“The ideal gift communicates the appropriate and desired message about both the giver and the receiver.”
Although gay and lesbian couples have the same wedding gift needs and desires as do more traditional couples, there are ways to add more thoughtfulness and pleasure to your gift giving , while at the same time often spending less time and money.
Couple Considerations:

  • Recognize that the couple may have been living together for many years and thus have no need for many of the basic household items usually given at showers and weddings. However, they may be interested in adding to or replacing pieces of their crystal or silver.
  • Realize that many rainbow weddings are not planned months in advance ( including invitations and gift registries) because the couple has waited years to become married and wish to be a part of the joy surrounding the recent legality of rainbow marriage in their state.
  • Appreciate that couples may prefer gifts that recognize/celebrate/contribute to gay pride .
  • If possible, consider the entire family when selecting the gift(s), including children and pets.

Rainbow Register:
Some suggestions for ways to give your gifts that special rainbow aura:

  • Select same-sex gifts which show both pride in each other and in the relationship, ie set of two teddy bears dressed as brides or as grooms; his/his or hers/hers monogrammed towels, sheets, pillows, aprons, or crystal; matching cufflinks with new combined monogram; game such as Our Family, a board game which highlights the contributions of GLBT-folk throughout history; rings or other jewelry with interlocking Venus symbols. Check out the internet for many other gay and lesbian themed items.
  • Cater to their sensual side with silk sheets, matching PJ’s and slippers with monograms, aromatherapy, set of DVD’s, foot massages, a spa package, gifts of buffed metal or leather.
  • Relate gift to their special interests by giving a Netflix subscription; workout or sports equipment; Bose speakers; extra stemware for entertaining; movie gift cards to their favorite foreign film theatre along with a gift certificate to the coffee shop next door; tickets to a concert, play, opera or a museum membership; over-the-top new kitchen equipment for making fancy desserts or special cookware.
  • Give something which is significant to their relationship, such as a gift package or gift card from the place where they first met, whether Starbucks, Macy’s, Barney’s NY, Barnes and Noble, the local bar…; a bottle or case of their favorite wine or rum (Mt. Gay?); a framed photo or painting of the two of them now–or as young children; reminders of their trips to Disney Land/World; a silver or crystal replica of the wedding invitation; a picnic basket outfitted for two to be used when they go to concerts in the park.
  • Choose to make your gift special by giving a monogrammed and dated leather or satin guest book or wedding album; voucher for a weekend stay at a B & B; kitchen appliance or utensils along with a gift certificate from Whole Foods; a monogrammed decanter and their favorite Scotch; a set of their favorite CD’s, show, or music in a special box; leather bound book of their favorite poetry; compiled scrapbook of photos and handwritten messages from family and friends; video tape of special greetings from family or friends who cannot attend the festivities.
  • Make your gift choice count by donating to a charity in the couple’s honor; selecting a gift from the gift registries which donate 10% back to the gay or lesbian charity of your choice; plant a marriage tree or give plants or shrubs for their yard (or gift certificate); selecting a gift which is environmentally friendly.

Remember that the well-selected gift, given in the right spirit, makes the giver into a receiver, too.



Fathers’ Day Dilemma

President Woodrow Wilson officially balanced the days of recognition given to Moms and Dads by declaring Fathers’ Day in 1916.

Many, many neckties, belts, cigars, and gallons of cologne ago, a widowed Civil War veteran named William Smart inspired his daughter to propose “Fathers’ Day”. Sonora Smart Dodd of Spokane Washington, believed that her father had raised his six children with a devotion that would no doubt daze today’s Mr. Mom. When suffragette Jane Addams heard Mrs. Dodd’s idea for a national holiday celebration equal to that of Mothers’ Day, she worked to have a day officially designated a tribute to fathers.

Thus the third Sunday in June was designated Fathers’ Day in the United States. It is now celebrated in more than twenty-five other countries with church services, cards, and gifts.

Although almost 10 billion dollars were spent for Fathers’ Day gifts last year, frequently little thought or originality goes into their selection. Most people complain that gifts for their fathers are among the most difficult to buy, yet usually a little thoughtfulness can produce treasured gifts.

For the gardening father–Subscription to gardening magazine or collection of catalogs with gift certificate; Farmer’s Almanac; soil test kit combined with weed puller or other tools; compost bin; a collection of bulbs and help with planting them; knee pads and rubber boots; donate tree to local park in his name; good-for card to help him with planting, pruning, composting.

