Trick-or-Treat Manners posted in: Etiquette

Five things to keep in mind before stepping out with your little pumpkin(s) for trick-or-treat fun:

1. Remind your little goblin not to be greedy; one piece of candy from each house is the general rule. And saying thank you is a must.
2. In terms of costumes, ghoulish makeup and army fatigues are acceptable. Guns and bustiers are better left at home.
3. If you don’t like Halloween, you don’t have to participate. Either go out for the night (and suffer the TP consequences) or turn off your front lights. Parents will get the message-but some older kids might, too, so be prepared for possible “tricks.”
4. If your area isn’t kid-friendly, it’s fine to pack up your brood and head to Grandma’s neighborhood or to your best friend’s block.
5. Dumping off a carload of kids in an area where you don’t know anyone or haven’t been invited is definitely impolite-and possibly dangerous.

Happy Halloween!

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Royal Wedding Etiquette posted in: Etiquette, Weddings

As with everything else when it comes to royal families, they transcend “normal” etiquette and protocol to create lavish and very intricately designed affairs.  And a royal wedding is THE Event of all events. The impression you make will have everything to do with your knowledge of proper royal wedding etiquette

It has been noted that if you received an invitation to the Royal Wedding of Prince William & Catherine Middleton you also received a 32-page protocol guide. For those of us that will not be attending the royal wedding, here are a few points on protocol to observe when attending a oyal wedding.

All pertinent information for a royal wedding (location, date, dress code) is included on the invitation.  Make sure you fit the dress code. Though the occasion is an opportunity for personal style to shine, for a royal wedding one must keep in mind it is conservative all the way.  For Prince William and Kate’s wedding, the invitation states a traditional wedding dress code called “morning dress.” For women, dresses are de rigueur (prescribed or required by fashion, etiquette or custom), but unless you are the royal maid of honor, don’t wear white. Hats or an elegant fascinator (festive feathered hairpiece) are a must. Men should wear morning (formal) or business (referred to as lounge suits across the pond) dress.

Entering and departing from the Abbey. The Queen is always supposed to enter the abbey last (and be the first to depart). With nearly 2,000 people to seat they will need a lot of time, be sure to arrive on time.

Perhaps the most important sign of your pedigree will be how you greet the Queen, Royal tradition means that when William and Kate marry, they, Prince Charles and Kate’s parents will greet each guest as they enter the reception.

Should you have the privilege of meeting the Queen, you would be expected to follow the following protocol (which is different for men and women): Men give a slight swift bow of the head (not a bow from the waist when meeting the Queen). Men should also briefly lower their eyes during their greeting, and bow again when the Royal family member leaves. Women should give a small, dignified curtsey upon meeting the Queen -move should create a distinct bobbing movement, with the upper body kept straight and should be repeated when the member of the Royal family leaves.  Will the Queen shake hands? It is rare (though not unheard of) for the Queen to extend a hand. Important to observe: Always let the Queen initiate a hand shake, never stick out your hand first. Men should never kiss the Queen hand nor give her a firm handshake; simply extend the hand and shake lightly (women do the same).

How to address the Queen:
* First address The Queen as ‘Your Majesty’, and subsequently call her ‘Ma’am’.
* Wait for the Queen to initiate conversation and never speak first
*Substitute ‘Your Majesty’ for ‘you’ in conversation.
* Do not ask any personal questions.
* Always give the Queen space and do not touch the other than for a handshake (and again only if initiated by the Queen herself)
*If you have a guest by your side, introduce them to The Queen by saying,  
“May I present [insert guest’s name here], Your Majesty?”

Etiquette to observe when greeting other members of the royal family
 How would you act when you meet Prince William, for example? How you greet or are greeted by a royal will likely depend upon their age. Older royals will be conservative; in this case men should bow from the head only and women should make a small curtsy (as done when meeting the Queen). Some guides say it is acceptable albeit less usual to shake hands.  And anyone bearing the title of His or Her Royal Highness should be addressed as ‘Your Royal Highness’ for the first time, and subsequently ‘Sir’ or ‘Ma’am’.

I hope you enjoyed these royal etiquette tips. Stay tuned for more on the royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton.

