Reclaiming Her Grace: Beauty of Etiquette

One of my passions is etiquette. I love reading vintage etiquette books, especially some of the really old etiquette from the 1800s. One of my many collections consists of old etiquette books. I was so pleased to find one entitles “A Manual of Etiquette with Hints on Politeness and Good Breeding” by Sophia Orne (Edwards) Johnson, published under her pseudo name “Daisy Eyebright”, in 1873. She includes a quote from Lord Byron, “There’s nothing in the world like etiquette, In kingly chambers or imperial halls, as also at the race and county balls.” It’s true. There is nothing quite like etiquette. It doesn’t just belong in the grand palaces and mansions of high society, but also in the humble farm house and everyday life that surrounds most of us. It’s not just for the high class, but reaches across all socioeconomic barriers and begs us to conduct ourselves with dignity for ourselves and consideration for others.

“There’s nothing in the world like etiquette, In kingly chambers or imperial halls, as also at the race and county balls.”

Etiquette is the third area that needs to be reclaimed in our lives. Manners and etiquette will never go out of style, but somehow they’ve slipped away from daily habit. It’s funny to watch people when I start talking about etiquette, I’m greeted with a quirked eyebrow and a “that’s a little old fashioned isn’t it?” question. My dear husband gets nervous that I’m going to dress him up in a full tuxedo and make him speak using the King’s English. Neither are necessary. There are many types of etiquette we can study and practice. Anything from the proper way to court a young lady (which may be just a tad old fashion, but still very romantic) to how to set a table for a formal dinner party, to letter writing and communication etiquette. I will admit, that quite a bit of the 1800’s etiquette is definitely out of date. For example, there is an entire section in a book titled “The Ladies’ Book of Etiquette, and Manual of Politeness: A Complete Handbook for the Use of the Lady in Polite Society” published by Florence Hartley in 1860, that discusses proper etiquette for calling, or receiving callers. The “calls” are referencing actual visits, not telephone calls, as telephones didn’t exist until 1876 and weren’t widely used until 1900 . This section talked about the proper times to call on a friend, what to wear, how long to stay, and that you never ever call without a calling card. Calling cards were a way to let your friend know that you had stopped by to see her, if she wasn’t available for your visit. They were also a way for the receiver to keep track of who had visited her so that she may return the visit at a later date.

Beautiful 1800’s Calling Card

Another section discusses proper dress etiquette for those traveling, especially women traveling alone. There were correct colors, fabrics, and even styles for dress that were appropriate and those that were completely forbidden. There were proper ways to conduct oneself in a hotel, activities one did and did not do, tipping etiquette, and so much more. My favorite topic though would have to be table and hostess etiquette. Everything from the meticulous way a table was set to the conversation around the table. For example, once seated the hostess began conversation by speaking to the person on their right. This continued around the table ensuring everyone had a conversation companion. About halfway through the meal, the host/hostess would “turn the table” which was a signal to then turn to the person of their left and begin conversation. Topics such as religion and politics were considered vulgar around women and were avoided at the dinner table.

I’ve had a great time reading through these books and learning about the etiquette that shaped the 19th century. While some etiquette may be old fashioned and obsolete, there is plenty that still applies today. I enjoy reading through these etiquette books and pulling out truths that still apply to us now, 200 years removed from early 19th century. In the book “Hill’s Manual of Social and Business Forms“, written by Thomas Hill in the 1880’s, Mr. Hill includes many areas of daily life and the etiquette that goes hand in hand. The third area we should reclaim in our everyday lives in the beauty of this etiquette.

Etiquette of Conversation

“To be an excellent conversationalist is a very desirable accomplishment. We talk more than we do anything else. By conversation we may make friends, we may retain them, or we may lose them. We may impart information; we may acquire it…Our success in life largely rests upon our ability to converse well; therefore, the necessity of our carefully studying what should and what should not be said when talking.”

