Alyssa J Freitas

November 24, 2015

Thanksgiving Etiquette

The holidays are upon us, and with Thanksgiving in two days I thought it would be a good time to go over the etiquette associated with this celebration. Whether you'll be a host or guest, it's a good idea to keep in mind the comfort of others. I'm going to give you some tips pertaining to common situations so you'll know how to handle yourself and make the best decision.
Thanksgiving Etiquette

You're seated next to someone and you have no idea what to talk about...
We all know the feeling of getting through the usual small talk with someone and not knowing where to take the conversation next. This can be particularly difficult when it's someone you don't know well and are unsure of his or her interests. Now is the time to pull out your inner investigator and use some questions to find common ground. Asking about travel experiences and plans, books, music, holiday memories and the like is a good way to start. Be an active listener and make follow up inquiries to keep the conversation going.

Uncomfortable topics make their way into conversation. Help!
When politics or religion or economic policy discussion comes to the table it doesn't bode well for the enjoyment of all, so avoid it! Yes, it can be fun to have a debate, especially when you are passionate about a subject, but Thanksgiving dinner is not the time or place.

You just KNOW your cousin is going to ask again about your single status.
This sort of prying is completely expected and, some might even argue, acceptable in a private or intimate setting with your family or close friends. However, you have no obligation to respond to these sort of inquiries. So what can you do to avoid such conversations? Your main method of defense is to deflect the questions.

One of my favorite ways to do this is to turn the question back on the questioner: "Remind me, how did you and (insert name of significant other) meet?" "How long have you and (insert name here) been together?" "Speaking of romance, I'm sure you and (insert lover of questioner) have some great plans for the upcoming year! Tell me all about it." This should get your point across while also serving as a great distraction and new avenue for conversation.

Your host begins to clean up, but insists he doesn't need any help.
Ask once, ask twice, and accept denial on the third time. Sometimes a host can't help but begin to straighten up but still wants his guests to enjoy each others company and linger at the table. Just remember that the host in charge of the meal and guests should follow his lead.

Here is information about general dinning etiquette.
And here are some ideas for hostess gifts.
Once you enjoy a great meal, here is how you should craft your thank you note.
Check out all sorts of etiquette posts here.

What are your suggestions for getting through and enjoying Thanksgiving?


November 19, 2015

YouTube Love: The Girls With Glasses

When I found out I had to get glasses (check out a real throw back post from 2013!) I immediately began to do some research on YouTube, the most reliable of all sources, for picking out the most flattering glasses. I stumbled upon the channel of The Girls With Glasses and have been hooked ever since.

YouTube Love: The Girls With Glasses

First of all, their theme song is beyond adorable.

When it came to picking out my glasses, I loved their video with general advice and follow up videos with more specific tips.

These girls are always thrifty, funny, quirky, playful, and all around an absolute delight. One of the recent videos really stole my heart because I love anything to do with pirates, and cute children are a huge plus :)

What sets the GWG apart is their genuine joy for life and their kindness which flows in every video. They are classic and always behave like ladies. They prioritize their families, embrace their femininity, and are always smart. 

Who are your favorite YouTube stars?


November 17, 2015

Wonderforest Guest Post: Expanding Your Horizons

This was originally a guest post on the Wonder Forest blog.

"Do you want to go and hear Laverne Cox speak tomorrow night?" my friend asked. Laverne Cox is an actress, best known for her role on Orange Is the New Black, and an advocate for the LGBT community. As the first openly transgender woman to be nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award in the acting category, she has been a strong force and representative for the community.
Wonderforest Guest Post: Expanding Your Horizons
Photo credit: Ally Marcino

"Umm, sure, I guess" was my less than enthused reply. Normally, I would have very little interest in this sort of event but something told me to say yes, so off I went to stand with my friend in line for over an hour to be admitted to the packed theater to hear Laverne Cox speak. It was amazingly informative to hear her share her experiences and her take on the world, as it is so different from my own. By attending this event, I realized that you can learn an infinite amount by opening your mind and taking in the ideas of others.     

As difficult or uncomfortable as it may be to expose yourself to unfamiliar situations and information, there are many benefits to expanding your horizons.

To read the rest of this post head on over to the Wonder Forest blog!


November 12, 2015

Why I'm Not Buying Clothes For A Year

Yep, the title of this post is true. I am not buying clothes for a year (with just a few caveats I'll get into later). After evaluating my spending, priorities, and values, I realized that the purchase of clothing was cluttering my life, both physically and mentally, and I wanted it to stop. Perhaps this is an extreme approach, or mild, depending on your vantage point, but I'm going to guess for the majority of young women it's extreme. I'd love to have a discussion on why we feel the need to purchase clothes constantly, if it really adds value to our lives, and its effect on the world at large. Let's get into it!

