Reader Q&A – Advice on Dishes

Reader Question: I have been looking at china patterns for our home. It can be a little overwhelming, so I was hoping to see what advice you may have. How many sets do you recommend? What parts of each place setting are necessary? I’m actually looking to replace our everyday dishes, since several pieces have been broken or chipped, in addition to have a set of china. Currently we own no china. We’ve been married for nearly five years, so I’m obviously not doing a registry and will just purchase as we can afford. Thank you!

Answer: It truly can be overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be! As fun as it can be to have every piece made, it just isn’t that practical. For china I recommend a minimum of eight sets – more if you tend to entertain at the holidays, which is when the china will likely be used. For everyday dishes, 12 sets would be more ideal. Many everyday sets are sold as a set as opposed to individual pieces. The most common set includes a dinner plate, salad/dessert plate, bowl and coffee cup. These would be the most basic pieces you need. I enjoy having a bread plate and saucer for the coffee cup, as well. I’ve never found the need for both a dinner plate and a luncheon plate. For my china, I have the same pieces. Each year for my birthday or Christmas, I’ll accumulate more pieces, like a butter dish, serving bowl, etc. The ones I highly recommend would be a butter dish, two serving bowls, large platter and salt & pepper shakers. I have other pieces that I enjoy but don’t consider necessary, such as fruit bowls, asparagus dish, baking dishes for my everyday set, batter bowl, etc. My best advice is to get the type and amount of dishes that suit your lifestyle!

Reader Q&A

Reader Question: I was recently invited to dinner by my boss to celebrate my upcoming graduation from college. I have had to work while going to school, and I have a young son, so money is tight. I was happy to accept the dinner invitation. My husband planned to stay home with our son to help limit the money spent. However, my boss recently decided to change restaurant locations, and we truly cannot afford the new restaurant. I know that, per etiquette, I shouldn’t decline once I have accepted an invitation. I can’t put my family in financial harm, though. Is there an exception to the rule since the game was changed? Thank you!

Answer: Absolutely. First and foremost, congratulations on your upcoming graduation! You can tell by your letter that you have your priorities straight, and I truly admire that. The rule of not changing your response when accepted is for times when it’s simply that something more appealing comes up. In truth, your boss should treat you to dinner since the dinner is to celebrate you. You are the guest of honor. It it completely acceptable to let him/her know that the new restaurant choice isn’t in the family budget but that you appreciate his support of your graduation. He/she may affirm their intent to pay for your meal. If not, they may at least change back to the original location. I appreciate your question, as it helps highlight the importance of everyone (your boss, in this case) knowing how etiquette plays a role

As an aside, I think it is very important to highlight the importance understanding etiquette plays in not putting someone in an awkward situation. I encourage wording such as, “I would love to treat you to dinner to celebrate…” in order to let the other person know your intent, as, unfortunately, not everyone knows that when they invite someone to dinner, they should also pay.

Gracious Guests and Helpful Hosts

We’re entering that time of year where people often spend more time celebrating various holidays with friends and family. While this should lead to enjoyment, it can often lead to disaster – which brings me to today’s Top 5 post.

Today’s Top 5 has a list for both guests and hosts to do (or to not do) in order to enjoy holidays more.

The lists were compiled after a reader asked if it was okay to host a potluck Thanksgiving. My answer: it absolutely is, provided that all expectations are clearly defined to your guests in the beginning.

Enjoy!

Guests Top 5:

  • Show up on time
  • Offer to bring something to share
  • Bring a hostess gift
  • Help clean up after the meal
  • Don’t overstay your welcome

Hosts Top 5:

  • Set out clear expectations of your guests
  • Have most items prepped before guests arrive
  • Have yourself fully dressed and ready to celebrate by the time guests arrive
  • Delegate tasks to your guests if help is offered
  • Always be gracious and welcoming to your guests

Pregnancy Announcements At Work?

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Well here’s a new one, at least for me. With the current business etiquette series I have going, I have received some messages asking specific questions. One was in regards for how to “announce” you’re pregnant to your boss. The writer then went on to say that many people at work have done “cutesy” announcements, such as bringing a box of doughnuts to work with a note that reads, “Eat up! Mommy doesn’t want to be the only one with a big tummy.” Now, if you are at a small mom and pop shop or a family business, this may go over fine. Actually, if you work at a family business and announce this was to family, things may not go over so fine after all.

Anyhow, if you work in a traditional business environment and are not related to 90% of the other employees, please, please, please refrain from making any pregnancy announcement at work. As excited as you are for this, others may not be as emotionally attached.

For those who truly do need advice on informing their boss that you are pregnant, let me make a few etiquette suggestions.

For starters, you may tell your boss at any time during your pregnancy. You may want to wait until after the first 12 weeks. That’s completely fine. You may want to tell them instantly, as you may need time off for appointments with your doctor. Completely okay, too.

You want to let them know in a one-on-one environment. This is a personal occasion, and there may be questions they will need to ask, such as your due date or if you’re having any health complications that would require FMLA (if eligible) sooner than your due date that you may not want to share with everyone in your office. Also, your company may have additional pregnancy and/or maternity leave benefits that you will need to know about.

Once they are informed, that’s it. The office does not “owe” you a shower. Another question I had while starting this series is “When can you ask your job to throw you a shower?” Specifically, you never ask anyone to throw you a shower. If they do decide to host something in your honor, the same rules apply. Handwritten thank you notes should be sent out as soon after the event as you are able to manage.

I’m not sure what’s amped up the pregnancy announcement craze, but I’m going to blame Pinterest. While announcing to your friends in a fun way is fine, albeit debated in the etiquette world, announcing to your office is strictly off limits. I hope you learned something from this post!

If you have any follow-up questions, please feel free to e-mail me or leave a comment!

Thank you for reading!