Best Practices on Tipping and Gifts During the Holidays


The holiday season is in high gear, and as can be expected, tipping and gift giving during the season for service persons can often become a tricky thing.  A few best practices have served our clients and team well over the years, and we hope that by sharing them, they may help you, too!


First, you should always consider your budget first. If you don’t have the budget to give cash, you can always provide a homemade gift accompanied with a handwritten Thank You card. This speaks volumes to those you work with.


If you are giving cash, you should consider your relationship with the service provider and the quality of the service you have received on *most* occasions. Consider your location and area, how luxurious the service you’ve been getting is, and remember – if the service professional has been charging you a grandfathered rate this year, you may want to increase his/her tip a bit.


For home care, you might consider giving a babysitter up to one evening’s pay, and for nannies or housekeepers, up to a week’s extra pay. Barbers and hairdressers could get extra based on the cost of a haircut, and dog walkers typically get up to one week’s pay. The big question in New York City is always around doorman and supers: how much should a family give?  The average rate is $15-100 for doorman, and $20-100 for supers, depending on how luxurious your building is and the years of service held by the doorman and super.


One final helpful hint: Mailmen working for the USPS may not accept items such as cash, checks, gift cards, or any other form of currency. But small gifts that have less than $20 in value (or snacks and beverages which are not part of a meal) can be accepted during the holidays. 


Let us know – what other best practices do you follow when it comes to holiday tipping and gifts?


#etiquette, #gift-giving, #holiday, #image-tips, #manners, #tipping

Building Business Relationships with your Chinese Counterparts

Foreigners discovering China for the first time are often swept away by the incredible strength of the country’s character: its geography, natural beauty, as well as its tremendously dense cities and vibrant people.  As with travel to any new country, visiting China on business is something that may require added and early research and planning.


As a general rule, the Chinese are very formal when it comes to respecting etiquette – especially in business settings. If you’re heading to China for business, consider these cultural tips to ensure success!




  • Usually, business relationships formed after your Chinese counterpart gets to know you, so working through an intermediary is crucial. The relationship could be an individual or an organization that can make a formal introduction and vouch for the reliability of your company.


  • Send materials in Chinese that describe your company, its history, and literature about your products and services before you leave to China. The Chinese often use intermediaries to ask questions that they would prefer not to inquire about directly.


  • Be very patient. In general, Chinese companies are known to take a considerable amount of time to make a decision.


  • You are always the representatives of your company; even the trip is a personal one. That meant, always make sure you are on your best behavior.


  • “Rank” is extremely important in business relationships. Always keep this in mind when you address someone in a business meeting. It is important to note that there is no gender bias in business.



  • The Chinese often prefer face-to-face meetings rather than written or telephonic communication. Remember the communication is official, especially in dealing with someone of higher rank. Treating a high-ranking official too informally, especially in front of their peers, could ruin a potential deal.


  • Meals and social events are not the places for business discussions. There is a difference between business and socializing in China, so try to be careful not to intertwine the two.


Have you had successful business meetings in China?  Let us know your tips or thoughts here!


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Eating Sushi with Grace

For years, a favorite luncheon for me was the Sushi – simple, delicious and full of protein! While tasty, my frequent sushi consumption led me to realize that raw fish isn’t always the easiest thing for everyone to eat! If you’ve ever had challenges adhering to sushi etiquette, I hope these simple tips may help you.


Sushi Etiquette


  • In a fine sushi restaurant, never scrub your chopsticks together to remove pricks. Ask for a new pair.
  • Just like when eating a burger, it’s correct to use fingers to pick up sushi. (fingers or chopsticks are both correct)
  • Lightly dip the fish, not the rice, into a small amount of soy sauce. Once it’s been flavored, put the fish side on your tongue and eat it in one or two bites. Don’t forget to chew thoroughly.
  • ˆUse the back end of the chopsticks when taking food from a serving plate.
  • Don’t bite sushi in half and put the remainder back on the plate.
  • ˆWasabi should be put directly onto your sushi, not mixed into your soy sauce.
  • When you are taking a break from your meal, rest the narrow end of your chopsticks on the small chopstick holder.
  • ˆWhen you are finished with your meal, place your chopsticks on your saucer.
  • NEVER hand money to the sushi chef while he is working.

