Friday, May 25, 2012

A polite way to eat finger foods!

You might call them canapés, hors d’oeuvres, party snacks, or finger food, but it’s all the same thing: small food items, often decorative, held in the fingers and usually eaten in one bite. Whether you’re at a formal party or a backyard soiree, we have tips to help you eat and socialize without making a mess!
In the buffet line
While serving yourself in the buffet line, use the offered serving utensil, not your fingers!
Place one of each hors d’oeuvres on your plate—even if you love sliders, don’t load your plate with 10 of them. You can always return multiple times to a buffet table, so pace yourself.  Make sure you are not overloading your plate with each visit—these are small, bite-sized pieces, not a Christmas dinner!
At a less formal party, you may need to reuse a plate, but at a catered party, use a new, clean plate for each buffet visit.
Enjoying the food

Wait for hot items to cool so you don’t burn your mouth. Resist the urge to blow on your food—let it cool on its own, and use the time to practice your small talk.

Some hors d’oeuvres might be speared on a toothpick for easy serving. Hold the toothpick and eat the food from it, but don’t put the used toothpick back on a serving dish on the buffet table—leave it on the edge of your plate.

Use a fork and knife for messier foods like dips or oil- or vinegar-heavy treats. Even if the food item is bite-sized, slice it into two pieces and eat the segments with a fork. And if a knife and fork are offered with a plate, use them. In this instance, there should be places to sit, so eat your meal at a bartop or highboy table.

Say thanks
Make sure to thank the wait staff as they serve you—and of course, thank the host or hostess before you go!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Cash gifts & graduates

Whether it’s marking the end of middle school, high school, or college, graduation is a thrilling time. It’s a moment to celebrate, this sending-off to the next level (or out into the “real world”). If you’re considering gift-giving to mark the occasion, you might be thinking of cash gifts. Worried that it’s too impersonal a present? Fear not—you can make a cash gift both meaningful and memorable, and without breaking the bank.

Talking about money can be hard, especially in these economic times, but let’s be realistic and discuss how much you should give.

It turns out that there’s not an across-the-board answer—no “Give this amount for eighth graders and this amount for college grads.” No. This is a more nuanced decision, based on a lot of different things—how well you know the graduate, the graduate’s future financial needs, your own financial status. Consider the graduate’s level of support and stage of independence: a person beginning their post-college career may appreciate a larger cash gift than a young teenager who lives in a financially stable home.

Don’t feel pressure to give beyond your means. A modest amount of money is still a wonderful gift, especially if you include it in a note written on personal stationary. When you give money along with a heartfelt letter, your words of encouragement and wisdom will be long remembered after the money is spent.

You can also take the focus off the money by making it the secondary gift. We like to give meaningful books and tuck a cash gift inside the pages. When we write the inscription in the front of the book, we mention a particular page number. It’s a nice surprise, and the book makes the gift more personal and significant.

Regardless of the present, make sure your graduate feels your love—that kind of support sustains more than money!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

National Etiquette week - Day 4!

National Etiquette Week -  Day 4! 


It goes to the heart of us being global citizens and neighbors. When gratitude exists you don't find negativity, judgmental attitudes, condescension. Rather, you find acceptance, happiness, and things are NICE!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

National Etiquette Week - Day 3!

National Etiquette Week - Day 3!


What connects us to each other? I the air we breathe. the sunshine that warms us. the words we say to each other? Greetings are universal and wouldn't it be nice if we greeted a person every hour during the work day or if we greeted each other during our work day?

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

National Etiquette Week - Day 2!

It's Day 2 of National Etiquette Week! 


As Calvin Coolidge once said, "No man ever listened his way out of a job." The computer, cellphone, electronics are EVERYWHERE. Take a break and be with the ones you love!

Monday, May 14, 2012

National Etiquette Week - Day 1!

Today is the FIRST day of National Etiquette Week!!! This is a time for you to think about your everyday habits and behaviors.


A smile is a very powerful facial expression. Smile at someone and see what happens. You have the power to change a moment in a person's bad day into a moment where there is a light and happiness. Now wouldn't that be nice?
As Phyllis Diller said, "A smile is a curve that sets everything straight!" 

Monday, May 7, 2012

Free Giveaway!

We are honored to offer a free giveaway of one the most exciting products getting recognition for promoting manners to children!
Blunders—a fun board game for 2-4 players ages 5 & up—has children learning manners while they pretend to be members of the Blunder family, honing their etiquette so they'll earn an invitation to the Mannerlys' pool party. One of the Today Show's "Favorite Things," Blunders has received numerous awards and excellent reviews, including a recent 5 Star rating from WTS Toy Review.
Blunders inventor and etiquette consultant Aimee Symington also created Manner Mats, a set of tear-off placemats with etiquette-centric games, puzzles, and other activities that are perfect for home or dining out at restaurants.
We have one Blunders game and one set of Manners Mats to give away!
These are excellent products for parents, teachers, or anyone with young children in their lives.

For your chance to win, leave us a comment (one per person) in this post before 8 a.m. EST Friday, May 11. We will announce the winner (selected via Random Number Generator) shortly after on this blog.

We had a chance to interview the genius behind Blunders - thank you, Aimee!
5 Questions with Aimee Symington
Perfectly Polished: Why is it important to teach etiquette to young children?