Why do we buy SO MUCH CLOTHING?
A cute top here. Some new shoes there. Don't have anything else to do? Well, let's go shopping. No doubt, this is something you've experienced pretty often in your life. We use shopping as entertainment and a way to bring us temporary happiness. It's the old syndrome of never having enough. I used to think that my wardrobe would be "perfect" or "complete" if I could buy just one more thing. If I could just get my hands on the most classic bag or the most eye catching jewelry.

What I've come to realize is that possessions don't bring us happiness. Sure, we may find that a certain outfit makes us feel good because we think it looks good, but when we allow the endless pursuit of perfection to take over our minds and actions, we are heading down a path where we will never reach "the end."

Does creating a wardrobe and buying clothes add value to our lives?
For this, I think it's both yes and no. When I am wearing an outfit I really like, I feel good and I think that is valuable. When I am buying clothing to reach an ideal I have in my mind of what the perfect wardrobe looks like and reflects (i.e. having it all together and being perfect), then I don't believe there's value.

As we all know (because we read about it all of the time), we are quite often caught up in consumerism. Now, it's not necessarily our "fault" (if we're going to be assigning blame) because we've certainly been conditioned this way, but it is our fault if we don't take the time to examine the impact it has on our own lives.

I've discussed my exploration of minimalism quite extensively on the blog, but this goes beyond just the aim to have a small, "capsule" wardrobe, as we see rising in popularity. This has to do with the actual placement of our values and where we derive our worth from.

How does this impact the world at large?
So, there's this thing called "fast fashion" which refers to the cheaply made clothes you find at places like Forever 21 that are made by people in dangerous conditions and who aren't justly compensated. I am no real expert on this topic, but you can read more about it here. Being socially conscious and refraining from unnecessarily bringing more into the world is so important. Remember that every dollar you spend is a vote and a statement on what you believe in and what you say is acceptable.

What I'm doing.
As the title indicates, I'm not buying clothing for one year. This is a challenge I gave to myself (because I so love of a challenge!) and it was born out of a variety of circumstance.
  1. I want to save money. I am a poor college student who is getting ready to enter the real world, and I want to do so with money in my pocket.
  2. I want to have less stuff. Moving to and from school has shown me just how much clothing I own and, let me tell you, it is more than enough. 
  3. I want to spend on experience and not things. If I am going to spend money, I want it to be on something more lasting than a pair of jeans. Experience which give me memories fits the bill.
  4. I want to learn more about ethical fashion and respond accordingly. I want to be the type of person who makes decisions with more in mind than just "This looks good."
Like I mentioned at the start of this post, there are some caveats. I'm allowing myself to replace items which are worn out and I can make purchases from a predetermined list (this included a few items I have been on the hunt for for a while and some key pieces to augment my professional wardrobe).

I've been going strong for four months now and it makes me so happy! I'm saving my money, getting more creative with my existing wardrobe, and finding that I had a lot more than I thought. We don't need to be constantly pursuing more to make us happy; in fact, the less I shop, the more my friends and I find meaningful ways to spend time together without it revolving around spending money, and that is what makes me feel fulfilled. I'm furthering my minimalist lifestyle and am wicked pleased.

Would you ever stop shopping? Why would/wouldn't you think it's a good idea?


November 10, 2015

Email Etiquette

When looking through my archives I couldn't quite believe that I had never published a post about email etiquette! In today's digital world it is absolutely essential to be able to communicate clearly and concisely through email.
Email Etiquette
Here are some tips to help you when corresponding electronically.
  • Start with a courteous greeting, and use your discretion with respect to familiarity depending on how well you know the recipient. I am a fan of "Hello ___" no matter who I am emailing.
  • Make sure you always utilize proper grammar and spelling. When you have careless mistakes in your email it sends the message that you didn't really take the time to respond thoughtfully. 
  • Keep your emails as short as possible. You'll lose your audience if you get bogged down in too many words. Just say what you need to and send it off.
  • Make sure to choose the correct "reply" or "reply all" option, because there is a difference!
  • Refrain from using all capitals and multiple exclamation points as this can be seen as annoying and unnecessary.
  • Try and close with a call to action. What is it that you want the recipient of your email to do after reading it?
  • Read your email out loud before you send it (especially if you're using your phone where it's easier to make mistakes) because once you press that button there's no going back! If you use gmail there is a little trick to give yourself an "undo" option. Just click the gear on the top right and choose Settings. Then scroll down to "Undo Send" and select Enable. You can choose the cancellation period and then click Save Changes at the bottom. 
Do you have any email advice?