Bratty kid

How do you deal with a guest's rambunctious child?

"Many experts say to talk to the parent, but I would approach the child first. Say something like 'Hey, Junior, that's not a toy, and we need to put that back.' I think most parents would be grateful not to have to say 'Stop that!' for the eight-billionth time. (I know people who say, 'I would never let someone else reprimand my kid,' and that's why their kids are nightmares.) I'd give a child two chances. If he does it a third time, address the parents and say, 'You know, this is kind of getting out of hand for me.'"
— Colleen Rush

What do you do when a sibling has persuaded your mother to give him a table that your mother promised you?

"You can say, 'Mom, I know that Fred just asked you for the table, but don't you remember that you promised it to me at my wedding?' She might really have forgotten. My recommendation is no matter what is promised to you, live as if you were never to receive a dime."
— Samantha von Sperling, president, Polished Social Image Consultants

"Call your brother and say, 'You know, I really wanted that table. If you ever decide you don't want it, please pass it along to me.' Don't bring up the 'Mom promised it to me' business, because that just invites one of those fights where you both regress to your 8-year-old selves. In the end, it's just a table."
— Colleen Rush
Flirty Friend

What do you do if your friend flirts outrageously with your husband?

"Don't let it get to you. Have confidence in your own fabulousness and the fact that your husband loves you. She's no match. But the next time, maybe you don't invite her."
— Samantha von Sperling

"That's pretty cool! Be flattered. It means she finds your spouse attractive. But if your spouse flirts back, no wife should tolerate that. You have to tell him, "When you show X attention, it hurts me. I wouldn't do that to you."
— Rabbi Shmuley Boteach

"She is not a friend. Dump her. Seriously."
— Colleen Rush
Loud Cell Phone User

We all know that when confronted with an obnoxious and loud cell phone user, we should smile and say, nicely, "Could you keep it down?" But what if they are rude back?

"Discreetly find a person of authority—a maître d', a concierge, a guard, anyone who is employed to keep order—and calmly ask them to help you out."
— Harriette Cole, syndicated columnist and author of Choosing Truth

"I've heard this exchange with enough frequency to know that it almost always results in a hostile mess of harsh words. Consequently, I opt for the high road as often as possible: I look for a new seat, I cross the street, I bite my lip, but I don't engage unless there is no other possible option."
— Tim Gunn, Project Runway's critical eye and the chair of the Department of Fashion Design at Parsons at The New School for Design
Uninvited Guest

"You didn't invite me?"
"How do you soothe feelings if an acquaintance finds out you hosted a dinner and didn't ask her? Say, 'I didn't mean to hurt your feelings. I invited a different group of friends.' The end. Long explanations are the worst."
— Harriet Cole
Dinner Party

How do you seat people at a dinner party?

"Seating arrangements should be handled with the care of a UN summit meeting. The old code of protocol is boy-girl, boy-girl. If sexes are uneven, try to ensure that each woman is seated next to at least one man, and vice versa—a seasoned hostess will sketch this on a pad ahead of time. A hostess with real finesse will take it one step further: She'll try different drafts to figure out who will have the best time near whom."
— Samantha von Sperling

"I think it's worth taking the time to seat people. I put people together with common interests, I separate couples, and I try to seat a shy person with someone outgoing. I'll say to that outgoing friend, 'Tonight you'll have to work a bit because this person is very quiet, but because you're so wonderful, I'm giving you that task.'"
— Carolyne Roehm, author of A Passion for Parties (Broadway)

"We've all seen movies with very formal dinner parties, but the rules have loosened up quite a bit. It's entirely up to the hostess whether or not she wants to be the one to seat people.
— Rose Murdock, founder of The Development and Finishing Institute Inc. and author of The 411 on Manners and Fashion for Teen
A rude Person

What do you say to a boor who has just made a boorish remark?

"Let the comment hang there for an extra second or two. Acknowledge that you heard them, stick up for yourself in a civilized fashion, and move the conversation on."
— Margaret Shepherd, author of The Art of Civilized Conversation

— Nora Ephron, author of I Feel Bad About My Neck
Bad Borrowing

What do you do if a friend borrows books/clothes/DVDs and forgets to return them?

"Make up a bogeyman, which is a face-saver for everybody—'I shouldn't have lent you that—it isn't mine.' Set a specific date to pick up everything, and don't lend anything to her again."
— Margaret Shepherd

"Call and remind her that she still has it. Make a second call. People know what they've done, and in not returning the item they're telling you something—how they value your friendship. You need to decide if you still want to be their friend."
— Rose Murdock

"Say to your friend, 'I was looking for my DVD of Funny Face last night, and I remembered that you borrowed it.' Or 'Have you finished reading The Devil Wears Prada yet?'"
— Tim Gunn