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Gift Giving/Family

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I’m planning a party. Should I send an e-vite, e-mail or paper invite?

“Avoid e-mail. I like to say that e-mails are short in effect. Since we get so many e-mails each day, there’s a high likelihood that an e-mail invitation will be forgotten or overlooked. The e-invitation services (such as evite.com) are a better choice because they automatically send reminders to RSVP, which is easily done with a mouse click. My personal favorite remains paper invitations because they set a festive tone. I realize the postage represents an added expense, so consider your budget and decide what’s best for you.”

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How early should I send my invite?

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I’m serving food and drinks. Should I plan for dietary restrictions? How much effort should I make to accommodate various types of dietary restrictions?

“Two to three weeks is the standard lead time for invitations. For very special events, or holiday events, it’s advisable to send invitations out four weeks in advance. For a major event, you may send a ‘Please Reserve this Date’ card three to four months ahead of time.”

“It’s reasonable to make some accommodations. If you are having a small dinner party and you know one of your guests has dietary restrictions, it’s OK to call and ask them for details. When this happened to me last summer, my vegetarian friend could eat everything I planned except for the grilled chicken, so I made extra vegetable kabobs for her.”

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I’m planning a holiday get-together. I’d like to invite my spouse’s co-workers. Should I invite everyone, or just those who share my spouse’s rank, and those who rank above him/her? “In the spirit of the season, invite as many people of all ranks as you can comfortably accommodate. Don’t limit the guest list to just co-workers who are of higher rank than your spouse.”

Soirée Savvy

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“It’s appropriate to call the invitees. A gracious way to handle this is to telephone the people who haven’t responded, and after some small talk, mention, ‘I couldn’t remember if you said you were coming on Saturday night or not.’ Remember to be kind about it. Perhaps they never received the invitation or there are extenuating circumstances. … If there are too many people to call, an e-mail reminder may be needed to remind people of the date, time, and RSVP. Often invitations have gotten lost in the confusion of daily life.”

Breeze through the holiday season in perfect form with these helpful etiquette tips. By Sabra Morris, Marine Corps spouse

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W

e often think of etiquette as an antiquated set of rules that no longer apply to modern society. Not so, says Marna Ashburn Krajeski, author of “64 Answers About Etiquette for the Modern Military Spouse.” “Far from being a complicated code, etiquette is really just [about] treating others with sensitivity and respect,” she says. And what better time than the holidays to hone your etiquette skills? “Around the holidays, parties and social occasions present many opportunities to practice good manners,” says Krejeski.

Marna Ashburn Krajeski's ? Consult frequently asked questions and attend your next event with confidence:

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MILITARY SPOUSE • DECEMBER 2012 • BASEGUIDE.COM

I’m hosting an event and hardly anyone has replied to my invite. What should I do?

My husband’s CO is having a holiday get-together. I have a conflicting engagement, or I’m just not really that interested. Do I have to go?

“Commanding officers regard some social events as mandatory unit activities that happen to fall outside normal duty hours. Spouses aren’t required to attend social events, but you might find them fun and a good way to meet interesting people. Friendships made at these functions will help form a support network with the other spouses, which is especially important if the unit deploys.”

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The invite I received doesn’t say anything about kids. Can I bring my kids along?

“Don’t bring children unless they are specifically invited. If you can’t leave your children at home with a babysitter or neighbor, then send your regrets … There was a time when my husband and I spent our monthly babysitting budget on unit functions, leaving no money for date nights. Our solution was to limit my attendance to every other unit party, while my husband continued to go to all of them. Alternatively, you can trade babysitting with friends.” >>


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I’m obligated to go to a holiday gathering, and I don’t want to stay long. How long do I have to stay without looking obvious when leaving?

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“If you have enjoyed hospitality at someone’s home or at their expense, been a houseguest, or received a gift, send a thank you note. You should write it within a week or two. While it may be tempting to dash off an e-mail thank you, a handwritten note is an enduring and thoughtful act your hosts will appreciate. Simple note cards you buy at the stationery store work just fine.”

“If it’s a dinner party, don’t leave right after the meal. Wait a considerate amount of time; 30 minutes is sufficient. If it’s not a dinner party, tell the hosts when you arrive that you have to leave by a certain time, then stay long enough to be sociable, mingle, and visit with the other guests.”

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When is it appropriate to bring a hostess gift?

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“A small hostess gift is always appropriate when visiting someone’s home. It shows that you appreciate the invitation and the effort. The gift doesn’t have to be expensive. Some examples of good hostess gifts are a box of chocolates, a scented candle, a homemade baked good, a small plant, or flowers. … If you bring flowers, present them in a vase with water, rather than wrapped in cellophane, which requires your busy host to find an appropriate container. … Include a card or note with the gift so the hosts know who brought it. For command-sponsored events such as formals and receptions, a hostess gift isn’t necessary.”

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Marna Ashburn Krajeski was an Army spouse for 20 years and has authored three books for military spouses. She blogs at HouseholdBaggage.com.

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MILITARY SPOUSE • DECEMBER 2012 • BASEGUIDE.COM

There’s no mention of attire, or I don’t understand the dress specifications. How will I know what to wear?

“The bottom-right corner of the invitation should include guidance on attire, such as ‘Informal’ or ‘Casual.’ If it doesn’t, clear up any questions with the host when you call to RSVP. If in doubt, always err on the side of being more respectfully and nicely dressed. … Over the years, I’ve noticed a lot of confusion over the term ‘informal.’ It’s often interpreted to mean ‘casual,’ but that’s wrong. Informal means semiformal. In that situation, the active duty person wears a service uniform with tie or equivalent. The spouse wears a nice dress or suit (for females) and males should wear a dark business suit. I’ll never forget an afternoon tea at the colonel’s wife’s house. The invitation said ‘informal,’ so a wife showed up wearing jeans! Common sense should have told her to at least dress business casual. In general, jeans and T-shirts are never appropriate except at very casual events.”

I’ve been invited to a traditional “New Year’s Day” or “Holiday Celebration” by my spouse’s CO. What can I expect?

“The long-standing tradition of a New Year’s reception is a way for commanders to recognize those who mean the most to them professionally. Dress is usually ‘Informal,’ but check the invitation for appropriate attire. If the reception is held in the commander’s home, there may be a staggered arrival time to accommodate a large number of guests. Don’t be late and don’t stay past your allotted departure time. No hostess gift is necessary as an official guest; however, a thank-you note is a nice gesture. At some commands, you might be asked to leave a calling card in a silver tray on the hall table. Check with the adjutant for guidance.”

When is it appropriate to send a thank you note?

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What should I do when I arrive at a social occasion? “After you’ve found a place for your coat and purse, greet the host and hostess. Then say hello to the guest of honor if there is one, and greet the senior ranking person before moving on to other guests.”

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I want to keep my phone with me in case the babysitter needs to reach us. Is this ever appropriate? “Yes. However, it’s important to try to make cell phone use as inconspicuous as possible. Don’t put your phone on the table during a dinner party. Keep it in your pocket or purse, either switched off or on vibrate. If you must check it or take a call, excuse yourself and find a quiet place for your short conversation. Refrain from texting or checking your e-mail at the table. Using your cell phone is distracting and signals to your companions that they’re not your priority.” H

Military Spouse Magazine: Soiree Savvy  
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