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The Royal Wedding: Her Majesty The Queen gives formal consent to the marriage of Prince William and Catherine Middleton posted in: Entertainment, Etiquette, Events, Weddings

Her Majesty The Queen has given formal consent to Prince William and Catherine Middleton’s marriage.

Under the Great Seal of the Realm, The Queen signed a notice of approval which proclaimed ( in transcribed calligraphy) consent to the union of “Our Most Dearly Beloved Grandson Prince William Arthur Philip Louis of Wales, K.G. and Our Trusty and Well-beloved Catherine Elizabeth Middleton”.

Under the Royal Marriages Act 1772, all descendants of King George II must obtain the Sovereign’s agreement before they wed. The law dates back to the 18th Century.

The Queen’s signature “Elizabeth R” can be seen at the top right of the Instrument of Consent, which is dated “the ninth day of February Two Thousand and Eleven in the Sixtieth year of Our Reign”.

It was signed “by The Queen herself, signed with her own hand” at a Privy Council meeting after the Monarch made a formal Declaration of Consent.

It reads: “NOW KNOW YE that We have consented and do by these Presents signify Our Consent to the contracting of Matrimony between Our Most Dearly Beloved Grandson Prince William Arthur Philip Louis of Wales K.G. and Our Trusty and Well-beloved Catherine Elizabeth Middleton.”

Detail of the consent:
*Tied to the bottom of the approval by gold braiding is a large red wax Great Seal of the Realm.
*The “Instrument of Consent” features decorative artwork chosen by the artist to represent the groom and bride-to-be.
*A white lily represents St. Catherine of Siena, whose feast day falls on April 29th and with whom Miss Middleton shares her name.
*Beneath it is a Welsh leek surrounded by Prince William’s white three-pronged second in line to the throne label and a tiny red escallop from the Spencer family Arms.
*There is also a red dragon – the heraldic symbol of Wales, the UK’s floral emblems – the rose, thistle and shamrock – and the Garter belt, Prince William’s blue and gold Order of the Garter belt, as well as a large gold E for Elizabeth.

To view an image of the consent, visit:

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Etiquette: Who is Invited, Who isn’t and Thoughts to Consider posted in: Entertainment, Etiquette, Events, Weddings

There is a simple commonsense rule for addressing and reading invitations. As a host, include all names of the persons you’re inviting. As a guest, know that only the persons whose name(s) are included on the invitation are the only ones invited.

Here are a few guidelines to help ensure that as a host you invite the persons intended and as a guest you correctly understand who exactly is invited:

For the Host

A single invitation may be addressed to one person, a couple (married or living together in a committed relationship) or to a family.
~ A single invitation may be sent to an unmarried couple who live together. However, their names are listed on separate lines. This form is used regardless of sexual orientation.
An example of this form would be:
Mr. Michael Hawthorn
Ms. Alexis Turner

An invitation to a couple may be addressed to “Mr. And Mrs. Grant Holloway and Family”, so long as you feel confident that this won’t be misinterpreted as inviting other extended family members. A more precise form of addressing this invite would be:

Mr. and Mrs. Grant Holloway
Michael and Natalie Holloway

If you are inviting single family and friends to bring a date or a guest, this is to be noted in one of the following ways:

~ Casual or informal parties. Such information may be included on the invitation.
Include a line such as “Please bring a guest (or a date)”

~Formal events. In the instance of a wedding for example, the outer envelope should be addressed to the individual family member or friend, and the inner envelope will include the notation that a guest is welcome.
Outer envelope: Dr. Alexander Smith
 Inner Envelope: Alexander Smith and Julia Wilson (if your family member or friend is in  a long-term relationship in which you know their partner or at least in name you may include them on the invite) or Alexander and Guest

For the Guest

As the recipient of the invitation, the most important responsibility you have is to respond promptly with your RSVP. Be sure to include all guests planning to attend and also the specific names of any regrets in your RSVP. Need guidance on the “how-to? See Decoding the Protocol of the RSVP for guidance.

 “May I bring…?” Don’t even ask! An invitation is extended to the people the hosts wish to invite—and no one else.

