5 Quick Holiday Hostess Tips

I love hosting get-togethers at Christmas time! My house looks bright and festive, peppermint is everywhere, and the feeling of goodwill and hope can be felt throughout. December is probably my favorite month to host dinners and parties. Today I am sharing 5 quick tips to make your holiday hosting smooth and effective.

1.) Have a Playlist Ready.

Don’t wait until the last minute to search through your music library to find something suitable for entertaining. Have a holiday playlist ready to go and have it playing softly before guests arrive. Check out my top 25 favorite Christmas songs for hosting.

Keep the music soft so it does not interfere with conversation. I recommend getting a home smart system and placing small speakers throughout your home to keep music consistent in otherwise quiet rooms. I have small google nest speakers in places like my guest room, bathrooms, and study. This allows the same music to play throughout and provides a little noise to otherwise boring rooms.

If you don’t want, or feel comfortable with, a home smart system you can purchase small inexpensive Bluetooth speakers and play music the same way using your phone as a base for the music.

I also have a list of favorite Christmas artists if you prefer to add full albums:

  • Michael Bublé
  • Pentatonix
  • Francesca Battistelli
  • Chris Young
  • Point of Grace
  • Brett Eldridge
  • Lauren Daigle
  • Idina Menzel
  • Andrea Bocelli
  • Straight, No Chaser

2.) Utilize Candles.

There is something very cozy and inviting about candles burning in your home. You also get the added benefit of the delightful aroma.

My favorite scents for hosting are vanilla, cream, candy cane, fig, cotton, lavender, lemon, birch, or fresh snow. Be careful not to choose scents that are overpowering or heavily musky. Also, consider if your guest has allergies or is expecting. Certain scents can cause sneezing or vomiting that you don’t want you guests to have to deal with (and neither do you).

To add an extra special touch to your dinner table bring out that pair of candlesticks, or those special tea lights. Just be sure any candles on the dinner table are unscented as you don’t want anything to unpleasantly mix with your food.

3.) Make Coffee.

Even if you don’t drink it, your guests may welcome a cup. If not, then the smell itself is very warm and inviting. Be sure to have basic cream and sugar for guests who do want to drink a cup. If you want to make it extra special keep a few syrups or flavored creamers on hand to dress up plain coffee.

If I will be serving coffee I like to make up a tray with a French press, cream, sugar, and use coffee cups with saucers.

I recommend having an electric kettle for quick heating of water to make your own French pressed coffee. It’s an elegant presentation and it makes guests feel extra special. Besides that, it’s fun and tastes so much better!

4.) Set an Appetizer Out.

If dinner will take a few extra minutes of prep work, be sure to have an appetizer set out to keep guests satisfied. It doesn’t have to be big or elaborate, you can choose something simple or complex. It’s entirely up to you and what time you have.

My go-to appetizer for snacking before dinner is usually a light cheese, a thin cracker, and thin cut deli meat such as salami or pepperoni. Be sure to communicate with guests how long dinner will be so they can snack accordingly.

If you have a little more time and want to step it up, Ritz crackers with an herbed cream cheese and smoked salmon is a beautiful hor d’oeuvres to serve as long as there are no seafood allergies or aversions. Other quick options include berries, veggies, cocktail shrimp, or nuts.

5.) Know Your Guests.

You may not know everyone as well as you’d like; after all getting to know them may be why you’ve invited them into your home. However, make an effort to know something about them and their life for conversation starters. Look on their social media page or ask a mutual friend.

Things to know would be: Do they have kids? What do they do for a job? Are they religious? These points can give you enough information to start a conversation and dive deeper.

Hopefully these quick 5 tips will help you during this holiday season of hosting. My ultimate goal is to make you more confident with every meal you cook, every party you throw, and every person you bring in to your life.

As always, if there are any particular subjects you’d like to read about or learn more about, please contact me via the Contact Us page! I would love to know more about what YOU need!

Paige

Preparing For Thanksgiving (When You Don’t Feel Thankful)

This year has been tough. Humanity has been hit with a major health crisis, political turmoil, and natural disaster. Many have lost loved ones, jobs, and livelihoods. Churches and schools were forced to close due to the pandemic so there was no social outlet. People lost touch of reality, lost touch of friends, and lost part of themselves. Others watched doors close, dreams die, and lost all hope. For many, this Thanksgiving season is going to be difficult to go through with a grateful heart because they are carrying heavy burdens of pain and suffering.

While we do go through painful seasons, these seasons do not define our life. One of my hero women, Christy Wright, says this “You are not the season you are in”. Psalms 30:5b says “weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.” If I can offer you some encouragement friends it would be this: painful seasons do not last.

