Etiquette: Granddaughter needs dress-up clothes for church

For the News-DemocratJune 17, 2013 

Q. We have been fortunate that our granddaughter has come to visit us for a couple of weeks every summer since she was a little girl. She's now 13. I've been discussing her visit with her mother (my daughter) and asked her to make sure our granddaughter brings dress-up clothes this time for church, a wedding she will attend with us and a couple of other nicer events.

In the past, we have usually gone on a road trip to a national park or camping or to a beach. This time, we're staying in the area.

My daughter asked me what I mean by "dress-up" clothes. I suggested a couple of summer dresses, sleeveless perhaps, but definitely not strapless, a pair of small-heeled summer shoes instead of all flat flip flops, and a small purse to use instead of the big sloppy monster she usually carries. My daughter said she would work on it, but not to get my hopes up since my granddaughter is in that awkward lanky stage and not much into dressing up, for anything, even church.

I've been thinking about how to handle this. I definitely have a thing about what I feel is the proper dress for going to church. I think it is a shame how some kids dress for church, especially in the summertime, and that ministers and pastors don't give guidance on how to dress. Even sadder is that the parents allow their kids to wear flip- flops.

How should I handle this if she arrives with no appropriate dress-up clothes? We want her to continue to come visit us but we are concerned about what she is going to wear.

A. I understand. First of all, I suggest you call and talk to your granddaughter yourself and briefly outline some of the activities you have planned during her visit.

Be up-front about your desire for her to wear dress-up clothes to some of the events she will be attending while she is staying with you, and emphasize how much fun the wedding and other events will be.

If it will fit into your budget, tell her you are planning a couple of "girls days out" with shopping (for a couple of summer dresses, shoes and a purse) and maybe a "beauty" day for the both of you, to include a manicure, pedicure. and hair styling.

This will help boost her confidence during this "lanky" stage.

As to how you feel about the proper attire for church, I totally agree with you. I commend you for maintaining and instilling those values for your granddaughter. Let's hope some of the other teenagers at church notice how well-dressed and pretty your grand- daughter is and decide to adopt her example and show a respectful appearance when attending church.

It is amazing how one person's example can generate a change in others.

Q. I was asked to join a card club, which meets once a month. We take turns hosting. The lady who hosted last month, I found out, doesn't believe in turning on her air conditioning until it is almost 100 degrees outside.

Her house was absolutely stifling inside. I couldn't concentrate on cards and could hardly wait to leave.

Can a guest ask a hostess to do something about the temperature in her home, whether it is too hot or too cold? Can I take one of these little battery-operated fans that hang around the neck to keep me a little cooler the next time we have to go to her house?

A. A considerate hostess will always be concerned with the comfort of her guests. Unfortunately, some hostesses have conditioned themselves to a warm house, and are unaware of how uncomfortable it can be for guests who are more conditioned to cooler temperatures.

It is inappropriate for a guest to ask the hostess to lower or raise the temperature unless the hostess asks you if you are comfortable with the current temperature. If that question is posed, then a guest can reply with: "It is a little warm for me. If everyone else is comfortable, I will be fine."

Hopefully, other guests will then provide their honest opinion, or the hostess will adjust the temperature.

Remind yourself to wear something made of a cooler and lighter fabric the next time you are scheduled to go to this lady's house when the outdoor temperatures are high.

I suggest you not use the little fan. Not only would it be too obvious a hint about the heat in this lady's house but it could also be very distracting to you and the other card players.

When it is your turn to host, be sure to ask your guests if they are comfortable with the temperature in your house.

Dianne Isbell is a local contributing writer. Send your etiquette questions to Lifestyle Editor Pat Kuhl, Belleville News-Democrat, P.O. Box 427, 120 S. Illinois St., Belleville, IL 62222-0427. Or email to

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