Dan and Lizzie Post Are Our First-Tier Friends

We ask our inner-circle of etiquette expertise to take on your troubles.

Lizzie Post and Daniel Post Senning. Courtesy of The Emily Post Institute.
Lizzie Post and Daniel Post Senning. Courtesy of The Emily Post Institute.

Each week listeners send us questions about how to behave.  Usually we randomly choose celebrities to answer them, but once a month, we run them by a couple of folks who actually know what they’re talking about; namely Lizzie Post and Daniel Post-Senning.  They are the great-great grandkids of Emily Post, co-authors of “Emily Post’s Etiquette – the 18th Edition,” and hosts of their own podcast Awesome Etiquette.  This week, among other things, they tell us we don’t have to tip postal workers, or buy our friends drinks.


Rico Gagliano: Lizzie and Dan, welcome.

Lizzie Post: Hello!

Daniel Post-Senning: Hello, gentlemen.

Brendan Francis Newnam: Hello.

Rico Gagliano: So, the holidays are almost upon us. And we have to wonder, what sort of etiquette questions start coming in for you guys this time of year?

Lizzie Post: Oh, everything! We get everything! The classic entertaining questions…

Daniel Post-Senning: Holiday tipping.

Lizzie Post: …Holiday tipping starts kicking in now, so people know what to do come the end of the year.

Rico Gagliano: What’s an example of that. Like, tipping your postman?

Lizzie Post: No, you don’t tip the postman. The government says he should not be receiving tips. So that’s not us, that is the government regulation.

Brendan Francis Newnam: You just ruined a lot of postpeople’s Christmases.

Lizzie Post: Believe it or not, that is some of the most hate mail we get, is when we put out that advice. Which we have to put out because it is the regulations of the government.

Brendan Francis Newnam: What, the government is going to investigate you?

Rico Gagliano: They’re going to shut you down?

Brendan Francis Newnam: Can you tip radio hosts?

Lizzie Post: Yes!

Daniel Post-Senning: You are service providers.

Lizzie Post: Wait! No! Podcast hosts, yes.

Brendan Francis Newnam: Well, how about we give some tips to our audience?

Lizzie Post: Nice transition.

Car Karma and Business Expenses

Brendan Francis Newnam: That’s why I’m a professional.  First question comes from Gabriel in Lexington, Kentucky. Gabriel writes:

“I work in a small office with just a few employees. We are all required to go to a meeting in another city about two hours away. My boss has made it clear that he doesn’t want anyone else driving with him. Since I’m the only employee with a big car, I was chosen to drive everyone else to the meeting. No one’s offered to pitch in for gas. Should I ask my co-workers or boss for gas reimbursement… or is this karma for getting a big SUV and destroying the environment?”

Rico Gagliano: Gabriel is self-aware, that’s nice.

Lizzie Post: I like it. First thing I would say is, yeah, talk to your boss, talk to your company about it. This is a work trip — they should be reimbursing you.

Daniel Post-Senning: Most businesses will reimburse you for miles.

Lizzie Post: If his company for some reason refuses to do it – which they shouldn’t – he should definitely feel confident saying, “This is what I’m going to estimate for gas, I would like everyone to pitch in.”

Daniel Post-Senning: And the sooner you have that discussion, the better. Try to have it before you’re in the car with everybody and pulling into the gas station. Let people know ahead of time so they’re prepared.

Brendan Francis Newnam: Be like, “Hey, guys, this obviously only gets five miles to the gallon. Who am I kidding? Everyone please chip in.”

Rico Gagliano: “It’ll be $100 each, please.”

Lizzie Post:You chose my car. Ha ha, suckers!”

Bar Tabs for Non-Drinkers

Brendan Francis Newnam: I love to imagine all these employees in a monster truck.

This next question comes from Eva, from San Francisco. The question is: “What is the proper etiquette for being a real lightweight at a bar?”  Why am I asking this question?

Rico Gagliano: I’m right with her.

Brendan Francis Newnam: I know. Maybe you should be asking this question, Rico.

“I can only handle one alcoholic drink before I’m done, and I want to keep it that way. When I’m with a group, it’s common and polite to take turns buying rounds for everyone, except I’m only going to participate in round one! Do I buy my own drink and avoid the whole situation? Do I always buy round one and never benefit from the payback? Or do I never buy round one, get my free drink, and never pay anyone back?”

Rico Gagliano: Aha!  That’s the one I’m going with.

Lizzie Post: I like three! But I think, for me, the answer is one.

