Plan a Baby or Bridal Shower in an Hour: It Can be Done!


How to plan a baby or bridal shower in just an hour | The Champagne Supernova

Bridal showers. You’ve been there. Your friend is getting married (or is pregnant) and you offered to host a shower- in addition to caring for your own family, killing it at the office (or at home with your kids), and honoring your expanding list of volunteer commitments that you wish you never signed up for in the first place.

Shoot me.

You need to get this planned, and fast! No worries, with the assistance of Tracie Domino of Tracie Domino Events, here are some tips on how to quickly plan a shower, with it looking you spent days making Pinterest projects.

To illustrate this work-in-progress, I included photographs from my sister’s bridal shower in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.

Set the Date and Time: This will help dictate the rest of the planning process. Work with the Guest of Honor to select a date and time that is convenient for her, usually 2-3 months before the baby is due or 2-3 months before the wedding. If you choose an evening event, you might want to include the father or groom-to-be and invite other men. Guys typically don’t like baby or bridal showers, but you can entice them with booze and good food.

Pick a Venue: Hosting a shower at someone’s home is often the most cost effective, but if nobody has the space, there are other options. Private rooms at restaurants and clubs work great for this. Make sure you ask the venue about minimum fees for food and beverages so you don’t have a heart attack when you receive a ridiculous bill.

Choose a Theme: The theme of the event should jive with the venue. Depending on the location, and the taste of the guest of honor, you might not need a theme. For Amanda’s shower, the hostess’ home was beautiful, and we didn’t want to spend money on decorations and ruin the flow of the home. Should you choose a theme, which is usually better for baby showers, you can order everything you need in one click on Etsy, and the decorations will usually arrive at your house pretty quickly. Etsy is a lazy person’s (me!) manna from heaven.

Send the Invitations: I prefer digital invitations over hard invitations because you can send them on the same day that you create them and they make it simple to track the RSVPs. My hands-down favorite company for this is Paperless Post.

Choose the Menu: Don’t drive yourself nuts by committing to making food that requires massive preparation the day of the event. Either order everything from a local restaurant that delivers or make platters the night before. Costco or Sam’s Club will be your God. For my sister’s shower, we went to Costco and purchased three large tubs of chicken salad, two dozen croissants, two dozen dinner roles, kale salad that’s already bagged, and pre-cut fruit. All of those items were enough to feed around 25 people and cost only $110. The shower hostess already had beautiful serving bowls, so we put the food in those and it was picture perfect. We purchased a couple dozen white cupcakes from Publix and placed them on a three-tiered platter.

What to Drink: One of the biggest mistakes people make at baby showers is not drinking because the Guest of Honor is pregnant. Absent religious or health reasons, don’t do that to your guests. With regard to bridal showers, alcohol is often expected. For my sister’s shower, we set up a bar that contained two signature cocktails: orange creamsicles and mimosas. With mimosas, you can use the inexpensive champagne, like my college preference of Andre, and nobody will ever know. Except when they wake up the next morning. But that’s their problem.

Minted's Limited Edition Art Prints

Play a Game: While shower games can be lame, they can be an ice breaker for your guests. Some of my favorites are here for a baby shower and here for a bridal shower. Most people like gambling for fun, so have everyone guess the date the baby will be born or it’s weight, gender, and length of the baby.  If it’s a bridal shower, have them bet on a “Newlywed Game” where the groom answers certain questions ahead of time and the bride is tasked with correctly guessing his responses. Regarding whether games will be played, leave it to the Guest of Honor. And please skip the “poop in the diaper” game if you’re throwing a baby shower. If you don’t know what game I’m talking about, then you’re lucky.

Opening Gifts. Years ago, it was an absolute requirement to open gifts at a shower. This is no longer the case. If you have a huge invite list or you are inviting men, you might want to skip this altogether and let the couple open gifts after the shower. Trust me… with the exception of the Guest of Honor’s mom and some great-great aunts, nobody would mind. I recently attended a baby shower where all the guests sat in a large circle with each guest holding another guest’s gift. One by one, each guest introduced themselves, stated how they knew the Mother-to-Be, gave one piece of motherhood advice, and then opened the other guest’s gift and stated what the gift was. I loved this idea. It was a way for all the guests to interact, and spared the Mother-to-Be the trouble of opening tons of gifts in front of everyone. Cheers to that!

Below are some photographs of my sister’s shower.

How to plan a baby or bridal shower in just an hour | The Champagne Supernova

The bar featured mimosas and orange creamsickles, our “signature cocktail” for the bride-to-be and guests. The recipe is awesome because you don’t need to “measure” anything… just start pouring and tasting. Combine Liquor 43, vodka, orange juice, fat free, non dairy vanilla creamer, and a touch of vanilla extract (only if you’re using plain, non-flavored creamer). Blend it all together and you’re good to go.

How to plan a baby or bridal shower in just an hour | The Champagne Supernova

The hostess rented tables and chairs, and decorated the place settings with a variety of winter-colored flowers. She used her own China and rented the linens. The China is Spode and was purchased in Stoke-on-Trent in the United Kingdom.

