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6 Of Your Modern Day Etiquette Questions—From COVID to First Dates

And why 'etiquette' is anything but outdated.

I love that I’ve had the opportunity to introduce myself to the cupcakes and cashmere community over the last few months. You are a lovely bunch and I’ve received so many kind DMs. One thing that you might not know about me—from my sunscreen and travel dispatches—is that I’m a Certified Etiquette Consultant. Curveball, right? Well, when I was a kid, I was painfully shy. I always had my nose in a book and would literally hide behind my mom if someone tried to talk to me. But, in sixth grade, they offered etiquette lessons to my class and I really wanted to participate. (My mom was shocked that I wanted to do something other than read so she immediately signed me up.) In that class, I learned all about the etiquette basics, but it also gave me so much confidence as it taught me how to interact with people in a thoughtful way. Ever since, I’ve been hooked.

So, let’s talk about etiquette! Now before your eyes glaze over and you have visions of place settings filled with forks, let me stop you right there. Etiquette may be old-fashioned, but it's also as relevant today as ever before. We have literally created entirely new ways of connecting with people and we need to ensure that we’re approaching any situation with etiquette which I have come to define as, everyday human kindness. By pausing and asking ourselves if we’re being kind in any situation, we open up room to be gracious. We allow ourselves to slow down which, in our constantly connected society, can be a breath of fresh air. A few weeks ago, I took to the cupcakes and cashmere Instagram to request your etiquette questions, and was blown away by all of the many, many amazing questions I received. It was tough to whittle them down, but below you’ll find my responses* to your top questions:

*Disclaimer: While I am a Certified Etiquette Consultant, these answers are based on my professional experiences and opinions. If you disagree or would approach something in a different way, that is okay! At the end of the day, we have to take the route that feels best for us personally and my hope is that you’ll approach it with everyday human kindness. Now, let’s tuck in!


It must be so hard to watch your brother get treated in a way that you feel isn’t 100% ideal. Sibling love is strong and while we want to interject and stand up for our family, at the end of the day, we have to recognize that they have to live their own life

It may be worth it to have a heart-to-heart with your brother asking him genuinely how his relationship is progressing. Tell him that you’re there for him if he ever needs advice or support. By building this level of trust he may feel more confident in opening up to you about things that may be bothering him... but I wouldn’t dive into your personal opinion. At the end of the day, no one knows the ins and outs of a relationship apart from the people directly involved. It may be hard, but try to focus on the relationship you have with your brother more than his relationship with his partner.

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COVID etiquette, what a time we’re living in. First things, first: If your city or state has specific rules about the number of people that can gather, then follow those rules - period. Let’s all do our part to keep COVID containable. If you still feel uncomfortable within these guidelines, then listen to yourself and don’t force yourself to attend. Have an honest conversation with your friends and tell them that you just don’t feel comfortable getting together due to COVID. Offer up a phone call or video chat to catch-up instead. You could plan to have a movie night, watching the same film together, or go a step further and have a bit of a throwback and write letters to each other. You can still stay connected with your friends, even during COVID, and your friends will hopefully be understanding of the healthy boundaries you set.

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Personally, I hate showing up to any gathering (assuming you’re referring to safe and distanced gatherings, of course!) empty-handed. So for everyone reading, please know that if a friend has invited you over, ask directly what you can bring. Otherwise bring a bouquet of flowers or a small gift for the host. Having events takes time and effort and your host will always appreciate it.

Now, back to your friend. If she’s been consistent in not bringing anything, for your next event ask her pointedly, “Hey, I’m so glad you can make it! Can you bring x with you? Excited to see you soon.” Start with something small and inexpensive, since we may not know your friend's financial situation. But it’s totally ok to nicely ask your guests to bring something to contribute to your next get-together.

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Ugh, ghosting sucks. Ghosting someone makes you feel like crap and being ghosted feels awful. Why do we still do it?

It may seem easier to just let a new connection slide into the abyss but it’s just not right. Personally, when I’ve started to feel that the vibe isn’t there, I’ve tried to address it head-on. Recently, I’ve sent a voice note apologizing for my lack of communication and just saying, it’s not a good time for me.

When being ghosted, which never happens—LOL, I let sleeping dogs lie—if you’re tempted like me and want to poke and prod and follow up, I’ve taken to deleting numbers in my phone and unfollowing on social. This may seem extreme to some, but I really don’t want to have to look at my phone and re-read messages and see if they’re online, etc. (I don't need that kind of energy in my phone.) Delete the number and message thread and move on. If they want to reach out, they know how to get a hold of you.

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I love how thoughtful this question is. There’s so much that 2020 has dealt us and it’s been hard–really hard.

With that being said, there have also been real moments of joy for each of us. For me, that has been as simple as riding my bike more, cooking a delicious meal, or having a really great catch-up with my mom on the phone. I think that one of the greatest forms of resistance is joy. And it’s okay to share that joy as you may inspire someone else.

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So here’s the thing: Never go on a date unless you’re prepared to fully pay for the check. I’m not saying it will always come to that, but in my opinion, dates shouldn’t be used as opportunities for, ‘free drinks.’ We’re feminists, after all.

With that being said, I always offer to pay on a date or split the check. When the check comes, I reach for my wallet, just like I would if I was out with friends. If my date insists on paying, then I graciously say thank you and put my wallet away. If I’m on a second date, and my date previously paid for the first date, then I pay for the second.

Honestly, I think paying for a date can be a bit of a power move as well. I was once on a date and not having the best time and instead of sticking it out, I said, “Hey, it’s been great meeting you, and I appreciate the time, but unfortunately I just don’t think we’re a match. I’ll get the check and let’s call it a night.” Guys, I felt like such a boss bitch. To some, that may seem a bit harsh, but I set a boundary and reclaimed my time by paying the check. You should feel the power to do that too.

I hope you’ve enjoyed these etiquette questions and answers! If you have more questions, feel free to drop them in the comments!

Read Lisa's previous posts here, and see every single question we've ever had about wedding guest etiquette!

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