Thomas Hill, “Hill’s Manual of Social and Business Forms” page 152

The first area we should reclaim is the etiquette of conversation. In our current culture there are so many ways to communicate without talking that the art of vocal conversation is on the decline. People simply forgot how to speak to one another. As Thomas Hill stated in his manual, “our success in life largely rests upon our ability to converse well”. That was true in 1880 and it’s still true in 2020, despite how many options we have to keep us from talking. Here are a few pointers if you’re wanting to improve your conversational game:

1.) Speak clearly. Don’t say things that can be easily misunderstood or misinterpreted. This leads to confusion and misjudgment.

2.) Do not engage with something who clearly wants to argue. Debating a topic in a cordial setting is acceptable, but do not engage in needless arguments just for the sake of being right. Your time is more valuable than that. If someone just wants to argue, disengage.

3.) Be careful how much you talk about yourself. It’s ok to discuss your dreams and achievements, but do not dominate the conversation with yourself as the sole topic.

4.) Show courtesy to a newcomer to the conversation. Find a way to include them in the conversation, or tactfully change the subject so that they can join.

5.) Remain calm and friendly during conversation. You may be correct, but you will win more friends by remaining calm, cool, and collected while speaking. Smile.

6.) Do not use profanity. I can’t stress this one enough. Profanity is the uneducated’s replacement for words they don’t know. If you feel you can’t get through a sentence without it, don’t speak. You will immediately lose respect.

7.) If your mother, grandmother, pastor, and Jesus himself were all standing in front of you, would you say it? If not, don’t say it when they’re not there.

Etiquette of the Table

The dinner-hour will completely test the refinement, the culture and good breeding which the individual may possess. To appear advantageously at the table, the person must not only understand the laws of etiquette, but he must have had the advantage of polite society.”

Thomas Hill, “Hill’s Manual of Social and Business Forms” page 157

The second area to reclaim is the art of table etiquette. No it is not old fashion to appear well mannered at the dinner table. There are few things worse than being at the table with someone who is slouching, slurping, chewing with their mouth wide open, and talking over everyone else present. There are table etiquette rules form 1880 that do not apply to us today. For example “never hold bones in your fingers while you eat from them.” Let me tell you friend, Buffalo Wild Wings did not exist in 1880 and there is no way under Heaven that I’m eating a hot wing with a fork and knife. Another outdated etiquette rule is to never come to the table in your shirtsleeves. Women were expected to be dressed in semi-formal evening gowns and men in full suits. No, just no. I would encourage you to dress in nice clean clothes for dining out, but we just don’t dress like that anymore. especially for meals. Black tie formal is not necessary for lasagna night at home y’all. The following etiquette rules are ones that do still apply to us now in 2020.

1.) Sit up straight and keep your elbows off the table. Do not lay your head down on the table during meal time, and this includes children. Do not tip your chair back and never place your feet on the table.

2.) Wait until your host or hostess has been seated to begin eating. If dining out, wait until everyone has received their food to begin.

3.) Pace yourself and finish one bite before taking the next. Do not overfill your mouth. Try not to talk with food in your mouth.

4.) The napkin should be placed on your lap and only brought up to dab, or quickly swipe your mouth when needed. Do not place your soiled napkin on the table during the meal. If you need to excuse yourself to the restroom, fold the napkin and place it in your chair. When the meal is over, you can placed the soiled napkin to the left of your plate.

5.) Do not be rude or disrespectful to the waiter or waitress. You do not have to apologize for making a request, but don’t overdo the requests. You are not their only task. Be kind, patient, polite, and tip generously.

6.) Do not complain about a dish served to you. If invited to dinner, notify the host or hostess of your food allergies ahead of time, but never your dislikes.

