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Basic Rules of Etiquette

Updated: Jul 28, 2022

Amy Vanderbilt’s “Complete Book of Etiquette” gives you a thorough guide to all things customary. Recently revised to summarize the thought of: “be your true self in a polished form,” the book is hundreds of pages to cover everything from luxurious house parties to brushing your hair before you step outside every morning.

For those who don’t have the time to read the encompassing guidebook, let me break it down to a few basic rules:

Thank you notes are always well received. Tina Brown’s, “The Diana Chronicles,” discuss how Princess Diana would write 5 thank you notes every day. This task would take 30 minutes to complete, then one could drop them off in the mailbox and be on their way. The result? Letting someone know you care about them no matter how far away they live. Hardly anyone gets letters anymore, so it’s a meaningful treat for such a small time commitment.

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If you aren’t going to be on time, notify people in advance. Punctuality is a huge deal, but everyone gets caught in traffic or has to stay late at work now and then. Shooting a quick text to let the people who are waiting on you know is a respectful way to remind them they are important in your life. No one likes someone who shows up an hour late with no indication they were still going to come. If you're going to be more than an hour late, showing up with a gift such as a bouquet of flowers or an enamel coffee mug could come in handy!

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When in doubt, think on how to be the most respectful. Etiquette in its most WASPY form was created as a way to show you respected others. Let’s broaden the spectrum past the cotillions and debutants. How can you respect others today?

Is there an important one I missed? Let me know in the comments!

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