Are you a fellow sushi connoisseur or a sushi chef? If you have other sushi-related tips to share, please reply or comment below. Thank you!


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10 Questions with our Fave Celebrity Wedding Planner

Have you ever wondered how those amazing weddings you see in magazines come about? We do – constantly! – and figured that talking with a seasoned wedding planner who has worked with royalty, A-list celebs, international sports figures and all sorts of VIPs in between – might provide an interesting perspective on image success at weddings.

We interviewed Federica Russo, one such wedding planner, in July and had a lot of fun learning about her fabulous (and challenging) job!

SP: Hi there, Frederica! What is your title, and how do you introduce yourself in a business setting?

Federica: The first question is already difficult! Sometimes I am defined as Event Manager and other times I am a Senior Event Organizer. The reality is that the company where I work, which organizes big events, is still a small team (we are 8 in total) and everyone works together closely to achieve success at every event.

Federica Russo

Federica Russo

SP: What is your favorite aspect of your job?

Federica: There are so many! Overall, I would say that helping to organize the most romantic day for a couple and then seeing their happiness is the best reward.

SP: How did you get started in wedding planning?

Federica: Honestly by coincidence! I studied law and worked in events such as conferences. Then I moved to London where I got in touch with the company where I work, and it was love at first sight. We grew up together doing wedding planning!

SP: How do you determine a shortlist of venues and spaces for your clients?

Federica: We meet the clients first to get to understand their style and interests, then move from there. We get to know a bit about them individually, what they are like as people and ask if they have a vision for their big day as well as any moods and styles they have in mind.

Throughout this process, we really get to know the clients, and from there we come up with personalized ideas for them.

SP: How do your client’s personal style and wedding theme influence your planning process?

Federica: Oh, tremendously! One of my favorite parts of the job is the decor – translating personality and tastes into the physical realm.

SP: What are some wedding style trends you’re seeing this year for grooms and best men?

Federica: Our weddings are all pretty unique, so I find it quite hard to think about a trend! I would say that recently the grooms in Europe have begun to wear the white jacket again, which I find very elegant.

SP: What are some wedding style trends you’re seeing this year for brides and bridesmaids?

Federica: If it was difficult to answer for the groom is even more difficult to find an answer for the brides! They tend to be one of a kind and therefore there is really not a “trend”.

Some themes this year are using colorful bouquets rather than white and green ones.

SP: If you could plan a wedding in any special place (exotic, traditional or adventurous), where would it be?

Federica: I would re-launch the Amalfi coast, which has been rather set aside in the last few years. I would hire an Island reachable by private boats or helicopter. I would then add some acrobatic artists to give a touch of “Cirque du Soleil meets burning man!”

SP: Are there any wedding etiquette tips that everyone should be aware of?

Federica: Yes! Regarding photos and videos during the ceremony and reception. All attendees should respect the bride and groom’s privacy. Mobile phones should be kept in pockets.

Taking photos and videos not only distract the guests from the ceremony itself but trying to get the best shot can ruin the one taken by the professional photographer!

SP: Any suggestions for a nervous bride or a groom-to-be?

Federica: The wedding day should be the best day of your life, so relax and make the most out of it, leave it to your wedding planner to think of everything else!

Federica Russo is a senior wedding planner. She works in London based event planning company, Lanza & Baucina Ltd.

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Party Tips for Young Ladies

A few months back I met a lovely young lady named Amy on an airplane. Toward the end of the flight, she said: “I have an invitation from my friend Jane for her parent’s Spring Party. Could you give me few tips before I go to the party since I have never been to a grown-up party before?”

