Aahhhh…. Autumn. Blustery late-October winds send the last leaves scattering and Christmas holiday merchandise creeps steadily onto Store-Shelves-Near-You.
This is an exciting time of year; with the onset of winter holiday festivities, you find yourself considering travel plans and gift lists, mulling over menu options and guest lists. And then, at the dinner table one night, the chilly mists of anxiety waft over you as you realize that the family table etiquette you thought you’d whipped into shape long ago has not even remotely recovered from the long, lazy, finger-licking days of summer.
You watch for a minute or two with a bit of a sickening feeling accompanying your current state of disbelief. Yes, you really did see Johnny lick his fingers after using them to pick up a long green bean and nibble it from the bottom up. And yes, you really are watching little Katy blow air in and out of a limp macaroni noodle that has had all the cheese sucked off of it. Eeesh.
The Five-Week Manners Makeover
There’s just enough time from now until Thanksgiving to give the whole family a manners makeover. Since most major holiday celebrations involve lots and lots of time around a table, practicing basic table manners is the best place to start.
Week 1: Focus on Table Settings and Basic Table Etiquette
Explain the placement of table settings and let them practice setting the table properly at mealtimes. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how quickly they’ll learn with a little practice! To brush up on the correct way to set a table, feel free to visit the following videos, compliments of The Emily Post Institute and Howcast:
Review the Other Behavior Basics:
1. Wash your hands before coming to the table.
2. Put your napkin in your lap.
3. Don’t start eating until everyone at the table has been served, or until the hostess eats.
4. Hold and use your utensils properly.
5. Say “please” and “thank you” when food, seasonings, or condiments are passed.
6. Food is usually passed from right to left to avoid confusion; however, observe what’s happening and act accordingly.
7. If you happen to be overlooked for something, no reaching across someone else’s plate; quietly ask for something to be passed.
8. Chew with your mouth closed; don’t talk with your mouth full.
9. Wait to be excused from the table; offer to help clear dishes from the table.
10. Always remember to thank the cook!
It’s their party, too.
Kids learn better when they are involved and treated as an integral part of the big picture. Rather than teaching manners as “Rules-That-Must-Be-Followed”, explain that using good manners helps make everything more special. Then get them involved in the creative and planning stages of the event. Entrusting them with responsibilities, such as folding fancy napkins or making personalized place cards for all the guests, gives them a personal stake in the overall success of the event.
Every mealtime presents another opportunity to make something good even better. Use the extra time afforded on weekends to practice something a bit more formal.
And remember: kids aren’t the only ones who need reminders and repetition. (Just sayin’.)
table image: www.photoshopessentials.com
girl licking fingers: www.chocolates-made-easy.com
boy scratching head: www.mombuzz.com
boy eating spaghetti: www.parentsconnect.com
man eating spaghetti: www.deathandtaxesmag.com