Say “No Thank You”
Time is your most precious asset. When you are asked to donate your time and energy, you have a right to be protective of your priorities. Even if it’s for a great cause, you are not obligated to participate. Choose carefully and resist the urge to rattle off a detailed explanation regarding why you can’t oversee the fundraiser (or field trip, or event). A gracious, “I am not taking on new commitments at this time. Thank you for your understanding.” will do the trick.
The school year is soon coming to a close which means it will be time to express your thanks to your child’s teacher. Teacher Appreciation Week kicks off on May 6 this year; whether you’ll be creating a gift for this occasion or planning to gift something on the last week of school, keep reading for a few thoughtful teacher gift ideas.
Gift an Experience
If you know your favorite teacher loves to cook, consider signing them up for a cooking class. Download a schedule, include a fresh loaf of fresh bread, a wooden spoon, a bottle of olive oil and a gift certificate.
Dress Up a Gift Card
Ask any teacher, and they will likely tell you how much they appreciate a well thought out gift card. Whether the funds are used to help keep supply closets stocked or for purchasing something more personal from a favorite retailer, it’s hard to go wrong with a gift from a store that offers several options. Don’t forget the packaging. There are so many cute ideas to dress up the gift card so make sure and browse the topic, “teacher gift card” on Pinterest.
Staying hydrated in the warmer temps is not only important for kids but teachers, as well. Shop for a cute thermal tumbler (my favorite is a Yeti) in a color or style you know they’ll love. If time permits, browse Etsy or Facebook marketplace for a personalized monogram. For the teacher who loves coffee and is always on the go, a collapsible coffee cup is a lifesaver. I came across this cute option on Instagram.
This requires a little more homework, but take note of whether or not they enjoy essential oils and/or scented candles. The cost of high-quality essential oils can add up; find out about their favorite blends or scents and give the gift of aromatherapy.
Think “Summer” Fun
As students and teachers look forward to a little R&R in the sun this summer, a colorful relaxation basket will put a smile on their face. Include a pretty beach towel, unscented sunscreen, a pair of sunglasses, a bright pair of flip flops and a tumbler (see my advice above).
A Night at the Movies
Summertime means more nights out with friends and family. Create a movie-themed gift basket complete with a gift card to a local theater, a big bag of Skinny Pop Kettle Corn and a box of Junior Mints. Find out their favorite candies and don’t be afraid to load up. Just like with students, be mindful of any allergies.
The Great Outdoors
After countless hours under the fluorescent classroom lights, a nature walk or camping getaway can be refreshing. Your state park system may offer gift cards that can be redeemed at campsites, cabins, picnic rentals and more.
Personalized Stamps and Stickers
Most teachers love a set of personalized stickers, stamps, pens and pencils. There are lots of great options on Etsy and Amazon as they gear up for the next school year. Include a calendar for the new year or a pretty journal to jot notes.
Your extended family is coming in for a wedding and staying at your house while they’re in town. It’s the perfect incentive to get your deep cleaning out of the way. Do you know where to begin?
There are some overlooked areas of your home that collect germs, dirt and everyday muck. Here is a list to keep handy about as you go about your spring cleaning.
Light Switches and Light Plates
You touch light switches daily and everything you come into contact with throughout the day is resting on your switch plates. Never spray cleaner directly on the switch plate. Rather, make a bath of warm soap and water and wash the switch plate down and dry completely. Go through the house and make sure you get every switch in the home before your guests arrive. (This is also a good rule of thumb for doorknobs.)
Baseboards and Hard to Reach Areas
We often see (and clean) things at eye level but put off surfaces that are out of reach or otherwise inconvenient. A few examples include the tops of door frames and artwork, crown molding/architectural accents, plantation blinds, baseboards, light fixtures and ceiling fan blades. Grab an extender for your duster and tackle one room at a time.
Kitchen Cutting Boards
Plastic versus Wood? There are hidden little cuts in the wood that can harbor bacteria and germs such as E. coli, listeria and salmonella. We cut vegetables, meat, fish and fruit and think it’s clean with a swipe of the sponge. To do the job, the Pioneer Woman recommends lemon, kosher salt, vinegar, and baking soda. Avoid soaking your board in water and never run it through the dishwasher.
But, don’t throw your wooden cutting boards away in favor of plastic. In a recent study, the U.S. Department of Agriculture found no scientific evidence to support plastic cutting boards were better than wooden boards.
