It's the season for dinner parties. In the U.S., Thanksgiving is right around the corner, itself an occasion for families to gather and dine together. But then starts a whirlwind of yet more holiday dinner parties - requiring weeks of planning menus, deciding who to put where at the table, and bringing out the fine china (or, in some perfectly respectable cases, plates that match).
As children's etiquette consultants, we believe in including children in everyday demonstrations of good manners. This is the perfect opportunity to talk about place settings at the table.
Several years ago, The Washington Post offered very helpful diagrams of both informal and formal table settings.
But let's bring this to a useful level for children. Simplify the table setting to the plates and flatware your child will actually use (in our example below, we include a bread plate; you may choose to take that out). Older children can make this a fun craft project to brighten up the holiday table. With our guide, your child can draw his or her own placemat, which then can be laminated. Extra crafty types can whip up a cloth placemat, onto which children can draw with fabric markers. Ours was made with construction paper, markers, and crayon.