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day. Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice, the earth melts. The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Come and see what the LORD has done, the desolations he has brought on the earth. He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth. He breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the shields with fire. He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.” Psalms 46: 1-11

Gratitude is the art of being thankful. Thankful for what we have been given, and thankful for what we have been spared.

  • Did you wake up this morning? Some did not.
  • Did you eat breakfast? Some could not?
  • Did you drive to work? Some had to walk.
  • Did you wake up with your spouse? Some lost theirs this year.
  • Did you kiss your children? Some can’t have them.
  • Are you reading this? Some can’t see.

Did you know the art of gratitude actually has a chemical and physical effect on our bodies? Yes! Practicing gratitude releases dopamine. Dopamine is our “feel-good” chemical messenger. It tells out brain that we are experiencing pleasure. Practicing gratitude is just as pleasurable as eating our favorite foods or taking part in a fun activity. It reduces our stress and anxiety, and tells our brain that we’re happy so we feel happy. Even in the rough seasons, there is still so much to be grateful for. One of my favorite Thanksgiving passages comes from Psalms 100.

“Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth. Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. Know that the LORD is God. It is he who made us, and we are his ; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.” Psalms 100:1-5 

How do we do this then? How do we go in to a season of Thanksgiving with a heavy heart?

1.) It’s ok to acknowledge your pain.

You do not have to guard your heart with God my friend. He made that heart and He knows when it is breaking. Hebrews 4:15 tells us “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.” When Jesus came to earth wrapped in human flesh, He did not do so void of all human emotion. He took on that which we experience. Jesus experienced loss and grief, but was able to turn it for the glory of the Father. He’s not scared or disgusted by your pain. Psalms 34:18 says “The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” We can be assured that our Father does not run when we tell Him we’re hurting. He is close, begging us to rest on Him and in His grace. He says “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9a)

2.) Make gratitude your first response.

When you wake up in the morning, make a habit of vocalizing gratitude first thing. Start your day with prayer and a gratitude journal, or have an accountability partner you text with your daily gratitude. It’s amazing what starting with Thankfulness will do for our daily mood. We don’t have to pretend there is no pain, but we should learn to give thanks for what we have been given.

3.) Reach out to someone else who may be hurting.

It’s always harder to focus on your suffering when you are helping someone else through theirs. Reach out to someone who lost a spouse and invite them to Thanksgiving dinner. Reach out to a family who lost their income and offer to bring groceries for Thanksgiving. Reach out to someone who has had little human interaction and ask if you could come visit and bring dessert. Check with your local church for some names who need help paying a bill, an encouraging letter, or just some extra prayer. When we get our eyes off of our misery and focus our energy on others, we start to notice our own blessings even more.

4.) Plan Thanksgiving Dinner.

There’s nothing like sitting down and planning a holiday menu to lift my spirits. If that works for you, then grab a notebook and start planning. Whether you want family, friends, or both. Whether you want potluck style or formal sit-down. Whether you want traditional turkey or more modern baby back ribs. It doesn’t matter. Just start planning and make it happy for you and your family.

My prayer is that even in the midst of this rough season you can find encouragement to continue on in thanksgiving and praise to our Creator and Savior. Happy Thanksgiving!

~Paige

Is Self-Care Selfish?

I published this about a year ago and I felt that I needed to republish it now. This is such an important topic, and one that we miss all the time. Have you ever tried to fill your gas tank using an empty gas can? Of course not, that would be stupid. Why then do we continue to attempt to give of ourselves when we are that empty gas can? There’s nothing left, but yet we keep saying yes. We keep scheduling more. We keep taking on more responsibility. And we remain empty. What good do you think you’re doing? You are doing about as much good as that empty gas can is doing for your empty tank. In fact, this is a dangerous road that will lead to bitterness, resentment, and burnout. In a world all about “self” I want to be really careful with how I say this, but you have to develop a habit of self care. I am not talking about selfishness. Selfishness is never thinking about others, but basing your decisions and actions solely on your own desires. Self care is taking care of yourself to the point where your tank is overflowing and you have an abundance of energy and love to pour out into others. That is the opposite of selfishness. That is love. We cannot neglect ourselves and think that we will be of any good to others, and that includes our own family.

It’s not enough to schedule a bubble bath once a month and go get a pedicure once a year. That’s not self care. We have to make self care a daily habit. We have to continually fill our tanks so that we have what we need to pour out into others. You may be a busy career woman, a full-time mother, or in another season of life that keeps you from taking care of yourself. I’m telling you friends, teachers, nurses, mothers, ministry leaders…you have to put a priority of taking care of you. If you don’t, you’ll have nothing left to give your family or your job. Neglecting yourself is basically praying to fail in your calling. You can’t be a good wife, mother, business owner, employee, or leader if you’re exhausted and burned out.

