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Dr Lucinda-Jane Rothschild, PhD: The Social Mixologist

Before the days of unisex cologne and Botox, the average sophisticated female would know a salad fork from a Georg Jensen candelabra. In modern times, these things are not so clear.

Send your questions on etiquette to social mixologist Dr Lucinda-Jane Rothschild. Read Dr Rothschild's biography.

How to shine at your high school reunion ,

Next week I’m attending my high school reunion; I’m 46 years old and not particularly successful by worldly standards. I was never in the popular group at school and despite the years since, I’m struck with a sense of fear and anxiety at having to face the group that once shunned me. Why is it I care?

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What to do when you spot a celebrity ,

Recently at a restaurant I was seated next to a celebrity but I was too shy to ask for an autograph. Can you suggest an interesting opening? Should it happen again, I'd like to appear cool and confident.

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How to split the dinner bill , What does one do about the awkward bill-splitting scenario at restaurants? I've been on both ends of the argument; I've not consumed lobster and champagne and I've been asked to pay for it — just as much as I've been on the team throwing back cocktails while others sip tap water. It's always awkward but I think it's much easier if we're all polite and split the bill. Anything else just feels embarrassing.
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How to leave the party early, gracefully ,

I have a friend who always leaves a party abruptly without saying goodbye. She will silently disappear and leave us scratching our heads, wondering if we've offended her — yet she never misses the next occasion. We can only assume she doesn't know how to say goodbye. How should we handle her?

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How to defuse tense situations , Dr Rothschild advises one reader on how to elegantly defuse tense social encounters.
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Dealing with early arriving dinner guests ,

How do you deal with dinner guests who like to arrive earlier than you're ready to receive them?

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Teaching children manners: how and when to start? ,

My friend constantly criticises my parenting and says I have raised a bunch of wild heathens. She insists I teach my children to say 'please' and thank you even for the smallest things — but my children are just 18 months and two years old and can barely say "boo". Should children this age be reprimanded and should I take her criticism to heart? It's driving a wedge between us.

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Dealing with 'sometime' vegetarians ,

A friend who claims to be vegetarian but often orders chicken at restaurants. That's fine except for when she dines at my home — I never know what to make. Sometimes she'll eat meat and other times she says, "I'm vegetarian, remember?". How can I approach the issue without being rude or offensive? Planning dinner with her is difficult?

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Are you too nice for your own good? , My problem is simple — I need to stop being so nice. I always offer to help others, I cook and clean for the new mum, feed plants and animals when friends go away, stay back late to help colleagues and lend money whenever it’s asked of me. I’m starting to resent it and I notice the favours do not always come back my way. How can I stop being so available to people — and will they like me if I do?
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If your Christmas presents were awful ,

I had a shocker of a Christmas — being in receipt of a truckload of useless presents for which I have no interest in owning. The problem is, after a Champagne breakfast, I did a fairly poor job at even looking grateful let alone verbalising any faux thanks (I don’t like being fake). My in-laws all agree I’m the ungrateful Grinch. Please help. What is the correct way to receive yet another rosewater soap collection (the Kmart PJ’s were passable).

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