  • …a date. If the invitation is addressed to Ms. Anna Smith – this means only Anna is invited. Period.
  • …children. If they were invited, the invitation would have said so.
  • … my houseguest(s). It’s best to decline the invitation, stating the reason. This gives your host the option to extend the invitation to your guest(s), or not.

Do not be offended or upset if you are not invited to bring a guest (significant other, friend or your children) to the event. There are any number of reasons the host may not have extended the invitation to more people. In this economy, they may not be able to afford the additional guests, but also care enough for you not to leave you off of the list entirely.
In the instances of an adult –only affair perhaps the host doesn’t have a child-friendly home or they wish to serve alcohol and don’t want to run the risk of offending anyone. As invited guest, simply be thankful for the invitation.

I hope this information is helpful to you when sending out or receiving invitations. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask. Have any comments or great stories of a time when uninvited guests have been brought to your event, or when you are the uninvited guest (though you weren’t aware until you arrived to the party)? Do tell!



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Etiquette – What to do as a host when guests do not RSVP posted in: Etiquette, Events, Weddings

Last week, we discussed how to decode the protocol of the RSVP. This week, let’s talk about what to do as a host when guests are yet to respond to your invite.

It’s inconsiderate, but unfortunately all too common, for guests to fail to RSVP. Some forget; others procrastinate and then feel guilty, so they delay even longer….most of us have been the guilty party of one or the other at some point. And you never know — maybe they think they sent the response card when in reality it may be hiding under a pile of unopened mail, or in some rare instances, the invitation doesn’t make it to the intended recipient.

With food and beverage details to confirm and needs for other items and equipment to finalize and several outstanding RSVPs, what’s a host to do? If an RSVP is not received, is a host to assume those non-responsive invitees are not coming? This answer is a resounding, “NO!”. As a host, it is perfectly polite for you to call guests and ask if they plan to attend your party. Yes, it’s somewhat of an awkward conversation, but be friendly, not accusatory. Saying something along the lines of the following is appropriate, “Hi Susan, it’s Jane, I’m calling to make sure you received the invitation to Mom & Dad’s Anniversary Celebration. Please let me know if you and Jack can make it.  Thank you!” or “Hi Susan, it’s Jane, I’m calling to make sure you received the invitation to Jack’s 40th birthday party. I need to give a final number to the caterer on Tuesday, and want to be sure I have all guests included. I hope you and John can attend. Thank you!
As for the appropriate timeframe is which you may place such calls, if you sent a written invitation, wait one to two weeks before calling.  In cases of a more informal gathering where you may have invited guests in person, or by phone or email, you may call and ask for their answer after just a few days.

Finally as a host it’s always best (and wise) to be prepared and armed for an unexpected increase. Plan to accommodate an additional 5% or so above your confirmed guest count. It’s better to have extra food and room than to have neglected guests wondering where to sit!


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Etiquette: Decoding Protocol of the R.S.V.P posted in: Entertaining Essentials, Entertainment, Etiquette, Events, Weddings

RSVP is a French acronym for répondez s’il vous plait (rā-pōⁿ-dā-sēl-vü-ple). Translated in English it means, “please respond or reply if you please”. The acronym RSVP was traditionally used on invitations for formal events such as weddings, engagement parties or christenings. However, today it is common to see RSVP on invitations for all types of celebrations.

Not certain of the protocol of the RSVP? Not to worry.  Refer to the following guidelines and you’ll get it right every time.

Respond to the invitation immediately
.  As a guest, this is the most important obligation you have to the host of the event. It is poor etiquette and frankly is rude to wait until the day of the event and just show up. It is just as inappropriate to RSVP acceptance and then fail to attend – only a matter of serious illness or death should keep you away. Whether you accept or regret – respond.

How to confirm your response:  

~ The most formal of events may not include any response information, but from the style, stock and tone of the invitation and the type of event, know a response is requested. In this case, a guest is to send a formal handwritten response on nice stationery.

~ Some formal event invitations are accompanied by an RSVP card. Fill-in the requested information and return to the host.

~ Less formal events typically note the RSVP at the bottom of the invitation. If an address is provided, send a handwritten reply. If a phone number is listed, a phone call response is appropriate.

