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December Wedding Guest Dress Code in Florida at 4:30PM

Dear Didi,

My wife and I are attenting a December wedding in Orlando, FL. She has a beautiful knee-length, short-sleeved navy sequenced dress she would like to wear but does not know if it is appropriate. The wedding is at 4:30pm.

-Confounded husband, florida

Dear Confounded husband,

For a 4:30pm wedding your wife can certainly wear a short-sleeve, knee-length, navy blue sequin sheath dress.  Assuming the dress code is Suits & Dresses, meaning a short, chic cocktail dress, she will be right in style at the reception following the wedding. You might suggest legwear with a shimmer that are a shade lighter than her skin tone to dress up her legs -- if she hasn't planned for them already. We particularly love the legwear at Wolford.com.


Thanksgiving Table

Dear Didi,

How do I have a spectacular table that won’t cost a lot?

-new hostess, Provience

Dear new hostess,

Think about what you have that you can use on your table that is in the thanksgiving colors or reds, yellows, oranges, and greens and think color. With candlesticks use colored candles, although not Christmas candles that are green or red. Have children decorate place cards and write the names of the each guest on a small fold over card. They can cut 4-by-4 inch squares out of construction paper and fold them over with the name on the front. Take a pumpkin and carve out a medium size circle on the top, scrape out the seeds, and insert a container of water in the cavity.  Tightly tuck colorful fall colored flowers into the the container. Or simply fill a glass bowl with clementines, tangerines, or apples for your centerpiece. Thanksgiving morning have  children find perfect specimens of fallen leaves and artfully place them like fallen leaves, with the shiny side up, in the middle of your dining table. Try setting the table ahead of time so you have time to add or edit out what isn't colorful. Colored glasses for wine or water that you can place side by side. For instance a clear wine glass next to a green water glass. Instead of a tablecloth, use one or two colorful runners in the center of the table with the centerpiece centered in the middle. Or place the runners on top of a any tablecloth. Don't forget to put a couple of small bowls of cranberry sauce around the table with spoons, to not only add a pop of color but because your guests can never have enough cranberry sauce. Grate a film of orange peel over the red cranberries. Any left over cranberries can be used to decorate the insides of hurricane lamps.  We use two website to illustrate Hurricane lamps that are safe and sturdy. Google Ralph Lauren Bedford Hurricane and William Sonoma Hurricane. For the children at the table colorful foil covered chocolate turkeys are a sweet reward for having good manners. When looking for ideas for spectacular table settings, check out "Creative Napkins and Table Settings," by Jimmy Ng at Barnes & Noble.


Thanksgiving Toast

Dear Didi,

Can you give me tips on toasting at Thanksgiving dinner please?

-first time toaster, Washington DC

Dear first time toaster,

Here's to the turkey! I'm about to eat and the turkeys I'm sharing it with! "No one diets on Thanksgiving," to quote Erma Bombeck. What we're really talking about is a wonderful day set aside on the fourth Thursday of November when no one diets. I mean, why else would they call it Thanksgiving? Your host asks one of the guests to say grace. Once the dinner is underway, any guest can stand with a glass in his hand and say, "I ask you to rise and drink a toast of thanks to Susan and Donald, our gracious and  funny hosts." Toast the host(s) and the chef(s) for their time, good taste, and spirit. Compliment the hosts for the wonderful dinner and being at the table with friends and family. The Thanksgiving toast is designed to make the host feel good about the meal and about how happy you are to be with the people at that table. Make it short and sweet.    


Cracking Festive Dress Codes

Dear Didi,

It used to be when you looked at the dress code on an invitation you had clear instructions. Wear a tuxedo (Black Tie) or a jacket and tie (Cocktail Attire).

Now I’m getting invitations with dress codes such as Smart Attire, Festive Attire, Cocktail Glamour, Party Chic, Country Club, Festive Fete. What’s a guy to do?

-clueless about dress codes, Boston

Dear clueless about dress codes,

Or no instructions. Which means wear what you like. The first principle of etiquette is to make guests comfortable Nevertheless, you want guests to dress in a certain way and they may not understand your vision without guidelines. You don't want to embarrass an over-dressed or under-dressed guest, but you hope your friends will still flaunt their own style. The time of year, starting time, and location of the party are your first clues. In warmer weather, the codes are rather fun because they are generally more relaxed with guests wearing sandals, boat shoes, open-collar shirts, shorts and no socks. For instance: Casual Hawaiian, Country Western, Casual Fun Attire, Costal Cocktail, Newport Chic, Smart Casual, Dressy Casual, Yachting Attire, Indoor-Outdoor, and No Socks -- my personal favorite. During the holiday season dressing becomes more celebratory with festive dress codes: Black Subversive Glamour, Cocktail Glamour, Party Chic, Festive Fête, Gold & Silver, and Festive Attire -- not necessarily black-tie but season appropriate. When we see the words 'Formal Attire,' we think black-tie or tuxedo, and yet for some guests 'Formal' may mean a tie with a tweed jacket or blazer. Upmarket restaurants and private clubs require a Jacket & Tie, and you won't be allowed in without both. Actually -- because we're bored with the same-old 'Black Tie' and 'Cocktail Attire' -- we're seeing more helpful dress codes specific to cracking codes: Suits & Dresses, Business Suits, Black Tie Formal, Black or White Tie, White Tie (can be with or without tails), Black Tie Optional, and 'Dress: Uniform, Morning Coat or Lounge Suit.' What to wear where? Out of respect for the host, dress up. At the very least, wear a tie and jacket. To fit in, when the party timeframe spans between 5:00 PM and 9:00 PM, you can count on 'Suits & Dresses,' meaning a knee-length or midi cocktail dress and pantsuit. Or wear what you want to wear.