For the elderly or disabled father–Convenience Items, such as zipper pullers, cutting board with suction cups, one-hand can openers, telephone amplifier, lighted magnifying glass, ramps, medicine dispensers, folding cart or shopping bag on wheels. Comfort Items, such as sound sleep machine, car seat posture cushions, electric foot massager, shower/bath bench, electric or flannel sheets.

For the left-handed father–There is a large assortment of items with openings or handles revised for the use of lefties: left-handed catalog with gift certificate; various kitchen tools; playing cards with numbers in all 4 corners; camera with controls on opposite side; sports equipment; cups/mugs with handles on the left side; special musical instruments.

For your special father–Anything which you can do together: a boxed set of DVD’s of his all-time favorite show and some popcorn; materials and instructions for a project to work on together, ie build a birdhouse or a model; tickets to sporting event along with cap/shirt/pennant of his favorite team.

Go on-line to find the ubiquitous tie in any style, color, theme, fabric, subject matter, personalization you can imagine. But, remember, he will especially appreciate your writing a poem, making him a special Fathers’ Day cake, serving him his favorite homemade cookies or pie,  surprising him with breakfast in bed (not just a luxury for mothers!), or just making him laugh.



Tie Trek

Definition: Necktie: Neckwear consisting of a long narrow piece of material of varying length worn around the neck and tied under the chin with a knot or a bow. Worn mostly by men, the most common designs are the four-in-hand, the bow tie, the Windsor tie, and the bolo tie.

Provenance:  Neck ties have always been worn more to signify status than to provide warmth. In the Quinn Dynasty, Shih Huang Ti’s Terracotta Warriors wore silk cords around their necks to indicate their elite status; and much later, during the 30 Years War, the French recruited Croatian mercenaries who wore colorful kerchiefs around their necks. The court of King Louis XIV adopted this fashion, calling them cravats and appointing a tie maker to the king whose job included tying them. By the mid 17th century most European men of stature and culture were wearing cravats/neckties.

The pattern for the modern four-in-hand tie is a fairly recent development.  In 1924, Jess Langsdorf, a tailor, discovered that a fabric cut at a 45-degree angle would have an inherent elasticity and better drape. His patent became the template for designers and manufacturers worldwide.

To some extent the wearing of a tie still conveys influence and authority. Although the red tie is generally considered the “power tie”,in the 80’s the yellow tie (especially one with red dots) became very popular, and President Obama’s pale blue has also set a precedent.

The bow tie, originally used to keep shirts intact, was also worn by the elite. There are 3 popular styles: the bat wing, the butterfly, and the ready-tie, which has a clip to affix it to the shirt.

Widely associated with Western wear, the bolo tie was invented by silversmith Victor Cedarstaff of Arizona in the late 1940’s. The bolo, consisting of a piece of cord or braided leather with decorative metal tips (aglets), is the official state neckwear of Arizona (1971), New Mexico (2007) and Texas (2007). In the United Kingdom bolos are known as “bootlace ties”; the Teddy Boys wore them with drape suits in the 1950’s.

How to Select:


–Feel the tie fabric. If silk feels rough, it is of inferior quality.

–Check construction.  A quality tie will be made from three pieces of fabric, whereas a cheaper one will be made from only two.

–Look for hand-rolled, hand-stitched hems, as they will last much longer than a machine-made one and look richer.

–If possible, try it on to make certain that it ties a knot well.

–Check the lining. A well-cut lining is the essence of a quality necktie. To hold its shape, it should be made of firm wool  (check for 100% wool  and gold bars on the lining) and stitched with a resilient slip-stitch.

–Look on the back of the tie for the “bar tack”, just above the  inverted “V” where the two sides meet . This is the stitch that joins the sides, helping the tie to retain its shape.

–Check tie for loose threads and uneven weavings.

–Make sure the tie has been cut on the bias. This allows the tie to hang straight after it has been knotted/tied. To test for this, loop the tie on your hand and see if it turns in the air. If it does, it will do the same on your body.

–A bespoke tie is a custom made tie: the customer chooses the silk fabric, including color, pattern texture and thickness; type of knot; number of folds (4, 6, or 7); length, stripe direction (if appropriate); and interlining.

