Service Skill: Giving a Manicure

Create a soothing environment. Offer a basic selection of drinks, snacks, and/or entertainment.

Place towel, then adequately sized bowl or basin with hot water (as hot as comfortable) and desired additions, on a table at a comfortable height where you can sit across from each other. Essential oils of choice and bubbles make a traditional luxurious touch. Ensure good task lighting. 

Remove old polish if needed.  

Soak fingertips/hands for ten to fifteen minutes. 

Use a cuticle pusher to push back cuticles, removing loose dead skin around the nail. If there’s a lot, you might want to use a cuticle trimmer.

Trim, file, and buff nails. Gently clean under nails with the cuticle pusher. 

Dry, then moisturize and massage hands. Apply cuticle oil to cuticles and nails; massage in.  

Apply a clear base coat, two coats of desired color, and a clear top coat. Let coats dry completely before the next one; keep them thin and even. Keep common polish colors on hand. 

Service Skill: Turndown


Turn off bright/unnecessary lights, turn on bedside lamp (on dim if possible), turn on nightlights. Close or open any desired windows; close all window coverings. 

Tidy up the bedroom. 

Spritz a calming scent (check for sensitivities). See to any air quality needs, like filling humidifiers or adjusting the thermostat. 

Turn on quiet, calming music, or the TV/device of choice to preferred channel/show/etc. on low. Put the remote, if there is one, in a handy location. Or, make it quiet. 

Lay out desired nighttime activity (book, other quiet occupations).

Set the alarm for the morning and plug in devices, if desired. 

Put out bedtime drink and snack of choice, and any needed medication. Make sure the same is ready for the morning. 

Refresh desired bath amenities if needed/if there might be bedtime bathing. Offer assistance. 

Lay out clothes for tomorrow, and nightwear for that night, or help them change, if desired. Place the floor mat if there is one. 

The Bed Itself

Assuming the bed was made properly that morning… (See “Service Skill: Making the Bed”.)

Remove any unnecessary/decorative pieces/covers, etc. 

Place any desired pieces that get added at bedtime (extra pillows, blankets, comfort objects). 

Turn down the bed. For one person, turn one corner down to form a right triangle. For two, turn down both corners. Alternatively, turn down the whole bedspread halfway. (You can also only turn down the top layers to the bottom half, turning down the flat sheet in corner style.) 

Fluff pillows. 

Turndown Card 

Neatly hand write and leave the turndown card on the nightstand/in an obvious place. Don’t forget the date.

Standard additions include menu for the next day, weather forecast, and other needed reminders.  

You can also add quotes, love notes, and more. 

Service Skill: Flower Arranging

Select your flowers. Pick ones that are fresh, and keep the combination simple: monochromatic, shades of the same color, or up to three complementary colors.

Remove unwanted/wilted bits. Make a diagonal cut near the bottom of the stems (cut to size depending on size of vase if needed). Remove any foliage that will fall below the water line in the vase. 

Clean vase if needed. Fill half to three quarters of the way with room temperature/lukewarm water with floral food. Create a guide grid using floral tape or wire if desired.

Add flowers. First, any base greenery, then focal points/larger flowers, then filler flowers/smaller ones, then “floaters”/miscellaneous filler pieces. You can use a Lazy Susan to rotate the vase and see it from all sides, or turn it yourself.

Give the flowers a light spritz of water to recreate the look of fresh dew.

Service Skill: Using Homemade/Natural Cleaners 

All purpose cleaner: two cups of water, one tablespoon of washing soda. Store in spray bottle. Spritz surface and rub clean and dry with cleaning rag/suitable tool of choice. 

Abrasive cleaner: combine small amounts of baking soda and water where needed until it forms a paste. Gently grind off stuck on dirt/food/etc. with sponge/mildly abrasive tool of choice. Rinse and dry.  

Drain maintenance: pour one cup of washing soda into drain, let sit for a few minutes.  Follow with three cups of hot water.  

For lime/mineral deposits on fixtures: soak in vinegar using cloth, bag, etc. to soften it up to be removed/let it sit for a few hours. Then, rub clean with cleaning rag/tool of choice and rinse and dry.

For toilets: add one cup of vinegar and one cup of baking soda to the bowl. Let it sit for several minutes. Then, swish and clean with a toilet brush, then flush the toilet to rinse it.

