With Thanksgiving around the corner, this year we have much to be thankful for.  The pandemic which has separated us from family and friends makes it difficult sometimes to count our blessings. Rather than taking one day to acknowledge what you are grateful for, why not take a moment every evening to reflect on the best part of your day.

A creative way to do this is with a Gratitude Pumpkin. All you need is a pumpkin and a sharpie, and each night you can take a moment to write one thing on the pumpkin that you are thankful for. Start at the top and wrap the words all the way around the pumpkin until it is full. If you live alone, this is a great time for self-reflection and positivity and if you have children, it is a great way to get their creativity flowing. They will be excited each night to contribute their addition to the pumpkin. It is wonderful to watch the pumpkin grow with so many reminders of how lucky and blessed you and your family are.

If you begin writing on your pumpkin on Thanksgiving Day, it will be filled with words and ideas that have brought you happiness right up to Christmas. It will also be the perfect unexpected addition to your Christmas centerpiece and a great conversation starter to share with your extended family as you sit around the table and reflect. Sometimes we all need those little reminders that happiness can be found in each and every day and your gratitude pumpkin can do just that.

Test your Thanksgiving Manners with our True/False Etiquette Questions Below

1. As soon as you are seated at the table and have your food, you may begin eating.

[toggle title="Answer" variation=""]FALSE[/toggle]

2. If someone asks for the salt, pass them both, the salt and the pepper.

[toggle title="Answer" variation=""]TRUE[/toggle]

3. At the beginning of a sit-down, family-style meal, food is first passed to the right.

[toggle title="Answer" variation=""]TRUE[/toggle]

4. Cut up all your food before you begin eating.

[toggle title="Answer" variation=""]FALSE[/toggle]

5. If a toast is given, but you don’t drink,  just sit and watch everyone else hold up their glass.

[toggle title="Answer" variation=""]FALSE[/toggle]

 

6. If you have to get up from the table place your napkin in your chair.

[toggle title="Answer" variation=""]FALSE[/toggle]

7. If you have to remove a piece of meat or a bite of food that you can’t chew, discreetly slide it back onto your fork and place it on your plate. Try to cover it up with something else so that it is not visible to others

[toggle title="Answer" variation=""]TRUE[/toggle]

8. Crumble up your napkin and put it in your plate when you are finished with your meal.

[toggle title="Answer" variation=""]FALSE[/toggle]

9. If you have to sneeze or cough at the table, always turn your head to the side and cover your mouth with the napkin. 

[toggle title="Answer" variation=""]TRUE[/toggle]

10. By placing your silverware in the 3:15 or 6:30 position on your plate, it means that you are finished eating.

[toggle title="Answer" variation=""]TRUE[/toggle]

Thanksgiving can be a joyful time with family and friends, or it can seem like you the host, have taken on too many responsibilities as the cook, server, and dishwasher. Whether having dinner with new in-laws, old friends, or close family members, there are certain tricks and tips that can make you look like a pro at hosting a thanksgiving feast.

Plan ahead. Make the turkey and side dishes in advance. Set a schedule and lay out exactly how much time you will need.

Accept help. If others offer to bring an item or come early to assist you, always welcome their kind gesture.

Set it pretty. Entertaining is the perfect excuse to pull out all the stops when it comes to your table setting. Use the china, crystal, and silver that you have. Place flowers, candles, and seasonal items down the center of the table to create ambiance. It is well worth the extra minutes and effort.

Shake up the seating arrangements. If possible, separate couples so that they are not sitting across from or next to each other. Seat people according to personality and interests.

Set the tone. Most guest will follow the host’s lead. Your mood is critical to set the tone of the dinner.  Always remain positive and keep a smile on your face.  Your attitude can put any guests at ease.

Get dressed and ready early. If you stayed up all night cooking and cleaning, never allow your guests to know you are tired or stressed. It is always best to plan ahead and make sure you are refreshed and ready for any small emergencies that may occur.

Steer the conversation. Stay away from conversations about sex, religion, or politics. These topics have been known to put a damper on the evening. Do your best to direct the conversations so that they don’t lead down a dangerous path.

Have your 10 questions ready to go. If you are acting as host, consider the opposing views of dinner guests. Plan a list of appropriate discussion points ahead of time. Stick to topics suitable and appropriate for all audiences.  Pick 10 questions to get the conversation going – include the weather, pets, movies, books, travel and so on.  Pay attention to local and national news so that you are well informed about things happening around you.