SIZE AND SHAPE:  Your preferred knot style–Four-in hand, half Windsor knot, Windsor knot,  Pratt knot, or bow-tie– will mainly determine the size and shape of  the tie selected.  Most American and European ties are typically 56 inches long (going to 60 inches for taller men) and 3 1/4–31/2 inches in width. The bow tie ranges from 14-20 inches. Because different knots require different lengths of tie,  keep your desired knot in mind when selecting the tie length; the Pratt and the four-in-hand use less fabric to tie. Ties come in different widths; tie width should correspond to jacket lapel width. ( There are several on-line videos which demonstrate these knots ie How to Tie a Tie Video)

Pick a tie that hits the top of your/recipient’s belt buckle and measures between 2 1/4 and 4 inches wide.

FABRIC:  Although the modern necktie can be made of almost any fabric or weave, the most popular luxury business and “dress” ties are made of silk or very fine wool.  Neckties made from silk represent about 40%. Technological advances have resulted in man-made fibers which produce a fabric resembling silk and are often combined with other fabrics to produce a wide range of effects. Cotton, linen, polyester, rayon, nylon, and ramie, as well as knitted and crocheted ties are usually worn for more casual occasions.

COLORS:  When choosing colors, consider 1. Complexion and hair color of wearer , 2. Clothing it is to be worn with 3. The occasion (formal, informal). Woven solids, brick tones, and dark bold colors, such as burgundy and blue are generally appropriate for the corporate environment.

PATTERNS: The giver or wearer may select from many patterns, the most popular of which are solid, stripes, checked, geometrics, dots, paisley, knitted, and woven. School , club and animal (very small) ties are also popular in certain circles. Patterns and textures can be used to achieve a rich style.

How To Care For

TO MAINTAIN:  To prevent stretching tie’s fibers, always untie your tie ( reversing steps) rather than just pulling knot apart. Your tie will hang properly and last longer. Hanging tie as soon as you remove it will help to flatten out wrinkles and creases.

TO SPOT CLEAN: Use clean cloth to soak up as much stain as possible, avoiding rubbing; for water-soluble stains, place clean cloth with seltzer water over stain and dab lightly; for oil-based stains, sprinkle spot with talcum powder or salt and leave on a few minutes to absorb grease; for especially tough stain, use safe stain remover on spot, then blot.

TO CLEAN: Although most silk ties are not really meant to be cleaned, sometimes hand-washing is successful. Use small amount of mild detergent in cool water. Immerse tie and swish; do not wring. Rinse with clear water several times. Then add quarter cup of white vinegar to basin of clear water and immerse tie to remove any excess detergent and help to restore the natural sheen of the fabric. Rinse with clear water and carefully roll in clean towel, removing excess water, and dry flat on towel. Some professional dry cleaners specialize in cleaning quality ties, placing them in protective bags and doing them by hand.

TO IRON: For minor wrinkles, starting with the narrow end, roll tie around four fingers, then put it on flat surface for a few hours…or  use steam above boiling water, in shower or with a steamer. For stubborn wrinkles, determine the tie’s material and set iron’s temperature accordingly; place tie on ironing surface with back facing up; lay thin cloth over spot to be ironed, start from wide end of tie, moving inward from the edges and progress to narrow end. If wrinkles persist, iron again with dampened cloth.

TO PACK: Ties can be rolled or folded for packing. A cylindrical tie travel case is a good investment for protecting your quality ties. However, rolled ties can also be placed inside a clean sock or in suitcase pocket. To roll properly, align the tips at the bottom of the tie and roll beginning with the narrow end. To properly fold ties, fold it in half, then fold in half again, place in suit jacket pocket and place in luggage. This method is also ideal for item being stored in a garment bag. When you arrive at your destination, hang ties in bathroom while you shower to ensure their smoothness.

TO STORE: Knitted and crocheted ties should be stored flat or rolled up, but never hung.  Keep all other ties on hanger when not in use.

For Gifts: Always consider the recipient’s color and style preferences as well as his need/desire for casual or formal ties. In addition to the classic tie styles, patterns and colors, the giver can also choose from specialty ties, ie for coaches, dentists, soccer players, fishermen, lawyers, policemen, chemists, Christians, golfers, patriots,  cyclers…  Novelty ties can be made of many unusual materials. One can purchase carved wooden neck ties made from various exotic woods, such as Utah Alder ($236.95) or Manzanita Root ($725.95). There are ties with LED’s. You can have a tie made from a collage of photos.