7.) When setting the table, be sure that it is clean. Be sure all dishware and cutlery is clean. The dinner plate should be placed in the center of the setting, about an inch away from the table’s edge. A salad plate can be placed on top, followed by a soup bowl if necessary. The napkin can be placed on top of the plate, or to the left, folded neatly. The fork(s) are placed to the left and the knife is placed to the right blade side facing the plate. A spoon can be placed to the right of the knife if the meal requires a spoon to eat. The bread plate and butter knife are to be placed at the top left corner. The water and wine glasses go to the top right corner. A dessert spoon/fork can be placed longways above the dinner plate. If needed, a name card can be placed immediately above the dessert cutlery. When using cutlery during dinner, one starts with the outside pieces and works their way inwards. See example below.

Multi-Course Dinner Table Setting

Etiquette of the Street

The following is a collection of “street” etiquette that has been mostly forgotten, especially by the younger generation.

1.) Both men and women, when meeting someone on the sidewalk, pass to the right.

2.) Do not run across the street, especially in front of cars. Wait for a crosswalk or walk light from the traffic controller.

3.) When a funeral procession is seen, safely pull to the side of the road and wait for them to pass. Same goes for emergency response vehicles.

4.) Do not stare at stranger, make rude remarks, call out loudly, or make unpleasant noises. For Heaven’s sake men, do not “cat call” a lady.

5.) Do not smoke around others. Those with allergies or asthma do not need to be subjected to your ill habit. Smoke at home, or in a designated area, but never in the general public.

Unclassified Laws of Etiquette

This collection is general etiquette to be observed while out and about in public, or in private. Equally as important as the first three topics above, but never discussed as much.

1.) Do not betray a confidence given by family or friend. Secrets that are not yours to tell should remain behind your closed lips.

2.) Do not read mail not intended for you, unless given explicit permission by the intended reader.

3.) Do not judge another for a fault you yourself possess.

4.) If all seats are taken, offer yours to the elderly, pregnant, or ill. If they decline, keep your seat.

5.) Do not point out physical flaws in others for which they have no control.

6.) Always be humble and kind.

In summary, not all etiquette is outdated. By refining our use of conversation and table etiquette, we can improve our status, influence, and even our confidence as we interact in the world around us. Paying close attention to “street” etiquette and even the unclassified laws of etiquette can make a difference in the way you are viewed and respected. If you would like to know more, check out my workshops and seminar options listed under Services. Hopefully you enjoyed reading a few of the etiquette subjects from the 1800’s and I do hope you found the etiquette topics of today helpful.

Until next time,

Paige

Halloween Etiquette: Trick or Treat

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There is nothing wrong with celebrating Halloween. Whether with a fun party, a creative costume, or some delicious candy while you’re curled up on the sofa watching Hocus Pocus in the dark. It can be so fun, especially for kiddos who have been waiting to be a super hero and princess all year.

There is also nothing wrong with choosing not to celebrate Halloween. Whether due to religious preferences, or personal dislike, that choice is yours. You shouldn’t feel pressured into celebrating something you’re not comfortable with, or just don’t like.

However, whether you’re a celebrator or a stay-away-from-witches-and-ghosts kind of person, there are some etiquette rules you should be aware of for the coming holiday festivities.

If you choose to celebrate:

  1. Please choose an appropriate costume for Trick-or-Treat. No, your child should not be a “slutty” anything, and neither should you. Also, keep their age in mind. The most disturbing thing I’ve ever seen was a 7 year old dressed like Pennywise the Clown from IT. For the love of everything good, please use some common sense when dressing your child for Halloween.
  2. Knock one time, and then move on. Don’t sit at one house and knock 10 times until someone finally opens their door. If you don’t get an answer within 30 seconds of your first knock, move on to the next house.
  3. If the light is off, do not knock. Dark porches are a sign that Trick-or-Treaters aretrickortreat not welcomed to that home, or that the owners are out. Move along to the next home.
  4. Don’t complain about what you’re given. If you get a handful of wax bottles and gumdrops, smile and say thank you. Remember, strangers spent their money to provide candy for you. Be thankful and move on.
  5. Say Thank you and you’re welcome! Please don’t forsake your basic manners just because it’s a chaotic holiday and you’re hiding behind a mask.
  6. Do not step into the house of a stranger. Even if it’s the sweetest elderly lady who invites you in for cookies, if she’s not your grandmother or well-known great aunt, politely decline and leave.
  7. Don’t handout homemade treats. Please spend a few extra dollars and buy pre-packaged treats or candy to hand out to trick-or-treaters coming to your door. If you can’t afford that, flip your porch lights off and curl up with the original Addam’s family on TV. It’ll be over soon.