Aimee Symington: What people learn as children will shape who and what they become. For example, if you teach children to show respect and kindness to others even on the playground and at school, they will forever know how they should behave towards adults. Children with polite manners are given positive reinforcement which increases their self-esteem, they have more friends, and they perform better in school. So, I guess the question is… why shouldn’t we teach children manners?
When it comes to children and manners, what are the "repeat offenses" you see most often?
In young children, it’s having bad table manners and being unwilling to try new food. This is something that parents can easily do something about, however. Parents need to take the time to teach their children to have polite table manners and then expect it 100% of the time, not just when they go to grandma’s.
The worse offense with older children is being mean to others. Gossiping, teasing, and bullying are happening more than ever now that kids can say something via text, email, Facebook, or through other social media, and hind behind a screen. Kids need to learn that everything they put online will stay there forever and that their words can hurt others just as easily as if they have physically hurt them.
How did you create the "Blunders" game?
After one of my etiquette sessions, a mom asked me what she could do at home to make learning manners fun. I thought about it and realized that there was nothing on the market that families or teachers could use to make the task of teaching manners easy and somewhat enjoyable. So that is when I said, "I’ll create a board game on manners. How hard can it be?” Well.. I quickly found out it was hard, but it was well worth the blood, sweat, and tears.

How did you come up with the idea for the activity mats?
I received a lot of comments from parents that they wanted a game or activity that they could do at the table before and during dinner to teach their children social skills and dining etiquette. Some restaurants have placemats that kids love to play with while waiting for their meal, so I thought—what a good idea it would be to have the same type of games and activities on a placemat, but that would actually be educational! I created a pad of 38 different placemats that parents can use with their kids at home or take along to restaurants to use while they wait. The placemats also encourage conversation, give information on what people do in other countries, and teach you how to say “Please” and “Thank you” in different languages.

Your products are making a name of themselves. How does it feel to get that kind of recognition for products that promote manners?
After so much hard work it feels great! Also, it’s nice to know that there are people out there who recognize how important it is to teach children to have polite manners and good social skills. 

UPDATE: Comments are now closed! The winner is: 

"Sounds like a great idea! Interrupting is a big one in our house too. (Partly cause Dad and I cut each other off all the time, I suspect.)"
Posted by: HEJ May 9, 2012 6:49 AM


Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Symphonies 101

Today’s blog post comes from Cindy, who recently attended several live performances in Athens, Atlanta, and New York City and says, “I am convinced a mandatory refresher course in concert etiquette is in order.”

So, here it is: Symphony Etiquette 101 by Cindy Haygood 

First things first: No humming with the orchestra or performer or choral group. Sutton Foster has a gorgeous voice and doesn’t need you to accompany her, even if it is your favorite Cole Porter song! Speaking of audience participation—please sit relatively still. The dancers are on stage.

Secondly: When the president of the ballet company’s board of directors stands on stage requesting you to please refrain from all use of electronic devices during the performance, he really meant everybody! All people! Everyone! Even the lady we saw who checked her phone messages, lighting up the concert hall like the Fourth of July.

Now, a word on clapping. Do not clap until the end of the entire piece of music. Do not clap between movements. Not sure if the music’s over? Take a look at your program. It might look like this:

Piano Concerto No. 23 in A major by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, 1786 
     Allegro in A major 
     Adagio in F-sharp minor 
     Allegro assai in A and alla breve 

The above piece has three movements and they are indented beneath the main title of the piece. Applaud after the final movement. There is usually a short pause between movements, but resist clapping—think of it as a time for the orchestra to catch their breath.

Some FAQs: 

Should I bring the family? 
Sure, if it’s a family-friendly concert—just have reasonable expectations. Some orchestras recommend waiting to bring your child until he or she is 6 years old.

Supervision is essential, according to our friend Albert F. Ligotti, a professional trumpet player for the New York Philharmonic for 11 years under the direction of Leonard Bernstein, and the founder of the Athens (Ga.) Symphony.

“I don’t mind hearing children talking; it’s not that distracting,” says Ligotti. “But letting them run down the aisle is the biggest complaint.”

That’s right—Ligotti has often seen children race up and down the aisle during a concert, sometimes even approaching the stage. “It’s disconcerting to the players,” he says.

What do I wear to the Symphony?
Your clothing should reflect the occasion. Think about the venue. If it is outside in the amphitheater, think of comfortable clothing suitable for outside weather. One of my favorites is the Miller Outdoor Theatre in Hermann Park in Houston, Texas. And because it is located in a park, there is a very casual feel about this venue. Even the members of the symphony have on casual dress uniform clothing. On the other hand, if it is an ornate, gilded hall, dress up for the occasion. No matter where you are, however, leave the baseball cap at home!

When should I arrive?
 The accepted practice is to be in your seat 15 minutes prior to the start of the concert. This gives you time to look through the program notes and to be comfortably situated for the performance. In most venues around the world, there are strict rules about arriving late. Some theaters will not seat you until after a selection of music is complete, or until after intermission. So don’t be late!

 Is it okay to use my cell phone as a camera?
No. Lights, cameras, action are for movie sets, not live performances of a symphony! Remember there are copyright issues at stake, too, especially if you have plans to film copyrighted material and post it online (something that technology may soon prevent).

What about a bottle of water in the concert hall?
Unless you need it for health reasons, it is not advisable! Mostly because getting the bottle out to drink will result in noise and a possible accident.

Can I get out my cell phone and take notes, doodle, play games…? 
Please don’t! You are to watch, listen, enjoy, be mesmerized and be entertained by live music…not your cell phone!

How should I handle people leaving my row during intermission?
Try to stand or move your legs to the side to help people exit gracefully. Remaining in your seat and not acknowledging someone’s need to exit is rude and inconsiderate. Plus, this is a good time to talk and meet the people around you, so why not interact now (and not during the show)?

What really bugs you about people’s behaviors or lack of mannerly behavior at concerts? I’d really like to know. Send me an e-mail!

Note: you can find our etiquette advice on attending rock shows here.