And, for the gift that keeps on giving, there’s always the Tie of the Month Club or the “World’s Best Dad” tie!


–The stripes (regimental or rep) on British ties usually run from top left to bottom right, while the stripes on American ties run from top right to bottom left.

–The smaller the dot, the more formal the tie.

–The loop that holds the small end of the tie is called a “keeper”.

–One can create “ill will” by wearing a tie to which he does not have “membership” rights, as with certain color and stripe patterns.

–Tucking your tie into your shirt to avoid spilling on it while dining is pretty tacky, but spilling gravy on your tie is probably worse.  Although considered by some as old-fashioned, tie tacks and bars do work.

Wacky Facts

–The four-in-hand knot used to tie neckwear probably developed from the knot used in rigging the reins of a four-in-hand carriage. Before this particular rigging was used, a team of 4 horses needed 2 drivers; however, with a four-in-hand the solo driver could handle all 4 horses by holding the reins in one hand.

–The Bolo tie is the official tie of Arizona

–A good quality tie will require approximately 110 silkworm cocoons

–It is possible to purchase a bullet proof tie that will stop a 9mm bullet

–Around the world, the tie is still the most popular Fathers’ Day gift.

–A person who collects ties is called a Grabatologist

–The world’s longest tie was hung from the top of the leaning Tower of Pisa in 1987

–In April 2011, a 6-year-old boy in Smithtown , N.Y. set the world’s record for the “Most Consecutive Days a Child Has Won a Tie”, wearing it for 130 days to raise money for the local Make-A Wish Foundation .


Your gift is a reflection of your thoughtfulness and of your interest in the recipient.
Whether graduating from high school, college, or other institution of higher learning, your graduate will soon be making major life changes. You can recognize that significance with a gift which commemorates the event itself; provides practical assistance for a move; supports a new job or career; or encourages her/his interests. This gift can be memorable without being expensive.
TO COMMEMORATE: Photos/videos of the graduation and festivities; Frame for graduation photo , school song or motto perhaps with date engraved; Silver serving spoon, ladle, cup, tray, bowl, bar accessories engraved with date; Fountain pen engraved with date; Collage of newspaper and magazine headlines of interest from that date; Class ring; Crystal objects, such as goblets, small trays, bowls, bookends, plaques etched with date or graduation invitation; Personalized leather-bound atlas with date engraved; engraved jewelry/watches; scrapbook or video of memories; Compilation album of favorite music from school years.
TO ASSIST WITH MOVE TO DORM OR APARTMENT: Luggage with tags bearing name and new address; Small refrigerator; Electric blanket or sheet; Canvas director’s chair; Handsome corkscrew and bar accessories; Attractive and comfortable floor pillows; Subscription to hometown newspaper; Laundry Bag; Portable bookcase; Coin bank filled with quarters; Desk lamp; Ice chest; Bookends; Gift Certificate for two or more to special restaurant in new town; Airtight container for storing food; Small appliances, such as travel iron, battery-operated vacuum; Organizers, such as footlockers that can double as seats or coffee tables; Monogrammed robe; Posters related to recipient’s interest; Gift certificate to school bookstore; Car parking, car washes, or car insurance for semester; Sewing kit; Tickets home for the holidays.
TO SUPPORT A NEW JOB OR CAREER: Reference books, such as law or medical texts, or “To Be Sure You Know Before You Go” the newly published ELITE ETIQUETTE; Monogrammed portfolio or briefcase; Subscription to professional journal, such as The Wall Street Journal, Fast Company, Forbes, or Advertising Age; Membership in professional or alumni association; Thermal water pitcher and glass for desk; Gift certificate to dental, medical, culinary, architectural, etc. or any other job-related supply house; Desk accessories, including picture frames with favorite family or pet photo; Membership to health club near new office.
TO ENCOURAGE HER/HIS INTERESTS: If graduate is interested in art or literature, give book or work of art which may increase in value while she/he enjoys them: If interested in investing, start an investment fund or open an IRA; If interested in outdoor activites, give trip with sporting interest–fishing, skiing, mountain climbing, back packing, canoeing; If interested in history, give trip with historical interest–Williamsburg, Washington, D.C., the Alamo, battlegrounds; If interested in sports or health, give membership in local tennis, golf, shooting, health club and/or lessons; If interested in theatre, concerts, opera, give season subscription and/or binoculars or opera glasses; and give local courses, lessons or seminars in any area your graduate is interested in.