If you choose not to celebrate:

  1. Turn your porch light off. The symbol that you do not want trick-or-treaters is a dark porch. What if they ring the doorbell anyway? Easy: no light means no candy. Don’t answer the door.
  2. Don’t judge those who do choose to celebrate. Again, not celebrating is your choice, but celebrating is theirs. It goes both ways.

Either way you go, be sure to be courteous and respectful this Halloween!

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Happy Haunting!

Paige Baldwin

Manners for Success: Back To School

It’s that time again! Teachers are preparing, kids are dreading, and parents are anticipating…back to school! It’s hard to believe that Summer holiday is already over. Today, we’ll look at some important manners to refresh for kids to have a fun and successful school year.back-to-school-conceptual-cube-207658 Teach children manners at home to take with them back to school, don’t expect the school  teacher to do everything. Prepare your children ahead of time. A great way to teach and assess comprehension with younger children is to role play different scenarios and events. This is not only a fun way to learn, but will also increase the chance of them, remembering the correct way to handle a situation when it arises. There are 4 main categories to cover with children and teens:

Manners on the Bus

  1. Sit down and stay in your seat until you arrive at school/home.
  2. Do not yell or throw things.
  3. Be kind to others, especially new students.

Manners in the Classroomapple-blur-book-stack-256520

  1. Say please and thank you.
  2. Do not talk to your friends while your teacher is talking.
  3. Keep your phone put away during class.
  4. Raise your hand if you have a question.
  5. If your teacher corrects your behavior, do not throw a tantrum.

Manners on the Playground

  1. Do not bully others (Bullying is the same as teasing, making fun, pranks, mean words, touching, or taking someone’s things).
  2. Do not allow others to bully you. (Always find an adult if you feel like you’re being bullied)
  3. Share toys and take turns with equipment.

Manners for the Cafeteria

  1. Say please and thank you.
  2. Do not talk with food in your mouth.
  3. Throw your trash away, do not leave it on the table.
  4. Do not throw food.
  5. Be friendly to everyone, especially new students.

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Taking time to refresh children and teens on basic manners at home will set them up for a successful school year. Their teachers and classmates will benefit as well. When children/teens ask why these manners are important, there are 3 main reasons to give them.

  • It will make you a more likeable person
  • It will set you apart in a good way
  • It will give you a boost in confidence

Happy School Year!

Paige Baldwin

 

Beach Etiquette

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This past week, my husband and I celebrated our first wedding anniversary on Panama City Beach. It was such a wonderful time. We got to explore a few beaches, try several new restaurants, go on a pirate ship cruise, and much more. We made beautiful memories and came home feeling relaxed and thankful.

While we were there I overheard several conversations, and witnessed a couple cringe worthy scenes. I thought we’d look at some basic etiquette to get us going in the right direction for memorable beach vacation. After all, there’s nothing more relaxing than laying in the sun and hearing the ocean waves flirt with the warm sand. ♥

Beach Etiquette:

1.) Don’t make fun of others.
There are enough people in this world pointing fingers and “body shaming”. Do not

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become one of those people. It’s rude, unmannered, and shows ignorance.

2.) Follow the rules
Just because it’s a vacation does not give any of us a right to disregard the rules. If the rules say no eating on the beach, do not eat on the beach.

3.) Don’t leave trash
There are plenty of trash bins scattered through out the beach. Take 2 minutes and walk your garbage to be bin. Leave nothing but footprints.

4.) Keep your music to yourself
Everyone has a different taste in music. Keep your music low, or use earbuds, out of respect and courtesy for others.

