Celebrating Halloween at Work

Often times, offices like to celebrate holidays and if your office is anything like mine, be ready to celebrate BIG! Join in on the festivities with your co-workers, just be sure to do so appropriately. In the spirit of Halloween, I am sharing my tips for how to celebrate Halloween at work!

  1. Be Tasteful and Dress Appropriately
    • If you are allowed to dress up for work, be sure your outfit fits the regular dress code/policies for your organization.
      • Avoid outfits that are extremely short. For ladies, wear something that covers your legs the way a pencil skirt or work dress does.
      • Do not show your cleavage by wearing a low-cut costume top or bustier.
      • Try to stay away from outfits that have rips, holes, etc. in them. You still want to look clean-cut at work.
      • Avoid on shirts/costumes with inappropriate phrases or images.
    • Ensure you can still do your job in your costumes. (i.e. wearing so many accessories you can’t reach your keyboard = a non-productive work day and a frustrated boss)
    • Be culturally sensitive. For example, dressing up as a priest or nun may offend people of the Catholic faith.
    • Be sensitive to current events. For example, I used to work in a hospital and when Ebola was a very newsworthy topic of great concern to many people, dressing up in a Hazmat suit and walking into the hospital would have been guaranteed to unsettle people.
  2. Be Cautious with Decorative Make-Up
    • Avoid using bloody/gory make-up and designs that may scare clients, guests, patients, children, etc.
    • Add a little sparkle or some false eye lashes to your eye make-up, but be sure to keep it professional.
  3. Don’t Want to Wear a Costume?
    • Unless it is a costume party and you are “highly encouraged” (a.k.a. practically told) to participate by your boss, it is OK to not wear a costume. Instead, dress festive!
      • Wear black and orange.
      • Add a headband, hairpiece, or a fun clip for a little bit of flare.
      • Wear decorative accessories such as a Halloween tie, Fall themed socks, pumpkin earrings, or a skull and crossbones bracelet.
      • Decorate your desk!
  4. Contribute to the Party!
    • If your office is having a party, offer to bring something to contribute.
    • If you are not a good cook or baker, it is perfectly fine to buy something at the store. Tip: Put it on a nice plate/serving dish prior to getting to work so you do not show up with a bunch of store containers 😉
    • If the office does not need food, bring in festive party napkins, plates, or cups!
    • Help decorate the office!

I hope these tips contribute to your Halloween festivities and help make it a positive experience for the whole office!

Happy Halloween, y’all!

AB

Happy Birthday, America! 🇺🇸

It is no secret I am a big fan of birthdays and celebrating them! To say the 4th of July is one of my favorite days of the year is an understatement! As someone who grew up in a military family and spent several years working with the military, I show off my American spirit whenever I get the chance. 🇺🇸 So let’s just say, I am more than ready for this birthday party!

As we celebrate our freedom and our country, be sure to sparkle in all the right ways! One standout way to do this is to honor and respect the flag 🇺🇸 Here are my tips on how to do so:

  • Fly the flag all day! Be sure to keep a light on Old Glory when the sun goes down.
    • NOTE: If you are hanging the flag rather than flying it, ensure you display it correctly. Here’s how:

  • Attending a parade, event, or sporting event? When Old Glory passes you, place your hand over your heart and remove any headgear (unless being worn for medical or religious reasons).
  • While it may add to the festiveness of your party, I suggest not using place-mats, table cloths, plates, or napkins that have the American flag on them as a decorative piece. 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.
    • NOTE: A design of stars and stripes is great, I am referring to the actual American flag printed on a serving piece and napkins.
  • A little known fact is that Old Glory “should never be used as wearing apparel, bedding, or drapery.” Rather than wearing the flag, a design of stars and stripes is more appropriate.
    • NOTE: I realize patriotic apparel is trendy in pop culture and will likely continue to be so I encourage you to be thoughtful in your outfit choices. If you do choose to wear apparel displaying the flag, ensure it is displayed in full not draped across you, tattered, or distressed in any way.
  • For even more in-depth (and fast-paced) information on flag protocol, watch this video and refer to this valuable flag protocol information.

Last, but certainly not least, remember and thank the service members who have fought for and are currently serving to protect our freedoms.

Happy Independence Day, y’all! 🇺🇸

AB

Editorial Note: This is a revised version of a previous post. For more tips on celebrating Independence Day, see another original post!

Mother’s Day: Simple Ways to Say “Thanks Mom!”