There are 5 main area that we must be aware of. These are often called your “wellness meters” but I like to think of them as our “tanks”. We cannot neglect any of these tanks. Neglecting one will lead to the draining of another because each tank ties in with another. We must attend to each one as if the rest depend on it, because they do.

Physical

Our Physical tank is our personal health and wellness. If our body isn’t well, we’re not well. If we’re constantly sleep deprived, filling up with convenient junk food, and dehydrating ourselves with caffeine, then we’re going to wear out very quickly. I know it’s easier to grab something quick to eat when you don’t have time to cook. We don’t even think twice about staying up super late to clean one more thing, and then drain an energy drink to compensate the next morning.  That isn’t a sustainable way to live. Self care starts with taking care of the physical body God gave us. This happens by practicing good dietary habits such as eating clean and drinking plenty of water. When we participate in physical exercising or engage in a fun physical activity we are strengthening our body. Seeing the doctor when we’re sick (and not just ignoring the problem hoping it goes away) or visiting with a chiropractor. Consider a good wholesome multi-vitamin or supplement for those areas we’re just not hitting with diet. Book a massage or pedicure to work out tight muscles in your back and feet. Practice deep breathing exercises. Do stretches at your desk to keep you from getting sore an stiff. Ask for a standing desk if that is an option for you . There are so many things we can do to care for our physical body, we just need to do them.

Spiritual

Our Spiritual tank is the most important tank to keep full, and the quickest to empty. It’s usually the one we neglect first and then wonder why we’re bitter and stressed all the time. How do we practice spiritual self care? We start by talking with the One who fills that tank. Prayer is one of the most powerful tools we have been given, yet the least utilized. We are told to pray about everything and without ceasing. This is talking about living a life of prayerfulness and a lifestyle of constant, consistent, communication with our Creator. In Psalms 23, David says “He refreshes my soul.” Having regular communication with our Savior refills our spiritual tank. We must be filled with His love to be able to pass it on to others. We cannot expect others to go where we do not lead.

Another way to fill our spiritual tanks is by reading His love letters to us (the Scriptures). I find that the Psalms are especially restorative. I encourage you to read a passage every morning. Even if it’s a short Psalm, having God’s Word start you day will make a difference in your spiritual tank. I also recommend finding a devotional book to add to the routine. Find one that encourages and challenges you in your daily walk with Christ.

Finally, we look to worship to help fill our spiritual tank. Worship is showing reverence and adoration for out God. Worship fills our hearts with thankfulness and puts us in His presence. We should certainly participating in weekly worship with our church family. God tells us not to forsake the gathering of ourselves together. Something amazing happens in our hearts as we gather together as God’s family and worship Him fully. Ways we can engage in daily worship include uplifting worship music, scripture journaling, and praise journaling.

Emotional

Our emotional tank is the next one to fill. Our emotional tank has a constant drain on it, especially if our spiritual tank is not full. Between the stress of life, anxiety, responsibilities, and our packed full schedules, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and feel emotionally drained. Our emotional and mental tanks feed in to one another. As one drains, so does the other. Our emotional health can be a hard one to regulate if we are not intentional about keeping it in check. Our culture experiences emotional highs and lows on a constant basis, and we’re not the best at keeping ourselves in balance. We feed those highs with entertainment and indulgence, and we dwell in pity when we hit the lows and often end up with a victim complex. We have to learn to control our emotions, and to fill our emotional health tank. The first way to do this is to go to sleep. We cannot be rational running on no sleep. If you need postpone a difficult conversation or task until you’ve had some sleep, do it. For your own sake, but also those around you. Maintain a daily practice of gratitude. Gratitude has been proven over and over again to elevate your mood and make you a happier, less stressed, person. Practice being thankful for the things you have and the people in your life. Know that it’s ok to ask for alone time. It’s ok to spend some alone time each day. Sometimes, all you need to feel refreshed is 15 minutes to yourself. Be careful not to use this one as an excuse to retreat from your responsibilities or your family, but if you need to take 15 alone for an emotional recharge, ask for it. Make sure your emotional tank stays full so that you are able to invest in others.

Mental

Our mental tank needs just as much attention as the others. Check in on yourself daily. Make a habit to stop and ask yourself  “how am I doing?” Are you battling depression? Are you catching your mind going to dark places? Do you fantasize about running away from it all and starting over? These are good indications that your mental tank is running on empty. This must be tended to immediately. If you’ve reached a point where you cannot fill your mental tank on your own, I encourage you to see a doctor or counselor. It’s never weak to ask for help, that is strength. Before you get to that point, there are some things to do on a daily basis that will help keep your mental tank full and healthy! Start with filling your spiritual tank. All healing and renewal starts by falling on our face before a Holy God and asking for His guidance. Next, consider taking inventory of your social media accounts. We live in a dreadful age of comparison. If there’s an account you follow that constantly stirs up anxiety and feelings of inadequacy, get rid of it. Why would you constantly want to dredge those feelings up inside of you? Get rid of the account, and then go to the One who tells you that you’re worthy, loved, and precious. Psalms 139: 13-18 (Please keep in mind that there is a huge difference between something that stirs up inadequacy and something that inspires us to be better.)

