Take a Tour, A Wine Tour!

Happy Fall y’all! With the leaves changing and the crisp autumn air upon us, I know many of you will be off to the vineyards for wine tastings! For those of us (including me!) who are not wine connoisseurs, ordering wine can be intimidating if you are not knowledgeable of the different types or what you like. A perfect way to learn is to go on a wine tour and to help you get ready, I have a collaborator for this post. Beth Messerli is a Cause Entrepreneur for ONEHOPE and here to help craft you into a wine expert. Let’s jump right in!

  1. Plan ahead.
    • Schedule your wine tasting¬†ahead of time especially if you are in a large group. This helps wineries plan for guests and assign you the correct number of wine hosts.
    • Plan your transportation. You will be drinking alcohol, so be sure to have a designated driver or get a limo/party bus/ride share/etc. to take your group to and from the wineries.
  2. Dress the part ūüôā While wearing something more casual is certainly appropriate, I would at least wear nice jeans and a pretty top (for ladies) and a polo or casual button down (for gentlemen). Depending on the weather, sun dresses are an excellent option! Many wineries have indoor/outdoor tasting areas and/or places to eat so be cognizant of your options. Additionally, some wineries are more casual than other. Do your research on the winery prior to your tour.
    • Avoid perfumes, creams, and hair products with overpowering smells. A big part of wine tasting is being able to smell the aromas, as they are a large part of the taste! If you have too much perfume, etc. on it will interfere with the experience.
  3. Give the wine host (the person who describes and pours the wine) your full attention. This is the perfect time to learn more about wine, how it is made, and about the winery/vineyard itself. The wine host will give a thorough description of what to expect from the wine and why it has certain tasting notes. Often times, you will also be told which foods pair well with each type of wine you taste – this is important to learn so you can up your game as a host and pair your wine with what you serve!
  4. Remember your manners.
    • When in the tasting room/area, keep your voice to a conversational volume. There are typically several parties in the area; therefore, you do not want to be the loud group everyone stares at because they cannot hear among their own group or worse, hear their wine host.
    • Be aware of how much you are drinking. During a wine tasting, you are given a small amount of each wine. You may not think you are drinking very much, but it starts to add up over multiple wines/tastings. Stay classy and avoid the embarrassment of drunken behavior in a refined setting.
    • Sip your wine. Do not gulp the whole tasting pour at once. (More on this in just bit!)
  5. Hold your wine glass by the stem. It is not only proper to do so, it is also practical. White wines are typically chilled; therefore, putting your hand around the globe of the glass will warm the wine. Red wines are enhanced by exposure to the air so having a wider globe helps this process. For red wines, you can hold the glass by the stem or cup the globe of the glass in your palm.
  6. What if I do not like a certain wine?
    • If you know beforehand that you do not care for a particular type of wine, simply place your hand over your glass when the wine host gets to you and say “no thank you.” The wine host will understand. This way is much more appropriate and discreet than exclaiming, “I do not like that wine” to your host and the rest of your group.
    • If you are unsure about a wine, take a small sip first. If you do not like it, do not spit it out. Swallow the small amount you have and then discard the remaining amount in the “dump bucket.”
  7. Will there be food?
    • Eat before you arrive or plan a meal in conjunction with your tasting trip. At most tastings, small bowls of crackers will be available. These are simply to cleanse your palette between wines, not to act as hors d’oeuvres or a meal. Wineries are a great place for a picnic so plan something fun!
    • If you have selected to do a wine and food pairing, then you will be given food, but it will be small, bite-size samples of each course unless you planned for a full dinner service.
      • Remember: Sip. Taste. Sip. This allows you to taste the wine on it’s own first then taste it again after eating to see how the food influences the flavor.
  8. Do I have to buy a wine after a tasting? While it is encouraged to do so, you are not obligated to buy any wine after a tasting. If you do find something you like then by all means go for it! Your tasting experience may even come with a discount on full bottles.

While going to the vineyards is a great option and also a fun weekend activity, you can also host wine tastings in your own home with a host like Beth!

Cheers, y’all!

AB and Beth

Tailgating with Class and Style!