A study conducted at the University of Wisconsin found, “Basically, wood cutting boards kill bacteria. Wood binds up water, which bacteria needs to grow. Wood also contains antimicrobial compounds. (Given that many other plants can be used as natural antibiotics, this is not entirely surprising.) Old or new, wood cutting boards add an extra line of defense to your kitchen.”
Kitchen Drawer Pulls and Cabinet Knobs
The decorative and functional knobs and pulls in your kitchen could use a little TLC and disinfecting. With so much activity happening in the space, countless hands are leaving their mark (and germs) behind. Ideally, you’ll remove the knobs and pulls and soak them in warm water and vinegar (followed by warm water and dish soap). Once your hardware is sparkling, you may be inspired to dust the top of your refrigerator and make your cabinets shine.
Range Hood and Filter
The filter in your kitchen range hood needs regular attention. Clean My Space has a helpful video with instructions. For a stainless steel range hood, Martha Stewart comes to the rescue.
Household Cleaning Supplies
The very things you use to clean and dust your home need to be replaced or disinfected on a regular basis. Rinse out your mop thoroughly after each use to avoid a rancid smell and toss your sponge after one week of hard work. Dust mops should be shaken out to loosen dirt and rags should be washed between use.
We mop our floors regularly and vacuum the carpet, but how often do we think about the walls in your home? Take a quick look around and dust down the walls, get rid of the cobwebs in the upper corners, wash away little grimy handprints and food and beverages that have been accidentally splashed while walking from one room to another. Here’s a quick primer on how to clean your painted walls by Better Home & Gardens.
For crystal clear views, you may want to hire a professional (especially if your home is multiple stories). If you’re feeling industrious, This Old House shares tips on how to make windows sparkle.
Depending on your flooring, you may have grout lines that are asking for a good scrubbing. Bob Villa provides a list of options from mild to powerful.
Wash your cloth bath mat every week. It’s easy to forget since you see it only a few minutes per day, but all kinds of bacteria, as well as hair and dust can accumulate and fester. If your mat is close to the toilet, it tends to stay damp from droplets of water that are released into the air and can be the perfect storm for nasty germs to develop.
A commonly asked question is, “Is bar soap more hygienic than bar soap?” According to an article in The New York Times, bar soap poses little threat of transferring germs. However, allow the soap to sit in the wet soap dish, even on a plastic base, is less desirable than a soap pump with the nozzle cleaned regularly. It’s unsavory to wash your hands or take a bath with a bar of soap used by multiple people before you.
These are just a few items to add to your spring cleaning list. Additionally, a good decluttering of closets, cabinets and drawers is always beneficial. What is top of your checklist?
A good hotel will do just about anything to make their guests feel welcome. However, a guest of the hotel should offer the same type of courtesy in return.
Some individuals tend to “let their hair down” and get a little too comfortable when they leave home and their familiar environment. Whether traveling for business or pleasure, staying at a hotel can be one of the most enjoyable parts of your trip. Most hotels strive to treat you as an honored visitor. It is in your (and fellow guests) best interest to reciprocate the courtesy. Hotels create a paradox of sorts; while you are there to rest and relax, you’re still in a public setting, not your living room.
When people gather in any public place – to include a hotel – there’s an expectation that they will behave in a way that reflects courteous standards. When it isn’t the case, things get weird fast, and those around you feel the pressure. Displaying intelligent awareness while sharing close quarters with perfect strangers improves everyone’s experience.
Practice these seven hotel etiquette tips to keep you looking good and on your best behavior:
No Bare Feet
This is one of the most annoying and distasteful things a hotel guest can do, “Please sir, put on your shoes!” Hotel managers often complain about the guest who has no self-awareness and traipses through the lobby or hallway with bare feet. You are walking where hundreds of other people have walked in their shoes, which have been in contact who knows what unsanitary surfaces.
Without overthinking it, walking through the lobby or any other public space in your bare feet is unhygienic and offensive. Always assume that no one will appreciate looking at your bare feet as you trek through the buffet line during breakfast. Even at tropical resorts, get a clue from fellow guests and strap up, buckle up or slip into those sandals. It’s also discourteous to the hotel staff who are trying to create an atmosphere where everyone is relaxed and at ease.
Rule of thumb: Bare feet belong at the pool!