Next weekend we celebrate one of the most important holidays, Mother’s Day. I think it is safe to say, we all owe a lot to our moms (and to those women who acted like and watched over us like a mom). On Mother’s Day, be sure that special woman knows how much she is appreciated! Here are some ideas for simple ways to say thank you!

  1. Make a Statement, Write it Down
    • No texts or emails and not just a phone call. Find a beautiful card, or make one, with a sentiment that expresses your gratitude. If your mom is someone who appreciates the little things, having this card to keep will mean the world to her.
  2. For All She Has Done and Still Does, Give Back
    • Growing up, we all know our moms have given a lot to help us; now it is our turn to give back. Find something your mom does and do it alongside her.
      • If your mom volunteers, take the time to go volunteer with her.
      • Does she always do everything to get dinner ready? Help her out in the kitchen and jump in on the cooking.
      • Is mom always keeping the house tidy? Treat her to some extra help around the house or pay for a house cleaning.
      • Do you have other siblings? Jump in and takeover helping them for the day/weekend.
  3. Give a Meaningful Gift, Small or Large
    • A great keepsake and simple gift to put together is a photo album. Collect photos of you and your mom throughout the years, put them in an album, and write down your favorite memories.
    • Do you have a favorite memory or an “inside joke” with your mom? Find a small trinket that commemorates that!
    • Send your mom to get pampered (whatever that means to her) and let her enjoy the day.
    • Has your mom had her eye on a certain something, but will not spend the money on herself? Splurge for her!
  4. Spend Quality Time with Your Mom!
    • If you can give nothing, give of yourself. Amidst our busy lives, we often forget to plan time with those most important to us. Sometimes, we even take them for granted.
      • No plans this weekend? Hop in the car and drive home to see your mom!
      • Plan a meal your whole family can attend. This is especially meaningful if your family lives in different areas. Pick one weekend to gather everyone in the same place!
      • If you are a daughter, plan a “Girls’ Day!” Go out for lunch and a movie. Plan a trip to the spa. Go do or see something the two of you have been talking about for a while. The ideas are endless!
  5. Most Importantly – Give Your Mom a Hug and Tell Her You Love Her!

To all the moms out there, especially my own, THANK YOU! In celebration of the wonderful women in all our lives, here is one of my favorite sentiments:

Photo Credit: Mothers Who Know

Photo Credit: Mothers Who Know

Cheers y’all!

AB

Happy Birthday America! 🇺🇸

It is no secret I am a big fan of birthdays and celebrating them – my birthday 🎉, Jesus’ birthday 🎄, and of course, America’s birthday! 🇺🇸

To say the 4th of July is one of my favorite days of the year is an understatement! As a regular part of my life, I show off my American spirit and wear a lot red, white, and blue (courtesy of #USOLife). So let’s just say, I am more than ready for this birthday party! I also consider myself pretty lucky seeing how I get to celebrate this special day. Thanks to a fantastic job with USO-Metro, I spend the first half of my day recognizing service members at the Washington Nationals game. Later on, I get to watch fireworks over the Nation’s Capital from the monuments. I do not think it gets more American than that!

As we celebrate our freedom and our country, be sure to sparkle in all the right ways! One big way to do this is to honor and respect the flag in all the right ways 🇺🇸 Here are few tips to do so:

  • Fly the flag all day! Be sure to keep a light on it when the sun goes down.
    • NOTE: If you are hanging the flag rather than flying it, ensure you display it correctly. Here’s how!

  • 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 am referring to 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.

Remember and thank the service members who have fought for and are currently serving to protect our freedoms.

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

Sparkle On,

Alexandra

Happy Galentine’s Day!

Single this Valentine’s Day? No need to worry! Valentine’s Day can hold a different meaning for everyone so I challenge you to view it from a lens other than that of being in a relationship (even if you are in one!). For example, I love Valentine’s Day because putting love on public display with all the flowers, colorful decor, and heart/love signs everywhere makes me happy!

So, with that in mind, here are my tips on how you can celebrate a fabulous Valentine’s / Galentine’s Day!

  1. Gather your girlfriends together for a night of good food, rom-coms, and laughter!
    • Send out an invitation (e-vites are great for this!), decorate your space, and find some festive serving pieces! With so many ways to celebrate and have a fun evening pick something that fits your group!
  2. Dress festive! *My personal favorite!*
    • Valentine’s Day is the one day of the year (other than my birthday) when wearing an over-the-top amount of pink is publicly acceptable and let’s be honest, who does not want to channel their inner Elle Woods?!
  3. Send valentines!
    • Family and friends will appreciate a piece of happy mail!
      • Tip: Stop by your local TJMaxx, Marshall’s, or Home Goods for a great deal on festive cards!
    • If you give valentine’s to coworkers, ensure the messages are tasteful and friendly to remain professional while spreading cheer. Also, if you add in a valentine treat, check if anyone has a dietary restriction.

