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I’m Sick of Being The Shy Girl

Dear Didi,

Naturally shy, it is hard for me to go to holiday parties because I’m not good at talking to strangers. How can I move past my shyness and just hang with new people?

-Charlotte, Brooklyn, NY

Dear Charlotte,

Get over yourself. Nobody over the age of thirteen is "naturally" shy. Have plenty to say. Embrace what's going on in the world and learn things to talk about. Subscribe to theSkimm.com to keep up with what's happening and what other guests may be talking about -- things to know about to help the conversation along. Give theSkimm three mintues a day and you'll know more than most people in the room. When starting a conversation, jump in with your hands at your side raised to your waist and palms up toward the ceiling to show you're open to having an honest conversation. Before going out, take in the TED.com talk Power Pose, by Amy Cuddy, to give yourself a long-lasting boost of confidence. Once you've watched Power Pose, you'll know exactly what to do before any event or even a job interview -- and what topics to bring up at your next holiday party.


The Secret Santa Who Has Had It

Dear Didi,

This secret Santa thing at the office is a real bore. We’ve been doing it for too long and nobody really cares.

How can we stop a tradition that has worn out its welcome? Every year the cost of the gift goes up. Half the time I don’t really respect the person I have to give a gift to. We all seem to think we have to keep our Secret Santa mug despite the chip and crack. How do we liven Christmas up around here?

-H.R., Detroit

Dear H.R.,

Before the holidays next year take an anonymous vote to discontinue the tradition. However, on the ballot coworkers have to come up with another idea of how to celebrate the holidays with camaraderie. Such as -- Let's just have a beer after work on the appointed day. Encourage those who vote to keep the Secret Santa tradition to come up with a fresh idea, say, Foodie Secret Santa, which would mean no mugs, chotskies, and knick-knacks in favor of gourmet snacks. Who can find the hottest spiced nuts?


Christmas Gifts for My Brother’s Family

Dear Didi,

As the lucky uncle of my New England nieces and nephews, ages 4 months to five-years-old, I need ideas for Christmas gifts for them as well as for my brother and his wife. Researching is easy, I just don’t have a clue as to want to look for. Do you have suggestions?

-Uncle Amo, Los Angeles, CA

Dear Uncle Amo,

Here are a few of our favorite gifts, some of which may work well for your nieces, nephews, and their parents. For your nieces and nephews: Anatomically correct doll: Madame Alexander  - Cuddle Babies Lil Peanut 19" Boy Doll Munchkin Mozart Magic Cube Baby Musical Toy Munchkin Nursery Projector & Sound System Connecting Tetris light systems with 7 different shapers Retro Traditional Kitchen Workbench Marble Run for age 3+ Painter Pens Map placemats Microscope Bowling Set Height Chart Book Club Helmet Steiff Teddy Bear Jellycat books for babies, "Jungly Tails" and "If I Were A Fox" For their mother or father: Fairphone the truly smart smartphone with social values is made of conflict-free minerals, and factory workers are paid a fair wage. Craft Beer Club membership Super juicer Set of cocktail glasses Books: "In the Land of Punctuation," by Christian Morgenstern, "Cities of the World," by Stephan Fussel, "How to Cook Everything Fast," by Mark Bittman At Nudo.com, Adopt an Olive Tree in Italy for them and they'll receive fresh olive oil, or Adopt a Tea Garden in India for fresh Darjeeling For him: Elbow patch shirt from J.Crew, snugly socks, wool slippers, badger bristle shaving brush and handmade shaving soap For her: Fur collared sweater, fountain pen, gift certificate You should be able to find all of these gifts on the internet. ~Didi          


Destination Summer Florida Wedding Dress Code

Dear Didi,

My fiancé and I are getting married in Florida in July. He is wearing a khaki vest and trousers with a tie and brown shoes and I will wear a full length dress.

The wedding is at 2pm and the reception will be a few hours later at a restaurant which requires business casual attire. What dress code should we request for our guests to wear? We opted out of tuxedos since it’s Florida in July, but also this is a destination wedding and our guests will be traveling from Pennsylvania. What’s your suggestion?

-R, Pennsylvania

Dear R,

For your destination wedding, the dress code 'Business Casual' is more about what NOT to wear: shorts, flip-flops, t-shirt, baseball cap, wife-beater, bare feet, bare chest or bare midriff. The restaurant uses the No Bare Bodies dress code 'Business Casual,' because they're encouraging  guests to wear sundresses instead of bikinis and trousers in favor of Speedos. For your khaki vest-themed wedding, you are looking for the men guests to wear a tie with either a summer vest or jacket. Tell your guests that by using the dress code 'Tie and Vest.' Out of respect for you, the bride, on her wedding day, the very least the men guests can do is to wear a tie and jacket/vest. It is traditional to have the wedding dress code coded for the men. For instance, the dress code 'Black Tie' means a tuxedo. As you say, it will be too hot in July for a tuxedo and 'Tie and Vest' would work wonderfully for your destination wedding dress code. On your wedding website their should be a place for dress code information. As well as listing the dress code 'Tie and Vest' (although not in quotes) on your wedding invitation, you would also put 'Tie and Vest' as the dress code for your ceremony on your wedding website. Men guests who do not own a summer vest will get it that they have the option of wearing a light-weight summer jacket -- that they can always take off when the dancing begins. We look forward to hearing more about your wedding and we would really like to see photos, if you care to share them with NewportManners.com.