more about: etiquette

You Asked: In Flu Season, Should I Eat My Neighbor’s Food?

A reader named mimatz wrote to describe a quandary: “After a stay in the hospital, a neighbor dropped off dinner. They recently had a bout of flu in their household. I’m wary of serving it. What do I say to my neighbor when they ask how we enjoyed it?”

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Is It OK to Give One Child More?

I have three daughters. Every year around Dec. 15, I start agonizing. Did I spend more on gifts for one girl? Did I buy a lopsided number of presents? If so, do I need to buy one more for another daughter? And if the “one more” turns out to be something particularly “nice,” will that set off a terrible chain reaction, prompting me to keep buying more and more and more in an attempt to ensure every daughter enjoys perfect, equal parity on Christmas morning?

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Is It Rude to Wear Fur?

My mother had a full-length mink with a big sable collar, which made her look like Anna Karenina, and it was her favorite coat.

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Has a Boyfriend Ever Tried to Give You a Used Gift?

A reader named Ricky7 faces a dilemma: “My boyfriend and I have been friends for years before we started dating. During his last deployment, he brought home some beautiful jewelry. He loves sapphires, so he bought a few. Last summer, shortly after he broke up with his previous gf, he tried to give me a necklace. I couldn’t take it. We had only started dating, and it didn’t seem right. Christmas is coming up, and he’s hinted that I’m getting the necklace.”

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Why Write Mean Things Online You Would Never Say in Person?

Scolding image

“You are a terrible mother.” “You should be ashamed of yourself.” “You’re an idiot.” “Your children must hate you so much.”


All this may be true. Yet no one has ever said anything like it to me in person. But during the 12 years since I’ve been writing regular magazine and newspaper columns— about parenting and life and, now, etiquette—I’ve been barraged.


And it’s not just me; vitriol litters nearly any online comments section, no matter how innocuous the topic under discussion.


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Leftovers: A Love Story

If you are headed to someone else’s house to celebrate Thanksgiving today, you may have only one burning etiquette question on your mind. Is there a polite way to ask your host to share the leftovers?

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Take My Apology, Please

I will come clean. I was terrified, when I became Real Simple’s etiquette columnist, because I feared being judged by a new standard when it came to manners. Specifically, people would expect me to have good ones.  Oops sorry

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You Asked: How to Avoid Annoying Nicknames?

Today’s question was posted by stnipper, who wrote:  My coworkers have shortened my name to Steph instead of Stephanie. Normally, I would care less. Except now my patients, students and other professional contacts are addressing me as Steph. How should I approach the correction?

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Do You Have an Etiquette Question?

Next week Michelle Slatalla a former columnist for the New York Times and an adjunct professor at the Columbia University School of Journalism will be joining Simply Stated as our new Modern Manners blogger. You’ll also be able to read her advice in the print version of Real Simple starting with our November issue.


One of the things she’ll be doing on the blog is helping you solve your etiquette dilemmas. So, before we welcome her aboard next week, we’d love to hear from you about a recent etiquette conundrum that you could use some help with, and Michelle might answer it here on the blog.

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Is it okay to ask to bring an extra guest to a casual function?

Last weekend, I experienced firsthand how this seemingly low-risk question can illicit two wildly opposite responses. The first situation was a potlock dinner at a friend’s house, and it was my husband who asked me if we could invite his out-of-town friend. My first reaction was a swift, “No.” Because no matter how casual a gathering may seem, you never know what the host’s feelings are about having extra guests, and asking only puts her on the spot.

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