Football season is officially underway and that means it is prime time for one of my favorite past times! As a BIG fan of college football (Go Terps! ūüźĘ), it is one of the many reasons why Fall is my favorite season! As if the game itself is not enough to get you excited, throwing a well-planned tailgate is the best way to start the day! Here are my tips to kick-off your game day:

  1. Get in the Team Spirit!
    • Tie in your team colors and symbols to the table, tent, and lawn decor.
    • Dress the part! It is time to break out those team tees, dresses in your team colors, and accessories that add to the team spirit (hello turtle earrings and team koozies!)
    • Football shaped food and mascot inspired¬†trays or desserts are always a hit!
    • Make a signature cocktail that ties into your theme or your team, use festive drink stirs, and serve a beer that ties into your team name or is from your team’s state!
  2. Be Inclusive, Not Confrontational
    • While we all have our favorite teams and love our alma mater, be inclusive of those who may be cheering for the other team. Add a little of their team color or invite them to bring a dish tied to their team.
    • While a little bit of friendly competition is always fun, avoid getting into arguments or confrontations with fans of the other team. Remember, you are there to have fun – not to “bad mouth” others!
  3. Plan Ahead
    • Tailgates can range in size from small and simple to large and extravagant (I have seen it all!). No matter what size your tailgate, the following always apply:
      • Be sure to have an accurate count of how many people will be attending and buy/make your dishes accordingly (aka always make extra). Running out of food and beverages is never a good thing!
      • Bring plenty of ice for drinks and food.¬†Keep any food that¬†needs refrigerated in coolers and ensure it will stay cold for the duration of the day or else you will have to throw it out (you do not want anyone to get sick).
      • Label your coolers to avoid confusion.
      • Remember to bring plenty of¬†¬†trash bags and clean-up as you go.
      • If you are hosting, make a timeline for your set-up and when you need to start cooking. No one wants to miss kick-off!
      • Bring chairs for people to take a rest. You do not need enough for every person, but a decent number is always appreciated!
      • Here is a great checklist for all your tailgating needs!
      • Plan for the weather! If it’s a chilly day, bring along your favorite team sweaters and stadium blankets. Rain in the forecast? Get ready to set-up those tents!
      • Noon kick-off, how do you tailgate for breakfast?! Rally with donuts, bagels, egg bakes, grilled bacon/ham/etc, bloody Marys, and mimosas!
  4. There Is More to Tailgating than Eating
    • While the food (and drinks) usually take center stage at any tailgate, there are plenty of other fun things to do as well!
      • Just as you would in your home, be an excellent host and introduce guests to those who do not know each other.
      • Bring lawn games! Corn hole, ladder ball, bocce ball, and playing football in the parking lot are all fun ways to get people up and moving.
  5. Not Hosting, Just Invited to Tailgate?
    • Ask what dish, dessert, or drinks you can contribute to the tailgate.
    • Always help with clean up!
    • Be a classy attendee – Dress for the theme/your team and as mentioned earlier, avoid confrontation with others (especially from the opposing team).
    • Be social with the others at the tailgate and make an effort to meet new people!
    • If you have your own chairs, it is always a friendly gesture to bring them along.

Happy Fall and Football y’all!

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. Here are my 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, have fun, and wear a smile all day!
    • Acknowledge everyone who leaves you a birthday wish on social media. A thoughtful response or even a simple “like” is appropriate.
    • 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¬†within a week of your birthday.
    • Show your mom some extra love! After all, your birthday is a shared day with her.
  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 who will plan something that is not to your liking (this goes for bachelor/bachelorettes and wedding or baby showers as well!).
    • Depending on how you choose to celebrate, keep in mind that certain events may be cost prohibitive to guests, and it is important to be understanding of those situations (also true for any event involving travel).
  3. Make your guests feel special! Although the celebration is about you, you are also the host (unless someone else has fully planned and given your party) and have guests to entertain.
    • If you have guests from different social settings (family, friends from different stages of life, colleagues, etc.) introduce them to each other.
      • 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 with them individually at another time. This will help to avoid any unnecessary drama from unfolding at your celebration.
    • 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.
    • Whether you are having friends over for a small dinner party or throwing a huge birthday bash, have party favors! These 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, or a beverage napkin set.
  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, yet sincerely say “thank you.” Do not exaggerate how much you like something if you do not actually feel that way, it can cause awkwardness in the future.
    • 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.” Again, 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 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.

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 wear your best smile!

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

Cheers, y’all!

AB

The Do’s and Don’ts of Airplane Travel

Welcome to part two of my Travel Etiquette Mini Series. In my job I travel quite a bit and all my trips start and end the same way… at the airport. In part one I discussed my tips and tricks for airport etiquette, but what about actually being on the plane? Here are my thoughts on how we can all be courteous while we travel:

