Dining Etiquette: Splitting the Bill

Photo Credit: The Economic Times

Photo Credit: The Economic Times

After a wonderful meal with great company, there is no worse way to finish the dining out experience than having confusion over the bill. No matter the circumstance, a business meal, a group of friends, or a celebration in honor of someone, this type of confusion can always make attendees feel uncomfortable (click to watch). In order to avoid any awkward moments, here are my tips for splitting the bill:

  1. Splitting the Bill Can be a Touchy Subject – The following are important to keep in mind as you plan group meals.
    • People do not want to “get stuck” paying for the expensive meals, additional appetizers, or alcoholic beverages of others when they do not consume the same. Not everyone can afford the same thing.
      • Food for Thought: When the bill is split evenly between people who did not actually order things costing the same amount, those who are charged more often deduct from the tip. This is not fair to the servers.
    • If going out as couples, it is often easiest to split the total as an even amount per couple; however, keep the first bullet point in mind!
    • Bringing cash (and a variety of bill amounts) when you know you will be splitting the bill is a good idea. You do not want to owe anyone money after the fact or be responsible for holding up paying.
    • For those who are comfortable with digital payment methods, consider using the apps like Venmo and PayPal.
  2. If You Plan to Split the Bill – Always make the plan known ahead of time!
    • If you are the organizer for a group get together, but you are not the host, you should let attendees know ahead of time the bill will be split. After receiving the R.s.v.p. list, send a confirmation note to all attendees including “reminders” and stating the plan for the bill.
      • For example: “A request to split the total for brunch as individual bills has been made of the restaurant. Brunch will be divided by what you order, not split evenly among everyone, in order to be fair to all. Thank you for understanding!”
    • If you make a reservation for a larger number of people, call the restaurant and ask if separate checks for a large group is possible. Also, ask if gratuity is added for a group of your size. Some establishments are unable to do separate checks; therefore, it is important to let your attendees know in advance if paying in cash will be necessary.
      • For example: “Please bring cash for dinner. We have been told splitting the check between so many credit cards is not possible; therefore, having cash will make it much easier for us to divide the cost ourselves.”
    • Always tell your server you wish to split the bill when he/she first greets you. This way, when you order, your server can enter your drinks and meals as separate checks.
      • It is very frustrating for servers to receive a joint bill back that says, “Put $25.51 on the red card, $34.22 on the blue card, etc..”
  3. Ultimately, Who is Responsible for the Bill?
    • Typically, if your boss/manager is present and extended the invite then it is his/her responsibility to cover the bill.
    • Similarly, with client lunches/dinners or interviews that take place over a meal, the hosting business is responsible for the bill.
    • If you are hosting a meal out for friends, family, etc., the cost of the meal and gratuity is your responsibility. Think of it as hosting at your home – You do not ask guests to pay for their meal in your home when you host; therefore, you should not expect them to pay when you extend the invitation to join you out for a meal.
    • If you are out to celebrate a special occasion for someone (birthday, promotion, etc.), it is customary that his/her bill is covered by the other people at the table. As a guest, be prepared to split the honoree’s tab – bringing cash helps!
    • If you are asked to evenly split a bill for a group whose meals are clearly not equal in cost, speak up in a polite manner. Simply saying, “Excuse me, everyone did not order equal amounts and I think it would be unfair to expect each other to make up for our portions. May we split the bill based on our meals?”

No matter your age or the setting, splitting the bill can always be a difficult situation to navigate. I hope these tips help you find a solution easily and relieve you of some dining out anxiety in the future!

Happy dining!

Sparkle On,

Alexandra

Celebrating the 4th of July!

Photo Credit: Lilly Pulitzer

Photo Credit: Lilly Pulitzer

This weekend we celebrate the 4th of July! Happy birthday America!
As we celebrate our freedom and our country, be sure to sparkle in all the right ways! Here are my tips for an amazing 4th of July celebration!

  1. If You are Hosting a Party
    • Be festive!
    • Creating a signature cocktail, whether in how it looks or the ingredients you use, is a great way to put your own creative spin on the party. Here is a cute idea for serving a “Sparkling Spritzer”
      Photo Credit: Style Me Pretty

