Etiquette Urban Legends

There are no alligators in the NYC sewers, so don’t believe these etiquette urban legends either. By Ludovic Bertron from New York City, Usa (Urban Legend? Uploaded by russavia) [CC-BY-2.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons

It’s amazing to us how many etiquette “rules” there are out there that have no basis in any etiquette book nor which are particularly logical. Here are some:

  • You have a year to send a thank you note after the wedding. Though guests have up to a year after the wedding to send a gift, a year for thank you notes is not true. So get that out of your head! Thank you notes should be sent promptly after receiving any gift, though with a wedding you have a bit more leeway because of the volume of gifts. Make it easy on yourself and send thank you notes for gifts received prior to the wedding as they come in.

  • At a fancy dinner or restaurant you will be given ten different forks and won’t know how to use any of them. This legend is a holdover from Victorian times when people did indeed use tons of silverware. Nowadays you will only have a couple of pieces, or the waiter might bring you something new for each course. When presented with multiple forks, start from the outside and work in.
  • You need to buy a gift/give money that is equal to the cost of your dinner at a wedding reception. AKA cover your plate. This is ridiculous. How are you supposed to know how much the dinner cost? And why should someone’s choice to have a lavish wedding result in a more expensive present than someone with a more modest affair? Buy within your budget and according to your closeness with the couple.

  • You should never talk about money in polite company. This is true to a degree, maybe don’t talk about it at a dinner party with strangers. But certainly discuss money and finance with your children- how else will they learn? And we should all be discussing salaries and rent with close friends so everyone will know if they are getting ripped off. Secrets help the man keep us down.

  • At a dinner party, you must try some of everything, lest you come off as rude to the host. Trying everything is good eating advice in general (you might like new things!) but “rude” might be pushing it. If you are allergic to endive, or know for sure you don’t like it, don’t eat it! And if someone asks you can say you just don’t like endive. That’s not a comment on the host.

  • RSVPs: some people think you only need to respond if you are coming, some people think you only need to respond if you are not coming. You must RSVP yes or no to any invitation, how is the host supposed to know which method you are following otherwise? And unless it’s a super informal get together that you’ve been invited to through Facebook or something similar, do not RSVP “maybe.”

  • You should stick your pinky out when drinking tea. You may think this looks fancy and proper, but it’s not! While it’s one thing if your pinky naturally juts out a bit when you hold a cup, sticking it straight out is considered an affectation (damn that New Money) and honestly, just looks ridiculous.

  • Etiquette is all about following rules and if you forget something you are an awful person. Etiquette is more about helping other people feel comfortable, and one of the most important etiquette rules is that it is more rude to point out someone’s rudeness than to break whatever rule in the first place.


2 thoughts on “Etiquette Urban Legends

  1. Pingback: You Do Not Have A Year To Send Thank You Notes | Uncommon Courtesy

  2. Pingback: The Best Way To Miss a Thank You Note | Uncommon Courtesy

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s