  1. Open seating. It is totally up to you!
    • If you are traveling with other people who have a boarding number after your own, true travel etiquette is to give up your earlier boarding position and join your travel partner at his/her boarding position. However, if you do board ahead and want to¬†try to save a seat, simply place a coat, purse, or small bag in the seat you hope to save:
      • If someone asks for the seat, kindly say, “I was hoping to save this for my friend/spouse/parent, do you mind looking for another seat?” Normally, people will be understanding especially if there are still plenty of seats left, but do keep in mind it is not your right to save that seat.
      • If the airplane is filling up and the flight attendant has started making announcements to “take any open seat you see,” it is time to give up your seat saving mission. You do not want to be the person who delayed your flight because you forced others to play musical chairs until your travel partner got on the plane.
    • If you see someone traveling with an individual who needs assistance (i.e. a parent and younger child or someone with a disability), but they cannot find a seat together and you have an open seat next to you… Do the right thing and offer your seat to them.
  2. Stowing Your Carry-On Items
    • Place your bag above your own seat. Do not take up the storage space above another row unless your space is full and the flight attendant directs this.
    • If you need to move someone’s bag a little¬†in order to fit your’s in the overhead bin, ask the person, “Do you mind if I scoot your bag over a bit?” Most people will not have a problem, it is simply polite to ask in case they have something fragile in their bag or are traveling with hanging garments (gowns, suits, etc.).
    • If the flight attendant says your bag will not fit, chances are it really will not. Allow the flight attendant to place your bag in another overhead bin. It is not worth holding up¬†the line of people behind you and potentially delaying your flight because you tried to play Tetris with the bags in the overhead bin.
    • Always offer assistance to someone you see struggling to get their bag in the overhead bin.
  3. Be a Good “Seat Mate”
    • You cannot go wrong by starting off your trip with a simple smile and saying “hello” to the person you will be seated next to for several hours.
    • If you have a middle or window seat and need to get up to stretch your legs or use the restroom, be sure to politely ask the individuals closer to the aisle if they will please move for you.
    • When standing up, do not grab the seat in front of you. This often pulls that individual’s seat backwards and can be quite disruptive.
    • Who gets the arm rest? True travel etiquette indicates the person in the middle seat gets both arm rests while the people in the outside seats get those arm rests. In a row with only two seats? Share the middle armrest.
    • We all like to travel in comfort, but do not get too comfortable!
      • Keep your shoes on. You may think you do not have feet that smell, but it is very possible that you do. Also, some people just do not like feet.
      • If you want to take a nap, be cognizant of your surroundings. Try your very best not to lean on the person next to you. Travel Tip: Use a neck pillow, it helps to prevent the lean!
      • Do not bring foods on the plane that have heavy odors. For example, a tuna packet probably is not the best thing to crack open mid flight.
      • Keep the volume on your headphones low. Your seat mate very likely does not want to hear what you are listening to especially if he/she is trying to nap, read, or do work.
      • Avoid getting drunk and making your seat mate feel uncomfortable.
      • Check before you recline! Ensure the person behind you is not getting something from under your seat or using the tray table. If they are, simply say, “Excuse me, I’m going to recline my chair, I just want to let you know.” This will avoid you bumping him/her, accidentally spilling a drink, or even potentially breaking an open laptop.
  4. Be Courteous to the Flight Attendants
    • Pay attention to the flight attendants when they give the safety instructions. Yes, they are often the same on every flight, but they really are important to know.
    • Listen when they tell you it is time to turn off electronics or stop using certain ones. Side note: Always be sure your devices are in airplane mode!
    • When the flight attendant brings you a snack or asks for your drink order, always say “please” and “thank you.”
  5. De-Planing
    • We all know the mad rush to get out of your seats as soon as the “Fasten Seat-belt” light turns off, but remember you are in a small area, there really is not a lot of space for you to move. Let the people ahead of you have the room they need to get out of their seats and retrieve¬†their bags¬†from the overhead bin.
    • If you have a short connection time to your next flight, ask the flight attendant during the flight if it would be possible for you to get off the plane before others. Due to a delay on one of flights, there was a passenger who had a very short amount of time to get to¬†his connection. When we landed and were taxiing to the gate, the flight attendant said, “We have a passenger on board who needs to exit quickly to make a short connection. Please allow this person through the aisle before we begin regular de-planing.” If asked this on one of your flights, be kind and follow the request to help the other person.
    • If there is someone who needs special assistance exiting the plane, allow them to go first.
    • Thank the flight crew on your way off the plane.

Keep these tips in mind the next time you find yourself on a plane!

Safe travels y’all!

AB

Welcome to Positively Proper!

Hey y’all!

Welcome to Positively Proper! I am Alexandra and¬†I am beyond excited to be sharing this¬†adventure in the world of Protocol and Etiquette with you. I first had this idea in 2014 and over the last five years, I have worked on it “here and there” while I focused on other parts of my life. After making another major change this past Fall, I felt the inspiration to start writing and blogging again. So, here I am relaunching Positively Proper on Valentine’s Day because what day is more appropriate to launch a passion project from the heart?!