5.) Watch your language
Please respect the families with children on the beach and watch the language you use. For that matter, please have respect for yourself and watch your language. It’s low class and uncouth to drop swear words into your sentence. It discredits anything you say and you will lose respect.

BeachChairs

6.) Watch your kids and pets
Don’t be the parent letting their unruly children and pets go bother other people and disrupt their vacations. Teach your children beach etiquette as well and everyone will have a much better time. Keep your pets on a leash. Some people have allergies or fear of animals and don’t want Bowser coming up and licking their unsuspecting face.

7.) Don’t feed the birds
Most beaches will have this as a posted rule (see #2). Even if they don’t have it posted, avoid feeding the birds. It’s harmful to them and it can damage their ability to hunt their own food resulting in starvation long after you’re gone.

8.) Don’t get drunk
Remember the one drink rule? It’s ok to have one if you know your limit. Do not get drunk on a public beach. It’s rude to others and dangerous to yourself.

9.) Don’t smoke
Even if there are no rules against it, please don’t smoke. There are a lot of asthmatic people who don’t need a respiratory event while they’re on vacation. Also, cigarette smoke and butts do damage to wildlife and nature. Please wait until you’re in a specially designated are to smoke.

10.) Watch your swimsuit for “slips”

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Losing your swim top or bottom in the ocean is not funny or cute. Unless you’re on a nude beach, be sure and wear an appropriate swim suit. This shows respect to yourself and those around you.

11.) Don’t shake sand/water everywhere
If you’re going to shake out of hair or beach towel, be sure and do it away from others. You don’t want the wind carrying your mess right into someone else’s face or drink.

The Beach is such a wonderful place for relaxation, boosting Vitamin D, and just unwinding. Please be courteous and treat others as you would want yourself and your children treated. With those tips in mind, pack your sunscreen and swimsuit and head to the beach! The ocean is calling!

SunSet

Happy Beaching! Paige Baldwin

Tips for the Wedding Guest

Have you ever been faced with an invitation to a wedding and you didn’t know what to do? Maybe it’s been a while since you’ve attending a wedding and you don’t know whether or not the rules have changed. I’ve been there. Within the past year, we’ve been invited to 11 weddings. Y’all, before I met my husband I had only ever been to 3 weddings in my 26 years of life. (Yes, my husband is an extreme extrovert with an amazing social life.) Naturally, I had to read up on wedding etiquette. I studied it front to back and became obsessed to the point where he threatened not to take me. It’s quite a funny scene to think back on.

With wedding season is in full swing, this is the perfect time to remind ourselves of a few important wedding etiquette rules that haven’t gone out of style.

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1.) Do RSVP before the deadline. The couple needs a headcount so they can reserve seating, catering, and favors.

2.) Don’t wear white. Of all the fashion rules that are no longer relevant, this one still is. Unless the Bride herself has requested all guests wear white (which I have seen once) please leave that color for her. RobertsBaldwin00416

3.) Do be on time. 10-15 minutes prior to ceremony start time is recommended. Don’t be the person walking in at the same time as the bride.

4.) Don’t take pictures during the ceremony. (and be discreet about photography after. Whatever you do, don’t get in the professional photographer’s way.)

5.) Don’t post pictures before the bride and groom (or photographer in some cases). Posting pictures of yourself and your friends is fine, but reserve photos of the Bride and Groom for the special couple themselves.

6.) Don’t get drunk. If there’s a bar, drink responsibly and do not cause a scene. If the couple choose to have a dry wedding for religious reasons, but you just have to have your flask, please be respectful and discreet about drinking.

RobertsBaldwin003787.) Don’t verbally compare the decorations to the last wedding you went to. Everyone has a different style, and much more important, everyone has a different budget.

8.)  Don’t criticize the food. Someone paid a lot of money to feed you. Be appreciative.

