Welcome, Mindy! We’re so happy you’re here. Tell us a little about yourself—how did you become The Gracious Girl?
One of the number one questions I am asked during speaking engagements is, “What made you want to teach etiquette?” Because in this day and age, who does this, right?
For me, etiquette is the gateway to kindness and self-confidence. And it’s true – I have a personal stake in this field. I became a first-time mother 10 years ago, and now I’m a mother of two young girls. I see my field as something to help my girls and others grow up confident in their skin, but nice. I know the social stumbling blocks that happen for women. I believe that when we feel comfortable and confident in our own skin that we can truly be kind and give back to people in a genuine and wonderful way.
When I field a magazine interview, speak to a group of university women, or appear as a TV guest, I have the potential to impact – in one particular way – women, future generations, my girls and their children. I donʼt take these moments lightly. I am grateful for each opportunity. I find that while sometimes the idea of etiquette is daunting to people, everyone is drawn to the idea of living graciously.
Why do you think etiquette is so important for the holidays?
Often, we think of etiquette as a list of rules. And although etiquette does involve rules, more so, it defines simple actions we take to make another person feel good or enjoy our moments together. The spirit of the holiday season is more about relationships than anything else – connecting with people, giving back, and sharing gifts. But in the rush to get things done, or have everything be perfect, we can forget that. Etiquette becomes the backdrop, a guide at our busiest and most hectic times, reminding us that people are most important; it ensures that we are mindful of others even with a to-do list a mile long.
Speaking of a long to-do list, what do you do to prep for the holiday season, and when do you start?
Would you believe I get the holiday juices flowing in August? I started a silver bell collection for my nieces and nephews years ago, and orders for that are sent the first of August. In October, I begin collecting gift wrapping to match my annual theme. I also start saving for my end-of-the-year tipping, and I submit my holiday card order and buy gifts for my childrenʼs teachers. I find what’s most helpful for holiday planning is a good old-fashioned list. I have a Gift Giving Checklist that I’ve used in past years and continue to revamp and add to. I use it for all gifts, and I have my Gracious Girl’s Thank You Checklist going at all times.
What are the most common stumbling blocks that your readers experience as they prepare for the holidays?
Simply? Pressure. When we get caught up in the noise and perfection of Pinterest, itʼs easy to feel resentment and like nothing is good enough. While I post a lot about preparation, and ideas to help families prepare and enjoy the season, the reality is that no one can do everything. While homemade cookies and DIY might be a great fit for one person, a potted plant from the grocery store might be the best for another. The holidays are not a competition. There isn’t a medal at the end for the woman with the most elaborate DIY scheme, and the person who refused to do anything doesn’t end up without friends. The holidays are about connecting and caring. So, if someone makes an intricate DIY, celebrate it. Don’t read into it, “Oh sure, look at her — showoff!” This might be her love-language and doesn’t mean you are less if you don’t. Everyone needs to take the pressure off to be something specific, and put grace on instead. Grace for others and, most importantly, grace for yourself.
Do you have any quick tips on how to be even more thoughtful this holiday season?
I find that when we are well-organized it’s much easier to be thoughtful. Early in the season, I love to stock a gift-giving pantry with small gifts that I can always have on hand. I also plan for the gifts that our family will exchange with other families. I truly believe it’s the small touches of thoughtfulness that make the holiday so special – a note in the mail, a beautifully wrapped hostess gift, or a card to your garbage collector and mail carrier. Often, we think of the big gift exchanges but, really, the small touches can make us feel more gracious and teach our children the true spirit of this wonderful season.
We want to thank Mindy for all the awesome tips she’s shared with us today. Stop back next week when Mindy returns to share some etiquette tips on holiday card-sending!