Mental health is a lot more than our emotional response and stress level. Mental health is also the choices we make to better yourself. Choices we make to numb our mind, or to stimulate it. One of the best things to stimulate our mind is to read a book. Yes, a paper book that you physically hold and turn pages. Make a goal to read a set number of books per year and then instead of picking up your phone at bedtime to mindlessly scroll through the same media feed you scrolled through an hour ago, use that time to read. Find a stimulating podcast that will teach you new things. Learn to play a musical instrument or a new craft such as crocheting or embroidery. Get a word-a-day calendar in another language. Put your mind into a constant state of curiosity and learning to stay full. Practice gratitude as a lifestyle and keep a contentment journal.

Social

Your social wellness is our final tank to look at. Friendships are crucial. The older we get the less time we seem to have, so we must be intentional about our relationships. The very first relationship you should pour into is your spouse. They deserve the best of you, not the leftovers. Go on a weekly date or have a “date” at home if you can’t get away. Take time to invest in your marriage with intentional conversation, genuine interest, and a constant state of learning your spouse. There is no better friend you should have than the person you married. If your spouse isn’t your best friend it’s time to take a step back and start heavily investing in them, re-cultivating that friendship, until they are.

All relationships take work. Having friends is work. They take investment, but they are worth it. We were not created to be alone. We were created for connection. Even if you are an introvert your social tank has to be full. Running on fumes in this department will lead to isolation and loneliness which will drain your mental and emotional tanks. (I told you they are all tied together.) Cultivate a habit of calling a friend, texting to check in on someone, writing a card, going to coffee, or hosting a game night. Have a friend that you can depend on and go to for advise and encouragement. With the abundance of social media, we live very unconnected lives. We retreat back into ourselves and think we’re doing good because we see our friends on social media. That’s not investing in your relationships, that is hiding from your relationships. Most of us are busy working professionals, wives, and mothers. While we might not always have time to get coffee on a weekly basis, we should be intentional about being presently active with the group of people God put into our lives. Whether it’s a ladies Bible study, a small group, or a girls night out. We should make some time to invest in these crucial relationships and keep our social wellness tank full.

So friends,  is self-care selfishness? Absolutely not. In fact, self-care is quite the opposite. Self-care is saying “I love the people in my life too much to give them my leftovers, so I’m going to make sure I’m the best me I can be for them”. You are not disposable and you are not replaceable. You were made to be recharged and useful. But you have to take the time to recharge yourself because no one else can do it for you. Stop abusing your body, stop acting like a martyr, and stop giving away what you do not have. Take the time and invest in yourself. If you find yourself saying “I just don’t have the time for self-care” then it’s time to take a long hard look at your calendar because there are some things that need to go.

I love the people in my life too much to give them my leftovers, so I’m going to make sure I’m the best me I can be for them

 

Paige Baldwin

Reclaiming Her Grace: Beauty of Etiquette

One of my passions is etiquette. I love reading vintage etiquette books, especially some of the really old etiquette from the 1800s. One of my many collections consists of old etiquette books. I was so pleased to find one entitles “A Manual of Etiquette with Hints on Politeness and Good Breeding” by Sophia Orne (Edwards) Johnson, published under her pseudo name “Daisy Eyebright”, in 1873. She includes a quote from Lord Byron, “There’s nothing in the world like etiquette, In kingly chambers or imperial halls, as also at the race and county balls.” It’s true. There is nothing quite like etiquette. It doesn’t just belong in the grand palaces and mansions of high society, but also in the humble farm house and everyday life that surrounds most of us. It’s not just for the high class, but reaches across all socioeconomic barriers and begs us to conduct ourselves with dignity for ourselves and consideration for others.

“There’s nothing in the world like etiquette, In kingly chambers or imperial halls, as also at the race and county balls.”

