Etiquette for 2020: 10 Acts of Kindness

“For beautiful eyes, look for the good in others; for beautiful lips, speak only words of kindness; and for poise, walk with the knowledge that you are never alone.” – Audrey Hepburn.

I love this quote for so many reasons, especially about Audrey’s message of kindness. Etiquette at its core is kindness – being kind for the sake of being kind. To me, kindness is the epitome of good manners. Whether you’re holding the door open for someone or simply smiling and cheerfully waving to a neighbor, these small yet hugely impactful acts of kindness are what modern etiquette is all about. Ask yourself, what does etiquette mean to you?

Certainly good manners equates to table manners, hand written thank you notes, and general politeness, however what we can all strive for this year and beyond is to have beautiful manners by being kinder. Baking cookies for a friend who is having a hard time, giving a compliment to the barista for brewing a fabulous cup of coffee, or making a dinner party guest feel welcome can brighten their entire day. And how amazing does it feel to do something nice for someone else! And so, I’ve created a list of 10 ways to be kinder this new year, and I promise it will impact you just as much as it will impact those around you.

Quick Tips

Modern Manners: 10 Ways to Be Kind


Offer up your seat

Leave a generous tip

Say please and thank you

Give a compliment

Be a good listener

Hold the Door

Make food or take flowers to a friend

Apologize when necessary and find forgiveness

Help someone who is struggling

Skip the gossip

Ask B: When You Give a Gift and Don’t Get a Thank You

Dear B, 

I recently gave a friend a Christmas gift, however he never acknowledged it – no thank you text, no thank you call, no thank you note. Admittedly, I’m a bit hurt that he didn’t say thank you when I took the time to pick out a special present for him. Do I bring it up with him or just leave it alone?




First, let me start by saying Happy New Year! As for your question, while I can understand your disappointment and how disconcerting it must feel to not have your beautiful gift acknowledged, I recommend you leave this one alone. Did your friend need to say thank you and even more write a thank you note? Absolutely. Saying thank you and writing a thank you note is always the courteous thing to do. However, perhaps you can give him the benefit of the doubt and attribute the etiquette infraction to being distracted with the chaos of the holiday season. Confronting him about it likely won’t achieve anything, and could even cause awkwardness between you two. Consider this new mindset – when you give a gift, do it because you want to bring a smile to that person’s face, not because you expect anything in return. And if they say thank you and better yet write a note, then how wonderful.


Ask B: Casual or Formal Dinner Party Seating


Dear B, 

I am hosting a casual dinner/football watching party for 10 people this weekend. We are having a buffet in the kitchen with Mexican food, and one of the guests is brining dessert. As for the table settings, do you recommend I set our kitchen and dining room tables, do place cards, etc., or keep it casual with table cloths and rolled silverware for people to grab when they are ready to eat? I don’t want it to be stuffy! 



Dear B,

If you want a casual atmosphere and seating arrangement, I recommend setting the tables with table cloths (and beautiful flowers), and then have rolled up silverware at the buffet. This way, everyone can serve themselves, eat when they want to, and sit where they would like, be it at the table or standing in the kitchen. No place cards or formal settings necessary for this soirée! Also, given the football game will be on during the party and some might want to watch while they eat dinner, if you have any qualms about food in your den (often sofas and salsa don’t mix!), gently encourage your guests to eat in the kitchen or at one of the tables. Have fun!