Karen Cleveland
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Karen Cleveland is a Toronto-based etiquette writer and advisor. Her column, Finishing School, tackles all things etiquette, from the traditional to the taboo.

Entries by Karen Cleveland

How to Announce Your Engagement

(0) Comments | Posted August 24, 2015 | 12:12 PM

Congratulations on your engagement! You found your match -- that's the hardest part. The rest is just blissful happily ever after, right? Well, sort of.

Engagements tend to bring an onslaught of unsolicited advice. Everyone will have an opinion about what you should do next. And there will be...

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Seven Hallmarks of Good Holiday Behavior

(0) Comments | Posted December 19, 2014 | 5:00 PM

Tis the season...The holidays can feel like you're partying like it is your job, and that very well might be true for the next few weeks. Here are the seven tenets of getting through the professional merriment with grace.

Give good small talk

Reading the headlines that day and brushing...

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How to Stay Merry in Common Holiday Conundrums

(0) Comments | Posted November 24, 2014 | 11:50 AM

Isn't it ironic that what's supposed to be the season of giving, reflecting and general do-gooding is tied up in the most stressful expectations for shopping and hosting? It can be enough to make you want to say bah humbug, but please, don't. Here are some common holiday conundrums, and...

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Keep It In Your Pants. Your Phone, That Is

(2) Comments | Posted July 17, 2014 | 12:35 PM

They've truly thought of everything. July is now dubbed Cellphone Courtesy Month, though it is worth noting that we should all consider being courteous for the other eleven months of the year, too.

To mark this newly minted awareness month, and hopefully spark good cellphone decorum all year-round, TELUS...

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Yoga Studio Decorum 101

(1) Comments | Posted March 20, 2014 | 12:44 PM

Don't know your Hatha from your Ashtanga? One of the best things about yoga is its intrinsically welcoming nature -- your practice is really just that, your own. And while everyone is welcome, certain behaviours are not.


  • Get to class on time - sneaking into class once it...

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Four Things To Bring Along On Your Valentine's Date

(0) Comments | Posted February 11, 2014 | 4:12 PM

Ah, Valentine's Day.

Groomed? Smell good? Have a nice outfit? Ready to kiss all over town? Good for you. Love is grand. Since you're already up to speed on dating decorum and promise not to Instragram your dinner, consider grabbing a few of these goodies before you...

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4 Valentine's Day Ideas That Won't Make You Cringe

(0) Comments | Posted February 4, 2014 | 9:58 AM

If you haven't been hit over the head with onslaught of bad chocolate and tacky lingerie, count yourself lucky. Then, come on out from the rock that you've been living under, and concede that Valentine's Day is here.

And if you hate on it, you can rest assured that you're...

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Dress Code: Decoding your Holiday Party Invitation

(0) Comments | Posted December 15, 2013 | 11:01 PM

Festive? Cocktail? Or festive cocktail? The language of party invitations is key to cracking the dress code, well, code. Following are some cues to heed in your choice of attire. And heed away.

There is a renewed interest in dressing with intent (thanks in part to a...

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The "End of Men" Debate Felt More Like the End of Feminism

(51) Comments | Posted November 19, 2013 | 11:34 AM

Five minutes into the Munk Debates on November 15 and I was ready to steal a line from one of the debaters' recent books. In How to be a Woman, Caitlin Moran says, "One doesn't want to be as blunt as to say, 'girls get the f-k off...

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How to Make Your Workplace a Better Place

(0) Comments | Posted September 11, 2013 | 12:22 PM

By now, you likely have a fair understanding of the People for Good campaign (here's a quick introduction) and have caught the kindness contagion by doing all kinds of good at home. The next frontier for inspiring good? The office.

If you log a...

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How to Do Good at Home

(1) Comments | Posted August 9, 2013 | 10:25 AM

People for Good are at it again, carrying on their crusade for kindness. Thank goodness, literally, for their selfless goal of making the world a better place, one good deed at a time.

Incidentally, when we think about fostering kindness, we often think first about interactions...

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Have Wedding Gifts (and Expectations) Gotten Out of Hand?

(6) Comments | Posted July 18, 2013 | 9:17 AM

Call it a faux-pas, call it cattiness, call it what you want. I'll call it Giftgate.

In case you missed it, Amy Kenny of the Hamilton Spectator wrote a fantastic piece about an embarrassing turn of events. In a classic case of two wrongs not making...

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People For Good Use Good Deeds to Make Your Day Better

(0) Comments | Posted July 3, 2013 | 5:05 PM

Canadians reap the benefits of our gentle dispositions when we travel abroad, a fact galvanized by other countries "borrowing" our maple leaf for their backpacks, trying to masquerade as us. But to witness rush-hour road rage on the Gardiner Expressway, or cram into a packed subway train, you might never...

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Cocktail Hour -- Ode to the Negroni

(2) Comments | Posted May 28, 2013 | 8:39 PM

When I don't know what I want to drink, or what to serve friends, I default to a Negroni.

A classic cocktail with three ingredients, this drink doesn't require a minor in mixology or complicated bar equipment (you don't even need a shaker) -- and yet it is a damn...

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Tea Etiquette 101: Drinking Tea 'the Proper Way'

(0) Comments | Posted April 24, 2013 | 5:00 PM

How could adding boiling water to leaves get so complicated? Pinkies up or down? Conventions abound when it comes to tea service, but it need not be fussy. In fact, some of the traditions actually have interesting roots.

High or low
When we venture out for high tea, it's...

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Efficiency Shouldn't Win Out Over Etiquette

(1) Comments | Posted March 12, 2013 | 5:42 PM

When I read Nick Bilton's piece Disruptions: Digital Era Redefining Etiquette, from my smart phone, in between replying to texts, I felt sad. A little sad for Nick's friends who are now probably terrified to ever call him to catch up (gasp, such precious time wasted) but also...

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Emily Post's Advice On Writing a Love Letter

(0) Comments | Posted February 7, 2013 | 11:18 AM

Emily Post had it right. Back in the '20s, she bestowed some solid advice to starry-eyed lovers that is still perfectly relevant today. If you can look past the dated sexist notions of what is appropriate for women versus men, the points she makes hold true.


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Handwritten Notes: For When an Email Just Won't Cut It

(1) Comments | Posted January 30, 2013 | 4:19 PM

Emails are to the art of letter writing what instant coffee is to a meticulously crafted espresso. Though inarguably efficient and convenient, and sure to do in a pinch, it just lacks finesse. I know, I know, email is so much more convenient than sitting down to write a note...

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Setting Intentions for 2013

(1) Comments | Posted January 4, 2013 | 4:47 PM

January is the perfect month to re-calibrate and set intentions for the year ahead. Of course, some help from an internationally renowned Buddhist teacher certainly can't hurt.

U.K.-based Buddhist teacher Gen-la Kelsang Dekyong will give a free talk in Toronto on Wednesday, January 30 on Meditation & Modern Buddhism. The...

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Five Ways to Holiday Shopping Salvation

(0) Comments | Posted December 10, 2012 | 11:00 PM

A daunting shopping list, annoying music at full volume, crowds of people walking with their heads down texting...welcome to the fresh hell that is holiday shopping.

The stress of shopping can make even the most festive, patient person want to start throwing elbows, but some of the trauma can be...

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