Etiquette is the third area that needs to be reclaimed in our lives. Manners and etiquette will never go out of style, but somehow they’ve slipped away from daily habit. It’s funny to watch people when I start talking about etiquette, I’m greeted with a quirked eyebrow and a “that’s a little old fashioned isn’t it?” question. My dear husband gets nervous that I’m going to dress him up in a full tuxedo and make him speak using the King’s English. Neither are necessary. There are many types of etiquette we can study and practice. Anything from the proper way to court a young lady (which may be just a tad old fashion, but still very romantic) to how to set a table for a formal dinner party, to letter writing and communication etiquette. I will admit, that quite a bit of the 1800’s etiquette is definitely out of date. For example, there is an entire section in a book titled “The Ladies’ Book of Etiquette, and Manual of Politeness: A Complete Handbook for the Use of the Lady in Polite Society” published by Florence Hartley in 1860, that discusses proper etiquette for calling, or receiving callers. The “calls” are referencing actual visits, not telephone calls, as telephones didn’t exist until 1876 and weren’t widely used until 1900 . This section talked about the proper times to call on a friend, what to wear, how long to stay, and that you never ever call without a calling card. Calling cards were a way to let your friend know that you had stopped by to see her, if she wasn’t available for your visit. They were also a way for the receiver to keep track of who had visited her so that she may return the visit at a later date.

Beautiful 1800’s Calling Card

Another section discusses proper dress etiquette for those traveling, especially women traveling alone. There were correct colors, fabrics, and even styles for dress that were appropriate and those that were completely forbidden. There were proper ways to conduct oneself in a hotel, activities one did and did not do, tipping etiquette, and so much more. My favorite topic though would have to be table and hostess etiquette. Everything from the meticulous way a table was set to the conversation around the table. For example, once seated the hostess began conversation by speaking to the person on their right. This continued around the table ensuring everyone had a conversation companion. About halfway through the meal, the host/hostess would “turn the table” which was a signal to then turn to the person of their left and begin conversation. Topics such as religion and politics were considered vulgar around women and were avoided at the dinner table.

I’ve had a great time reading through these books and learning about the etiquette that shaped the 19th century. While some etiquette may be old fashioned and obsolete, there is plenty that still applies today. I enjoy reading through these etiquette books and pulling out truths that still apply to us now, 200 years removed from early 19th century. In the book “Hill’s Manual of Social and Business Forms“, written by Thomas Hill in the 1880’s, Mr. Hill includes many areas of daily life and the etiquette that goes hand in hand. The third area we should reclaim in our everyday lives in the beauty of this etiquette.

Etiquette of Conversation

“To be an excellent conversationalist is a very desirable accomplishment. We talk more than we do anything else. By conversation we may make friends, we may retain them, or we may lose them. We may impart information; we may acquire it…Our success in life largely rests upon our ability to converse well; therefore, the necessity of our carefully studying what should and what should not be said when talking.”

Thomas Hill, “Hill’s Manual of Social and Business Forms” page 152

The first area we should reclaim is the etiquette of conversation. In our current culture there are so many ways to communicate without talking that the art of vocal conversation is on the decline. People simply forgot how to speak to one another. As Thomas Hill stated in his manual, “our success in life largely rests upon our ability to converse well”. That was true in 1880 and it’s still true in 2020, despite how many options we have to keep us from talking. Here are a few pointers if you’re wanting to improve your conversational game:

1.) Speak clearly. Don’t say things that can be easily misunderstood or misinterpreted. This leads to confusion and misjudgment.

2.) Do not engage with something who clearly wants to argue. Debating a topic in a cordial setting is acceptable, but do not engage in needless arguments just for the sake of being right. Your time is more valuable than that. If someone just wants to argue, disengage.

3.) Be careful how much you talk about yourself. It’s ok to discuss your dreams and achievements, but do not dominate the conversation with yourself as the sole topic.

4.) Show courtesy to a newcomer to the conversation. Find a way to include them in the conversation, or tactfully change the subject so that they can join.

5.) Remain calm and friendly during conversation. You may be correct, but you will win more friends by remaining calm, cool, and collected while speaking. Smile.

6.) Do not use profanity. I can’t stress this one enough. Profanity is the uneducated’s replacement for words they don’t know. If you feel you can’t get through a sentence without it, don’t speak. You will immediately lose respect.

7.) If your mother, grandmother, pastor, and Jesus himself were all standing in front of you, would you say it? If not, don’t say it when they’re not there.

Etiquette of the Table

The dinner-hour will completely test the refinement, the culture and good breeding which the individual may possess. To appear advantageously at the table, the person must not only understand the laws of etiquette, but he must have had the advantage of polite society.”

Thomas Hill, “Hill’s Manual of Social and Business Forms” page 157

The second area to reclaim is the art of table etiquette. No it is not old fashion to appear well mannered at the dinner table. There are few things worse than being at the table with someone who is slouching, slurping, chewing with their mouth wide open, and talking over everyone else present. There are table etiquette rules form 1880 that do not apply to us today. For example “never hold bones in your fingers while you eat from them.” Let me tell you friend, Buffalo Wild Wings did not exist in 1880 and there is no way under Heaven that I’m eating a hot wing with a fork and knife. Another outdated etiquette rule is to never come to the table in your shirtsleeves. Women were expected to be dressed in semi-formal evening gowns and men in full suits. No, just no. I would encourage you to dress in nice clean clothes for dining out, but we just don’t dress like that anymore. especially for meals. Black tie formal is not necessary for lasagna night at home y’all. The following etiquette rules are ones that do still apply to us now in 2020.

