Aunt Dandelion is an advice blog offered to help readers solve simple or perplexing problems related to social and business etiquette. Ask Aunt Dandelion when you have a problem, and check back soon for answers. Send your conundrums to Or follow Aunt Dandelion on Facebook!

What is etiquette, really?

What some people think etiquette is:

  • Stuffy rules that take the fun out everything.
  • Something which only snobs care about.
  • The way people behave in Jane Austen novels (and not since).
  • What little old ladies do over tea and crumpets.
  • Boring, irritating, intrusive, rigid, arbitrary rules.
  • Meaningless prescriptions that cramp personal style.
  • Formal manners that have no relevance in the relaxed modern world.
  • Hyacinth versus Onslow.

And the list goes on.

Aunt Dandelion would like to offer a different perspective. Etiquette really is:

  • Common-sense ways of behaving in public that preserve the comfort and dignity of each individual.
  • A framework for throwing parties and other gatherings that run smoothly and on time, and keep guests happy. 
  • An attitude of kindness and charity towards others.
  • Essential information for anyone who aspires to get ahead in business, society and the community at large.
  • A way of attracting friends and potential intimates with decency and charm.
  • The gift of a sense of confidence when encountering people of any social or financial stratum, however high, low, or unfamiliar.  
  • Making peace. 
  • A sure way out of frat-boy slobbishness, cat-girl cliquishness, wall-flower shyness, Mad-Man brusqueness, and all the other defenses behind which insecure people hide.
I could continue, but hopefully my point is made. The knowledge and application of etiquette adds grace notes to life's everyday experiences and elevates one in the esteem of one's peers and betters. Fundamentally, etiquette is simple manners -- "please," "thank you," "may I help?" and "I'm sorry."

Etiquette is the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.

Ask Aunt Dandelion 

Are you feeling uncomfortable in a social situation? Fearful of an upcoming business dinner? Worried about how to handle yourself in a particular group? Annoyed by someone's bad behavior? Whatever your problem, the answer is just an email away: click here to Ask Aunt Dandelion.

Is it "sucking up" to say thank you?

"My husband and I were just treated to a weekend away by the owner of my husband's company. He paid for our hotel suites and gave us tickets to the suites at an OU football game. I'm curious about sending a thank you note. I don't want to seem like a suck up but I feel like appreciating is necessary." - A.M.

Aunt Dandelion replies:

The bottom line is, appreciating is ALWAYS necessary! To receive so much generosity from anyone, be it a friend or a boss, and not acknowledge it with a handwritten, mailed thank-you letter, would be the grossest breach of etiquette. Your host spent a lot of money treating you and your husband (suites all the way!). Both business and personal etiquette demand that you put your gratitude into words on (nice) paper.

Aunt Dandelion has never heard of common politeness being referred to as "sucking up" before. Please banish such concepts from your worldview and start writing that thank-you letter!

In regard to "Regards"

Is it right to end an email with "Regards" then your name? I looked it up online and it did say yes it is correct - but can come across "cold." - J.C., Gainesville, TX
Aunt Dandelion replies: 

It is perfectly correct. Any forms of salutation and closing used in letters can apply to email too.

As with any communication, you would tailor the tone and relative formality to both the recipient and the subject matter. There is nothing about email per se that suspends or changes these rules. Just as a paper letter should vary in tone and language depending on whether it is a business communication or a friendly letter, so does email. If "Regards" would be correct for a communication on paper, it would also be correct for email.

For more thoughts about email, read this earlier post