      Photo Credit: Style Me Pretty

    • Have party favors for your guests to take home or have things you can pass out during the party to get people into the American spirit!
  2. If You are Attending a Party
    • Offer to contribute an appetizer, drink, dish, or dessert for all to enjoy.
    • Take a host/hostess gift.
    • Dress the part – Proudly wear your red, white, and blue!
    • Offer the host/hostess your assistance during the party.
    • Write and send a thank you note within three days of attending the gathering.
  3. Honor and Respect the Flag 🇺🇸
    • Fly the flag all day! Be sure to keep a light on it when the sun goes down.
    • I know it is cute to use plates or napkins that have the American flag on them as a decorative piece, but here is something to keep in mind: Even though it is not technically a real flag, eating off the flag and the act of wiping your mouth or using the flag to clean your hands is disrespectful. Avoid using American flag plates and napkins if possible.
      • NOTE: A design of stars and stripes is great, I mean the actual American flag printed on something.
    • If you are wearing apparel or accessories with the American flag on them, ensure they are tasteful and appropriate. The flag should not be partially displayed (it should always be displayed in it’s entirety), tattered, or “distressed” in any way. You should also never drape yourself in the flag.
    • Watch this interview featuring Gary Biggs of Protocol Partners for additional, valuable flag protocol information.
  4. Remember and thank the service members who have fought and are currently serving to continue protecting our freedoms.

    Photo Credit: Love Bakes Good Cakes

    Photo Credit: Love Bakes Good Cakes

I would love to see how you all incorporated my tips into your celebrations so please share them with me! You can submit a photo or comment on this post or through my Contact Me page.

Have a wonderful 4th of July! God Bless America! 🇺🇸

Sparkle On,

Alexandra

Hosting Tips: Welcoming House Guests

Photo Credit: graphicalinteriors

Photo Credit: graphicalinteriors

With summer just around the corner, lots of people’s travel schedules are getting busy which also means lots of us will be welcoming house guests. What can you do to help your guests feel right at home? Here are my tips for being an excellent host/hostess!

  1. Confirm Travel Plans with Your House Guests
    • Prior to the arrival of your house guests, double check the dates with them and ensure you have the right ones on your calendar.
    • The day of travel, check-in with your house guests so you know when they plan to arrive.
      • If they are traveling by plane, it is always good to know their airline and flight number so you can check to see if their flight is on time or delayed when going to meet them at the airport.
      • If you know traffic in your area is bad at a certain time or certain roads are worse than others, offer this helpful information to ease their travel stress.
    • If your guests are driving to your home, reserve them a parking space or offer them the “prime” parking spot at your home.
  2. Create a Welcoming Guest Room.
    • Make a cute sign/photo frame that has the WiFi password posted.
    • Put extra pillows and blankets in the closet.
    • If you use your guest room for extra closet/storage space, be sure to clear some room for your guests to hang their clothes or put them in the dresser.
    • Have a luggage rack in the room.
    • Put together a toiletry basket (travel size soap, toothpaste, toothbrush, deodorant, cotton balls, band-aids, etc.) and leave it on the bathroom counter in case your guest forgot anything.
    • Ensure the room smells clean, but avoid using too much fragrance – some people get headaches from overly scented rooms.
    • If there are any “funny things” about the room or your home, let your guests know ahead of time. For example, if the shower starts in an intricate way, explain how to use it.
  3. Plan Your Menu and/or Make Reservations in Advance.
    • If there are things you know your guests like (a snack food, certain type of soda, etc.), try to stock up on a few things you know they will enjoy and be sure to tell them to “help themselves.”
    • Be aware of any dietary restrictions and/or food allergies.
    • Make sure you have breakfast foods. Often times, breakfast is not the meal we eat out so it helps to have choices for the morning meal!
    • Having refreshments and hors o’Doeurves at your home is a nice touch before going out for dinner.
  4. Have Fun Things Planned/Be Knowledgeable of Your Area
    • If your house guests are in town just for a fun visit, look into local activities (food tastings, art shows, concerts, etc.), tourist sites, and new places to take them. Be sure to add in some of your local favorites too!
      • If you have things planned ahead of time, let your guests know! This helps them plan around what they will already be doing and also lets them know what they need to pack.
      • Be cautious of how much you have planned. Traveling and touring is tiring, your guests will need some down time.
    • If your house guests are in town for a special occasion, be understanding of their commitment, but offer to show them around or do something together in their free time.

What have you appreciated your host/hostess doing when you have been a house guest? Are there special things you do to welcome your house guests? I would love to hear from you all! Happy Hosting!

Sparkle On,

Alexandra

Handling Holiday Stress with Grace

As we shop for gifts, welcome house guests, and prepare for parties and holiday meals, the joy of the holiday season has a tendency to also bring quite a lot of stress. While stress levels increase, our positive attitudes and mannerly ways often times decrease. This year, let’s not have that happen! Here are some of my tips to ensure you have a merry and bright holiday season!