~ As the world is becoming more “e- based”, many invitations are sent using electronic software such as Respond to electronic RSVPs, too. Many of these invitation systems allow you to answer the RSVP with a quick click of a button.

~ If the invitation says “Regrets Only”, you only need to RSVP if you are unable the event. Otherwise, the host has already counted you in.

Tips to respond with polish:

~ The Formal Acceptance or Regret (for instances when a respond card does not accompany the invitation).
This formal acceptance or regret is handwritten and centered on personal stationery. The text of is simple and to the point.
An example of such Acceptance of an invitation:

Dr. and Mrs. Barrett Grant Henley

accept with pleasure

Mr. and Mrs. William Scott Helm’s

kind invitation

for Saturday, the eighth of June

~ In the case of extremely busy people, a formal acceptance or regret may be typed by a secretary or assistant (on business or fine personal stationery).

Dr. and Mrs. Barrett Grant Henley

Sincerely regret that

their absence from the city (or other reason)

prevents them from accepting

the kind invitation of

Mr. & Mrs. William Helm
for Saturday, the eighth of June


 When Portions of the Invitation are Accepted and Portions RegrettedOn occasion when only one member of an invited couple will be able to attend:
Most formal response:


Mrs. Julia Henley

accepts with pleasure

Mr. & Mrs. William Helm’s
kind invitation  

and regrets that due to absence from the city
Dr. Barrett Henley will be unable to accept

for the Saturday, eighth of June

 Formal response in the instance when a response card has been included with the invitation: Handwrite additional detail on the bottom of the card. For example, “”Dr. Henley accepts with pleasure for the wedding ceremony, but due to illness, Mrs. Henley is unable to accept.”

~ When a couple accepts for a portion of the event but must regret for another. Most commonly for weddings, perhaps a couple may be able to attend only the wedding ceremony, but not the reception.

Most Formal:

Mrs. Julia Henley

accepts with pleasure

Mr. & Mrs. William Helm’s
kind invitation  

and regrets that due to absence from the city
Dr. Barrett Henley will be unable to accept

for the Saturday, eighth of June

 Formal response in the instance when a response card has been included with the invitation: Again, handwrite additional detail on the bottom of the card. Example, “Dr. & Mrs. Henley accepts with pleasure for the wedding ceremony, but sincerely regret they are unable to attend the reception.”

Society, do you now feel confident that the next time you receive an invitation to a special event or celebration, you will RSVP with savvy and ease?


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Top 10 Tips to Being a Good Guest posted in: Etiquette

When attending an event as a guest, you have two “good” responsibilities – to have a good time and show your appreciation to the host or hostess by being a good guest.

Even the most casual of parties, call for good manners. If you’d like to be among the guests invited back for the next party, these tips will ensure you’re the kind of good guest who is always welcome at anyone’s table.

1. RSVP ASAP. Tell your host whether (or not) you will be attending, and do so immediately. If you delay your reply, you could hinder the host’s planning and it may also seem as if you’re waiting for a better offer to come along. Even if no RSVP has been requested, it’s thoughtful to let your host know if you won’t be able to be there. 

2. Pay attention to whom in which the invitation was extended. If an invitation was extended to you only, do not bring a guest. It is only permissible to bring a guest when the invitation was extended to do so.

3. Be on time. Arrive on time and leave on time. On time means different things to people, and can also be interpreted differently in different locales, but in general guests should arrive at or shortly after (usually only fifteen minutes) the event start time listed in the invitation. However, do not under any circumstances, arrive early. And leave on time. As things begin to wind down wait a short bit, then, politely say your goodbyes. Don’t be the guest lingers.

4. Be prepared. Obtain directions if necessary. Also, take along the host’s phone number. Should you get lost or have an emergency, call the host to keep them abreast of the situation. This is polite for any party, but is especially vital in the case of a dinner party. You don’t want to keep the party waiting without any word from you.

5. Mingle with other guests. Do your part to be friendly and engage in conversation with other guests. Get to know people and introduce other guests to those you know. If you notice someone not talking to anyone, a casual introduction such as “Hi, I’m Sally, a friend of Charlene’s …” will go a long way to make them feel more like part of the party. Remember, you’re part of the chemistry that will make the party a success.  