Say “Yes” to Staying Dressed
Leave your pajamas in your room. You may be quite comfortable moving through the bar or hotel lobby on the way to the spa in your night clothes or robe, but most people riding with you on the elevator will feel better if you throw on a t-shirt and some jeans or cover up. Clothing is not optional when in the lobby or any other space outside of your room. The only place in the hotel where you can acceptably go shirtless or in other states of undress is the hotel pool. Toes and chest hair should be available to only those you live with or love.
Respect Quiet Hours
Even the most soundproof hotel rooms are not immune to noise, especially in the wee hours of the morning. Make a point of keeping your voice, television and music down during sleeping hours, generally 10 p.m. to 8 a.m. Make sure doors close gently and quietly instead of letting them slam shut. Be aware that when you are talking with someone in the hallway, guests in their rooms can hear you, so be extra quiet on your way to the room at night – or continue your conversation in the hotel lobby, restaurant or bar.
It’s a perk to have a housekeeper make your bed and clean your room each day. It’s important to remember that the housekeeping staff is comprised of cleaning professionals who work hard to make your room tidy, with hundreds of rooms to keep clean. Show appreciation for their attention to detail and build up your travel karma by leaving a daily tip of $2 to $5 per night.
Enjoy Public Areas (Within Reason)
Many hotels create lovely spaces around the lobby and concierge areas where guests can gather and relax. By all means, utilize these areas, but don’t abuse the privilege by spreading out your work or possessions. You’re not at home so keep your feet off the furniture. Leave the area as tidy as you found it.
Teach Your Children Well
Summer travel is an excellent time to teach your children about being a great hotel guest. Monitor their behavior closely and don’t let them run wild in the hallways, give each other rides on the luggage cart or take all of the blueberry muffins at the breakfast bar. Respecting other guests is part of the responsibility of staying at a hotel. Take advantage of the many teachable moments your trip offers.
Always Be Courteous
Long days, delays, crowded flights, endless lines and mad dashes to catch flights can leave even the most zen traveler stressed out. It’s extra important to smile and be polite when checking into your hotel. Use the same approach if you encounter any problems during your stay. The hotel staff wants you to have a good experience so don’t hesitate to give a courteous suggestion or express a polite complaint.
Graduation Day is right around the corner, and there are many anxious parents in the middle of planning a perfect day for their new grad.
Celebrating this milestone is always more pleasurable when those involved are mindful of a few simple courtesies. I’m sharing my graduation etiquette tips for parents, guests and graduates below.
For the Parent(s)/Graduate:
Send out invitations early. A commonly asked question is, “When do I need to send out graduation invites?” To facilitate travel plans for relatives and friends that will be coming from out of town, it’s best to send the invite out four to six weeks before the event. This allows enough time for guests to RSVP and plan their trip accordingly.
Offer suggestions for accommodations. If you are inviting out-of-town guests, include all the information they will need prior to their arrival. If you don’t plan on hosting 15-20 extra guests at your home for the weekend, provide hotel suggestions which are in the nearby vicinity.
Make dinner reservations now. If you know you’ll be celebrating with a large group at a restaurant after the ceremony, book the venue soon. This will help ensure guests will be seated without a lengthy delay after arriving at the restaurant. Graduation weekend is notorious for long waits and anxious and tired guests ready to relax after a full day of festivities.
RSVP promptly after receiving a graduation invitation. Since graduates often receive only a few tickets to the ceremony, it’s best to let them know right away if you’re not able to attend. The graduate/family may have others they’d like to include, and this leaves enough time to make alternate plans.
When to send/bring a gift. There’s a distinct difference between a graduation announcement and an invitation. Due to the limited number of tickets that graduates receive for the actual ceremony, it’s understandable that not everyone can be invited. However, if you are in attendance, it’s safe to say that you are important to the family and the person who is walking across the stage. It is a mannerly gesture to give a keepsake (or cash) to the new graduate. If you receive an announcement, let your relationship to the graduate and the family be your gift-giving guide. I shared Graduation Gift Ideas in a previous post.
Express your “Thank you” in writing. It is polite to send out thank-you cards to each and every person that sends a gift in the form of a card, present or money. The card should be handwritten, not typed or sent by email or text. Mention the gift specifically and how you intend to use it. Even if it’s not something you “love,” you are thanking the giver for their thought and effort.
