Local Holidays and Customs Prepareness

Many of us can think of a time we’ve traveled to a new place, excited to visit a specific venue or museum or shop – and arrived to discover that the special place was closed that day due to a local Holiday! This happens more than you might think, to clients and travelers we’ve talked to.

A savvy traveler can get annoyed from time to time in these scenarios, but the test of a true traveler is flexibility and preparedness. Travelers also can be surprised by local customs in many regions. Here are a few examples of scenarios that folks we know have encountered, and how they rose above frustration and were able to make the most of it!

  • Looking ahead to online listings and calendars in the locale you’re about to visit is a good practice, always. In Germany, for instance, we recently learned about Reformation Day, a holiday that is typically observed in the southern-most states of the country. 2017 marked the 500-year anniversary of the holiday, and as such it was observed nationally, where nearly every public institution and business was closed. Considering this date also fell on Halloween, many tourists were surprised by the empty streets and closed establishments. Many found beauty and tranquility, however, in the amazing public parks featuring stunning Autumn foliage!
  • Prepare yourself for customs in business, always. In Japan, for example, it is considered rude to display cash in public; using an envelope is strongly preferred. In business, your preparedness to customs like this shows your sense of integrity and may win you deeper business connections as a result.
  • Be prepared to smile and embrace a practice that seems a bit, well, foreign! Take kids in Greece, as well as many children in Bulgaria and Albania. When they lose a tooth, they throw the tooth on the roof of their house and say a little poem to encourage strong adult-tooth return. Embracing this while visiting, especially if you see it happening, will earn you accolades from your host.

Guidebooks, online searches and brief Q&A with friends or acquaintances who’ve traveled where you’re going, are all solid resources to consider before traveling. And just remember – keeping an open mind and a flexible schedule will allow you to see the beauty in everything!

Your Flexibility with International Business Norms

When traveling for business internationally, it is not unusual to run into snags and surprises. Some of the most frustrating challenges can come in a business context – yet often, these can become moments where we can learn something new, and shine.


Some countries require an unusual amount of paperwork to even consider traveling to the country. Multi-page forms, visa applications, reference letters only accepted via global snail-mail are but a few examples of challenges that business travelers run into when planning visits to countries on nearly every continent.

Other countries have very specific norms with deliveries. Sending a package containing gifts to another business in Brazil is a taxable event for the receiver of the gift! Receiving a package in Germany may be delayed by several days until each item in the package is sorted in customs and a value-amount is declared for each. Some countries’ delivery times are very limited on certain days of the week, which can create unexpected delays around holidays and long weekends.


Adhering to business dress codes can also cause a good bit of anxiety for travelers, especially for someone who hasn’t been to said country before. Are white pants on men ok outside of Latin America? Are women expected to wear skirts to business meetings in Japan and the Middle East? For those in the creative industries, when is business-casual “too casual”?  Answers to these questions may vary depending on your industry, meeting purpose, and time of year!


The most important way to de-stressify is to do your homework with plenty of time before your trip.  Before you take off, try to schedule some time to research potential snags in the country you’re traveling to. Having a quick call with a friend or expat who has spent significant time there is a very good idea, time providing. Whatever you do, make sure to always breath deeply and keep an open mind; this will help you to observe the humor, beauty, and processes that make other cultures flow!


How do you maintain a sense of humor and de-stress with travel surprises?

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

Gifting, Re-gifting, and Giving in this Holiday season

Plenty of people, it seems, stress about holiday gifts.  From the inscription on the card to delivery methods, to the actual gift or service (or gift card, as the case seems to increasingly include), we worry whether what we’re gifting is appropriate and will be received with delight.


What we don’t speak about as often is the challenge of what to do with that gift you didn’t ask for, or that doesn’t fit, or that just doesn’t work.   As a receiver, do you politely return or exchange your gift, and as a gift giver, how can you reduce the likelihood of giving a bad gift in the future?


gift or re-gift

gift or re-gift

We suggest a few tips as a gifting best practice, here:


  • Regifting is recycling. It’s actually a fairly innovative practice, but should be used sparingly and with as much thoughtfulness as you would expend in purchasing a brand new gift.
  • Regifted items should always include their original box from the store or site, and original manufacturer wrapping if at all possible.
  • Don’t regift something that you know the receiver would never desire. It is better not to gift at all than to place your host/friend in an awkward situation.
  • Do not regift items like fresh food, or personal items that involve size and color (like hats, gloves, scarfs or clothing). If something is vintage or truly retro, note it in the message inside your card.
  • Whether it’s a regift or an original purchase, if you think your gift’s receiver may not understand the intent behind the gift, write a nice sentence or two about your idea for its use in the corresponding card. Or, if you’re going to exchange gifts in-person and the timing is appropriate, nudge the person and explain your intention. This can help to eliminate questions and ease your anxious “gifter” mind.


