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(Forgive us friends, for we have been negligent. It has been quite some time since our last post... Better late than never!)

As the New Year approaches, it is a good time to review some of last year’s social highlights and check for areas to change, improve or tweak. When this year’s holiday parties come to a close for 2010, there is opportunity to evaluate and take note of the value of one’s social skills.

All month long there have been episodes of individuals’ double-dunking, licking fingers at the table and the best, eating crudités directly over the platter as excess sauce was drooled right into the dip bowl (Yuck)! There were observable first dates with conversation flowing in only one direction, missed appointments and inappropriate attire at parties and social gatherings. During a shopping frenzy at a local shop, acceptable behaviors were replaced with nasti-tudes, observed when two women got into a vulgar verbal quarrel.

Friendships were strained by inappropriate comments, breakdown in communication and lack of sensitivity. Families were lax in extending common courtesies to one another. Bullies ruled in schools as administrators were in a quandary of how to handle situations. Words such as please and thank you often were forgotten in conversations and feelings were hurt. Sorry was often too late.

Farting and other bodily noises increased, becoming much more visible and acceptable on TV, in the movies and in comedy shows. Radios blasted in decibels so high, they registered on the Richter scale. Guests and hosts forgot their manners by having unrealistic expectations and making impossible demands of time and resources.

As cell phone technology improved and use was on the rise, basic etiquette spiraled downward exponentially. It was not unusual to dine with people texting at the table, conversing in loud tones in quiet or public places, and checking scores at social functions.

Conducting business in the waiting room of a doctor’s office was one of the many examples of lack of consideration.

As we move into the New Year, EtiKids invites everyone to think about adding a resolution that gives latitude to gratitude by incorporating a new social skill. Here are a few ideas!

Have a conversation without using the word “I”. Give others the leeway to share their thoughts, ideas and experiences. Listen more.

Add the magic words please and thank you in conversation, especially when talking to children. According to research, it takes 21 days to form a new habit. Use the next month to assure the addition of those words to daily vocabulary. Set the example, model the behavior and watch the words appear in the child’s every day language

Make a commitment to learn table manners. Give yourself the freedom to enjoy social situations where etiquette will come in handy be it a first date, business dinner, formal fundraiser or casual celebration.

Take time for pampering oneself. Getting enough rest and relaxation fosters patience and politeness with others.

Book an EtiKids party or class for your next home or school function. Any EtiKids workshop is a welcome and fun addition to an organization’s meeting, professional seminar or business event. Programs are fun, entertaining and filled with strategies to include etiquette in a corporate culture and everyday life.

Please let us know how you are doing. We invite you to share a success story or tell us how your resolutions are progressing. May the year bring joy, good health and peace to all….Thank you!

 
 
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Through EtiKids, I recently taught an etiquette class to a Brownie Troop in Bergen County, NJ, in which the subject of napkins came up. The question had been posed to the girls, “how do you know when to put your napkin on your lap?” The vivacious group of 22 looked pensive for a (brief) moment but quickly figured out the answer. “You wait for someone else to do it!”

That was a great idea, and according to some sources, correct! It is believed that one should wait until the host/hostess unfolds his/her napkin. The situation changes when not at a dinner party: in a restaurant, if the napkin is on the plate, the diner should immediately stick the napkin on the lap. As some restaurants start pouring drinks immediately upon being seated, it is a great way to prevent accidental outfit “water-staining.”

At a less formal dining establishment: as soon as ANY food is served would be an appropriate time to put the napkin on the lap. Since the napkin is often placed underneath the fork, it should be placed on top the lap as soon as the fork is lifted.

When getting up from the table, make sure to put the napkin on the left side of the plate (gently folded). As napkins are to be used for the purpose of wiping food away from one’s mouth, they should not be on the chair, where dirty bottoms are often placed.

Finally, one should not tuck napkins into the top of their shirts (resembling a bib). Using proper table manners (elbows off the table, no licking fingers, asking people to pass, chewing with lips closed) will prevent food from winding up down the front of one's shirt. As bibs are typically used for those who cannot feed themselves, it is inappropriate for a person to tie a napkin around their neck solely for the sake of preserving an outfit (unless eating lobster). When in doubt, don’t wear white. Meaning, don’t go to a restaurant that serves tomato sauce-rich foods, wearing light colors that will get stained.

These simple techniques for appropriate napkin use will help children and grownups alike in the present and future. As etiquette is meant to prevent uncomfortable situations by teaching people how to behave in social situations, teaching children these skills at a young age will ensure that they will have the knowledge of how to behave as adults.

Those Brownies were so excited to know an actual time as to when they should put their napkin on their lap and couldn’t wait to go home and teach their grownups. Watch out parents! The word is spreading…