6. Be a willing participant.  Be prepared to join in whatever good-natured festivities your host has planned for the evening. Should you be asked to participate in a party game or to view Sally’s wedding video or graduation pictures, accept graciously – regardless of how you may really feel.

7. Don’t Be Controversial. Refrain from topics of conversation that could cause dissension among a particular group of guests.

8. Compliment the host. When you have the opportunity during the party and then again when saying your goodbyes, tell the host how much you enjoyed the food or what a great party it has been

9. Don’t overindulge.  Attacking food as if you are famished will not only attract the wrong kind of attention, it will also leave less food for other guests. Also be sure to drink responsibly. Be considerate of your host/hostess. They may be serving alcoholic beverages to complement the meal, but this doesn’t mean he/she wants to have a group of sloppy drunks on his/her hands by the end of the party. Also, if you drive home after having too much to drink, in addition to risking harming yourself and others, the person who provided the alcohol can, in some places, be responsible and even potentially face criminal charges, if you are caught or have an accident.

10. Thank the host – twice. It is polite to thank the host as you are leaving the party – a gesture that’s gracious anywhere.  Within a day or so of the party, send a note of thanks to the host or hostess. You may also send a gift such as flowers or a plant, or a bottle of wine. If the event was very informal among your closest friends, a thank-you telephone call or
e-mail is acceptable. However, a written note is always appropriate and appreciated.

BONUS TIP: Be a gracious guest. When asked what you’d like to drink or which kind of soup you’d prefer, don’t answer, “It doesn’t matter, whatever’s easiest,” The easiest is for you to make up your mind. Make a choice. Do not place the burden of making your choices for you on the shoulders of the host.

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The Art of Tipping posted in: Etiquette

Tipping is an art form that when mastered, makes your life easier and I find even more enjoyable. The key to getting good service is to reward good service. If it is simply expected, one might find themselves disappointed. You need to show appreciation for that extra bit of kindness these people offer every day as part of their job. Sometimes giving the slightest tip might help you from getting the average, usual treatment to the extra-special, VIP one. Make them happy, and you’ll be well taken care of.

Top 10 things to remember when tipping:

  1. 1. A tip is to be earned. Reward good service generously.
  2. 2. Leaving no tip does not correct a problem of indifferent or rude service, rather reduce the tip proportionately. This way, you help to raise the standard of service. A good rule of thumb is to leave 10% for mediocre service and 8% if the service was poor.
  3. 3. Be discreet – tipping is a private matter. Giving a tip is an act of kindness to show appreciation to someone, not an opportunity to act like a big spender flashing your cash.    Being a smooth tipper is impressive.
  4. 4. Be prepared. Build tips into your budget. Be sure to travel with singles and other smaller bills on hand and easily accessible when needed.
  5. 5. When giving a tip – don’t ask for change. Reference #4
  6. 6. Remember to fold your cash in half or thirds, and pass the tip discreetly with your palm facing down. Tipping with the cash up and your hands can be seen as rude.
  7. 7. Treat those who provide you a service with respect. Leaving a generous tip doesn’t make up for ordering someone around or treating them dismissively. While tipping augments the incomes of those in a service industry and rewards them for a job well done, treating them with kindness and respect is just as important.
  8. 8. Tip on the pre-tax amount of the bill, not on the total
  9. 9. When in doubt about whether to tip, ask in advance. Call ahead to the resort where you will be staying and inquire of resort fees and amenities. At your hair salon, ask the receptionist what is customary. Taking the time to find out what’s expected can spare you an embarrassing moment.
  10. 10. Though money is the tip of choice. Sometimes a small gift (usually given during the holidays) can be substituted for cash. In the case of a hair stylist or puppy sitter, for example, this gift can “top off” the cash tips you’ve given throughout the year.
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Entertaining Etiquette: How to be the happy hostess with the mostess posted in: Entertaining Essentials, Etiquette, Events

 Opportunities to entertain come all year ’round–from casual gatherings and summer barbecues to formal cocktail parties and milestone celebrations. Here are my top 5 tips to remember when hosting a party:

1. The Guest List
When selecting guests for your event, be mindful to choose an interesting mix of personalities. However, make sure that all invitees get along. No one wants tension at the party – it should be lively and upbeat, stress-free. It’s in the best interest for all not to invite people who are known to clash or the friend that has a reputation for starting heated debates. Rather choose guests who are good conversationalists and be sure to include those that will bring along a good sense of humor.

