Present Day


As published in Azalea Magazine  Winter 2016

It’s that time again. Holiday season is officially underway, which means the hunt for the perfect present has begun. It’s a cliché, but as you flock to the stores searching for the perfect gifts for friends and family members, keep in mind that gift giving is ultimately about the spirit or thought behind the present.

Here is a list of do’s and don’ts for gift giving this holiday season:


Make a list.  Give presents to the people you want to show your appreciation to such as family and close friends.

Put thought into gifts. The biggest mistake people make when approaching holiday gifts is to buy what they would like, rather than what the recipient would like. Take time to really think about the gift recipient’s personal interests, needs, wants, likes and dislikes.

Consider presentation. The best way to present a gift is always beautifully wrapped and in person.


Spend above your means. Gift giving is about being thoughtful and showing appreciation, it’s not about going into debt.

Leave the price tag on. It is not appropriate to show how much you spent on an item.

Expect anything in return. Giving is not an opportunity for quid pro quo. If the person reciprocates, that’s wonderful. However, if the giving is one-sided, be happy that you were the one doing the giving. After all, it is better to give than to receive, right?

While December is the biggest gift-giving month, there are endless reasons to give gifts throughout the year. The purpose of giving gifts is to bring joy to both the giver and receiver, promote goodwill, and make for a closer relationship. As we count down the days until Christmas, as with any gift giving occasion, just remember it truly is the thought that counts.


Flight Etiquette: How to behave at 35,000 feet

6833689914_b211fa3d5bAs published in Azalea Magazine Fall 2016

Will you soon be traveling for business or pleasure? Remember to pack your best travel manners. Here is a simple code of in-flight conduct:


There are no wardrobe requirements to fly, but minimal jewelry, and shoes that you don’t have to lace, buckle or tie are both helpful with security checkpoints. And while I can certainly understand wanting to be comfortable, be mindful that you are not attending a pajama party or gym class.


You must wait your turn when boarding at the gate- only board in your zone/group/row. Have your ticket ready. Get out of the aisle as quickly as possible once luggage is stowed.


Stow your suitcase in the overhead bin closest to your seat. If you have two carry-on bags, keep the smaller one at your feet.


Middle seat passengers get the right to both armrests. Always. Those to his right would get their right armrest, and those to his left would get their left.


Airline seats recline to allow passengers to sleep and relax, but it may cause discomfort for the person behind you. If you intend to recline your seat, do it gently or better yet, turn around and make sure you don’t inconvenience the person behind you.


Do your best to minimize odors and noise. Use headphones to listen to music or movies, keep calls brief and conversations to a low volume. Avoid perfumes and foods with strong smells that may bother your neighbors.


At last! The plane touches down, the seat belt lights go off, and everyone jumps up. Rather than grab your luggage and make a run for the door, allow those in front of you to disembark first.

In general, be respectful of those around you, a little consideration can go a long way to make a flight as smooth as possible for both yourself and others.

Safe travels!

Arranging A Buffet

wedding-barrelThere is no one way to set a buffet table, though the following tips may help in arranging the space for the best flow ensuring that your guests can maneuver the line with ease.

Begin with placement of the serving table. Ideal positioning would allow guests access to the food from both sides of the table .

Stack plates at one end of the table so that guests have access to these first.

Food comes next. Arrange it at various heights so that guests can see and reach everything with ease. Make sure each dish has a coordinating serving utensil so guests can easily dish up their food.

Finish the table with utensils and napkins. Only provide utensils that your guests will need to use. If a knife is not needed, don’t offer one.  To make the grab-and-go a breeze, wrap each set in a napkin and secure it with a piece of ribbon or twine. Condensing the utensils and napkin will make it easier for guests to carry their plates to their seats.
Plan a separate table for beverages. By situating the beverage table away from the food table, you give your guests a chance to choose their food and put the plate down before pouring a drink.

Buffets are a great way to serve food for any size gathering. Remember that the key is to make it functional and easy for your guests as they serve themselves.



Tips for Polite Political Conversation


As published in Azalea Magazine Spring 2016

You have surely heard the old adage to, “never discuss, religion or
politics,” deeming the two topics unfit for polite company.

Well, the times, they are a-changin’. The elections are everywhere,
and talking politics is happening everywhere from boardrooms to family

Here are my tips for polite, constructive political dialogue:

  • Stick to the facts. What are the recent headlines? What is the
    candidate’s stance? What was discussed in the debate?
  • Listen. Don’t monopolize the conversation. Even if you disagree with
    the comments of others, show respect by asking questions. You may be
    surprised to learn something new!
  • Keep it clean. Use your best judgment and keep your interactions
    civil. Don’t allow yourself to get worked up. It is best to remain
    reserved not only with your words but also with your tone of voice and
    body language.
  • Assume nothing. Don’t presume that someone agrees with you–or
    disagrees, for that matter.
  • Have an exit strategy. If you find yourself in a political debate and
    it’s getting heated, you can say, “I guess we just don’t see
    eye-to-eye;” or: “I’ll have to consider that;” and then change the

The principle of etiquette is to treat others with consideration. I
would venture to say that with respect and consideration, even
politics and religion can be topics fit for polite conversation.