I hope these tips get you in the Valentine spirit! I know there are some who struggle with being single, especially at Valentine’s Day, and we can all admit we have been there at some point. For those of us who need a little extra encouragement this Valentine’s Day, I leave you with the wise words a friend sent to me in her Valentine, “Single is not a status. It is a word that describes a person who is strong enough to live and enjoy life without depending on others.”

Have a wonderful Valentine’s Day and celebrate all the love in your life!

Sparkle on y’all!

AB

My Experience as a USO Elf

USO_LOGO_Project Elf_Script-01

This article is not related to protocol or etiquette; however, I found this experience so special, I knew I had to share it.

This Holiday Season, I had the privilege of being the Program Manager, or “Head Elf” as some affectionately referred to me, for USO-Metro’s Project Elf. Project USO Elf supports military children of junior enlisted service members, E-1 to E-5, by pairing them with Corporate and Community Wish List Donors who sponsor the children. These Wish List Donors buy the children gifts from their Wish List for the Holiday Season. This year, I am very proud to say USO-Metro supported over 1,200 military children in the Washington-Baltimore Metropolitan region!

While this program was quite an undertaking, coordinating 1,200+ Wish Lists between 2 distribution locations from hundreds of Wish List Donors proved to be no small feat, it is one of the most rewarding experiences I have ever had. Planning for the program started as “Christmas in July” and gained momentum throughout the Fall. The build-up to the program was amazing!

On October 1st, the “North Pole” began receiving Wish Lists from children. The notes I read honestly made my day several times. One of my personal favorites was for a 6 year old girl, “She is girly and happy go lucky, very artistic, loves play dates and gymnastics! She has asked for: stuffed Hello Kitty doll, silver pageant crown & wand, ribbon baton twirler, Frozen Anna dress, sparkly silver Mary Janes, Melissa and Doug craft projects. She also likes Chick-Fil-A, My Little Ponies, and fun sparkly colors of Zoya (nontoxic) nail polish.” How adorable is that?! That is just one of the over 1,200 Wish Lists I received that reminded me of the pure joy and excitement the Holidays bring to children. Come November, Wish Lists were distributed to Donors and they were set loose to hit the stores while I stayed at the North Pole organizing the program logistics!

As soon as December 1st hit, I spent the first week of the month on “Sleigh Stops” visiting our Corporate Wish List Donors and receiving hundreds of Wish Lists from several companies. The level of excitement I saw in these donors and the giving atmosphere the companies built around my program was incredible. One company even had so many employees want to give to the program, that the employees started buying popular gifts for us to add to other children’s gift bags saying, “the more the merrier!” Once all the Wish Lists were collected, my amazing volunteers set-up and decorated the distribution sites.

DSC_0403

Project USO Elf Distribution Site #1 with over 800 Wish Lists ready for service member pick-up!


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Project USO Elf Distribution Site #2 with more than 400 Wish Lists ready for service member pick-up!

When distribution night arrived, I was instilled with an overwhelming sense of calm. That day, I knew all the hard work and long hours I put in were about to pay off – big time! Seeing the smiles and hearing the words of appreciation from service members who received gifts for their children was the only “Thank You” I needed. Realizing we (I would be remiss if I did not thank my amazing USO-Metro teammate and our HUGE volunteer corps. Without the volunteer hours put in by these dedicated, patriotic individuals, my job would not have been possible) had really made a difference in the lives of others was incredible.

This year, the Christmas spirit has not quite “taken hold” of me in my personal life. However, today I realized when over 1,200 military children wake-up tomorrow morning their Christmas wishes will come true thanks to so many generous citizens who wanted to give back and say “thank you” to our service members. Personally, the opportunity to play Santa for these military children has been a privilege and truly an honor. This year, Christmas took on a new meaning for me. I hope to continue to pay it forward to those so deserving of this special program.

“Merry Christmas to all and to all, a Good Night!”

Project USO Elf “Lead Elf”

To learn more about Project USO Elf, please watch Elizabeth Prann’s Fox News coverage of Project USO ElfFor additional photos from Project USO Elf, please visit the USO-Metro Facebook album.

 

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