How to plan a baby or bridal shower in just an hour | The Champagne Supernova

 

How to plan a baby or bridal shower in just an hour | The Champagne Supernova

This table wear is so special that I couldn’t resist photographing it. The hostess purchased this in 1997 in London at “Bermondsey Fair” and it is dated around 1840.

How to plan a baby or bridal shower in just an hour | The Champagne Supernova

How to plan a baby or bridal shower in just an hour | The Champagne Supernova

 

How to plan a baby or bridal shower in just an hour | The Champagne Supernova

How to plan a baby or bridal shower in just an hour | The Champagne Supernova

The hostess made this shrimp salad and it was a hit. She took 6 lbs. of cooked, deveined, shelled and cooled shrimp, chopped celery, mayo, and Old Bay Seasoning to taste, and combined everything together. She then refrigerated it until it was ready to serve.

How to plan a baby or bridal shower in just an hour | The Champagne Supernova

The cupcakes are from Publix, which supplied the heart-shaped toppers.

How to plan a baby or bridal shower in just an hour | The Champagne Supernova

How to plan a baby or bridal shower in just an hour | The Champagne Supernova

 

Me and the Bride-to-Be.

How to plan a baby or bridal shower in just an hour | The Champagne Supernova

The Mother-of-the-Bride, Mother-of-the-Groom, Bride-to-Be, and Me.

How to plan a baby or bridal shower in just an hour | The Champagne Supernova

Some of the awesome guests who helped to make the day so special for my sister.

About Tracie Domino: Tracie is the Founder and Creative Director of her own company, Tracie Domino Events. Her stylish expertise and relatable sophistication have made her a trusted wedding planning consultant to business leaders, professional athletes, and high society since 2004. She and her team make fun, memorable weddings happen on the west coast of Florida, and are available to travel to destination weddings worldwide. She is a fan of beach vacations, Florida State football, Vegas casinos, guacamole, and one smart and sexy six-footer. Tracie can be reached at 813-810-0621 or via e-mail at Tracie@TracieDomino.com. Cheers!

 How to plan a baby or bridal shower in just an hour | The Champagne Supernova

    The Nine Most Annoying People: I Just Need to Vent


    Annoying I’m not perfect. I think I’m funny when I’m probably not. I tell stupid jokes and inappropriate anecdotes. I generally suck at being places on time. However, there’s a breed of people who I find difficult to tolerate. Ladies and gentlemen, the list of the nine most annoying people: The Know-it-Alls. We’ve been encountered by know-it-alls all our lives, but these people become more prevalent during the childbearing years. You MUST purchase this car seat… it’s the best. You aren’t breastfeeding or vaccinating? The horror! Oh my God… little Mumsy must see this specific pediatrician, but only after she consumes her organic peas that were grown from the richest Peruvian soil in my backyard while Daddy plays his harp that was manufactured by handicapped monks in a [third world country] as Spot sits whimpering nearby in the comfort of his fair trade, cashmere blanket. I want to shoot this person. Unless specifically asked, I don’t want your opinions. Namedroppers. I worked with a dude who was the World’s.Worst.Namedropper. He would routinely show up at work on Monday and spout off a list of local people who he hung out with over the weekend. Nobody knew any of these people he was talking about and they were irrelevant for purposes of the conversation. Unless it’s the President or somebody legitimately significant, nobody cares who you and your spouse ate dinner with last night. We get it. You’re a cool dude(ette). Your weekend was probably cooler than mine. Now cut it out. Big Leaguers. You know these people. They are the ones you have met literally ten times and they act like they have no clue who you are as you are biting your lip and introducing yourself for the eleventh. These people are one of two things: 1) mentally deficient, or 2) trying to make themselves feel important by acting like you are unimportant. Move on. Elevator Gunners. People need to become versed in elevator etiquette. I work in a large office building with 41 floors and have been “elevator roadkill” to someone who couldn’t wait for me to get off the elevator before they attempted to get on. It goes like this: push the button, when the elevator arrives, wait until the people inside the elevator get off the elevator before getting on the elevator yourself. Got it? Thanks.

    Street Snails. These are pedestrians who take their sweet time crossing the street, even though they know you are waiting for them to completely cross before you can move your vehicle. I get it- they have the right of way. But, every time I know someone is waiting for me, I put a little “pep in my step” out of courtesy. Can’t everyone else do the same? Scary Sneezers. I can’t stand people who do not control the loudness of their bodily functions. There’s a vendor in my building at work who is the loudest freaking sneezer I’ve heard in my life. So loud, that when I was pregnant, my daughter would jump IN UTERO every time she sneezed. It’s rude, unnecessary, and obnoxious. If you wouldn’t sneeze that loudly in church or at an important meeting, then give everyone else the courtesy. El Cheapos. If someone buys a round of drinks and you are a recipient, then eventually it will be your turn to buy a round. I don’t know how I can make this more clear. We aren’t in college anymore. If you can’t afford to go out and you have to mooch, then stay home. If you borrow money from someone or if someone “covers” you for something, then reimburse them before they have to feel awkward by asking you for the money. (See also: if you owe someone money, then don’t let them see you running around town wearing fancy new clothes and dining at expensive places). You are putting a bulls eye on your back for people to secretly hate you. I-Don’t-Know-My-Audiencers. These are the people who brag to public servants about their country club memberships, luxury vehicles, champagne wishes and caviar dreams. They are the people who discuss their valuable stocks, 401k plans, and prenuptial agreements to people who are struggling to make ends meet. Aside from the fact that it’s rude and tacky, it makes you look like a schmuck. My-Social-Media-Life-is-Perfecters. These people have been written about ad nauseam, but I couldn’t resist. Use your imaginations. There you have it, the nine types of people who drive me bananas. Did I leave anybody out? Looking forward to hearing your thoughts.    