International Business Protocol

By Dawn Bryan, best-selling author of “The Art and Etiquette of Gift Giving” and “Elite Etiquette”, and founder of Qualipedia ™

It is very easy to unwittingly offend your international business prospects. Many global marketing efforts and contract negotiations have been destroyed by the unintentional blunder.

Being too late or too early for an appointment, using the wrong form of address, improperly receiving a  business card, shaking hands, bringing wine to a home dinner, insulting with your choice of business gift, using a “hard sell”,  or even eating everything on your plate could ruin your negotiation…and reputation. Americans most often make mistakes with meeting/greeting rituals; eating/dining; giving/receiving;   and not recognizing significant taboos. And, when setting up or responding to a meeting request, remember that many Europeans and South Americans write the day first, then the month, then the year when using numbers.

Meeting/Greeting Rituals
Although handshakes are standard greeting gestures among Europeans, the gesture is generally more formal and more firm—except for the lighter touch of the French. Usually those of higher rank and women are expected to extend their hand first. Asians will often greet you with a gentle handshake; however, the bow is more traditional and more respected. Learning how to bow, including depth, eye contact, etc. is very important. Some South Americans can be effusive and take a long time to greet, believing that this conveys respect for the other person.  In many cultures, it is good manners to shake hands with everyone in a group/room upon arrival as well as departure.  Many European and South American women kiss each other on alternating cheeks. In Brazil, a third kiss between women bestows “good luck” in finding a spouse!

Be sure to use the proper form of address when meeting—or greeting: there are many different customs. For example, Europeans rarely use first names until they know the person well; unlike the United States, titles, especially academic titles, are always used.  Asian names are usually listed in a different order from Western names. In Japan, use last names plus San meaning “Ms.” or “Mr.” The Chinese are very sensitive regarding status and always use official titles, such as “Committee Member”. Titles are also important in some Central/South American countries: in Panama the title Licenciado is used for anyone with a bachelor’s degree. In Norway, lawyers and clergymen do not use titles, although government officials do.

Learn the business card protocol for each culture. Your card should have the other person’s language printed on the back and that side should be presented to her/him. The presentation itself is important, particularly in Asian cultures where it is given with a proper bow. Do not just quickly stuff someone’s card into your pocket or bag. Always treat another’s card with respect, taking the time to read and appreciate it. When you meet with several people, be sure to give your card to each person lest you slight someone.

Whether you are a host or a guest, you should be familiar with the local food, drink, punctuality expectations (local time), when and how to conduct business, and appropriate seating. In some cultures, guests are expected to arrive late—don’t be offended at your Spanish associate’s late arrival. In others (Japan, The Netherlands, Sweden), tardiness is considered very rude. In Italy, the more important the person, the later he/she may arrive to a business meeting. Europeans are generally not fond of business breakfasts.

Learn when and how to correctly order and eat difficult or new foods. If possible, practice eating in the style of the other person—European, American, chopsticks.

In some countries, such as Norway, gift-giving is simply not a part of doing business, whereas in many other cultures (Japan) it is an integral part of the process of learning about the other person. In China a banquet is an acceptable business gift.

Some business gifts are not presented until negotiations have been completed (Latin America), others at the beginning (Korea).Some countries (Australia) have very strict quarantine laws regarding even wood products and many foods.

To avoid looking cheap, do not give logo gifts unless they are of excellent quality and the logo is subtle.

If bringing flowers to someone’s home, be certain that the color, number, or actual type of flower is not offensive: in many countries certain flowers and colors signify death.

Do not be impatient when dealing with cultures such as Saudi and Russia. Russians prize patience as a virtue and some regard compromise as a sign of weakness.

It is usually inappropriate for a foreign business woman to invite her male counterpart to a business dinner unless other associates or spouses attend.

Do not dress casually for a business meeting, and, if a woman, probably best to wear a skirt.

Never say “no” to the Japanese and understand their aversion to the word. (This maintains harmony and saves face.)