9.) Do get up and dance. Don’t sit there and sulk at your table. Even if you’re not a great dancer (raising my hand) anyone can at least learn the Cupid Shuffle. It’ll get your blood pumping and give you some energy for the remainder of the party.

10.) Do keep the chit-chat with the Bride and Groom to a minimum. There will be a host of people wanting to talk to them and the couple will have a lot on their minds. Offer congratulations and love, but don’t sit there and discuss every detail with them while in the receiving line.

11.) Do talk with your tablemates. Chances are you’ll make some new friends! You will have a much better time compared to if you just sit there sullen and bored.

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12.) Do sign the guestbook. The Bride and Groom will have a hard time remembering every detail about the guests. They will appreciate having a record of who was there.

 

I love attending weddings now. And I can *mostly* attend with no anxiety. (There’s still that gut sinking feeling of oh no! I’m going to clash with the wedding colors! It’s ok. It won’t be the end of the world.) Weddings are a great time to let your hair down, mingle, and have a fantastic time. Just so long as we do it with class and consideration.

Happy Wedding Season!
Paige

 

***For Brides and Wedding Proffesionals, check out our Wedding Etiquette Seminar

Why Hospitality and Etiquette?

I was recently asked why I focus on hospitality and etiquette. What do they have in common?

The term etiquette makes a lot of people cringe. The brain automatically goes to stuffy pretentious people, sipping tea with their pinky stuck in the air. Etiquette is simply the customary code of polite behavior in society or among members of a particular profession or group (Merriam Webster). The truth is you can have etiquette without hospitality. But at that point, etiquette is nothing but behavioral and you run the risk of being labeled as “stuffy”.

Hospitality, however, is relational. And while you can have etiquette without hospitality, baked-beverage-breakfast-2377474I believe it’s harder to show hospitality without certain aspects of etiquette. Hospitality, the friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, or strangers (Merriam Webster), goes hand in hand with respect and love for one another. I believe that we demonstrate that respect by using etiquette, or good manners.

“Good manners reflect something from the inside. An innate sense of consideration for others and respect for self” (Unknown)

A few weeks ago we looked at 3 different basic groups of etiquette and I explained why I felt that they were important to a hospitality ministry. You can read the first post here, Do Manners Matter? Part 1: Basic Manners.

We show respect and consideration for others when we apply the behavioral aspects of etiquette to our relationships. We change the outcome of an interaction, improve the chances of a good impressions, and increase our potential for influence. Whether with our family, friends, or out in our community, using etiquette shows that we have character. But we must remember that etiquette without a hospitable heart, is nothing more than empty actions.

“Manners are like the shadows of virtues. They are the momentary display of those qualities which our fellow creatures love and respect” (Sydney Smith)

I have a deep desire the change the world. Not only through radical hospitality, but also in seeing those we love pulled in by the way we act and present ourselves. That’s why etiquette is so important to our hospitality ministry. However, as with all things, you must have balance. You should certainly dress up to go to a wedding, but if you wear a cocktail dress to Pizza Hut and try to eat your wings with a fork and knife, you’re just weird. You should learn how to sit and hold yourself for an important meeting, but if you go to a movie with your best friend and spend the entire time sitting on the edge of your seat with your legs bent duchess style, you’re weird. Practicing etiquette is wonderful, but you must learn a good balance and use common sense.

Three important things to remember:

1.) If I feel pretentious and stuffy, then I’m probably coming across pretentious and stuffy.

2.) If all I’m noticing is the bad etiquette of my guest, then I am not being hospitable.

3.) If I graciously open my home, but spend the whole time picking my teeth while on my phone and slurping cola…my guest isn’t going to come back. (This sounds ridiculous, but it happens. My family once went to dinner where the host spent the whole time picking at scalp acne and talking about dog bowel movements.)

A great resource for etiquette is Emily Post’s “Etiquette”. This is one of the books I
recommend for my workshops and classes. Find Emily Post’s Etiquette here

The more we practice hospitality and etiquette, the better and easier it will get!

~Paige

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