Originally created 03/23/03

Discreetly dispose of sweetener packets

Dear Carson: I have a table etiquette question. Most restaurants have their sweeteners, including sugar, in paper packets. What do you do with the empty paper packets? It always looks so messy just laying on the table and most of the time the waiters and waitresses neglect to pick them up. - Paper Piles

Dear Papers: Pleat the empty packets into tiny folds and place it in an ashtray or on a bread and butter plate. If there is neither, the best option is to place the folded packet under the rim of your dinner plate. And yes, servers should remove them.

Dear Carson: At a particular ceremony my students will have to be introduced as "Jane Doe, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. John Doe" or "Jane Doe, daughter of Mary and John Doe." One of my students asked me this question: Since her parents are divorced, and neither is remarried, is it OK to introduce her as "Jane Doe, daughter of Mary and John Doe?" With this introduction they will appear to be married, but it is nobody's business that they are divorced. However, would "Jane Doe, daughter of Mary Doe and John Doe" be better? - Unsure Teacher

Dear Teacher:

The latter option is correct. As painful as a situation of divorce is for a child, it is best not to lend to the confusion. Even more embarrassing situations could result from a misleading introduction.

Dear Carson: My wife and I have been invited to a large party to be held at Union Station in Washington, D.C. The invitation states "festive attire." Any hints? - Festive and Flummoxed

Dear Flummoxed: The dress code "festive attire" suggests clothing other than formal or business attire would be appropriate. For a man it could mean a colorful or theme tie and sport coat and for a woman it could mean evening palazzo pants or silk skirt or slacks. Such a stipulation gives you a wide range of possibilities.

Dear Carson: I am sending out "save the date" cards because I am getting married over the Thanksgiving holidays. Can I include where I am registered in the announcements, since it isn't a formal invitation? - Save the Date

Dear Date: Absolutely not! Anything that smacks of presuming you expect a gift, plus having the gall to suggest where to shop and what to get, smacks of greed and poor taste. Believe me, this never goes over well with people. Please save yourself from embarrassment.

Write to Ask Carson, The Augusta Chronicle, P.O. Box 1928, Augusta, GA 30903-1928. Send e-mail to askcarson@comcast.net. Carson Elliott's Web site is at www.theproperthing.com.