For lime/mineral deposits/mold in containers (humidifiers, coffee makers, etc.): fill it with vinegar, put it in sunlight. Let it sit a few hours, agitating or scrubbing if needed. Thoroughly rinse and dry. (For coffee makers, you can sometimes run it with just hot water several times.) 

Fabric refresher spray: water and desired amount/combo of essential oils in a spray bottle. Spritz on beds, couches, carpets, etc. 

Hard floor cleaner: one cup of water, one quarter cup of vinegar, two tablespoons of rubbing alcohol, a few drops of liquid dish soap, and desired amount/combo of essential oils. Store in bottle and apply it to the wet mop, or store it in a spray bottle, then spray it on the floor and mop. 

Carpet cleaner: one cup of water, one half cup of vinegar, one teaspoon of salt, and desired amount/combo of essential oils in spray bottle. Spray, let it dry, then vacuum.

Service Skill: Making Tea

General Notes on Picking Your Tea Selection:

Offer both caffeinated and decaf options (in case of sensitivities).

For an event, pick teas that brew in the same temperature range for ease of serving.

Making a Pot:

Heat filtered water (measure it first, or before pouring into the pot) to the correct temperature, depending on type of tea.

Warm the teapot and the cups by filling with hot water for a minute, then dumping it out. Rinsing with hot water will also work.

Place one teabag or one tablespoon loose leaves (in the strainer) per cup in the pot. (Some add “and one for the pot”, or might want more or less depending on how weak/strong they like their tea. Check for preferences.)

Pour the hot water into the pot.

Cover, and steep tea for the correct amount of time depending on the type of tea/preference.

Remove teabags/strainer.

Serving Tea:

Ask how they take it (milk, sugar, lemon, etc.). Ask first in case you need to leave room for additions like milk or hot water.

Pour the tea.

Provide the desired additions.

Note: if you already know how they take their tea, they might prefer you put in milk/sugar/etc. first.

Service Skill: Giving a Pedicure

Create a soothing environment.  Offer a basic selection of drinks, snacks, and/or entertainment.

Place towel on floor, then foot bath (check sizing) with hot water (as hot as comfortable) and desired additions. Essential oils of choice and bubbles make a traditional luxurious touch.  For serious dead skin removal, try a large splash each of vinegar and mouthwash, though beware this might stain skin and the bath. 

Remove old polish if needed.  

Soak feet for fifteen to twenty minutes. 

Remove dead skin from bottom of feet.  Foot file and then pumice stone works best.  You can also remove hairs if desired with method of choice. Work on one foot at a time, leaving the other soaking.

Use a cuticle pusher to push back cuticles, removing loose dead skin around the nail. If there’s a lot, you might want to use a cuticle trimmer. Work on one foot at a time, leaving the other soaking.

Trim, file, and buff nails. Gently clean under nails with the cuticle pusher. Keep each foot out of the bath when done with this step.

Dry, then moisturize and massage feet. Apply cuticle oil to cuticles and nails; massage in. A gentle pull on toes and circular motions around the ball of the foot tend to be popular.  

Apply a clear base coat, two coats of desired color, and a clear top coat.  Toe separators work well here, during and for drying. Let coats dry completely before the next one; keep them thin and even. Keep common polish colors on hand.

Service Skill: Bootblacking

Unlace boots.

Clean with leather soap of choice and slightly damp cloth if needed (don’t use too much soap/make sure it all gets wiped off). 

Make any needed repairs (clipping loose threads, etc.) 

Apply leather conditioner. 

Apply layers of polish (check the color match) as needed. 

Buff with horsehair brush.

Dampen cloth slightly and use to apply thin layer of polish in circles.  With a slightly damp cotton ball, apply circular shine.  Repeat as needed. 

Relace boots in the same pattern as before (or the one that’s desired now—learn a few common patterns).

Dryer sheets placed in shoes when not in use can keep them smelling fresh.

Service Skill: Making the Bed

General Notes:

Bed linens and such that are properly sized, fit the color scheme, and are in good condition go a long way. 

Remember to change/wash the linens regularly (once a week is a popular guideline); watch the care instructions.  

Having at least two sets of bed linens can save some headaches.

Don’t forget appropriately keeping the bed frame and whatnot neat too.  This might mean dusting, or handling upholstery, or something else.

