Our Etiquette Guy, Jay Remer, is on the scene to smooth over the wrinkles when social conundrums occur. He shows us how to be cool, calm, and collected in these holiday months.

Dear Etiquette Guy

With the holidays upon us, we’d like to entertain in our home this year since we didn’t last year. But, due to Covid, how do we tastefully confirm that everyone remains healthy and is fully vaccinated?


Dear Soirée Sera Sera,

This is an important question and a legitimate concern. Unfortunately, the stance around vaccinations has divided some members of our society. As with almost any emotionally charged issue, expressing ourselves with grace and clarity is essential. On an invitation, you simply write: We request that all guests be fully vaccinated. Because this is critical to you, send a confirmatory email for any less formal invitations, ensuring guests understand this. As time moves forward, instructions such as masks optional, etc., can be employed.



Dear Etiquette Guy,

During the holiday season, I realize we all feel more generous than ever. What is your policy of a gratuity gift for helpers who make life so much better year-round?

Totally Tips

Dear Tips Plenty,

Showing gratitude during the holidays is a tradition everyone enjoys. Professional service providers appreciate all Holiday cards, but especially those from loyal customers with crisp cash inside. The amount of the gift usually is equivalent to a regular appointment. For example, if you pay $100 for a service that you enjoy monthly, $100 would be appropriate. Generosity is boundless and depends upon the depth of the relationship you have. Non-cash gifts of equivalent value may feel more comfortable in certain situations or where cash gifts are verboten. As you give, also be grateful for the services you’ve enjoyed as well as the joy of sharing. 



Dear Etiquette Guy,

A friend of mine’s sister joins us for dinner periodically. She’s lovely and a fun conversationalist, but recently she’s gotten in the habit of stopping in the middle of the meal to go “live” on social media and posting a barrage of selfies. May I ask her to refrain?

Social Media Savvy

Dear Savvy & Social,

Yes, I encourage you to ask her to refrain, as her actions run the risk of making people feel uncomfortable. They interrupt the dinner conversations and crash through boundaries of etiquette that would merit checking. For example, you might ask your friend to speak with her sister in private. Correcting a dinner guest at the table would cause embarrassment, which is always best to avoid. Often, the offender is oblivious to their rudeness, and once aware will stop. Otherwise, you can impose the “no cell phones at the dinner table.” rule. That puts everyone on equal footing.



Dear Etiquette Guy,

My cousin’s best friend has a habit of, well, licking his fingers instead of using a napkin. Is it ever okay to do that, as I can’t imagine others like seeing or hearing, it either? I don’t want to offend or be offended, either.

Neat & Natty

Dear Neatest Of Them All,

Licking fingers is best for picnic tables, or crab bakes where we eat most foods by hand and rules change. Otherwise, this unattractive habit is offensive. One way to avoid this annoyance is to serve food that doesn’t require using your fingers. As with most pet peeves, we need to take responsibility for our feelings and avoid blaming others. If people are eating finger food, licking fingers is part of the deal. We’ve been oppressed enough through COVID – no need to impose a ban on finger-licking everywhere.



Navigating the social realm of today’s modern world may offer many ways to now view things.  Our very own Etiquette Guy, Jay Remer, is on the scene to provide both sense and sensibility with any social conundrums you may have.  

Dear Etiquette Guy,

Can you please remind me of some of the fall season rules…like no white dinner jackets after Labor Day, etc.? Can I still dress summery if I live in a resort climate?

On The Scene Again

Dear Scene and Be Seen,

Given the pandemic, flexibility is the new name of the game. In fashion, the old rules may no longer apply as stringently. If you really feel like wearing white after Labor Day has passed, then wear white. With climate change weighing heavily on us, unseasonably peculiar weather patterns require us to be more adaptable. Look and feel the way that puts you in a festive mood. We’re awakening to a new world, and with that comes new rules.



Dear Etiquette Guy,

With Covid in mind, is there a protocol you recommend when asking people I will gather with if they have been fully vaccinated as a health precaution?