      What to do When You have the Boss from Hell: Quit!


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      When you have the boss from hell, don’t stick around hoping things will get better with perseverance. Don’t stay around hoping, by some miracle, the boss from hell will leave you alone and turn his negative attention on somebody else. Instead, find another job. You don’t deserve to put up with that garbage.

      I’ve experienced the boss from hell.

      We’ll call him Lucifer.

      He tried to make my life [read: everyone’s life] a nightmare and he temporarily succeeded. I once worked at a dysfunctional law firm where Lucifer was a young partner notorious for preying on newbie associates (like me!), berating them, making them feel insecure about their legal abilities, and running them off.

      Lucifer must not have gotten a lot of hugs from his mom when he was growing up because he was a hateful, mean-spirited person who had no life or friends outside the office. Heck, he had no friends inside the office, as his colleagues- whom he considered to be friends- routinely gossiped behind his back.

      There was an instance where Lucifer called me into his office to explain a Memorandum of Law that I prepared, which he believed was pure crapola. To demonstrate how I was a “baby attorney” who was metamorphosing into an “adult attorney,” Lucifer literally got down on his hands and knees and crawled around the room like an infant.

      It was the Twilight Zone.

      In the three years I was an associate at this firm, I would walk around the office looking for hidden cameras, thinking I was on some crazy reality show because SURELY a professional work environment could not truly be this nutty.

      It was.

      I stayed at this firm way too long because I was paralyzed from the lie that I wasn’t good enough or smart enough to go anywhere else and be successful. At the time, the economy was in shambles, major “silk-stocking” firms were experiencing historical layoffs, and I was worried that I would have to take a pay cut (and still be unhappy) somewhere else.

      I was a battered work wife.

      According to a 2013 article posted in the LinkedIn Influencer program, two-thirds of employees aren’t fully engaged in their careers. The number one reason for the disengagement? Their boss sucks. In other words, if you have a bad boss, you are in good company.

      However, you can do something about it by taking control of your life and peacing the heck out.

      It was probably the tenth time that I came home after work crying because of something horrible that Lucifer did when my husband grabbed me, looked me in the face, and said “What are you doing? Find another job. Your misery isn’t worth it.”

      He was right.

      I finally left the firm. Not because I had the chutzpah to leave on my own volition, but because a major client had left the firm, leaving me and several other associates and staff members with no work and no job.

      Fortunately, I secured another position in a couple days, where I ended up staying for almost seven years before I went part time. It was a great work environment. Maybe this was God paying me back for the three years of hell I endured at the other firm, but it was refreshing to be at a place where I felt valued, appreciated, and respected, and the only workplace politics involve getting your work done.

      When I reflect on the abuse I put up with from Lucifer, it makes me feel sickened that I’d allow someone to treat me that way. Maybe I have a different perspective because I’m older, more experienced, have kids, and a different outlook about life and myself, but I’d never let someone treat me that way again.

      Ever.

      The bottom line?

      When you have a horrible boss, it will never probably get better absent a miracle. Leave. Run out the door as fast as you can.

      You will find another job.

      You are good enough, you are smart enough, and you deserve better.

      Cheers to that!

        Valentines Gifts for the Slacker Parent


        Easy Valentine's Gifts | The Champagne Supernova http://thechampagnesupernova.com/2015/02/valentines-gifts-for-the-slacker-parent/

        Valentine’s Day at my kids’ school has been a repeated reminder of what a slacker I am. For the last two years, Arden has come home from school with intricate treasures from her classmates that look like they cost a lot of money to buy and a lot of time to make. This will be the first year I purchase Valentine’s gifts for my kids’ classmates. I mean, what could infants and toddlers possibly need for Valentine’s Day? At this point, spending a lot of time on a gift is fruitless for me because 1) I don’t have the time and 2) I wouldn’t do it even if I did have the time.

        With the help of some friends, I came up with a list of the best Valentine’s gifts that are not food, are gender neutral (the true slacker doesn’t want to have to get separate gifts for boys and girls, now do they?) and do not require a lot of time.

        Books. One of the moms in Arden’s infant class gave each child a cardboard Sesame Street book for Valentine’s day. It was gender neutral, probably cost around $2.00, and was a perfect “distractor” to put in the diaper bag for when we went out in public and were looking for ways to entertain our daughter. As an added bonus, it’s educational. This is the Curious George book I bought for my daughter for Valentine’s day. Don’t tell..

        George

        Bookmarks. These are free at hardware stores and all you need to purchase is a heart shaped hole punch and ribbon. Specific instructions on how to make these are on Old Town Home.