Rico Gagliano: Buy your own drink, don’t participate in buying rounds.

Lizzie Post: I think that, if you’re not someone who is going to be participating in a lot of these rounds, then I don’t see that there is any point that you should have to buy for everyone. However, if these are people you go out with regularly, you know, maybe once every month or couple months, I would buy a round for everybody.

Daniel Post-Senning: I like the spirit of that. So you keep participating. Mostly you can excuse yourself and do your own thing, but every once in a while, jump in and play the part.

Rico Gagliano: Right, ’cause the payback can come in ways other than just getting a reciprocal drink.

Lizzie Post: Absolutely! Someone is going to want nachos eventually.

Post-Wedding Parties Are Great, but Don’t Expect More Gifts

Rico Gagliano: Ain’t that always the way?  OK, so here is something from David in North Liberty, Indiana. David writes:

“I recently married a wonderful woman. We had a beautiful but small ceremony, with an invite list of 32 people. This left a lot of our friends and family uninvited. We are looking for a way to show all the people we couldn’t invite that they are special to us. Would something like hosting a party and inviting those who didn’t make the cut be a good idea?”

Lizzie Post: Oh, always! That is a very common practice. But the one thing that you should remember is that nobody is going to be expected or obligated to get you a gift if they are invited to this second party, and not to your wedding.

Brendan Francis Newnam: Wait, what?! That’s the whole reason you do this, right? I mean, right?

Lizzie Post: [sighing] I love you guys.

Brendan Francis Newnam: David is like, “Great, we had 32 people, and now I only have half my silverware!” If you really want that Le Creuset kitchen set, you need to throw a party.

Rico Gagliano: You’re really ascribing a lot of bad intentions to David in North Liberty, Indiana.

Brendan Francis Newnam: I’m not, I’m just being honest! When you get married, one of the benefits is free stuff, right?

Rico Gagliano: I will say it sounds, Lizzie, like you’re saying that if you are invited to the expensive wedding, you reciprocate with a gift.  But if you’re invited to a cheap secondary party you don’t have to.

Lizzie Post: Oh. Wow. Woah, now.

Brendan Francis Newnam: Welcome to the United States of America!

Lizzie Post: No, you’re blurring lines! There is nothing that says that his 32-person wedding was expensive. There is nothing that says a wedding has to be expensive.

Daniel Post-Senning: Or that the second party won’t be.

Lizzie Post: Let’s clear up a really big rule right now. Your gift does not buy your plate at a wedding. You get a gift that is exactly what you can afford. But the idea is that, when you celebrate such a big moment in life, like getting married, it comes with so much more importance than inviting someone to just the party afterwards.

Rico Gagliano: OK, so if you’re a secondary friend who wasn’t important enough to be invited to the wedding, you don’t need to buy a gift.

Lizzie Post: Free booze and food! Why not!

Brendan Francis Newnam: “If something goes wrong in your marriage, don’t call me.” All right, there you go. Glad we solved that, David.

Daniel Post-Senning: Congratulations, David. Best wishes.

The Host’s Leftovers Are Not Your Responsibility

Brendan Francis Newnam: Here is our last question. It comes from AJ in Kalamazoo, Michigan. AJ writes:

“When someone has you over and makes you dinner, is there a limit to how much you should eat? I was at a dinner party after working a long day and exercising. I ended up refilling my plate with delicious tacos more than once. Everyone got enough, but afterwards I wondered if it was rude to eat so much, since I cut into what could have been leftovers for them.”

Rico Gagliano: It seems like AJ is being too nice, right?

Daniel Post-Senning: He is. You don’t need to worry about saving leftovers for your host. You don’t want to appear to be a pig, sitting there, filling up your plate again and again, while everyone sits around and watches you eat —

Rico Gagliano: That sounds like my average Friday night!

Brendan Francis Newnam: Yeah!  In my household, the Croatian side of my family, that is the biggest act of love you can do is to continue to eat and eat and eat.

Rico Gagliano: That’s right!

Daniel Post-Senning: Well, Croatian family members aside, you don’t want to outstrip everyone else that you’re eating with. At the same time, you’re meant to feel comfortable eating what’s being served. Definitely, if it’s been offered, have a second helping. If it’s really giving your host a lot of pleasure, continue to eat and enjoy. A little self-awareness will help navigate that.

Rico Gagliano: Just in time for Thanksgiving: permission to eat from our experts! Lizzie Post and Daniel Post-Senning, thanks so much for telling our audience how to behave.