Very Vaccinated

Dear Ready to Mingle,

This intersection has already presented challenges because the decision to vaccinate is a very personal one. I have found that asking the host before accepting the invitation is the way to go if this is a concern. Legitimate reasons for requiring vaccinations or asking that guests wear masks need to be considered by hosts and guests. For example, if someone has a compromised immune system, they may request that unvaccinated people wear masks. The bottom line is that the host calls the shots. They, too, may have personal views that may or may not align with yours. You must do what is best for you, even if that means sending your regrets.



Dear Etiquette Guy,

Since weddings are happening again, do you have any favorite gifts these days that you recommend for the fortunate couple?

Aisle Be There

Dear Aisle Say,

Personally, I like kitchen gadgetry. I also like good-quality gardening tools. Consumables, gift cards, and experiences are always an excellent choice for older couples who already have everything they need. There is also no harm in asking the couple what they’d like. Buying something for them that they would not normally splurge on for themselves is often a guaranteed hit.



Dear Etiquette Guy

We will invariably be invited to costume Halloween parties again this year. It’s just not my favorite holiday, especially with the pressure of dressing up. Thoughts on a polite decline?  

Hallowed Eve

Dear All About Eve,

If Halloween parties just aren’t your thing, sending your regrets as you would any other invitation is appropriate. The reason for declining is personal and need not be shared. If pressed, however, honesty is the best policy. Your true friends will not judge you negatively for being your authentic self. The shoe will be on the other foot one day, giving you, too, the opportunity to graciously accept regrets without explanation.



In this topsy-turvy world, we can always count on intuition and common sense to help us stay the course as we round the bend with the pandemic, according to our infallibly sensible Etiquette Guy, Jay Remer.

Dear Etiquette Guy, 

Can you please help me take the guesswork out of dressing for a summer black-tie dinner party? 

Curiously Dressing Up 

Dear Dressing Up,  

Whenever dressing for any formal occasion, my best advice is to be comfortable, which begins with ensuring your ensemble and shoes fit correctly. Women are fortunate that they have far more flexibility and can wear colorful dresses–short or long, depending on the occasion. This traditionalist advises resisting wearing slacks or skirts for black-tie affairs, as they are too informal. It’s wonderful to enjoy all the flair you wish. Being colorful, chic, and bejeweled is always a winning combination. 


For men, I recommend wearing a basic black tuxedo. In the summer, a white dinner jacket is appropriate and preferred, especially in warmer climates like Texas. A crisp white shirt sets off a black suit beautifully, but soft colors can work nicely with a white jacket, especially if the color highlights your best features. A hand-tied black silk bow tie is traditional–and for a good reason–it’s always perfect. Black silk or cotton socks match your patent leather or polished black shoes. If you feel the need to add some flair to your sartorial look, limit it to one item only–a colorful tie with or without matching bright cummerbund, etc. Keeping things simple eliminates the guesswork and achieves a smashing look.



Dear Etiquette Guy, 

Now that COVID-19 has rounded the corner, what is the appropriate attire at summer weddings, daytime, and evening events? 

  Wedding Wonder 

 Dear Wonderful Wedding Goer, 

As we emerge from the confines of this cruel pandemic, weddings are once again possible. Daytime celebrations are usually less formal than evening affairs. Women have more latitude at afternoon weddings with extravagant hats and flowing chiffon dresses, setting a high style. Slacks and skirts are also appropriate. Remember that comfort is key. Wearing sensible shoes is, well, sensible. Avoid wearing serious jewelry during the day, but please do bring out the bling at night. Sparkle, dazzle and shine as much as you wish. In the afternoon, men may wear casual suits or a snazzy trouser/blazer combo. Traditionally, neckties are standard, but as a more relaxed, comfortable style evolves, ties are becoming optional. For an evening event, ties still create a formal tone, especially if black-tie is not requested.


Dear Etiquette Guy,

As pandemic protocol loosens up a bit, can you lend some insight on summer travel etiquette when it comes to interacting with resort staff? 

