Who me? Teach an etiquette class?
When my daughter asked me to help with her camp’s “Fancy Day,” teaching 9 and 10-year-olds a few good manners, I laughed out loud. But, she was serious, so my husband and I started a list. On Fancy Day, the girls were dressed in their Sunday best, and along with the boys, walked to the old-timey restaurant down the street for brunch.
Sitting at tables of 10, they watched their leaders for queues then turned their attention (sort of) to me. Here’s what I shared:
1. Always introduce yourself to the person next to you, if you don’t know them. Or, say hello and call them by name.
2. Look them in the eye and ask them something about themselves. Conversation is everything.
3. Listen politely to the waitress or waiter and acknowledge them. (I introduced our waitress, interviewed her briefly so the kids would understand this is her JOB but she’s also a mother and grandmother).
4. Pass dishes clockwise and never reach across someone else’s plate.
5. Forming the “OK” sign with both hands, note that the lower case “b” is on the left – that’s where your bread plate is. The right hand forms a lower case “d” and that’s how you can tell which water glass is yours.
6. When you’re done eating, place your silverware in a neat pile at an angle, across your plate to signal to the waiter they may clear your plate.
7. Keep your hands in your lap on top of your napkin when not eating and dab your mouth gently, don’t swab the deck.
Manners are about respecting those in your company, more than just please and thank yous. This Thanksgiving, I hope you have an engaging conversation with your table-mate. And of course, be the first to hop up to clear the table. “Be a good helper,” my mom would always say.