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Army Social Etiquette -- Question & Answer Listing  
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Question / Answer

Question:
In terms of formality of social functions, what is the difference between a "coffee" and a "tea?"

Answer:
Teas are considered to be a more formal social function than a coffee and are usually held in the afternoons. Coffees tend to be more informal or casual and may be held any time during the day or evening. Dresses, slacks, or skirts and sweaters are acceptable attire.

Question:
What are some of the "do's and don'ts" associated with invitations?

Answer:
If the invitation includes an RSVP, it is important to respond to it by the RSVP date. If it is a formal invitation and no respond by date is given, it is customary to respond within 48 hours. Note that some invitations use a "Regrets Only" RSVP, implying that only those unable to attend should respond. A personalized thank you should be sent to your host/hostess following a more formal function such as a dinner. It is also appreciated if you return the favor of an invitation. If invited to someone's home, reciprocate by inviting them to yours.

Question:
What are some of the official functions or ceremonies one finds in the military?

Answer:
Official military functions include hail and farewell ceremonies, award ceremonies, promotion ceremonies, retirement ceremonies, formal balls, dining-out, receptions, parades, military weddings and military funerals.

Question:
What is a military "dining in" function?

Answer:
A "dining in" is a traditional formal dinner for the military members only.

Question:
What is a military "dining out" function?

Answer:
A "dining out" is the similar to a dining in, however, spouses, guests and friends are invited to attend.

Question:
What is Army protocol and how is it different from civilian social etiquette?

Answer:
Army protocol is a combination of etiquette and good manners blended with the rich heritage of traditions and courtesies of military life and is designed to let us know what to expect in a given situation.

Question:
What is the correct protocol for receptions?

Answer:
Formal receptions generally include a receiving line where attendees are invited to go through in order to meet and greet the guest of honor. Except for receiving lines at the White House, diplomatic corps, and Air Force functions, ladies precede gentlemen in the line. Names are given to the aide or adjutant is at the beginning of the line who then introduces you to the guest of honor. Your name(s) are passed on down the receiving line. Be sure to reintroduce yourself if there is a problem. A handshake and simple, cordial greeting is appropriate (no lengthy conversations). However, do not shake the aide or adjutant’s hand, only the guest(s) of honor. Consult your local military Protocol office for more information.

Question:
What is the proper attire for a formal military occasion?

Answer:
The proper attire for military personnel to wear to a formal military occasion is: Army dress blue (or white) uniform with a bow tie (men) or neck tab (women); blue or white mess uniform with bow tie (men) or neck tab (women); or the Army green uniform with white shirt and black bow tie (men) or neck tab (women) for enlisted personnel only. For civilians, it is appropriate to wear a white or black tie with a suit or tuxedo (men) and a long or short formal dress (women) to a ball or dance. For a formal dinner, civilians should wear a tuxedo with a bow tie (men) and a long dress, blouse and skirt, or evening slacks (women).

Question:
What is the proper attire for an informal military occasion?

Answer:
The appropriate attire for an informal military occasion is a business suit or sport coat and tie for male military personnel and civilians and a simple dress, skirt and blouse, or pant suit for female military personnel and civilians.

Question:
When is it necessary for someone to stand for a senior officer or lady?

Answer:
Etiquette calls for gentlemen should always stand up when a lady enters a room (or your presence in a large room) and should stand when a lady stands. It is also expected that both men and women stand for when toasts are given at official functions. However, ladies are told to take their seats when a toast is made to "the ladies." Ladies (except female service members) are not expected to stand when a senior officer enters the room, but uniformed service members are.
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