To avoid gifter’s anxiety, start to designate a section of a drawer or closet as your “Gift Storage” to save a few unisex or last minute gifts that could be appreciated by most anyone.  Use this place to store items you’ve received that are unused and worthy of a possible regift.  Include a few roles of wrapping paper (solid colors without a holiday theme are best) as well as a few gift bags with handles, a few blank cards, and a pair of scissors and tape.  This will help you be prepared for any unexpected situations – and come out ahead.


Here’s to your season of giving,


Shanna Wu Pecoraro, AICI CIP


#business, #conversation-etiquette, #gift-giving, #holiday-shopping, #image-consulting, #shanna-pecoraro

Are You A Gracious Guest? 

With the holidays near at hand, invites to a party in the home of a friend or colleague presents an occasion to celebrate the season with a group.  Is your holiday etiquette ready to shine this season?  Our tips below may help if you need a refresh:

House guests

House guests

  1. RSVP!  Be sure to RSVP to your host in the manner they’ve requested (in writing, via phone call, etc.)  Once you accept an invitation, hold the commitment and make sure to be on time.  If a schedule conflict looks unavoidable, let your host know as early as possible to allow for proper planning and adjustments.
  2. Dress for the occasion – Check with your host or hostess for the dress code if it hasn’t been specified in the invitation. Formal, casual, or theme parties may require extra shopping and preparation on your part.
  3. Be prepared for both warm and cool indoor temperatures – If your jacket is the show piece of your outfit, be sure you can take it off and still look appropriate in the layer that’s underneath the jacket. Prepare for a chilly room or the outdoors by bringing a festive shawl or a nice-looking cardigan.
  4. Don’t be a Pepe Le Pew! When preparing for an intimate gathering, go light on perfume, or even better, avoid the perfume altogether. Many people are allergic to scents or turned off by heavy colognes and perfumes.
  5. Be prepared for parties in a house that has a “no-shoes” rule. Make sure you feel confident with your pedicure, and that you’re comfortable in your outfit without shoes. Always be sure to wear clean socks or hose with no holes in them.
  6. If you have food allergies, don’t make it a problem for the already overworked host or hostess. Eat before the party, or offer to bring a dish to share. If you have pet allergies, bring your allergy medicine with you. Look for a chair that’s wooden or leather and avoid sitting on the upholstered chair.
  7. Keep your mobile phone use to a minimum, and ask people nearby before you take a group photo. If you need to check in with the babysitter, step outside to make the call.
  8. Watch the host or hostess for signs of fatigue. If either of them starts yawning, gets up to clean, or stops pouring wine, take the hint and wrap up the evening by giving your thanks and offering one last time to help with cleaning up.

10.  Send a note within 24 hours to thank your host or hostess for the special event.

Now go out, have fun, and be merry this Holiday Season!

Shanna Wu Pecoraro, AICI CIP & the team of NYC Image Consultant Academy

For more info www.nycimageconsultantacademy.com

Build Your Closet’s Core This Thanksgiving Weekend

Thanksgiving is almost here, and if you’re in the United States, you’re likely taking a much-deserved day off to be merry and eat a bit too much.  We hope you enjoy.  For many, the annual 4-day holiday weekend at the end of November brings to mind thoughts of a family outing, some games indoors, football, or perhaps, some shopping.

Gentleman: Maybe you’re planning to avoid the holiday crowds by postponing your seasonal shopping to mid-December.  There’s nothing wrong with that.  But, keep in mind that thousands of businesses across the world, and seemingly the entire internet, will be ON SALE from Thursday morning through Monday evening.  These sales often involve flat percentage drops in pricing – 10, 20, 30, and event 50% off a single item or your entire purchase.  Many online retailers offer reduced or complimentary shipping, too.

