Our Ms. Modern Manners Sharon Shweitzer, JD is on the scene this holiday season to share insight on how to glide more gracefully through some social situations that might be perplexing.

Dear Ms. Modern Manners,

My boss has asked me to make introductions of our employees and clients who may not know each other at our annual holiday event. Do I introduce a woman to a man, or younger to older? It can be confusing.

Capable Colleague

Dear Chipper Colleague,

Introductions in the business world differ from those in the social arena. A holiday party hosted by your employer is a business event, not a social event. The order of introductions in the business world is based on precedence.

When making introductions of clients and colleagues, the procedure is to always say the name of the client first as they are more important than your boss, CEO or any company colleague. For example, “Ms. Client, may I introduce Ms. Colleague? Ms. Client has been with XYZ Organization for 10 years as the SVP of Operations. Ms. Colleague joined our Finance department approximately three months ago and we are delighted.” At this point, you may wish to excuse yourself with “I will leave you two to get acquainted and chat about Client’s new product line” as you step away your colleague immediately asks a question about the introduction background or the new product.


Dear Ms. Modern Manners,

We’ve been invited to an engagement party and since there will be several showers as well as an elaborate wedding beyond it, any ideas for a gift so that we don’t overdo it?

Gallant Guest

Dear Gallivanting & Gallant,

Historically, the rule was to spend enough to “cover your plate.” However, that rule has evolved to consider the relationship you have with the bride or groom. A great starting point is $50, but a close friend or relative may merit $150 or more. When attending multiple events, split your budget to allow for gifts of increasing value. The graceful approach is to review their gift registry or fund request. Select gifts the couple wants and needs, where prices may range from $25 to over $300.


Dear Ms. Modern Manners,

Up ahead are so many wonderful social opportunities, yet we’re opting to travel more. How do we politely decline invitations to galas and luncheons without offending the host?

Tactful Traveler

Dear Terrifically Tactful,

The first consideration here is to RSVP as requested on the invitation, usually within 24-48 hours. If this is a postcard or electronic invitation, you may not be required to explain your schedule conflict. However, if the host asks or expresses disappointment, thank them graciously for their invitation and advise you have conflicting travel plans. Even if your travel plans aren’t 100% set, it is better to decline early than to accept and have to rescind later.


Dear Ms. Modern Manners,

It’s that time again to plan holiday host gifts. Any new and novel ones you love that you recommend I consider?

Prepared Partygoer

Dear Prepared To Party,

Yes indeed. The newest locally produced gifts, such as handmade chocolates, local tea, coffee blends, and nuts are ideal. Handcrafted artisan goods such as tea towels, jewelry, musical items, and candles are well received. If you opt for alcohol, select a nice bottle of wine or spirits from a local winery or distillery. And if holiday baking is your specialty, choose a new or favorite recipe that includes local ingredients, such as nuts or berries.