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.