        Bookmarks

        Crayons. Encourage creativity and are inexpensive. Check out the off brand crayons at the dollar store. Picture taken from the Mother Nature Network. I recommend washable crayons. Crayons Lip Balm. With an added note that says “You’re the Balm!” I have a sick sense of humor but wish I could claim this was an original idea. And as we’re in the middle of winter, isn’t this perfect? Here’s an example from Jollymom, where they are offering the printable FREE. Tip: you could do something similar with small container of jelly with a note that says “You’re the Jam!” Heck, you could even pick up free samples of jelly from your local Cracker Barrel. (No, I wasn’t born during the Great Depression…) balm Animal Figurines. These are good for older kids who aren’t likely to choke on the toys. Had to add that disclaimer, I’m a lawyer. My two year old daughter loves playing farm animals, and these don’t contain sugar that will likely get other parents angry. Best of all, you can buy a huge package of farm toys for like 89 cents. Here’s a cute suggestion from Popsugar: zoo Bouncy Balls. These double as gifts for kids and their parents because they provide at least 10 straight minutes of distraction for the children. You can probably get them in bulk from the dollar store. Here’s a cute idea from PositivelySpendid. A friends suggested the adorable idea of enclosing a note with the ball that says “My Heart Bounces for You.” Love it! Bouncy balls

        Throwback Boxed Valentine’s Cards. You know, the ones we had in elementary school. Ideal for mini-hipsters. Here is some awesome FREE clip art from Vintage Holiday Crafts:

        Vintage Pic

        DIY Valentines that Come in a Kit: These incredible little smackaroos come straight to your front door in a kit with everything you already need. This provides good bonding time with your kids and, best of all, are only $10.95 per package. I love this from Kiwi Crate:

        ValentinesDay

        And for the teachers…

        Nail Polish: Inexpensive but still shows you thought about them. Who doesn’t like a nice bottle of nail polish? The gift tag is FREE from Gone Like Rainbows: nail polish

        Soap: These are inexpensive and smell nice. These are also perfect for washing your kids’ mouths out when they sass the teachers! (muahaha). Photo from Fun Holiday Crafts.

        soap

        Happy Valentine’s Day, Friends! Cheers.

          Quit Screwing Up Your Pictures


          Tips on how to take great pictures | The Champagne Supernova

          I’ve wasted a lot of time and money trying to learn how to take great pictures.

          This entailed the painstaking hours of learning how to use my digital camera solely in manual, taking photography classes, buying fancy-dancy cameras, lenses, computers, and editing software, bugging my photographer friends for advice, and finding time to learn how to use Lightroom.

          The latter is still a work in progress.

          I recently attended an awesome mentoring session with the oh-so talented Justin DeMutiis of Justin Demutiis Photography, and learned more in our two hours together than I learned in the last year of “figuring it out on my own.” I learn by doing, and I think it’s important to spend the time with a photographer actually walking you through the steps on how to edit versus reading an instruction manual or relying on Youtube.

          While being able to edit pictures serves as the icing on the cake, no amount of editing will fix a crappy picture that has a bad foundation. Here are some of Justin’s top ten things to avoid if you want a great shot.

          Letting the camera do the work. Avoid relying on the camera’s automatic settings. While using aperture priority is very useful and widely used by professional photographers in fast moving situations, by putting the camera on full auto, you relinquish creative control. (My note: I never thought I’d be able to figure out automatic settings, but I did, and it’s easy).
          Leaving distracting elements in the frame – This can be odd trees, plants, water bottles, etc. It’s worth the extra few minutes to clear an area before shooting, or a few extra seconds of looking through the viewfinder to create a clean composition.

          Putting the subject dead center in the frame. If you hand the average person a cell phone and ask them to take a picture of you and a friend, chances are, your heads will be in the center of the frame. This is much more manageable in the age of Instagram, but for vertical portraits, it is more pleasing for heads and eyes to be in the top third of the frame.

          Shooting with a lens that is too wide. Cell phones generally have wide lenses, professional portraits photographer generally shoot with longer and more flattering lenses.

          Taking too many images and/or not spending enough time on a single image. With babies and children, it is vital that you know your equipment and never stop shooting. You never know when the perfect moment will happen. With older children who take direction well, you will not feel as much pressure to go on autopilot and put the camera in burst mode. If you have a loose game-plan, a beautiful location and beautiful light, you can take a few additional moments to pay close attention to the details, perfect a pose, and create a overall pleasing image.

          Moving slowly with kids. The above being said, it’s important to be prepared to move swiftly with children. If you take too long or give too much direction, it will be very challenging to capture a genuine moment or expression.

          Tiny Prints - Up to 30% Off

          Being unspontaneous. With many great moments, it is necessary to just step back and let the moment happen.

          Being unwilling to get up close and personal. Notwithstanding the above, if a newborn baby is sleeping, for example, getting closer can often be better. By simply getting closer, you can often eliminate distractions and emphasize your subject.

          Being unreceptive to light. Light is ever changing, but many new photographers do not take the time to learn to “see” the light. When I search for locations to shoot, I first look for the light, then a pleasing background, and lastly I consider the pose. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said: “Light is the first of painters”.