Off To The Islands 

Dear Island Hopper, 

Traveling this summer will be different than pre-COVID times. Frankly, I’d be less concerned with the staff than with other guests. All hotels, resorts, or other tourism venues should have strict protocols in place. The staff must follow these to the letter. Guests, unfortunately, can be less attentive. In any case, I advise keeping a safe distance, wash your hands appropriately, and wear a mask in close quarters. Avoid physical contact with anyone as a precaution. Use common sense because our safety is everyone’s safety.


Dear Etiquette Guy

With school starting back in August, any advice for parents on encouraging our children into a routine again? 

Passionate Parent

Dear Parental Guidance Suggested, 

Raising children during COVID has been the most difficult challenge parents have ever faced in generations. Children thrive on routine and reassurance. They also can understand the reasons why there have been changes and that everyone is struggling–some even suffering. My best advice is for parents to set the pace for establishing their own routine first. Children will naturally follow your lead, especially with encouragement, which is not to be confused with commandments.


Above all, have consideration for your children when they are out of sorts and confused. Also, remember to have self-compassion. These times are not easy for any of us, and we must realize that no matter what, we are doing our best. We all deserve grace from time to time. Of course, with any situations that are beyond our ability to handle, professional guidance is available.



Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. It’s a familiar sage we all grew up with and try to live by, right? Here, we introduce our new Etiquette Guy, Jay Remer, who will be sharing his fearlessly flawless insight on modern social conundrums.

Dear Etiquette Guy,

I have friends and colleagues who have received honorary doctorates for their service to a university, as well as friends who have been ordained online to officiate a relative’s wedding. They insist on being referred to as Dr. and Reverend. Please advise.

Title Quandary

Dear Title Inquirer,

One of life’s greatest joys is achieving a milestone. Honorary degrees signify an extraordinary contribution to one’s chosen field. The honorific (title) that comes with such a degree should only be used when addressing an audience about your specific area of expertise. Otherwise, using the title is braggadocios and best avoided.

Obtaining online ordinations usually requires minimal effort. Titles should only be used for ordinations. No one should rest on false laurels since they can often diminish the accomplishments of others.

Dear Etiquette Guy,

You’ve always said that times change, but good manners are timeless. I’m concerned about when people I’ve never met before (a doctor’s office receptionist, restaurant hostess, or a store clerk, for example) call me by a pet name like honey, or sweetheart. I don’t think it’s acceptable for someone younger (or anyone I don’t know) to speak to me in this manner. What can I say to these people that won’t offend them?

Naming Rights

Dear Call-You-By-Your-Name,

Correcting people for using these off-putting greetings is awkward at best. The service industry has developed a less formal approach, especially during the challenges of COVID-19. If we focus on the intention of these greetings, our sensibilities may be more forgiving. Often these remarks are automatic responses that reflect cultural differences.


As with most things that cause us discomfort, self-reflecting on why they affect us can be revealing. However, if a correction is necessary, a phrase such as, “Please don’t call me honey,” should suffice. It is up to us to decide which rabbit holes to enter. This one may be one to avoid.


Dear Etiquette Guy,

As a man, I often forget when I should stand if a lady enters a room. Or, should I not stand at all in keeping with modern and equality manner standards so as not to offend her?

  Standing At Attention

Dear Stand and Deliver,

Your confusion is as mysterious to you as to many men during these changing times as we finally recognize women as equals. Since the days of women’s liberation, men have become too shy to show deference to women lest they rebuff their intended good manners.


As a result, two standards have evolved: one for business and one for social occasions. In business situations, men and women deserve equal consideration. Therefore, unless everyone stands when anyone enters the rooms, refrain from standing at all. At social affairs, men still show deference to women, although with less fanfare. If you feel more comfortable standing when a woman or an elderly person enters the room, feel free to do so as no one should be offended, and many will show their appreciation with a smile.


Someone once remarked, “No one can offend you without your permission.” This implies taking full responsibility for our feelings–a lofty goal–but one worth pondering.