Arab World – Do not give or present anything with your left hand; give an alcoholic beverage or bar gift; or show the sole of your shoe.

If you would like to hear more about international business protocol, please tune in to Success Express at Big Blend Radio and my recent interview:  http://www.bigblendradio.com/April-18-2014.html

“Bringing in the May” and Spring Flowers

Definition: The first day of May which has always been strongly associated with flowers and frequently includes the giving of May Day Baskets.

Provenance: Celebration of May Day began as pagan festivals, celebrating spring and fertility. May 1 was one of the most important holidays of the year for the Druids of the British Isles; they believed that the day divided the year in half. When the Romans came to occupy the British Isles, they brought new traditions. Their early May was devoted to a 5-day celebration called Floralia in honor of Flora, the goddess of flowers. Ancient customs that still survive in various parts of the world include the dawn gathering of blossoms, flowers, and branches;  the decking of and dancing around a maypole; the crowning of the Queen of the May; the Morris Dance (men dancing together in animal costumes); the making of garlands; the hanging of May baskets on the doorknobs of friends and neighbors; washing one’s face with May dew which supposedly has the power to maintain/restore beauty–according to American folklore, girls living in the Ozark Mountains believed that washing their faces with this dew would help them to find and marry the man of their choice.

may day baskets2

Image Credit: anoteoffriendship.blogspot.com

May Baskets are not only a celebration of spring but a celebration of giving. The basket filled with flowers–and sometimes other small gifts –is quietly, and supposedly secretly,  placed on someone’s doorstep or hung on his/her door knob. Especially popular among children and young 

1. How to Care for Cut Flowers:


Image Credit: http://www.rosefloral.com

–Because they require a healthy environment, be sure that your container is free from the bacteria that can clog the stem, preventing circulation of water and nutrients. Scrub or rinse containers with mild solution of chlorox bleach before or after each use. Also give your flowers clean well-ventilated air, as smoke and other pollutants will shorten their lives.

–Flowers respond to the temperature of the water they are placed into.  Warm water encourages them to open/grow; and cool water slows their development, adding longevity.

–Always cut stems on an angle while under running water, exposing a larger surface. Use a sharp knife, as snipping stems with a scissors can pinch off the channels through which the water is conducted. When cutting tulips, removing all white portions of the stem will allow better fluid intake.

–Remove all foliage from stems which will be under water, as this will discourage bacteria from forming.

–Flower preservatives can prolong the life of your flowers. Most of them contain ingredients which keep the flowers’ energy level high (sugar), inhibit the growth of bacteria, and lower the Ph factor, enhancing water/nutrient uptake. Follow the instructions carefully.

–Many flower arrangers have their own “tried-and-true” methods of extending flower life. These range from bleach, sugar, crushed aspirin, pinch of salt and baking powder, soda, and copper pennies to various combinations.  Some claim that using hairspray on the blooms will extend their attractive lives.

–Take care when combining daffodils in a bouquet, as they exude a sap that clogs the stems of other flowers (especially tulips) that can cause the other flowers to wilt.  If you do include them, first soak them in warm water with a teaspoon of sugar for at least 12 hours to leach the harmful sap out of the stems.

–Keep flowers away from direct sunlight, drafts and heating/air conditioning vents; don’t set on top of TV; don’t place close to burning candles. They will enjoy being spray misted.

–Every 2 or 3 days give flower stems a fresh cut, clean out the container, and replace the water/solution to increase hydration.

–Remove flowers that wilt early from an arrangement because they give off ethylene gas (used in commercial ripening) which will cause the remainder of the flowers to wilt sooner.

–Mist full strength lemon juice on gardenias to prevent them from browning.

–When using tulips in an arrangement, dip tulips which have reached the openness you desire into beaten egg whites to prevent their opening any further.

2. Wholistic:


Image Credit: www.nrgetics.com

–Health Benefits–The presence of flowers improves emotional health and helps to relieve stress. A team of researchers at Rutgers University explored the link between flowers and life satisfaction. The recently-published study showed that 1. Flowers have an immediate impact on happiness–a universal reaction; 2. Flowers have a long-term positive effect on moods; 3. Flowers make intimate connections, their presence increasing contact with family and friends. The study also concluded that flowers are a symbol for sharing, especially the sharing of space.