  1. The Shopping Experience
    • Be prepared to handle the crowds. Do not push your way through people, simply say “Excuse me” or “Pardon me” as you move.
    • Always thank the sales associate who helped you find the gift you wanted, the right size, a pretty color, etc. They appreciate polite customers 🙂
    • Avoid fights with other shoppers over the last item in stock. You will find something else and let’s be honest.. Getting dragged out of the store by mall security is not worth it. 😉
    • Give people their space while looking through clothing racks, items on the shelf, and standing in line.
    • Speaking of standing in line, do not huff and puff because the line is long. Instead, use that time wisely. Get your coupons and method of payment ready so you can be quick at the register.
    • When you check out, do not be on your cell phone. Give the sales associate your full attention and be sure to wish him/her “Happy Holidays.”
  2. Welcoming House Guests
    • Create a welcoming guest room.
      • Make a cute sign/photo frame that has the WiFi password posted.

        Graphic Available for Download on Life of Verde's

        Download Sign at Life of Verde’s

      • Put extra pillows and blankets in the closet.
      • If you use your guest room for extra closet/storage space, be sure to clear some room for your guests to hang their clothes or put them in the dresser.
      • Have a luggage rack in the room.
      • Put together a travel toiletry basket (toothpaste, toothbrush, deodorant, cotton balls, band-aids, etc.) and leave it on the bathroom counter in case your guest forgot anything.
      • Ensure the room smells clean, but avoid using too much fragrance – some people get headaches from overly scented rooms.
    • Plan your menu and/or make reservations far in advance.
    • If there are things you know your guests like (a snack food, certain type of soda, etc.), try to stock up on a few things. For example, I do not drink coffee, but I know most people do so I make sure I have it prior to guests arriving.
    • It is certainly easier said than done, but try to check as many things off your to-do list as you can before your guests arrive. That way, you can enjoy the time with them. For example, make sure gifts are wrapped and any food preparation you can do early is done.
  3. Hosting the Party/Holiday Meal
    • Set and decorate your table ahead of time.
    • Plan out where you will place the food and make sure the serving dishes fit so when food is ready to come out of the kitchen, it goes directly to the table.
    • Do not wait until the last minute to shop for ingredients. It is better to stock-up early and have enough for the season so you do not have to run to the store at the last minute.
    • Prepare as much as you can before the day of the event. If you can make certain dishes and freeze them, go for it. If you can cut up ingredients and store them before making a mix or tossing them into a recipe, get all the prep work out of the way.

I hope these tips help you to have a low-stress holiday and one you can find some time to relax during! Remember, as busy as your schedule gets, always be polite and think positively.. You will get through it! Enjoy the time with your family, friends, and loved ones!

Happy Holidays!

Sparkle On,

Alexandra

Do’s and Don’ts of the Office Holiday Party

In most offices, it is tradition to have an Office Holiday Party. From the potluck luncheon at the office to the after-hours party at the boss’ home, there are a variety of celebrations that take place! No matter the setting, many of the same etiquette rules applies. This week, I am sharing my Do’s and Don’ts of the Holiday Office Party.

  • 🙂 Do:
      • Keep it professional!
      • Dress appropriately and professionally. If you want to add a touch of festive decoration (holiday colors, a little bit of shimmer, holiday jewelry) that is perfectly acceptable.
    Graphic Credit: The Classy Cubicle

    Graphic Credit: The Classy Cubicle

    Graphic Credit: The Classy Cubicle

    Graphic Credit: The Classy Cubicle

    Graphic Credit: The Classy Cubicle

    Graphic Credit: The Classy Cubicle

    • Take a host/hostess gift if the party is being held at the boss’ home.
    • If it is a pot luck, be sure to sign up to bring something and bring what you say you will.
      • If you are not a good cook, sign up to bring utensils, decorations, or something other than food. You can also bring something store-bought; however, you should put it on a pretty platter and not bring it in the store containers.
    • Have a little snack before you go. It is not proper to pile up your plate because you starved yourself all day and want to pig-out.
    • Arrive on time and stay for a good portion of the party.
      • Do not be the person who shows up for 5 minutes and then leaves.
      • Do not linger at the end of the party and be the last person to leave.
    • Socialize with everyone, not just your closest friends. The Holiday Office Party is about boosting morale and enhancing the office community so, reach out to those you do not see/talk to on a regular basis and start building new relationships.
    • Participate in the gift exchange, games, etc. that go on during the party.
    • Find your boss and the host/hostess before you leave and thank them for having the party and including you.
  • :/ Do Not:
    • Miss the party. Unless you have an urgent matter or a conflicting obligation, you are expected to be there.
      • If you have a conflict, express the situation to your boss and apologize for your absence.
      • If it is a potluck, still send something to contribute to the party. If it is hosted by your boss, still send a host/hostess gift.
    • Dress like a houchy-mama! An after-work party does not mean you are going to the club.
    • Take a guest if you were not invited to bring one. Check your invitation to be sure.
    • Talk with food in your mouth.
    • Get drunk at the party. No matter how many times you are told to “have a good time,” it will reflect on your professional reputation if you say something inappropriate, become sloppy, and in general, embarrass yourself.
      • Stay professional! You can always go out with your friends afterwards!