Garden partyGarden Party 1

We discussed a few tips and dress options, and later I thought that perhaps this sort of thing could be useful to many young ladies out there. I shared the following tips with Amy, and am now sharing them with you. At grown-up parties, it is best to:

  • Say “hello” to the host and offer to help serve the food/clean up
  • Speak politely; try not to be loud and rude
  • Introduce yourself and offer a friendly handshake with a good eye contact and smile
  • Ask questions; questions are often a good way to start a conversation
  • Take an interest in what is going on
  • Do a little research on your host; find out if they are a member of a club or group that your parents or friends belong to
  • Try leaving some room on your plate for your cup, so you can put your plate on your lap and eat from the plate and drink from the cup in a chair
  • At the end of the party give a friendly goodbye and say “thanks for hosting such a lovely party/evening.”
  • Write a “thank-you” card within 24 hours after the party; if you run out of time, a short and personal Thank-you email can suffice

Some may think these tips are old fashioned, but if you want to be successful in the future, these basic courtesies and acts of kindness are always winning and essential formulas for young ladies to follow.

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Using Your Theater/Concert Etiquette

“The concert is a polite form of self-induced torture’ – Henry Miller

“I’m interested in the theater because I’m interested in communication with audiences otherwise I would be in concert music.” – Stephen Sondheim

Perhaps you are a fan of going to the theatre and concert performances. Or, attending performances may be a rarity for you and you’re simply being invited to join someone as a guest at the theatre. In either case, here are some etiquette rules that important to enhance your own enjoyment, as well as the experience of those around you.

  • Follow the dress code if the event has a special attire requirement. Your ticket will typically say this; call ahead if in doubt. If there is no dress code, we recommend wearing something that will make your experience special for you. Avoid sneakers, shorts, and dirty jeans.
  • Know what you are going to see – do a little research before you go so that you’re prepared for a discussion with your host or others seated next to you. It is a good idea to at least know the name of the composer, the music to be performed, if the singer is a soprano or a tenor, which piece of the opera, etc.
  • Eat light before you go, and avoid drinking alcohol before the performance. Too much food and drink make many attendees fall asleep.
  • Make sure your guests know how long the program is scheduled to last, and ensure that each guest in your party has a program so they can follow along and not disrupt others by borrowing other programs.
  • Always try to arrive 30 minutes before the program is scheduled to start.

An important reminder: Only applaud when the piece is over. A piece may include many movements, and between the movements, the audience does not clap. If you are not sure, watch others around you, but don’t be the first to clap.

Behaviors to avoid during a performance, and in any theatre setting:

  • Talking, humming, or whispering
  • Chewing gum or making noise (looking for something in your bag, etc.,)
  • Falling asleep
  • Texting or checking social media/emails on your mobile
  • Arriving late and leaving early
  • Limit your trips to the restroom; go before or after the performance, or wait until intermission
  • Booing or hissing is never appropriate
  • It’s insulting to a host when a guest is overly critical; if you greatly disliked the performance, wait until you’ve exited the theatre to express your feelings.


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The Positive Body Language for Interviews

“A good stance and posture reflect a proper state of mind” – Morihei Ueshiba

In our experience, keeping a good posture is supportive for both a healthy back and for your strong, confident image. Famous actors, speakers, and teachers have agreed. Here are a few tips to help you maintain confidence and positive body language:


  1. Sit up straight, cross your legs at the ankles, lean forward slightly, and don’t tap your feet
  2. Stand straight; chin up don’t slouch and keep your feet still. Shoulders should be relaxed, and arms at your side
  3. Do no break eye contact, engage in shifty eyes, or staring
  4. Always use your right hand to give a good handshake. The handshake should be firm, but not too intense of a squeeze
  5. When you speak, do not chop and point. Do not speak with crossed arms or put your hand behind your back
  6. Occasionally nod your head to show that you are listening and understand what the other person is saying
  7. Your expressions are also important. No yawning! Do not scratch your head, play with your hair, look at your watch, or engage in other such signs that signal that you are no longer interested in making the conversation over.


What do you do to remind yourself and your clients to stand up straight?

Let us know on Twitter or Instagram with #positivebodylanguage


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