3. Tips:


Image Credit: howtopreserveflowers.com

–When working with gardenias or stephanotis, you can prevent browning by first wetting your hands so that the oil from your skin will not touch the petals.

–If you plan to eventually dry your flowers/arrangement, look for plants that are interesting in shape, texture, or color once dried. Choose plants that will retain their shape and not fall apart or disintegrate.

–If you have no commercial preservative, make your own by placing 1 teaspoon sugar and a few drops of chlorine bleach into the water.

–To straighten bent tulips, wrap the stems tightly in damp newspaper, secure with a rubber band, and stand in lukewarm water with light directly above them for a couple of hours.

–Because tulips continue to grow even after being cut, it is best to change water and cut stems daily.

4.Wacky Facts:


Image Credit: caminhospagao.blogspot.com

–The Pilgrims of the New World observed May Day for awhile until Governor John Endicott (a Puritan) ordered all Maypoles burned down.

–May Day in England is a bank holiday; in France, it includes a procession for the Virgin Mary.

–May baskets can be made or constructed of almost anything–paper or plastic cups, oatmeal boxes, cartons, baskets, vases, pitchers, construction paper, grocery store berry baskets, flower pot, small pail, watering can…  Decorated paper cones used as flower containers are called tussie mussies.

–In 2010 Girl Scouts in West Bend, Wisconsin made May Day baskets containing fresh flowers for the surprised residents of local hospitals and nursing homes. It was such a success that they have continued each year.

–Leaving an anonymous May Day Basket is considered “a random act of kindness”.



Entertaining that is eco and socio-conscious as well as healthy  does not have to consist of brown invitations, brown napkins, brown bags, brown rice, and brown breads. It is possible to have a party which is green and glamorous–as well as multi-colored! And to be aware of what you are buying, using, doing and its impact on the environment and on others.


Here are some wonderful ideas for your eco-conscious party.  Electronic invites are not only easy, but very environmentally friendly Arranged centerpieces of fresh or dried fruit or vegetables (edible), as well as flowerpots and small trees (reusable), make wonderful spring and summer decorations. Send these gifts home with guests or deliver to a hospital or nursing home Create entirely edible centerpieces, using (takeout) chopsticks skewered with fruits, vegetables, meats, and cheeses Use decorative cloth napkins–or bandanas. Tie them with bamboo, hemp, or raffia Large leaves can become place cards when written on with non-toxic ink Collect wine corks to use as place card holders; slit and insert paint chips or cardboard with guest’s name.


Look for foods which are organic (regulated by USDA), biodynamic (sustainable, self-contained system, where everything on the farm is re-used or recycled), and/or sustainable (sustains rather than degrades the environment, and is economically viable).  If at all possible, THINK and BUY LOCALLY. Saves transportation costs, supports local economy, stays fresh longer, and tastes better. Local organic eggs and artisanal cheeses are widely available throughout the year For drinking, serve filtered ice water in pitchers rather than bottles; use organic teas and fair trade coffees; purchase local (if possible), organic wines and liquors. 50 states now produce their own wines. Look for beverages in recyclable glass bottles.  Prepare the meal around one main dish, which incorporates various fresh vegetables and/or fruits, such as gazpacho with various toppings. Prevent waste by purchasing and preparing food in appropriate quantities. Offer at least one dish for vegetarians, which is free of animal fats/products. Barbecue with grass-fed beef and sustainable seafood for better taste as well as greener event.


For a final eco-chic touch, send guests home with seed packets, bulbs, small potted plants or their own bandanas, soybean or beeswax candles. Homemade cookies, jams, small breads, vinegars, and pickles all lend a nice homey touch.


Combine your party with a Spring Clean-up event for your neighborhood, local park, school or playground, nearby empty or parking lots, or with an exchange or tag sale to help your guests with their spring house and garage cleaning Organize a salt or honey tasting ,which also educates guests about the various ecological and taste choices available For a really special event, purchase and release butterflies indigenous to your area and beneficial to the environment Live music will save electricity, and using your iPod will provide music without lots of gear.  Use beeswax or soy candles and organic soaps in powder room/guest bathroom  Have your event during daylight hours to conserve power For green chic, try recycled cardboard made into everything from vases and bowls to tables and room dividers. Objects made by Liquid cardboard(tm) are 100% recycled and recyclable–even the glue is vegetable.



Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.