          Lack of Patience. With photography, practice really does make perfect. Don’t get frustrated when you don’t like your product and, instead, find ways to improve it. Here are examples of Justin’s work, all of which are being published with his permission:

          Tips on how to take great pictures | The Champagne Supernova
          Tips on how to take great pictures | The Champagne Supernova
          Tips on how to take great pictures | The Champagne Supernova
          Tips on how to take great pictures | The Champagne Supernova
          Tips on how to take great pictures | The Champagne Supernova
          Justin’s first glimpse of becoming a professional photographer came as college freshman. He became one of eight college students in North America to win a scholarship to attend the North American Nature Photography Association’s annual summit, for which he owes his style. Not long after, he found his true calling in wedding photography, a place where all his technical skills seamlessly blend with so many things he loves. To Justin, nothing compares to providing a timeless set of images that tells the story of one of the most important and happiest days of two people’s lives.

          If you are interested in a setting up a photo shoot or mentoring session with Justin, please contact him at 813-229-5960.

          Tips on how to take great pictures | The Champagne Supernova

          Cheers!

            Bachelorette Parties in Vegas when You’re a Mom and Over 30


            Vegas

            As the self-proclaimed “head honcho” in the bridal party for my younger sister’s upcoming wedding, I had only one stipulation: that she could never refer to me as the “Matron of Honor.” I don’t care that I’ve been married for five years and have two kids, I don’t want to ever be referred to as a Matron. It’s geriatric, grotesque, and carries a connotation that makes me think of a lonely spinster, sitting in a rocking chair, holding a cat. Given that stipulation, I had to agree to accommodate her wishes of planning her bachelorette party in Vegas. “Oh hey… I have a full time job, two kids, a husband, and live on the opposite side of the country… THIS SHOULD BE EASY TO PLAN.” Well… with the help of her amazing friends and some eager-beaver club promoters, it was a BLAST. Here are some of the highlights.

            Vegas7

            Me and the Bride-to-Be.

            Vegas1

            The girls on Night 1 at Hakkasan for dinner.

            Vegas4Steve Aoki was the guest DJ at Hakkasan night club… I never heard of him before, but apparently his trademark is to throw cakes in peoples’ faces. He switched to champagne.

            Vegas

            The ladies on Night 2 at Blue Ribbon Sushi inside our hotel at The Cosmopolitan. This was after a wild day at Lavo for the Party Brunch. This is a must-do for any bachelorette party in Vegas.

            If you ever want to feel like an incredible dancer, come dance next to me. After all, what happens in Vegas goes on the internet:

            Vegas3

            In terms of recommendations, the only place I wasn’t crazy about was Blue Ribbon Sushi. The waiter forgot about my wine order and the staff was slow. We were originally supposed to have dinner at Tao but switched our reservation when we arrived at the hotel at 6pm after brunch and didn’t want to trek back across the strip to The Venetian for dinner.

            Another BIG bachelorette party recommendation is to not go to Vegas with a group of more than 8 people. We had 8 and were maxxed out in terms of filling the hotel rooms, being able to get reservations at a restaurant, getting taxis, and getting into the clubs. Adding even one more person to the mix would have complicated things. Eighteen people came to New Orleans for my bachelorette party and that was ten too many. Everyone ended up getting divided into groups (college friends, high school friends, law school friends, etc.), and because of the size, I couldn’t get to have “quality” time with very many of them.  Lesson learned for my next bachelorette party (haha).

            What are your recommendations for Vegas? Do you have any favorite places?

              The Art of the Appropriate Hug


               

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              I recently had a humiliating hugging encounter at a Christmas party that left me sweating when it was over. While engaged in conversation with the hostess, I spotted a young woman  who my peripheral vision conned me into believing was the hostess’s sister, whom I’ve met several times. After my conversation with the hostess was over, I went in to hug the “sister” and realized, once it was too late, that it wasn’t the “sister,” and rather a girl I briefly met at the hostess’s baby shower a few months back and exchanged- maybe- two sentences with. She probably thought I was a lunatic and wondered why I was hugging her- she may not have even remembered me from the shower and figured I was just crazy and awkward. She politely proceeded with the hug, which was the one-armed-pat-on-the-back-no-frontal-contact-haphazard-hug and I desperately tried to play off the situation and pretend that hugging her was normal and intentional.

              Is hugging generally awkward? Not for me, because I love hugging. However, I occasionally forget that some people are finicky about not wanting weird people to touch them. Like me. To prevent future snafus, I contacted Myka Meier, an old college friend who founded and directs her own international etiquette company, Beaumont Etiquette.

