Picnic and Casual Party Etiquette

The question is: Do I still have to pay attention to protocol for casual, social events? If you’re with your family and friends, do you really have to use all the etiquette manners? The answer is yes, you do, however remember etiquette is about other people. It is about what we need to do to make others feel comfortable. If you’re at a picnic eating fried chicken and corn on the cob, and no one takes offense to the corn stuck to the side of your face, you’re okay. If you’re in a pair of cut-off shorts and a t-shirt because your picnic is at the beach, you’re good. Others will most likely be dressed the same. If you’re having a great time dancing, showing off your best moves and the rest of the group is participating, you’re good. 

Where we get into trouble is when we assume that since it is a casual event, we don’t need to show up on time or RSVP or use general good manners like napkins on our laps or bringing a dish or host or hostess gift.

General good manners still apply even when we are attending a picnic in our most casual attire.  Casual is not another word for bad manners, and casual events are not a time to abandon all proper social skills. You still have to think about who will be attending and what their expectations are for the event. For example, if your grandmother is attending, it is probably not a great idea to show up in a bikini that will have her falling out of her chair. 

Etiquette is about respecting the people who are attending the event and thinking outside of ourselves when making decisions about behavior, actions and attire. Regardless of where you are going and how casual the environment may be, it is always a good idea to think about the individuals who will be joining you. They deserve to have a good time too and do not need to be subjected to social inappropriateness. 

Colleen Harding is the founder of the Cleveland School of Etiquette and Corporate Protocol.

Colleen Harding

Hello my name is Colleen Harding.  I am the founder for the Cleveland School of Etiquette and Corporate Protocol.  I started my company 7 years ago to address a niche and a need for protocol training.  I received two certifications from the American School of Protocol in traditional etiquette and corporate training.  Today, I work with individuals, schools, companies and organizations that recognize the importance of social polish in daily life and the corporate world.

I spent 22 years in the corporate arena as an outside sales representative with 15 years in Broadcast Sales.  I recognize the competitive advantage a person has when they respect etiquette and have received protocol training. 

I am a Bay Village resident.  Graduated from Magnificat High School and The Ohio State University. 

I am an active volunteer for the Westside Catholic Center, St Raphael Women’s Guild and Village Foundation Board Member.

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Volume 3, Issue 1, Posted 3:31 PM, 06.29.2015