1.) Sit up straight and keep your elbows off the table. Do not lay your head down on the table during meal time, and this includes children. Do not tip your chair back and never place your feet on the table.

2.) Wait until your host or hostess has been seated to begin eating. If dining out, wait until everyone has received their food to begin.

3.) Pace yourself and finish one bite before taking the next. Do not overfill your mouth. Try not to talk with food in your mouth.

4.) The napkin should be placed on your lap and only brought up to dab, or quickly swipe your mouth when needed. Do not place your soiled napkin on the table during the meal. If you need to excuse yourself to the restroom, fold the napkin and place it in your chair. When the meal is over, you can placed the soiled napkin to the left of your plate.

5.) Do not be rude or disrespectful to the waiter or waitress. You do not have to apologize for making a request, but don’t overdo the requests. You are not their only task. Be kind, patient, polite, and tip generously.

6.) Do not complain about a dish served to you. If invited to dinner, notify the host or hostess of your food allergies ahead of time, but never your dislikes.

7.) When setting the table, be sure that it is clean. Be sure all dishware and cutlery is clean. The dinner plate should be placed in the center of the setting, about an inch away from the table’s edge. A salad plate can be placed on top, followed by a soup bowl if necessary. The napkin can be placed on top of the plate, or to the left, folded neatly. The fork(s) are placed to the left and the knife is placed to the right blade side facing the plate. A spoon can be placed to the right of the knife if the meal requires a spoon to eat. The bread plate and butter knife are to be placed at the top left corner. The water and wine glasses go to the top right corner. A dessert spoon/fork can be placed longways above the dinner plate. If needed, a name card can be placed immediately above the dessert cutlery. When using cutlery during dinner, one starts with the outside pieces and works their way inwards. See example below.

Multi-Course Dinner Table Setting

Etiquette of the Street

The following is a collection of “street” etiquette that has been mostly forgotten, especially by the younger generation.

1.) Both men and women, when meeting someone on the sidewalk, pass to the right.

2.) Do not run across the street, especially in front of cars. Wait for a crosswalk or walk light from the traffic controller.

3.) When a funeral procession is seen, safely pull to the side of the road and wait for them to pass. Same goes for emergency response vehicles.

4.) Do not stare at stranger, make rude remarks, call out loudly, or make unpleasant noises. For Heaven’s sake men, do not “cat call” a lady.

5.) Do not smoke around others. Those with allergies or asthma do not need to be subjected to your ill habit. Smoke at home, or in a designated area, but never in the general public.

Unclassified Laws of Etiquette

This collection is general etiquette to be observed while out and about in public, or in private. Equally as important as the first three topics above, but never discussed as much.

1.) Do not betray a confidence given by family or friend. Secrets that are not yours to tell should remain behind your closed lips.

2.) Do not read mail not intended for you, unless given explicit permission by the intended reader.

3.) Do not judge another for a fault you yourself possess.

4.) If all seats are taken, offer yours to the elderly, pregnant, or ill. If they decline, keep your seat.

5.) Do not point out physical flaws in others for which they have no control.

6.) Always be humble and kind.

In summary, not all etiquette is outdated. By refining our use of conversation and table etiquette, we can improve our status, influence, and even our confidence as we interact in the world around us. Paying close attention to “street” etiquette and even the unclassified laws of etiquette can make a difference in the way you are viewed and respected. If you would like to know more, check out my workshops and seminar options listed under Services. Hopefully you enjoyed reading a few of the etiquette subjects from the 1800’s and I do hope you found the etiquette topics of today helpful.

Until next time,

Paige

Reclaiming Her Grace: Beauty of Form

The current buzzword right now is COVID-19. Everything is centered around this pandemic. Articles, posts, advertisements, and almost all of the news. As a nurse, I’ve been caught up in the fight and have been worrying over the outcome of this crisis.  I haven’t written anything, worked on any projects, or taught anything outside of a hospital setting. However, I can’t allow this virus to dominate my life, and neither should you. We will get through this, and we will be stronger for it. That being said, I’m going to return to normal writing and projects while praying that our world starts recovering physically, financially, and spiritually. Thank you all for sticking with me during this time.

