Special Feature: Thanksgiving Game Plan


Thanksgiving game reunions

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Wednesday, November, 14 By Julie Kirkwood
Staff writer

If you're going to your Thanksgiving football game, chances are you're going to run into somebody you knew in high school.

Whether you're reuniting with an old school pal in the stands or you have a formal high school reunion this fall, professional etiquette consultant Jodi R.R. Smith of Mannersmith in Marblehead, Mass., has taken a few minutes to answer some pressing questions about how to make sure it goes well.

Q: How do you decide whether or not to bring a spouse to your reunion?
A: If your spouse is very outgoing, then by all means bring him/her along. If your spouse is shy, spare him/her the torture and let him/her stay home! You will want to mingle and reminisce. You don't want your spouse to feel like a third wheel and/or be bored to tears.

Q: What are some general tips for circulating, making small talk, etc.?
A: Be sure to have an answer to the question "So what have you been up to lately?" "Same old, same old" is not an answer. For detailed advice, see "Back to Basics: How to Meet and Greet 101" at www.mannersmith.com/resources/issue.cfm?id=26 and "Improving our First Impressions" at www.mannersmith.com/resources/issue.cfm?id=22.

Q: How do you make your job sound more impressive than it is (or how do you find a way to talk confidently about what you've been doing since graduation when you don't feel confident about it?)
A: No lying allowed! At a five-year reunion people do want to "puff up" their lives, but by the time you get to your 20th, no one cares. Once you hit your thirties, people know who they are, what they really value and what is important in their lives.

You only need about five minutes of good conversation, so if you are not confident about your job, find something in your life you are happy about and talk about that. (A trip you took, the volunteer work you do, the city you live in, a show you saw, a single project at work that you are proud of, etc…)

Besides, people think you are a great conversationalist if you talk about them. Ask the other person what he/she is up to these days.

Q: When is it appropriate to pull out the photos of your kids?
A: Like business cards, you only take out yours after you ask to see -- and look at -- theirs. Obviously, if someone asks to see pictures, go right ahead. And, one or two pictures is more than enough. No one needs to see an album at a reunion!

Q: What do you do when somebody recognizes you and you have no idea who they are?
A: "Wow, you look so familiar! I am (insert your name),…tell me your name again!"

Q: Say you're going to the high school football game and you dread bumping into old high school acquaintances. How do you avoid that or, if you're trapped and have no choice, how do you make the interaction less painful?
If you dread bumping into old high school acquaintances, don't go! If you really want to see the game, be prepared. Make eye contact, smile brightly and keep walking like you have somewhere to go. If someone stops you, chat for a moment and then move on. Or be strategic; sit with the fans for the other team!

Q: Any tips on appearing younger, healthier, slimmer and generally more fabulous than you actually are?
A: Beware of overdoing the black. You will look like you are in mourning. Buy a new outfit, but do not pay any attention to the size on the tag. It's better to have something that really fits you. Remember, just because you can zipper (or button) it, does not mean it fits. Get a great night sleep. Smile first. Stay sober, especially as others get sloppy. Feel confident in knowing that you did not peak in high school, the best is yet to come.

For more tips on looking your best for a reunion, we asked Ursula St. Louis, an image consultant with Colors for Success in Salem, N.H., for advice. Here are her tips:

*Choose an outfit that is classy and basic, nothing too flashy. Put your creative energy into dressing it up with jewelry.

*Dress your age. Wearing clothes made for teenagers will not make you look younger. Shop at higher-end department stores for this event, not at trendier mall stores.

*Update your shoes. Women, if you haven't dressed up in a while, chances are your dress shoes are chunky and out of style. Buy something with little heels or risk ruining the look of a perfectly good outfit.

*Men, no matter how sure you are that your old suit in the closet still fits, try it on right now. Check the collar of your shirt to make sure it still buttons. Make sure your tie is long enough to reach your belt buckle. If the suit doesn't fit, consider renting a tuxedo that looks like a suit. It may be cheaper than buying a new suit.

*It may be too late to drop pounds before the big event, but clothes can go a long way toward making you look slimmer. Heavy women should avoid stiff fabrics that hang straight down from the bust line. Instead, choose soft, flowing materials that glide along the body and define the area between the bust and the waist. Men with large bellies should consider buying suit pants in a larger waist size and hold them up under the suit coat with suspenders. This is a more flattering way to wear a suit than letting the gut flop over the waist line of smaller pants.

*Wearing an outfit that's one color will make you look taller. Matching shoes will add to the effect. Also, the lower the toe closure on your shoe, the longer your legs will appear. Avoid ankle straps if you want to look taller.

*Wear colors that flatter your skin tone, hair and eyes. Black, for example, can make some people look older because it accentuates wrinkles and peach fuzz on the face.

*Wear nylons that match the color of your arms. If you choose a shade that's too tan it will be a distraction.

*Plan your hair cut or color a week or two in advance, or whatever time frame you feel is optimal. Don't make any drastic changes in your look right before the reunion.

*Invest in new undergarments. A bra should lift the apex of the bust line to the mid-point between a woman's armpit and the crook of her elbow. A good bra can have a slimming effect on the whole body.

*Stand up straight and greet people with a full-handed, confident handshake.

*Go very light on the perfume or cologne, if you wear it at all.

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