              According to Myka, the key to determining how you should greet someone depends on the formality of your relationship. That being said, there are a few general etiquette rules to help the greeting process become [slightly] easier to manage:

              HACH: Social Code to Hugging (rated by formality level, with 4 being most formal occasion)

              Handshake – Right hand to right hand (4)

              Air Kiss – Right cheek to right cheek, but lips never actually touch the other person’s skin (avoid the lipstick smudge!) (3)

              Cheek Kiss – Right cheek to right cheek, however you may actually kiss lips to cheek (2)

              Hug – Full embrace (most intimate…not for everyone) (1)

              1. Social acquaintances (i.e. someone you have met a handful of times, but wouldn’t necessarily consider a friend). HACH LEVEL RATING 4/3 “When meeting an acquaintance for the first time, I would recommend shaking hands. After the initial meeting, for men, I typically advise they continue to shake hands with other men and give an air kiss to women. After a woman initially meets someone, an air kiss to either a man or woman is an elegant yet informal way to show recognition. If a woman puts out her hand to a social acquaintance after meeting them previously, it’s perceived that she does not recognize them (which is offensive) or does not care to be more than acquaintances (which is doubly offensive). If you felt a mutual (key word) connection (no matter the sex) or share close friends, after the first meeting a hug may feel most comfortable and is fully appropriate.”

              2. FriendsHACH LEVEL RATING 2/1 “A handshake might be perceived as cold and unfriendly to a person who you consider a friend. Therefore, a hug or cheek kiss is typically most appropriate. When greeting both friends and family, some prefer to give a “pat hug” or the “shake hug” which is a combination of a pat on the back and hug or handshake and hug…which show mutual affection while not being too intimate. All are appropriate, depending on comfort level.”

              3. Family membersHACH LEVEL RATING 1 “Hugs (and in some families, kisses) are considered the most common form of greeting family. That being said, determining whether to kiss may depend on the formality of the family situation or relationships.” [Note that is strictly the author’s personal opinion: if you are related to someone and opt to kiss them as a greeting, you definitely need to avoid this regardless of your gender, race, and culture].

              4. Professional colleaguesHACH LEVEL RATING 4/3 “Hugging at work is not recommended. If done, especially to someone of the opposite sex or between superiors and subordinates, it can cause many issues. I would advise to always stay formal and professional by greeting with a handshake. Pending the industry you work in (and if you know a colleague extremely well) and feel it would be awkward to shake hands, an air kiss may be more appropriate.”

              5. The bossHACH LEVEL RATING 4 “Generally speaking, you should remain respectful and professional by shaking hands. That being said, as a superior rule, always follow the lead of the person more senior or powerful. If your boss attempts to hug you, it would be awkward to put out your hand.”

              6. Your subordinate (i.e- your assistant). HACH LEVEL RATING 4 “No matter the sex of the subordinate, stay professional. Hugging subordinates can cause employees to undermine rank and therefore often respect, can cause the relationship to lose professionalism, and even be seen as sexual harassment.”

              Miscellaneous Considerations:

              Is it okay to hug some people and shake hands with others when greeting a group? “Yes. If there are two people you’ve met before and two you have not, I would still recommend shaking hands upon first meeting.”

              Is it okay to hug a client? “Treat the client the same as your boss. Always be respectful and professional, yet follow their lead.”

              Do the rules differ depending on the situation (ie- holiday party or running into them at a concert/ purely social function)? “The rules always stay the same. If you bump into your boss at a concert, there are many ways to make the greeting more casual while still maintaining appropriate measures. For instance, you can show warmth by smiling and verbalizing pleasure to see them “Hello XX, It’s so lovely to bump into you out of the office”… It will show you’re not in your normal professional bubble while still remaining in line with your position at work.”

              Is there any person who is always off limits to hug? “Yes. Royalty.”

              Caution: “When traveling, make sure you know the hugging/kissing customs in country you’re going to… i.e. London is two cheek kisses (one on each side) and Switzerland is three kisses: right, left, right; and in some countries the religion prohibits you from hugging.”

              Myka Meier is the Founder and Director of Beaumont Etiquette, a distinguished and modern consultancy that offers courses in British, Continental European, and American etiquette to adults and youth. She is accepting private and corporate bookings in Florida between March 23 and March 29, 2015. For more information, please contact Myka at info@beaumontetiquette.com.

              Myka

                Mothers: Go to the Dark Side with your Daughters


                Back Alone

                Teenage girls can be cruel, but pre-school age girls can be pretty darn cruel as well. I recently took my two year old, Arden, for a play date at a park with three other moms who all have four year old daughters. The four year old girls were friends since birth, regularly spent time together, and their moms considered them to be best friends. When I arrived at the park, I was appalled by what I saw. The girls were acting plain evil, saying things to each other like “I hate you,” “you’re ugly,” and I even witnessed one girl spit on another. Yes, spit. It’s critical to mention that these girls’ mothers are kind, religious, educated women- not the type that I ordinarily would have stereotyped as raising children who behave this way. The mothers were frustrated and intolerant of this behavior, routinely separating their daughters and threatening to leave the park if it continued.

                This was my first dose of pre-school “Mean Girls” and it was daunting. I realize girls can be mean to each other, but never would have imagined it starting as early as four (and from what I’ve heard, even earlier). When I was in fourth grade, a fifth grade girl named Dana bullied me. My maiden name is Daku (pronounced Day-koo) and when I would walk into the school cafeteria for lunch, Dana would loudly and repeatedly chant in front of all the other kids, “Eeeew, It’s Daku.” It was mortifying. That was 25 years ago, and I still remember the feeling that overcame me when the clock struck “lunchtime” and I knew I’d be ridiculed on my way to the table. We’ve all had a Dana in our life, and at some point, we’ve probably been a Dana. The point is that you don’t easily forget the crappy way our Danas made us feel.