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A few months ago I started what I wanted to be a small series of posts regarding the name I chose for this company. Reclaiming Her Grace: Beauty of Elegance was the first in the series that explains why I chose this name and what it means to me. (Click the link above to read full post.) I’d like to look at the second part and talk about the next thing we need to reclaim in our lives.

We need to Reclaim Beauty of Form

Audrey-Hepburn-2We don’t live in 1952 anymore. Women don’t wear dresses and pumps everyday, we don’t wear pearls to vacuum, and nobody dresses up to go to the market. (Do we even use the word market now?) And as much as some of us inspire to channel Audrey Hepburn, we’re just not her. We don’t need to look like a 1950’s starlet, but we should take some pride in our appearance. Language has been steadily declining through the decades. We’re to the point where men and women alike are using filthy language in front of children and not thinking twice about it. If we’re going to reclaim the beauty of form, there are three main areas to start with.

1.) We need to Reclaim Beauty in Personal Appearance8D812C43-

You don’t see people dressing up for grocery shopping, doctor visits, the airport, or even church anymore. As matter of fact, we’re seeing a basic hygiene go out with the bath water. It shocks and appalls me when I see someone shopping in a grocery store (where I’m buying food!) in their pajamas and dirty hair. I’m amazed at how many people go to visit with their doctor in 3 day old clothes and smell like they haven’t showered in a week. We don’t have to, or need to, look like we’re going to a gala but we should be clean and put together. We don’t even have to wear makeup; I sure don’t wear makeup when I’m going to work. Even so, there are several care tasks that should be done daily before we leave our home.

4 things you should do daily, no matter what:
-Shower and wash.
-Brush you teeth.
-Brush your hair.
-Put on clean, wrinkle free if possible, clothes.

2.) We need to Reclaim Beauty in Speech

The phrase “accept me how I am or watch me as I leave” bothers me. I understand the 20200211_161632_0000underlying meaning, but so often it’s used as an excuse and nothing more. It’s used as an excuse to be loud and crude. Please don’t use the “well that’s just me” excuse to cover for bad behavior or crude speech. Galatians 5:22-23 says “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” When we belong to Christ, we are to take on His attributes to be a shining light to those around us. This means that the way we verbally present ourselves should reflect our Savior. 

 

4 things we should remember when speaking:

-Not every opinion needs to be expressed.
-Use volume control on your voice.
-Think before you speak. Is it true, necessary, or helpful?
-Once said, it can never be un-said. Choose your words carefully.

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians 4:29-32

3.) We need to Reclaim Beauty in Graceful Presentation

Ladies, please don’t sit with your legs spread wide open or carelessly thrown up over your lap like a man. This will not be popular among the feminist groups of today (to be fair, I don’t think those are the kind of readers I have), but we were born as women. We don’t have to try to make a point to anyone that we can be just like a man. We can’t. Even if we could, why in the world would we want to? Men, please remember that being a man does not give you the excuse to behave like a barn animal.

hrhprincesskateEveryone should be mindful of crossed arms and scowls. Body language can unintentionally send negative messages to others before we ever have a chance to speak. This is a hard one because so often our body language is pure habit or instinct, but we must be mindful as to how it appears to others.

4 things to keep in mind with body language:
-A smile says a lot.
-Sit up straight. It automatically makes you look more approachable.
-Minimize distracting movements such as playing with hair, shaking leg, fidgeting, etc.
-If you use your hands to gesture while talking, do so palms up. It makes you appear more confident and trustworthy.

 

My hope is to see more people, especially ladies, reclaim the beauty and grace that we were created for. To feel proud of our femininity, and to present ourselves in a way that would be a shining testimony to the world around us for Christ.

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With love,

Paige

Reclaiming Her Grace: Beauty of Elegance

Good morning friends. Sometimes you need to take a step back from a project to cropped-afternoon-beverage-break-1549706-1.jpgreevaluate and assess your goals. That’s what I’ve been doing. I can’t say I have it all figured out, but I have been inspired to share the origin of the name of this Blog/Company. I’ve been using the name Reclaiming Her Grace for my website, blog, and coaching/teaching business now for a year, but I’ve never explained the meaning behind it. You may have guessed at it, or figured it out by the subject matter we talk about, but I want to spend this time by going into why I chose this name and what it means to me.

