Thursday, June 30, 2011

Toilet Paper Roll, Over or Under?

If you read my column on Tuesday, you know I’m a professional Butler — and I’m here to help you sort through life’s how-to’s. On Tuesday, I’m answering your social etiquette questions, and every other Thursday, I’m offering my best advice on managing your home. So, please send your questions to and remember to look for this column every other Thursday.

Let’s start with our first question!


Is there a correct way to place toilet paper on the toilet paper holder?!


As a matter of fact, there is! The toilet paper roll is meant to go over not under, that is UNLESS you have a cat. If you are a cat owner, you will want the toilet paper to go under to save yourself lots of grief. Having the toilet roll go over provides nothing but encouragement to a playful cat to make a mess and unroll the toilet roll so that you have a mess when you wake up in the morning!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Dining with the Boss, 101

Dear Charles the Butler,
My wife and I have been invited for the first time to my boss’s house for dinner. We are both very nervous. We live a casual lifestyle, but my boss and his wife live very formally. Tips please!
Nervous Couple

Dear Nervous couple:
Going to your employer’s for dinner is stressful at the best of times. But alas, one must overcome social fears, especially if one wishes to succeed in long-term business relationships.

Etiquette is about confidence building, allowing you to be comfortable in most situations. As a child, my parents laboured tirelessly to teach me table manners — no fingers even for chicken wings! I fought them both tooth and nail.

Soon enough I noticed that when I went to my friends’ houses for dinner, their parents would say, “Why can’t you learn to eat correctly like Charles?” And that made me feel proud and confident.

Here is all you need to know to enjoy dinner with your boss — with confidence.

1. Take the time to learn how to correctly hold and use a fork and a knife — and practice, practice practice. If at any point you don’t know what to do, take a deep breath and follow the hostess.

2. Read the newspaper for one week prior to the dinner. This will allow you to be aware of what is going on in the world and add to the discussion.

3. See what the dress code is. If it’s not clear don’t be afraid to call and ask. If you are dressed appropriately you will feel more comfortable at the dinner.

4. Last but never least, be yourself! Don’t put on any pretence — being sincere and genuine is by far the most important. Now go and have a great time!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

When do you light the candles?

When entertaining for a sit down meal, when is the right time to light the candles on the table? Before the guests arrive or before everyone sits down?
Elaine, Saskatchewan

Hello Elaine,
Although as the hostess you can do what you want (it is your party), a really good rule of thumb is to light the dining room candles once dinner is ready to be served and just before you invite your guests to the dinner table. This signals to the guests that the evening is shifting from the cocktail hour to the dinner hour. Once the dinner is over and your guests have left the dinner table traditionally the candles are blown out.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Introducing My Weekly Newspaper Column

Ask Charles the Butler
Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Intro Column #1

Hello and welcome to my new weekly column. As you can read from the title, my career is that of a professional Butler. You might be wondering what a Butler could possibly have to write about on a weekly basis? Well, I would like to introduce to you my new advice column based on my many experiences, the people I’ve met and the situations I’ve encountered as a Butler.

So first, why don’t I start by telling you a little about myself? As a Butler, I have had the honour and privilege to work privately for one of Canada’s most famous and gracious families. After many years, I left their employ in 1996 to open my company -- Charles MacPherson Associates. It is based in Toronto where we have the only registered Butler Academy in North America. In addition to our Academy, we also place domestic and hospitality staff both in North America and globally. As well, we provide private training around the globe for luxury hotels and private residences.

In the past year alone, I have travelled and worked in London, Paris, Tokyo, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Dubai, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Johannesburg. My travels abroad and exposure to the ultra high net worth individual lifestyle have afforded me diverse experiences. I invariably come home with a plethora of great stories and interesting cross-cultural knowledge. I have had the opportunity of meeting world leaders, movie stars, super models, royalty, millionaires and billionaires, and I’m now here to share my knowledge and experiences with you, the readers of Metro.

So how does all this relate to my column? Well, as Metro’s new expert on social etiquette, I am here to answer all your questions relating to these issues. From “Do I need to send a thank you note or can I just email or call?” to “What kind of gift is appropriate for a 2 night cottage visit” or “My mother-in-law to be insists on being involved in all the decisions for my wedding and I don’t know how to deal with her without making her feel bad” or “I drive a pretty beat up old car and wonder if it’s appropriate to pick up a “first-date” in it?’ We all experience social etiquette issues on a daily basis and I am now here to answer my fellow Canadian’s questions every Tuesday.

So where do we go from here? I need you, the readers, to start submitting your questions by sending me an email to and remember to look for my column every Tuesday starting next week!

Read Article Here

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Packing Your Suitcase

Earlier this week Marilyn and I spent some time packing suitcases using the three different methods,

- Rolling
- Layering
- Hanging

As always we had lots of fun during our segment and I'm sure you will too!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Savoy Hotel

Last Friday, I had both the pleasure and honour to meet with a dear friend and fellow colleague Mr. Sean Davoren, the Head Butler for the newly renovated Savoy Hotel in London. This charming hotel is a wonderful combination of design between Edwardian and Art Deco. The renovated hotel has 278 rooms. After a tour of the hotel including the Royal Suite, I was treated with a special hello from a Butler who I had the honour of training at a hotel in Paris. Mr. Nicholas, the Butler who I trained in Paris, is one of the senior supervisors of the team of Butlers at the Savoy. What a great day it was and true pleasure.

Airplane Etiquette

Yesterday Marilyn and I spent our morning coffee time talking about my latest trip to the United Kingdom, and all things airplane etiquette! I hope you enjoy the segment!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Another Graduating Class

It is with great pride and pleasure that we announce the latest 16 graduates from our Butler 101 program. This current group of graduates is from the Langham Hotel, London. This particular team of Butlers are already being put to the test with guests in house for the next few months requiring their particular services. Bravo!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

The View From My Room

I thought how appropriate that the view from my Langham Hotel Room in London was this beautiful new garden and the Miele showroom! Coincidence or fate?!

I am preparing to leave for the airport returning to Toronto in a few hours. Although one is always sad to leave when you are happy and comfortable where you are, it is also always something to look forward to go home and find your own bed and pillows!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

A Living, Breathing, Working Castle

Arrived safely on Thursday evening in Northumberland county and have been hosted by my dear friend and colleague Mr. John Robertson. The highlight of this trip thus far, was spending the day along side the Master Butler Mr. Robertson in a real working castle for the day. I learned, I laughed and I am the luckiest man in the world, as this is a true treat and rare opportunity for that I am eternally greatful.

For those of you who know me well, my first stop and most exciting stop was the laundry department of the castle. It produces incredible volume, quality and a true professional laundress works there.

The four staterooms took my breath away, but to be most truthful, my heart and passion was the inner workings of the back of the house! Thank you Mr. Robertson for this incredible opportunity and your most gracious hospitality over the past two days.