This journey started while I was working as a Protocol Specialist in the Washington, DC area, a role which taught me A LOT about protocol and etiquette in modern society. Now, I know what some people are thinking… Protocol and Etiquette¬†are¬†stuffy subjects. I am here to show you¬†they are¬†not! Protocol and etiquette can be fun and extremely relatable. What protocol and etiquette¬†are truly about is putting your best foot forward and being confident as you do. Protocol and Etiquette apply in every day life and can truly make a difference at work, at home, with friends, and even¬†during interactions with strangers. They also apply to social events, being a host, personal and professional fashion, and so much more!

Fast forward five years and what am I doing now? I work for an international nonprofit on the Special Events and Partnership team. With, what I like to think is, a decent amount of experience “in the industry,” I continue experiencing and learning more through my job and everyday run-ins with protocol and etiquette matters. So, why not share it all?! I will share my experiences with you and I encourage you to share your thoughts and questions with me! I am sure we all encounter similar situations and have some of the same questions as we meet new people, venture to new places, and attend fabulous events! This blogging adventure is all about learning and helping each other shine even brighter!

Cheers y’all!

AB

New Year, Confident You

Welcome to 2015! The typical January/New Year post is about resolutions and a new you, so I am taking a bit of a different twist on this idea. In 2015, let’s focus on improving the amazing qualities you already have and putting your best foot forward in all situations!

The following are a few of my thoughts on the basic things you can do to improve yourself everyday:

  1. Be Positive
    • Think happy, be happy. The power of positive thought truly is amazing!

      Photo Credit: Ascension Kitchen

      Photo Credit: Ascension Kitchen

  2. Dress the Part – Always!
    • Whether I am getting all dolled up for a fabulous event or just running a quick errand, this has always been a favorite guiding principle of mine…

      Photo Credit: Beauty Woo Me

      Photo Credit: Beauty Woo Me

  3. Present Yourself
  4. Perfect Your Table Manners
  5. Be Knowledgeable of Current Events
    • If you do not already watch the news or read the paper daily, I highly suggest signing up for the Skimm! It is a daily newsletter delivered to your inbox that summarizes the biggest stories and adds a little fun to your morning news report.

As we embark on this new year, let’s all do so by promoting the best versions of ourselves. As I have said from the beginning of this blogging journey, protocol and etiquette are really about putting your best foot forward and being confident as you do. Being positively proper gives you that touch of polish to make you stand out from the rest. Stayed tuned for my protocol and etiquette posts so we all conquer 2015 with grace, elegance, and style! ūüėČ

Sparkle On,

Alexandra

Going to the Theater!

2014 Christmas Concert for the Troops

2014 Christmas Concert for the Troops at the Kennedy Center

I recently had the pleasure of attending the USO-Metro and Gary Sinise Foundation 2014 Holiday Concert for the Troops. The night was wonderful and the performances were truly amazing! With the Holiday Season upon us, I realized many people will be attending holiday concerts, plays, and musicals. The theater is traditionally known as a place for elegance, grace, and the best of manners. In that spirit, I am sharing my thoughts on how to be a positively proper “theater-goer!”

  1. Dress the Part
    • Most theaters will be business or casual cocktail attire. Think professional yet fancy and also a little fun.
      • Ladies: A pencil skirt or dress pants with a pretty blouse is perfect! Also, a casual cocktail dress fits the occasion well.
      • Gentlemen: A suit is absolutely the way to go!
    • For the regal setting, think elegant formal wear.
      • Ladies: A formal cocktail dress or tasteful, floor length gown is appropriate.
      • Gentlemen: Wear a formal suit and tie or tuxedo (for the fanciest of occasions).
  2. Arrive Early
    • Give yourself plenty of time to find parking, check your coat, and pick-up your tickets.
    • Often times, you can buy concessions or have a drink and socialize prior to entering the performance.
    • Use the restroom prior to entering the performance.
    • When the lights dim or the the bell chimes, start making your way to your seat.
  3. Mind Your Manners
    • Silence your cell phone and put it away for the duration of the show.
      • The ringing of a phone can ruin a song or interrupt an important moment in a performance.
      • The back-light from your cell phone ruins the ambiance of the theater and can even mess with the lighting depending on the size of the theater.
    • Taking photos during the performance is highly discouraged. (I took mine before the show began and the lights went down ūüėČ )
    • Chatting with your neighbors throughout the show is absolute no. It is disrespectful to the performers and the people around you will not appreciate it as you will certainly cause a distraction.
    • Refrain from singing along with the performers (unless encouraged to do so). I am sure you can belt out the tunes, but the audience came to see/hear the performers, not you. ūüėČ
    • Stay in your seat throughout the show.
      • It is very rude and can be quite distracting if you are walking around during the show.
      • Wait until intermission or the end of the performance.
    • If you need assistance during the performance, signal an usher. They will gladly help you.

Now that you are well prepared to attend a holiday performance, go hit the theater! Remember to support your local schools, community theaters, and benefit concerts during this time.

Happy Theater Going!

Sparkle On,

Alexandra