Thursday, May 20, 2010


Emily Post's name has become synonymous with proper etiquette and manners; and over the years, Phyllis Hoffman has made her mark in the etiquette books as well. She published a beautiful book called Southern Lady ~ Gracious Table, and in this lovely book she writes a charming one-page text titled Mind Your Manners

It's a must read if you love to entertain, dream of entertaining, or are the lucky recipient of many invitations.  

excerpts from
~ Mind Your Manners ~

Cell phones should be turned off before seating begins. Answering telephone calls or sending text messages while dining with others is unspeakably rude.

Know when to stand and when to sit.
When chatting before dinner, gentlemen should stand when a lady enters the room and should sit at the table before their female counterparts have done so. Once seated at the table, gentlemen are also expected to rise if a latecomer who is a female enters the room. Both men and women should remain standing until the hos or hostess is seated.

Know your napkin etiquette.
Wait until the hostess has placed her napkin in her lap before following suit, and if grace is to be said before the meal, leave your napkin in place until after the prayer is concluded. If you must leave the table during the meal, place your napkin in the seat in your chair. Also, use your napkin to blot, don't wipe. This is doubly true for women wearing lipstick. When the meal has ended, and after the hostess has done the same, place your napkin to left of your plate.

Learn the order of use.
If you stumble across unfamiliar silverware pieces at your place setting - don't falter. the most basic rule is to start eating with those utensils on the outside and work your way in with each course. If you are still confused, quietly take note of when your hostess uses a particular utensil ~ and how.

courtesy of

When passing food, salt and pepper, or other requested items to fellow diners, always pass to the right.

Don't forget to compliment the hostess on her beautiful table, the delicious entree, or the divine dessert! Be sincere ~ don't claim to love a menu item you barely tasted ~ but find at least one positive aspect of the occasion, the company, or the meal to comment on before leaving.

After the meal is over, don't rush out, but don't linger too long either. Most dinner or luncheon guests are expected to stay about an hour after the conclusion of the meal.

Emily Post's charming garden
Photo by Alison Shaw

Manners are a sensitive awareness of the feelings of others. 
If your have that awareness, you have good manners, 
no matter which fork you use. ~Emily Post

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