Grace:

“elegance or beauty of form, manner, motion, or action: a pleasing or attractive quality or endowment”

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Too often, in our modern world, we decide that it’s ok to let go of another social grace. Pleasant qualities, elegance, and manners are dated as old fashioned. Humanity is more self-focused, conflicted, divided, and unpleasant than ever. What happened? When did we decided that elegance was unattractive? Why did we decide manners were outdated? We’ve slipped in to a fast paced, disconnected society, with the idea that to get ahead we have to push and shove everyone else out of the way. We desperately need to reclaim the grace that has long left our culture. This idea that we can live how we want, say what we want, and act how we want is terribly wrong. We have freedom yes, but we also have responsibility. We are responsible for the impression we leave on others. We are responsible for how we treat others. We are responsible for those whom we have an influence over. I’d like to look deeper into different areas of our lives that need to be reclaimed by gracious living. These areas fall into five main categories:

We need to Reclaim the Beauty of Elegance
We need to Reclaim the Beauty of Form
We need to Reclaim the Beauty of Etiquette
We need to reclaim the Beauty of our Actions
We need to Reclaim the Beauty of Attractive Qualities

Over the next few weeks, we’ll look at these 5 areas closely and do an inward evaluation of our own lives and how they reflect a gracious lifestyle.

We need to Reclaim Elegance

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1.) We need to Reclaim Elegant Living

When was the last time you really enjoyed watching a good educational documentary, or listening to Classical music, or reading a good non-fiction book? We’ve become too easily entertained by the junk of this world. Most would rather pick up People Magazine than a good home improvement journal. Most would rather listen to noisy pop music than enjoy the beauty of a Beethoven number. If we are to start reclaiming areas of our lives for elegance, why not start with our tastes in entertainment and daily living? Here are some practical ways we can introduce elegance back into our lives:

-Instead of always going to a movie, try attending the local Symphony one evening. chords-sheet-on-piano-tiles-210764

-Instead of ordering that diet Coke, order water with lemon (Or sparkling water to feel extra elegant)

-Instead of reading the latest romance novel, pick up a copy of “French Women Don’t Get Fat” or “Rhythms of Renewal” and read about how to live a life you love and take care of your body at the same time.

-Instead of reading People magazine, pick up Southern Lady or the Magnolia Journal.

-Instead of playing pop music, what about listening to some Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, or Michael Bublé? Listen to some smooth instrumental Jazz or Classical piano for relax time. (This is especially nice with a bubble bath and candles.)

exhibit-painting-display-69903-Instead of going to the club, visit a nearby Art Museum or Museum of History.

-Instead of sending a text, sit down and write out a card by hand.

-Instead of going to the airport/grocery store/doctor office in sweats, put on a real outfit and pull yourself together.

-Instead of choosing a video game every time, pull out a good old fashioned board game with real pieces.

This is just a small list of ideas to help add some elegance back into our everyday living, but you’ll find when you start making more elegant choices you feel more elegant. When you feel more elegant, you act it out. When you act it out, that’s gracious living.

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2.) We need to Reclaim Elegant Habits

If you had to list the #1 bad habit of American culture what would you say? I asked this question over on my Instagram account and the responses I got included foul language, ungratefulness, excessive phone use, and tardiness. These are just the top common answers I received.

If we are to gracefully refine our habits we must recognize what our bad habits are and understand why they need to be refined. Bad habits can be devastating to the impression we leave for others. They can turn people away from listening to what we have to say. I mentioned before, but we are responsible for the people we have influence over. Elegant habits to reclaim include:
-Saying “please” and “thank you”20200212_094151_0000
-Keeping your phone away from the table
-Smiling
-Sitting up straight
-Keeping your hands out of your mouth
-Avoiding foul language
-Listening with intent

This small list certainly isn’t exhaustive, but it can be a great start. For additional reading check out “Modern Manners” by Dorothea Johnson and Liv Tyler or “A Kid’s Guide to Manners” by Katherine Flannery, written for children and their families!

3.) We need to Reclaim Elegant Words.

In Ephesians 4:29 (NIV), we’re told “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen”. Again in Colossians 4:6  (ESV) we’re told “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person”. There are well over 100 verses in Scripture that specifically address the way we talk. We should pay special close attention to something God tells us over 100 times! Our speech can do so much good, and so much damage. We must choose our words carefully, and choose them with kindness and respect. Remember, once something is spoken it can never be unspoken. Make a habit of thinking before you speak. Pray this prayer from Psalms 141:3 (ESV) Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips!”

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To avoid saying something you will later regret, or that would undermine your influence, remember these key questions before you open your mouth to speak:

-Am I speaking from anger or bitterness? If yes, then go take a walk before you respond.

-Would I feel comfortable say this word in front of my sweet, 95 year old, innocent, Southern Baptist, great-grandmother. If no, don’t use it in other conversation.

-Is what I’m about to say helpful or hurtful?

-Is it necessary that I share my opinion, or was I asked for my opinion?

-Is there a more gracious way to say what I need to say?

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Elegance is a lost art. One that desperately needs to be reclaimed. As we go about our lives and daily tasks, lets ask ourselves if we’re portraying gracious elegance in our choices, in our habits, and with our words. If not, we have some work to do.

~Paige Baldwin