If you’ve been putting off shopping for some basics to incorporate into your wardrobe, Black Friday and Cyber Monday can be ideal times to build your closet’s core at a discount.  Here are 9 items that are absolutely worth having in your closet! (Hint: get the best quality that you can afford; quality really makes difference)

  • T-shirts: V-neck or crew, in grey, white, and black
  • White or blue dress shirts
  • A pair of neutral color, flat-front wool dress trousers
  • V-neck cashmere sweaters
  • Socks to match your trousers (blue, black, brown)
  • Blazer (to go over sweaters or t-shirts)
  • Dark indigo classic 5-pocket jeans (no fades or holes) to bring a casual tone to any look
  • A classic cashmere scarf in a color that flatters your skin tone and features
  • A simple oxford shoe in high-shine patent leather (add some fun to your feet, while maintaining a seriously edgy look about you)

Now that we’ve gone over the basics, think about what’s missing from your closet.  What would make your typical Monday outfitting easier?  Don’t hesitate .. get to shopping, and pick up a few staples today!

Happy Thanksgiving & happy shopping!

Shanna Wu Pecoraro, AICI CIP & the team of NYC Image Consultant Academy

For more info www.nycimageconsultantacademy.com

How to Make Your Company Holiday Party Work for You 

It seems that suddenly, the holiday season is upon us.  For many, the arrival of Thanksgiving and Christmas provides a sense of excitement.  There are gifts to open, trips to plan, and memories to be made.

Through the season, professionals at all levels are invited to corporate events and holiday parties.  For many, these parties can provide a place to network, mingle, and bond with colleagues.  For some, this setting can be intimidating.

Dressing to impress can make all the difference.  In the coming weeks, whether you’re attending your first holiday party or the third already this season, strategize early on about the way you present yourself at such parties to set you up for greater success.

Use the tips below as your checklist to ensure (relatively) calm nerves, and hopefully, an entertaining season of parties!

Simply elegant

What Should I Wear to My Company’s Holiday Party? 

  1. Rock the best fit for your body!  Select a dress that fits your body well, and colors that compliment your complexion.
  2. Dress appropriately.  Think about the time and location of the event, and listen to weather reports prior to getting ready.  Bring an alternate pair of shoes to the office just in case!  Be tasteful and above all, be professional.
  3. Remember, it’s still business.  Don’t wear items that are too short, too tight, too revealing, too loud, too casual, or untidy.  If your mother can see through your top, wear a camisole under it!
  4. Keep it in check!  Select a dress that stays in place and can handle moving around a room with a drink in hand.

What is the Proper Etiquette at a company Holiday Party?

  1. Always RSVP.  Don’t assume that because it’s a company party, you don’t have to RSVP. RSVP is a French expression, standing for Repondez s’il vous plait, which means “Reply if you please”.  We suggest, as a matter of common courtesy, that you always respond “yes” or “no” within 48 hours of receiving the invite.
  2. Don’t drink too much.  It may be all about the spirit of the season, and your party may be offsite, but, it’s still a business function.  Don’t lower your guard.
  3. Keep a positive attitude and body language.  Try not to carry any stress from home or the office to holiday parties.  Maintain a smile and seasonal spirit, and watch your body language. Do not stand with your arms crossed, and do not stand in the corner.
  4. Behave the same as you would in the office.  Keep in mind that some companies invite clients, partners, and other important guests besides to holiday parties, in addition to your day-to-day colleagues.  So, be on your best behavior!
  5. Send a thank-you note or email.  A special event deserves a special acknowledgment of appreciation.  Pulling off an event for a large group of people takes a lot of work, and deserves an extra spot of praise.

What’s Best Behavior during a Holiday Party?

  1. Always say hello & goodbye to the host or organizer of the party
  2. Smile often.  Speak less, and listen more.
  3. Don’t stick to your usual crowd. Introduce yourself to others in the room.  Remember, informal connections made outside the office can pay huge returns next year!
  4. It’s a holiday party!  Don’t just talk about business or personal issues.  Stuck for words?  Some easy conversation starters are: food, travel, shopping trips, current events, and New Year’s resolutions.
  5. Engage in appropriate conversation with spouses and other guests, if spouses or dates are invited.


Shanna Wu Pecoraro, AICI CIP & the team of NYC Image Consultant Academy

For more info www.nycimageconsultantacademy.com