In person is not the same as a note. Even if you thank the gift giver in person, it’s still customary to send a thank you note. It’s best to send your letters out within the first week after graduation, before you get busy with summer plans.
Don’t forget the special people in your life. I wrote an entire blog on “Thanking Your Teachers,” recognizing those who have made an impact on your life is a generous act of kindness that won’t go unnoticed or be soon forgotten. Everyone from the school nurse to the cafeteria food service provider deserves your gratitude before you move on to your next adventure. If they call you by name and have made an impact on your life during your school career, say “Thank you” in words or deeds.
Do you have a colleague who can seemingly do no wrong – at least in the eyes of the boss? Any mistake or misstep of theirs is quickly dismissed and forgotten. Or perhaps you know someone who can’t seem to do anything right, whose actions routinely generate eye-rolls and frustrated sighs. When they do something well, it’s dismissed as “lucky.”
Both of these scenarios are examples of the halo effect, which can either help or hinder you in both your personal and professional life. The halo effect is wonderful – as long as the first impression another has of you is positive. If not, you may be judged through a harsher lens. In today’s post, I’m breaking down the psychology of cognitive bias and then sharing tips on how to set yourself up for success in this arena.
When meeting someone new, people tend to quickly form either a positive or negative impression after only a couple of interactions (research indicates it can happen in a matter of seconds). The human brain tends to decide whether the person is “good” or not, and that colors all future experiences with them.
When the judgment is favorable, the actions of that person are viewed through a lens of acceptance, and the brain conveniently discards any information that doesn’t match that positive impression. When someone has an unfavorable view of a person, they judge them negatively on everything they do. Their actions are perceived as suspect or bad because they have been categorized that way. It’s the halo effect in action – only in reverse.
In psychology, this is called confirmation bias. That’s when people hang on to their beliefs despite conflicting evidence. On a subconscious level, the human brain tends to make information fit into the pattern it’s already established: that means it’s easy to rationalize or dismiss when a “good” person does something bad. Is it fair? No. Is it human nature? Yes. The halo effect is real and can affect how you view others – and how others perceive you.
Follow these six tips to surround yourself with a positive halo effect.
Speak Positive Words
Be aware of what you say. If you tend to complain or dwell on problems, those things are likely to work against you. Instead, try showing genuine interest in others and focusing on neutral or positive conversation. Be mindful of what you bring to the table for discussion. At your next meeting, instead of starting with complaints about the nasty traffic and how many crazy drivers are out there, talk about things you are looking forward to thanks to the gorgeous weather and how much you appreciate the opportunity to meet face to face.
Look Your Best
Studies show that people considered to be attractive are also regarded as kind, intelligent, happy and generous (draw your own conclusions about how people who are not considered attractive are perceived). The takeaway: make the most of what you’ve got. Dress well, keep your appearance as tidy and stylish as you can, and present yourself to the world in the best light possible. It may not be fair, but appearance affects how people perceive you and treat you.
Your body language matters. Your stance, positioning and gestures should communicate that you are an open, interested, engaged person. Project confidence by pressing your shoulders back and lifting your chest. The human brain picks up on subtle movements and cues that are all processed together when forming impressions of people.
Keep Your Word
Do what you say you will, when you say you’ll do it. Resist the temptation to tell people what you think they want to hear concerning commitments and deadlines; be realistic about what you can do and how long it will take. Avoid promising more than you can fulfill. Every time you come through, trust builds and your halo shines brighter.
Be proactive. Look for ways to help instead of waiting for an assignment. Give your supervisor or client a status update on a project before they feel compelled to check-in. This one habit generates a ton of goodwill and creates an impression of competency and professionalism that will follow you around. Even if you are delivering bad news – “I just wanted to touch bases and let you know the report is going to be late” – the fact that you initiated the conversation (especially a difficult one) goes a long way toward cementing your reputation as a thoughtful, effective, reliable person.
Give It Another Try
Maybe someone formed a bad first impression of you, and it appears to be tainting their perspective. Keep trying, putting into practice the tips outlined above. It’s hard to change initial judgments, but through perseverance and thoughtful actions, it can happen. Next, think of the people in your life; is there anyone you may have judged unfairly? Remember there is good and bad in everyone. Be aware of fixed judgments in your mind and consider the whole picture to balance any false perceptions you hold.