20 Tips for being a Good Houseguest

I recently had the displeasure of entertaining a bad houseguest for a few days at my cottage. I was mildly offended until I realised that, perhaps, people these days just don’t know how to be good houseguests. We live in a world where affordable transport can take us just about anywhere, at any time; gone are the days when a little cold could promote a dinner guest into a houseguest for the next week. Today, we don’t invite friends to stay with us at our homes, country estates or summer houses for several days, weeks or months like the Victorians did and hence, we’ve lost the strict code of etiquette that allowed both parties to survive each other and come out as better friends than they were going in. Being ex urbis from my small hometown, I have many friends and family members that I don’t see very often because we have spread out all over the province and country. I have often wished I had the space to invite someone for an extended stay but it has become such an antiquated concept that I fear no one will take me up on the invitation once I do have the space, or I won’t want to see the ones that do for a long time afterwards. To avoid this prickly demise for myself, my friends and anyone else whom would like to bring back the tradition of houseguests, I offer the following modern tips for being a good houseguest. Continue reading

Tips on Tipping

Anyone who, like me, has ever been an underpaid, under-appreciated member of the service industry knows how awesome it is to get a tip from a happy customer. Not only can that tip mean the difference between eating tonight and not, it can also make a terrible job more tolerable when you know that someone appreciates your commitment to providing the best service possible to each and every customer. However, when on the other side of the relationship, rewarding someone for a job well done is not quite so clear and simple; the line between thanking and insulting can be very thin. Some professions do not expect a tip, some see a tip as trivializing their work and some see tipping too low more insulting that not tipping at all. How can we be sure that our intended gratitude will be interpreted correctly? Continue reading

The Modern Accomplished Woman

In the days of Jane Austen, a young woman was defined by her accomplishments. In order to win a husband, a woman must know how to play the harp or pianoforte, draw or paint a picturesque scene, read French and Italian, sew, dance, dress well, speak eloquently and write with a clear and hand. These many skills were appreciated by prospective husbands as they thought that an accomplished wife would be good at caring for him and entertaining his friends, although she frequently quitted them after the goal was achieved. Today however, young women seek accomplishments as a way to build life skills and arm themselves for the battle of equality. If a modern woman wishes to be respected by both genders in the modern world she must have a university education, financial independence, basic table manners, a satisfactory level of physical fitness, a want and ability to deliver her opinion confidently and have control over her emotions (one must never cry at work). Bonus accomplishments include knowing how to cook and complete basic home, car and computer maintenance. A woman is expected to be able to take care of herself; therefore, she typically continues exercising and attaining accomplishments after she is married. On first inspection, the times seem to have changed quite a bit, though women still see an importance in being accomplished, they value different sorts of accomplishment, work for different goals and set different end points for learning and using their skills. However, we do still bear a resemblance to our Regency Era counterparts; we both prize self improvement through education, and self control through etiquette for the purpose of presenting ourselves well to society. Continue reading

How To Write a Birthday Invitation

In this modern world of the internet and cell phones (yes I’m that old now), I haven’t sent out a proper birthday party invitation since I was a child, spelling out ‘who’, ‘what’, ‘when’ and ‘where’ my party was to be on a piece of pink construction paper cut to the shape of a heart. This year, I decided to bring back the formal, paper invitation. Continue reading