2. Invitations
Include necessary information for your guests in the invitation.  Is the party a casual get-together or a formal affair?  What is the dress code? Be sure to include a start and end time for the party. Send out invites four to six weeks in advance of the party to allow guess sufficient time to check calendars, arrange childcare, etc.

3. Proper Planning  
Hosting a party can be enjoyable, but planning is key.  Get help if necessary. Keep it simple, and do as much as you can ahead of time. To lower stress and help you on time, serve items that you know will work and that can be made in advance. Keep the bar simple. Provide  simple drinks such as wine, beer and soft drinks, and add a signature cocktail or two for a festive touch (drinks that can be prepared in large quantities and made ahead of time work great -for example sangria or strawberry lemonade). Plan to have everything ready at least an hour before guests are expected to arrive. Allow time personally to get ready – no one wants to look like the harried host when greeting guests.

4.  Gracious Greeting & Send-off, Happy Host Throughout
Ensure that guests are warmly greeted. Take coats and/or umbrellas (or have staff to do so) upon guests arrival, and graciously accept any hostess gifts that guests may present to you.  A good host/hostess will spend the evening with guests, not behind the scenes. Encourage guests to mingle, and be sure to make introductions and help to facilitate conversation. Thank people for coming as they leave the party. And remember to again express your appreciation to anyone who brought a gift.

5.  Be flexible and gracious.
Entertainment didn’t show? Have a fallback plan – an appropriate CD or playlist on standby. Have a no shoes policy?  Provide a basket of slippers by the door. And if you don’t know a guest well, or someone seems particularly uncomfortable, be flexible for the evening. Uninvited guest?  As discourteous as it is for someone to spring a surprise on you, be gracious.  No polite host would ever send an uninvited guest away.

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Etiquette for today posted in: Etiquette

The primary purpose of any advice or instruction on etiquette is to provide guidelines about the how, what, where, when and how of social graces. Arming yourself with this kind of knowledge provides you with confidence and security- an assurance that your behavior is appropriate to the situation.

It is important to first understand the difference between etiquette and manners. By definition, etiquette is a set of rules that outlines socially appropriate behavior according to contemporary conventional norms within a society, class or group of people observed in social or official life. Manners on the other hand are a characteristic or customary mode of acting; deportment – and one can have either good or bad manners. Simply put, etiquette is a ceremonial code of polite society and manners are an expression from the heart that reflects how much or little your care about and value the feelings of others.
Some people may regard etiquette as elitist and unnecessarily refined, but this is certainly not
the case. Knowledge of etiquette is never wasted.  Having a basic knowledge and observance of proper etiquette will mark someone as cultured, polite company, and so often in many cases opens doors of opportunity and serves as your “first class” ticket to success.
It is safe to assume that there is proper protocol for most every situation one might encounter, from meeting the President of the United States to understanding proper protocol in this electronic business age. The consequences of a lapse in etiquette may vary. At the very least, someone may feel awkward, and/or those present at the time of the blunder could form an unfavorable impression of the offender. At worst, a lapse in etiquette could cost you a friendship or a job.
Many people study etiquette to sharpen their social and business skills to ensure that they do not cause offense or embarrass themselves. Though etiquette is protocol, a set of behavior rules that can be memorized, our society is constantly evolving. We are here to keep you updated on the changing face of etiquette ensuring that you can face any situation with aplomb. We will share etiquette tips with via facebook and twitter, and sometimes dig a little deeper by blogging about etiquette topics such as tipping, weddings, travel, etc. Want more? Consider our etiquette presentations for your organization or business. For information on courses available through Tanja & Co. Academy of Etiquette, visit our program listing, or contact us by phone.

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