Remember mattress care—rotating once a quarter, flipping twice a year if possible, cleaning it, etc.

Set the tasks mentioned on a repeating schedule.

Maybe try a light linen spray in the morning or at turndown—but remember to check on allergies and sensitivities first.

I don’t mention certain extra pieces below—but if you have a bed skirt, mattress pad, etc., factor them in appropriately.

Make sure the piece you’re handling is facing the way it’s supposed to, both in vertical/horizontal orientation and where the patterned side is; a patterned flat sheet, for instance, needs to be put on the bed face down to have the pattern facing up when folded back. Note that the side of the flat sheet with the wider hem should be towards the head of the bed.

Customize it!  Make sure you adhere to your partner’s preferences.


If the mattress has shifted at all, for those tossers and turners, make sure it’s lined up/back where it’s supposed to be.

Fitted sheet: evenly place on the mattress; smooth out.

Flat sheet: make hospital corners. Remember to have pattern side facing down, and widest hem at top of bed.

There are many great resources on how to make hospital corners online.  A quick Google search should get you to guides for a variety of learning types if you haven’t done it before.

Main blanket: evenly lay on top; create hospital corners if desired/possible; smooth out.

Fold down the flat sheet and the blanket so the fold lays not quite below where the pillows will be.  Neatly tuck the hem of the flat sheet under the hem of the comforter, or simply smooth out.  (This is really a preference point.)

Place any extra blankets, whether another layer altogether, or folded across the foot of the bed, or what have you.

Put pillowcases on pillows if need be (tuck excess pillowcase fabric, if any, under the pillow—check if they have a preferred side for this to be on); fluff; arrange pillows practically and attractively; try slightly propped up on the headboard.

Handle any other pieces needed.  

Service Skill: Napkin Folding

The Rosebud

1. Lay napkin face down in front of you.

2.  Fold the napkin up in half diagonally. 

3.  Point open end away from you. 

4. Fold the right corner up diagonally to meet the top corner. 

5.  Repeat on the left.

6. Flip the napkin over, left to right.

7. Fold the lower corner up most of the way.

8. Flip the napkin over, left to right.

9.  Curl both sides in, tucking one into the other.

10. Stand up. 

The Envelope

1. Lay napkin face down in front of you.

2.  Fold napkin in half downwards.

3. Fold top left corner to center of base.

4. Repeat on the right.

5. Flip left to right. 

6. Fold in corners evenly.  Tuck in menu, card, favor, or whatever is desired.

The Cutlery Holder

1. Lay napkin face up in front of you.

2. Fold in half upwards.

3. Fold in half to the left.

4.  Peel one layer of upper right corner back to lower left corner.

5. Flip over vertically, downward.

6. Fold lower third in.

7. Fold top third in.

8. Orient vertically and insert cutlery/whatever is desired. 

Service Skill: Setting the Table

Here are some quick overarching table-setting tips and guidelines I’ve run across.

  1. Space things evenly and line them up (bottoms of the vertical flatware all along the same line, for instance).
  2. All knife blades face towards the plate.
  3. Be consistent in your style. There are different types of settings (like North American versus European); stick to one.
  4. Use as few disposables as possible to increase class. Cloth napkins, real dishes. Have them match, and make sure they’re spotless.
  5. Napkins can go either to the left of the fork or on the charger (in less spacious settings). Under the fork is also an informal option.
  6. Big centerpieces might look pretty in isolation; on the table, they mean you can’t see the person across from you. Think smaller, or get creative on placement. Real or fake candles or flowers; consider string lights. Learn basic flower arranging.
  7. Certain types of plates, bowls, and glassware can be chilled for serving things cold or heated for serving things warm. Adds a touch of luxury.
  8. Remember drinks and condiments; arrange attractively (try serving butter in balls, curls, or piped shapes).
  9. Remember lighting and music/atmosphere, but keep it conversation focused: soft, instrumental music (or background noise—rain sounds, so on), and practical, but intimate lighting.
  10. Place cards make seating and identification easy; they’re very handy if not everyone is eating quite the same thing. Learn some lettering and do them yourself for an extra nice touch.
  11. Be mindful of attractive plating practices. Remember the protein/entree should be closest to the diner. The Clock Plate: (Veggie 12-3, Protein 3-9, Carb 9-12)
  12. Check what’s in your butler’s book for any special considerations for those who will be dining.