Newport Manners & Etiquette: Holiday Wedding Engagement, Hosting Essentials, & More
Wednesday, November 22, 2017
Holidays are the perfect time for becoming engaged
Q. So I have the ring and I'm asking her parents for my girlfriend's hand in marriage over the holidays. Mainly because it's so awkward having to answer the same questions every year from her family about when we're getting married and where would we like to get married, etc. The pressure is ridiculous, but we've so busy. We want to get married and now that my girlfriend's finishing up her dissertation, it seems like a sane time for the long-overdue engagement announcement. How can I make asking her fun? Name Withheld
A. What's more magical and romantic than a holiday proposal? Give her a present (the ring boxed and wrapped) Thanksgiving eve or Christmas. Then you can announce your engagement to assembled family members the following day. You want all the siblings and their families to find out at the same time.
Make the announcement, assuming both she and her parents are into this, as a toast before dinner during cocktails.
- While trimming the tree Christmas Eve, have her discover the ring as an ornament hanging from the tree.
- What could be more fun than ice skating at night? Skate out into the center of the rink and get down on your knee right there to propose to her. Hopefully, it will be gently snowing.
- Personally, I always thought being proposed to in the shower would be very sexy, but you wouldn't want the wrapped ring box soaking wet.
Q. I've never entertained for a major holiday and I think I'm in way over my head. Can you give me some tips on how to make my first foray a success? LB, Portland, OR
A. No worries. Here's a check-off list.
- Invitation List: About a month out, find out from a few of your favorite friends and family if they are able to attend on the date you've chosen. If one date, doesn't work, try another. Build on your party core of guests well in advance.
- Choosing the date: Better yet, say that you're thinking of one or two dates, and ask which would work best for them.
- Personalize your invitation to reflect the season, occasion, or place (location) where you're holding your party.
- Mix and match, invite a diversity of friends: Choose from varying ages and different backgrounds -- people whom you know from the most important arenas of your life.
- Don't turn down help. If a guest offers to bring a festive dip, side dish or dessert or do something to pitch in say, YES. They'll be more committed to showing up when they receive your invitation if they're contributing to the festivities. But do confirm two days in advance to give them a final head count of attendees. And to find out exactly what they're bringing, and how they intend to help out.
- Delegate: They say they want to help, so let them bring appetizers, play bartend and bring a bag of ice, light the candles and/or fireplace, pass canapés, etc.
- Keep a list of who is doing or bringing what.
- Have backups: start bagging ice cubes into your freezer, stocking up on nuts, olives, and cheese and crackers to put out. If the friend who is bringing the appetizers is late, at least you'll have snacks for your guests.
- Ahead of time, prepare as much as possible.
- If you don't cook, investigate ahead of time where you can buy prepared foods, which you can always personalize with parsley and colorful garnish. Nobody cares if you've bought the gluten-free apple crisp because you're serving it with really good vanilla ice-cream.
- Don't experiment when hosting. Use your tried and true recipes.
- Cook the turkey or ham the day before.
- Set the dinner table and children's table (if you're having enough kids) ahead of time..
- Chill the wine and beer. Figure out if you need coolers.
- Ask someone else to make an appetizer.
- Have a good time with any children in the house and let them make pumpkin pies to scent the house with holiday spices.
- Encourage kids to be creative by making decorative place cards.
How to handle the delirious Christmas houseguest and it's not Santa
Q. I just got a text from a friend, whom we socialize with over the summer, asking if she and her husband could stay in our guesthouse for the week of Christmas. Her text began: BIG ASK. I'll say. that's a big ask!
They stayed in our guesthouse for a week last May for their daughter's wedding and we went all out, without feeling much appreciation in return. Inexplicably, I immediately texted SURE. But now we're having a change of thought. We really don't enjoy their company very much and, as I said, we don't feel appreciated. How do we get out of this? RK, Newport
A. As soon as you read this, text your would-be-Christmas-houseguest to say, "I answered your BIG ASK text too quickly. We cannot possibly have you staying with us for a week over Christmas. We have other plans." Leave it at that. No lies (the Plans could be that you hadn't really planned on having them to visit). If she asks why not? Say, "It is not a good time for us to have houseguests." Should she persist. say, "Xmas week is not a good time to visit."
How to make the really perfect toast
Q. As a guest, do I toast the hostess and host on behalf of our side of the family? We're having a holiday dinner at the home of our daughter-in-law's parents for the first time. I don't know what's expected. Does it matter whether my wife gives the host or do I have to? Public speaking is not my thing and under pressure I'm apt to stutter. JW, Providence
A. Overcome your speaking challenges for the holidays. Make your toast as brief as possible. Only a sentence or two is needed at a holiday dinner.
Be a great toaster
- Rehearse your two or three sentences in the mirror ahead of time.
- Make eye contact with those assembled but certainly don't stare at the same the person the whole time.
- Handle nerves and don't fiddle with the hand that isn't holding your glass.
