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Do you love the idea of entertaining but stress once people accept your proposed engagement? Most people don't realize that a considerable amount of planning is required to become the "host with the most." Visiting someone’s home can be a satisfying experience for both guest and host; responsibilities for the host begin by extending a sincere invitation. Choose a group that will have fun together and share a common interest. As RSVP’s are received, ask about any dietary restrictions or allergies (this includes pet allergies too!)

Organize. Organize. Organize. Use lists for the menu, cleaning and delegate assignments. For those individuals offering to bring something, politely provide guidance or assign a complimentary side dish. Prepare as much as possible ahead of time to decrease stress and increase enjoyment.

Greet everyone warmly and help them feel welcome by making introductions and smiling. Offer interests as topics of discussion.

Provide appetizers and/or drinks as soon as guests arrive. Who wants to drive for 45 minutes and not even get a glass of water?

Be a schmoozer and socialize with everyone. Pull those who may be isolated or uncomfortable into the folds of conversation.

Make sure guests leave safely. Walk everyone to the door as visitors exit. Thank them for coming.

The success of a gathering lies in the company of those invited. Although parties often include food, the laughter, pleasant conversation, and sharing of good times are what make the experience gratifying for everyone.

Creating that comfortable environment is the job of the host. Children can learn those skills by observation and practice. Give them a task to perform. Each child can be given age-appropriate activities and are more than capable of assisting in the kitchen. Tasks include: setting the table with some guidance, greeting guests and helping them find their seating. Create opportunities to participate in conversation – rather than monopolize -and practice using their good manners prior to having any visitors. These social skills and more are learned in EtiKids classes.

As Emily Post said, “Manners are a sensitive awareness of the feelings of others. If you have that awareness, you have good manners, no matter what fork you use!”

 
 
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The last segment of 4 Social Skills to Teach Children was such a hit, that I felt like it was time to share 4 more! I understand that many of these skills/manners are obvious and practiced by many; however, the reasoning behind their implementation is not always so apparent. As it turns out, manners were not only created as a way to be respectful of others ("Manners are a sensitive awareness of the feelings of others. If you have that awareness, you have good manners, no matter which fork you use. ~Emily Post"), but they were intended to "keep your body safe," which is a hugely popular phrase in the preschool world.

Aside from the fact that your sleeves will wind up stained with the delectable meal you are eating, leaving elbows on the table is a successful way to share your neighbor's meal with the floor. As many people tend to engage in conversations, the excitement level rises during an intense discussion. One slide of your elbow can cause the plate or drink of the person next to you to break, leaving shards of glass and/or ceramic. To be on the safe side, leave one hand in your lap. The only visible parts of your arms should be the forearms, hands and fingers.

2) Hunch Over Ideas, Not Plates!
In a restaurant setting, the background noise can be overwhelming, so people rely on their vision to hear. When "listening" to someone talk, chances are that they eyes are watching the lips just as carefully as the cilia in the ears are dancing to the vibrations of the sound waves. If a person's head is facing his/her feet (which are hopefully underneath the table), it is often very difficult to understand the words, which become muffled and lost in the background. Instead of causing everyone around you to strain their necks in order to hear all of the important ideas that you have, just look up! Not to mention that your spine will thank you immensely... Slouching over your plate puts causes unnatural curvature of the spine, which can have serious long-term effects. Just ask orthopedic spinal surgeon, Dr. Nathaniel Tindel, author of "I've Got Your Back!"

3) Bite-Size Bites
Forks and spoons were created to be proportionate to people's mouths (children-size spoons are larger than baby spoons, yet smaller than those for grownups). The measurements were carefully taken to ensure that people would only take bites of food that could fit onto the fork or spoon. Two compelling arguments for taking appropriately-portioned nibbles: 1) you are 93% less likely to choke and 2) you can maintain chewing with your lips closed, as your teeth will be able to touch without your mouth filled to excess. A win-win for everyone!

4) Eating Utensils are for Eating
Although Ariel in Disney's The Little Mermaid thought that the fork was a dinglehopper, a device that humans used to comb their hair. However, "up there on land" the fork was used to help the food get to the mouth without the use of fingers. As fingers are often carriers of germs, due to their ability to touch anything and everything, eating utensils were created to prevent the spread of sickness. Use them!

On that note, EtiKids' "4 Social Skills to Teach Children- Part 2" will help them keep their bodies safe (and yours!).

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