                Back to the playground. Arden was unaffected by the Mean Girls, and was playing in a sand box with another child who was closer to her age. I watched her as she played and became consumed with her innocence because, at two, she doesn’t know the pain of being hurt or rejected. She only knows that she prefers to sleep with Mommy and Daddy, get goldfish crackers in her lunch, and wear her Minnie Mouse nightgown to bed.

                Weeks after this play date, I couldn’t stop thinking about the Mean Girls and the reality that my daughters will eventually face the heartbreak of rejection.  I wanted to know the best way to address the pain that they- and I- would feel when they were excluded from the lunch table, didn’t make cuts for a sports team, or weren’t invited to a birthday party. What would I say? What would I do? How would I be able to protect them? I combed over this issue for a solution ad nauseam with girlfriends who have young daughters and nobody could offer an easy answer other than “they’ll grow out of it.”

                I think somebody else figured out the solution.  A couple years ago, I stumbled upon Brene Brown, Ph.D. while watching a TED Talk about the power of vulnerability. Brene is a research professor at the University of Houston who studies vulnerability, courage, shame, and worthiness. In her recent book, Daring Greatly: How the Courage to be Vulnerable Transforms the Way we Live, Love, Parent, and Lead, she completely nailed the “what to do when my daughter is rejected” issue. Nailed. It. The solution is to sit with your daughter in the dark.

                In the book, Brene’s adolescent daughter came home from school feeling hurt after repeatedly being one of the last kids picked for soccer teams at recess. Her daughter advised, “two popular kids are the captains and they pick teams… after all the cool kids are named, the popular kids decide to split the others. I’m always one of the others. I never get to be named.” As her daughter sat in her unlit bedroom crying, Brene resisted the urge to turn on the lights to alleviate her own discomfort and, instead, sat with her in the literal and emotional dark. She put her hand around her daughter’s shoulder and said, “I know what it’s like to be the other.” Brene and her daughter went on to connect about some of Brene’s own experiences in life when otherness was both powerful and painful. Fast forward several pages, Brene’s daughter used Brene’s example of empathy to connect with Brene when she was featured as one of “The Others” on a publicity poster for a speaking engagement. This opportunity for connection would have been lost if Brene wouldn’t have first sat with her daughter in the dark.

                In our own lives, events like these are critical because they become “teaching moments” for our children to learn about the power of compassion and connection. Brene easily could have done what I likely would have done in a similar situation, which is to dismiss her daughter’s feelings by saying something to the tune of “if so-and-so isn’t picking you for the soccer team, then play tennis with so-and-so instead.” Or maybe I would have said, “it doesn’t matter what they think…” Or perhaps I would have instinctively regurgitated the biggest load of garbage that our parents told us about sticks and stones breaking our bones.

                It will be easy if my daughters end up being resilient and unfazed by rejection, but if they are not, I don’t want to make them feel wrong or invalidated for caring. I don’t want to make them feel silly for not immediately “getting over it.” I want to help them understand that rejection is something that everybody faces. I hope there never is a “dark” for my daughters, but if and when there is, I dang sure am going to sit with them in it.

                What are effective ways you’ve dealt with your children facing rejection?

                  Beautiful Skin: Beyond the Knife and the Needle


                  Botox

                  Turning thirty was bad. Turning thirty-three was worse. Not having college students think I was “one of them” at a restaurant at my alma mater after a recent football game was the Grand Poobah of all things awful.

                  The combination of having a stressful career, spending years laying in the Florida sun after dousing myself with baby oil, and drinking five cups of coffee a day has taken a toll on my skin. I’ve resisted Botox, mainly because of an irrational fear of needles triggered by a bad vaccination experience when I was four years old. I’ve also resisted Botox because “old lady face” beats “crazy lady face” any day of the week, and a bad Botox job can be spotted a million miles away. In an effort to postpone resorting to the knife or the needle, I reached out to my long-time girlfriend, Dana Hess, who is a Physician’s Assistant at a Tampa dermatology practice. Dana and I met in college when I was assigned as her recruitment counselor when she was participating in sorority rush at the University of Florida. We’ve stayed friends ever since, and she was kind enough to give me skin advice after I had my second baby and was ready to tackle pre-pregnancy skin problems. Here’s her input on how to have gorgeous skin without breaking the bank:

                  Best Drugstore Product: It’s important to have a good cleanser that removes dirt, oil, and make-up. For people with dry or sensitive skin, I recommend Cetaphil. People with normal skin can use a variety such as Neutrogena.  For oily skin, I recommend a cleanser with salicylic acid, such as Neutrogena pore refining cleanser. It is vital to wash your face (and wash it well!) before going to bed. Do not skip it. Your skin will thank you in the morning.