- You don't have to be a storyteller. Give a natural toast that sounds as though you sincerely appreciate spending time with all who have come together to celebrate...
People love a toast, even a bad one. Toasts aren't only given by men, so bow to your wife and let her deliver the toast. The important thing about giving a toast is to look at her or him to reply in gratitude.
Didi Lorillard researches manners and etiquette at NewportManners for her forthcoming book.
Related Slideshow: 25 Things You Must do This Fall in New England - 2017
The fall season is all about pumpkins. Pumpkin beer, pumpkin pie and most of all pumpkin picking.
Pumpkin picking is a timeless event for families, especially those with young kids who will love to just run around and grab whichever pumpkin looks good to them.
There are some great walking and hiking paths behind the Audubon Society on Massasoit Road in Worcester to visit this fall.
Want to be at peace and escape the city without really leaving the city? Take a brisk walk through the Bird Sanctuary. If you don't feel better by the time you leave there...then turn around and go back in.
The bird sanctuary is located on 414 Massasoit Road in Worcester
The Boston Children's Museum has two special exhibits to celebrate the fall season.
The first is a dinosaur exhibit titled "Explor-a-saurus," and there is also a "Bubbles" exhibit and a "construction zone."
The museum is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on a daily basis.
Arguably the coolest thing about the fall season is the changing of the leaves. You will want to go up to the Berkshires and stroll through a park or just down a street and take note of all the colors, it's a must do fall activity.
How many colors can you see?
Not one, not two, but three corn mazes all in one spot.
The famous triple maze at Coppal House Farm in New Hampshire is fun for all ages!
Be sure to check out the brand new Racoon corn maze as well.
Built in the mid-1700s, Coppal Farm has horse-drawn carriage rides, pumpkin picking, and tons of other activities on its 78-acre farm.
Across New England
Nothing says fall like drinking nice warm glass of apple cider, or maybe multiple warm glasses of apple cider.
Head over to your local market and buy some, or maybe you know how to make your own or have your own recipe. Either way, drinking apple cider is something to look forward too.
While it may not be summer anymore and you may need an extra shirt or light jacket, there is still time to get some end of season swings in at your local golf course.
The fall season presents some of the best golfing weather that we have all year in New England.
Hit them straight.
Across Southern New England
The Coastal Wine Trail is a nonprofit group of 14 wineries that are spread throughout Southeastern New England.
Vineyards on the trail include Preston Ridge Vineyard in Preston Connecticut, Travessia Winery in New Bedford, Massachusetts, Westport Rivers Vineyard & Winery in Westport, Massachusetts and Coastal Vineyards in South Dartmouth, Massachusetts.
The heart of the trail is less than three hours from New York City and 90 minutes from Bosto
Check out five attractions at the super spooky Factory of Terror! Clown College, Zella's Hideaway, Zombie Alley, 3D Nightmare and the 13th Haunt all in one place.
This indoor haunted house offers a frightening and spooky experience with realistic, detailed rooms featuring cutting edge special effects and horror creatures at every turn!
Enter at your own risk!
The views of Mount Hope Bay are unparalleled. Enjoy some wine with a snack or three while watching the sunset. The chef is known for a well-balanced menu of seasonal treats that uses locally sourced seafood in creative ways.
Celebrate the fall season and eat outdoors one last time.
The fall season is Plimoth Plantation's busiest time of year and it is a great time to bring the family.
Visit the Wampanoag Homesite, the 17th-Century English Village, Nye Barn, Craft Center, Plimoth Bread Company, Mayflower II, and the Plimoth Grist Mill!
A great way to learn and have fun at the same time.
The Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular is a one of a kind fall event taking place at Roger Williams Park Zoo and runs from October 5 - November 5, 2016 and tickets are only sold online.
This annual event, created by artists and craftsmen of Passion for Pumpkins, and features 5,000 illuminated jack-o-lanterns, with over 125 of them artistically carved and displayed in scenes to play out the annual theme.
Caffe Espresso Trattoria has been open for more than 20 years as a family owned and operated restaurant. Trattoria offfers authentic Italian home cooking.
Put on a comfy sweater and take a fall run or bike ride down this 14.5 mile long path that stretches from India Point Park in Providence to Independence Park in Bristol.
The path connects many towns while providing waterside views nearly the entire way.
Dive into history at King Richard's Faire, New England's oldest and largest Renaissance Festival and most beloved annual fall event. Dress up, play games and learn alot at a faire that is a great fall event for the entire family.
The faire ends on October 22.
Block Island, RI
As the fall season rolls on, trips to Block Island are winding down.
But at the moment, there is still great weather ahead and great opportunities to get on the ferry and head over to Block Island for the day, or maybe even multiple days.
A fall trip to Block Island is something ou must do this fall.
New Canaan, CT
Construction began on the Glass House in 1949 by architect Philip Johnson and is now a National Trust Historic Site.
The house is on 49 acres of land which holds 13 other structures and features a collection of 20th century painting and sculpture.
The foliage surrounding the house makes the fall season a great time to go visit.
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