Remember these tips as you head to your Office Holiday Party! Most importantly, be professional, but still enjoy yourself and the time with your colleagues!

Happy Holidays!

Sparkle On,

Alexandra

Happy Thanksgiving!

Photo credit: Designer Blogs

Photo credit: Designer Blogs

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, this week’s post is about being thankful. I want to take the time to thank all my readers and followers for going on this blogging journey with me! To everyone who has commented, asked questions, and sent suggestions, thank you for participating in the fun and helping me to make this better! It has truly been a wonderful few months of writing and I look forward to continuing the journey!

As a “thank you” to all of you, here are my top tips for Thanksgiving 😉

  1. If you are traveling to someone else’s home for the day/weekend, take a host/hostess gift.
  2. If you are hosting, decorate your entrance and the table in the Fall or Thanksgiving theme to make it festive and even more welcoming.
  3. If you are not the host/hostess or main person preparing the meal, ask what you can bring to contribute to the meal, lend a hand in the kitchen, offer to set the table, and help with clean-up.
  4. Remember your Essential Table Manners!
  5. If you were a guest for Thanksgiving, send a handwritten thank-you note within 3 days of returning.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Sparkle On,

Alexandra

Having Your Birthday Manners

With my birthday right around the corner, my excitement (as well as glitter, frosting, and sprinkles) is in abundance! I have been thinking about what goes into making a celebration special and even though the day is mine, other people are involved too. So, I brainstormed a few ideas on how best to ensure you celebrate a VERY HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

  1. Be appreciative and thankful for everything!
    • Remember the lyrics, “It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to”? DO NOT be that person (a.k.a. the Demanding Birthday Diva)! No one wants to be around a self-absorbed individual who demands attention and perfection from sunrise to sundown with expectations that cannot be met. Be happy, be calm, and smile 🙂
    • Acknowledge everyone who leaves you a birthday wish on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.)
    • For anyone who brings or sends you a birthday gift (no matter how big or small!), write them a handwritten thank-you note and mail it no later than 3 days after your birthday.
    • Thank your mom! Your birthday is a shared day with her too.
  2. It IS Your Day. Celebrate how you wish!
    • Plan something that will make you happy! Do not let yourself be pressured into celebrating in a way you do not want or handing the reins over to someone else who will not plan something to your liking.
    • Feuding friends? Speak to them individually prior to your celebration and express you hope to see them both. If they are unable to put aside their differences, suggest celebrating individually at another time. This will help to avoid any unnecessary drama from unfolding at your celebration.
  3. Make your guests feel special!
    • Although the celebration is about you, you are also the host/hostess and have guests to entertain!
    • If you have guests from different social settings (family, friends from different cities, school friends, work friends, etc.) introduce them to each other.
    • Plan things others will enjoy as well!
      • If you plan to play games, keep them tasteful to avoid embarrassing your guests or making them feel uncomfortable.
      • If couples are invited, plan things both ladies and gentlemen will enjoy. Be sure to have “guy drinks” (i.e. beer, a variety of liquor, regular soda, etc.) in addition to “fun, girly drinks.”
    • Whether you are having friends over for a small dinner party or throwing a huge birthday bash, have party favors! They do not need to be extravagant, simple is wonderful.
      • A few ideas are: a pretty bag of your favorite candies, a koozie, a mini bottle of wine with a piece of chocolate, pretty or funny beverage napkins, or an accessory with your guest’s initial on it.
  4. I got something I do not like, now what?
    • If you receive a gift that is “not quite you” and the person is there when you open it, smile, give him/her a hug, and simply say “thank you.” Do not exaggerate how much you like something if you do not actually feel that way.
    • If the individual is not there, write a note stating “thank you for thinking of me” or “it was so generous of you to send me a gift.” Do not write how much you like something and go into detail about it if you do not actually feel that way.
    • If the item is returnable, you may exchange it for something else, BUT I caution you on doing this. If it was not sent with a gift receipt and the gift is from a close friend or relative they may expect to see you display it in your home, wear it some time when you see him/her, etc. If this does not happen, the gift giver may wonder where it is and ask you. It is better to keep something you do not like than to offend the gift giver in the future.
    • Stay away from “re-gifting.” Too many things can go wrong.

Overall, these suggestions lead to one point: Stay humble on your birthday. Be appreciative of all the love that surrounds you (not just on your day, but everyday)! With this in mind, enjoy your day, live it up, and have a sparkling smile 🙂

To all my other September birthdays, I wish you a very happy day filled with love, laughter, and lots of cake!

Sparkle On,

Alexandra