                  Best Over-the-Counter Product: Good sunscreen! Not all sunscreen is created equal. The active ingredients I look for are zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide because they physically block the sun. The pricier sunscreens micronize these minerals so they are clear when applied, as opposed to “baby” sunscreens and the 1980s zinc oxide that is thick, white and pasty. I like LaRoche Posay sunscreen and EltaMD, the latter we carry at my office. Sunscreen should be worn daily, especially in hot climates! I know, I know, “you work in an office and don’t go outside.” Put it on regardless! Sun exposure is cumulative from birth, meaning that your skin does not forget each time you are exposed.

                  Best “Splurge” Product: My favorite splurge product is from ZO, which is Dr. Obagi’s new line of products. It is called Daily Power Defense and it should be worn daily prior to sunscreen. It contains DNA repair enzymes, antioxidants, retinol, and ceramides to help repair dry, irritated skin. There are a few key reasons I am a big fan of this product. Evironmental factors such as allergans, pollutants, and sun can cause free radicals, which are small enough to get into our pores and begin to break down collagen. This product helps repair and restore skin barrier function by protecting and repairing damaged DNA. Even women with sensitive skin can use this product. I have not had one patient say their skin cannot tolerate it. You want to begin using this product in your 20s, 30s, or 40s, and it’s worth the hefty price tag.

                  Best Out-of-the-Box Pointers:  When applying sunscreen, I always include my chest, if exposed, before applying the remainder on the backs of both hands. Nobody wants brown spots on the backs of their hands. I am also a huge fan of my Clarisonic. I can physically see the difference when using my Clarisonic to wash my face versus when I don’t use it. You can find them on sale frequently and there are many knock off competitors which I am sure do the job just as well. Many women also notice the first signs of aging to the delicate skin around the eyes, so I think a good eye cream can be paramount. If you have puffiness and dark circles, I like Teamine Eye Complex by Revision skincare, and if you have fine lines and crepiness, I like ZO Intense Eye Repair.

                  Best Way to Achieve “Red Carpet Skin” without Needles: I am a big fan of undergoing chemical peels a couple times a year, such as after summer and mid spring. A chemical peel is great for uneven skin tone/hyperpigmentation, acne, pores, bad texture. In order to keep skin healthy, you need cell turnover and exfoliation, both of which a chemical peel can provide. You do need to pick a time where you don’t mind your skin peeling for a few days, typically the second or third day after the peel. We also have several lasers to address fine lines, deeper wrinkles, texture, scarring, pigmentation. Come and see me for a VISIA skin analysis and we can get a treatment plan that’s specific to your needs. Skin care is not “one size fits all.”

                  Dana Hess is a Physician’s Assistant at South Tampa Dermatology. She lives in Tampa with her husband and two daughters. (And she’s so much fun and an awesome friend!)

                  Dana

                   

                    The Lady Who Saved My Sanity: The Mother’s Helper


                    How to find a mother's helper | The Champagne Supernova

                    Our beloved Aba

                    This is Josephine, but we call her “Aba,” short for Abuela, which means Grandmother in Spanish. She joined our family in August of 2014 and what followed included a heaping wad of sanity for all four of us.

                    I could barely get myself dressed, out of the house, and to work on time when I had zero children. I definitely couldn’t do those things when I had one child. When I was pregnant with our second, I knew we needed to find someone to help get us out of the house in the morning. I didn’t want valuable after-work time with my kids to be consumed with the stress of coming home, getting unpacked, making dinner, doing laundry, cleaning up from dinner, washing bottles, and getting ready to do it all over again the next day. Enter Aba.

                    Aba is what I call a “Mother’s Helper.” I definitely think I coined this phrase because Lord knows Google had no clue what I was looking for when I was on the internet frantically looking for one during my last few weeks of maternity leave. Aba arrives at our house each weekday morning at 7 am and leaves a couple hours later at 10. In that timeframe, she washes bottles, makes lunch for both girls, does our laundry, makes the beds, and has dinner ready and waiting for us when we arrive home.

                    If I had to come home and do these things after working a full day, it would not be pretty. I’m positive I would be sobbing in a corner while rocking back and forth in fetal position, angry at the world.

                    Lots of parents do this on their own, I get it. But this is my one “splurge” for myself.

                    Not only is Aba helpful, but she is a joy to spend our mornings with and she treats my daughters like they are her own children. She genuinely cares for them and will often call or text to see how they are doing when they are sick.

                    Best of all, she’s able to watch them for the day when they are too sick to go to school and my husband and I have obligations at work that are difficult to miss. Aba’s gotten us out of many a work bind, as we don’t have local family who can cover for us in an eleventh-hour emergency.

                    Being a parent is really hard. It’s even harder when you’re keeping a ton of balls in the air- to include a marriage, career, hobbies, obligations, and friendships. This isn’t limited to working moms. I’ve (temporarily) experienced the struggle of staying home with kids and man, it’s exhausting. While having Aba has required us to sacrifice between buying fancy “stuff” or keeping her around, just knowing that I can come home from work and legitimately play with the girls without being taunted by the laundry demons makes her worth every red cent.

                    What are things you’ve done to simplify your life in order to enjoy time with your children? Do you have any “outside the box” tips to share with busy moms who need extra help?

                    Cheers to simplifying your life!

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