Make it a game. Between courses, if there is a lull in the conversation and guests get that glazed-over look, pull out a game such as Table Topics. Have guests draw a card and answer questions that are posed. Boredom be gone!

Stay neutral. Try not to take sides. Make your guests comfortable by listening to different points of view.  The relationships between guests in your home are far more important than anyone being right or feeling superior.

Being a great host takes planning and patience. Good conversation is as important as good food, wine, and flowers to ensure that everyone will have a great time - including you, the host.

Who are the enemies of etiquette today? Well, they are lurking everywhere and screaming for your attention.

We have compiled a list of our top “Enemies of Etiquette” as we like to call them so that you can be on the lookout.

The Enemy: Technology

Children and parents alike are glued to their devices. Seeing a family of four all staring at their iPhones during a dinner out is a common occurrence. With these distractions at our finger tips, communication and socialization are diminishing.

Advice: Actively be aware of how much time you spend staring at the screen.  Take back your precious time.

The Enemy: Social Media

Not only do we communicate more and with larger audiences, we do so at lightning speed, using emojis, status updates and 140 character announcements. Immediate updates, cute dog videos, personal information about friends and acquaintances along with new or fake news updates is constantly being thrown our way.

Advice: Limit time using social media, be aware of what you are reading and absorbing and always think before you post on any social site.

The Enemy: The Race

You’re in a hurry, I’m in a hurry, were all in a hurry! There is never enough time - - and especially not enough time for manners or courtesy.

Advice: Slow down, you’re not the only one whose time is important.  There is always time to show respect for others.

The Enemy: Trolls

People say things online that they would never dream of uttering out loud. The amount of hate and irresponsibility on social sites and in comment sections is unbelievable. Words have power and what we say online has just as much weight as what we say in person.

Advice: Don’t get involved with trolls – don’t read their remarks – ban and block those individuals. If you think you are being one – stop it immediately!

The Enemy: Time

Over-scheduled, rushed, too busy to sit down and eat together – this is typical. The Harris Poll states that 59% of people claim their family has fewer dinners together than they did growing up. This is cause for concern since the family dinner is the cornerstone of conversation skills and consideration for others.

Advice: Make time to have meals together.  This is an important sharing time – not only for families with children, but for everyone.  Sharing your day and listening to someone else is one of the best things we can do to eradicate the enemies of etiquette.

The “enemies of etiquette” all have one goal - To divide us. We must stay vigilant and continue fighting the battle in the hopes of preserving courtesy and respect. 

See how current your Etiquette IQ is with our True/False Questions Below

1. Elbows are sometimes permitted on the table.

[toggle title="Answer" variation=""]TRUE[/toggle]

2. Proposing a toast can be done anytime during the meal.

[toggle title="Answer" variation=""]FALSE[/toggle]

3. Political discussions should always be avoided during a meal.

[toggle title="Answer" variation=""]FALSE[/toggle]

4. At a buffet, start eating as soon as half of the people have returned to the table. 

[toggle title="Answer" variation=""]TRUE[/toggle]

5. If you are eating a messy meal (ex: spare ribs), it is perfectly all right to tuck your napkin under your chin. 

[toggle title="Answer" variation=""]FALSE[/toggle]

6. When introducing two people of the same age but different sex, it really doesn’t matter whose name is stated first. 

[toggle title="Answer" variation=""]FALSE[/toggle]

7. In business or social situations, it is always correct for a woman to shake hands.

[toggle title="Answer" variation=""]TRUE[/toggle]

8. The nature of e-mailing is informal, but business e-mails should still be communicated formally. 

[toggle title="Answer" variation=""]TRUE[/toggle]

9. Fold-over note cards are used by men and women. 

[toggle title="Answer" variation=""]FALSE[/toggle]

10. It is acceptable for a “thank-you” text message to replace a handwritten thank-you note.

[toggle title="Answer" variation=""]FALSE[/toggle]

11. There are exceptions, but one usually doesn’t give out his/her business card unless another asks for it.

[toggle title="Answer" variation=""]TRUE[/toggle]

12. One who overlooks etiquette rarely has it called to his/ her attention.

[toggle title="Answer" variation=""]TRUE[/toggle]

While some customs from long ago have remained fixtures in our modern society, there are many that have faded into obscurity and for good reason. We have uncovered the explanations behind some of today’s common and strange customs that managed to stick around.

The Handshake

Dating back to Ancient Greece – a source of many modern Western customs – this greeting was a sign of equality and mutual respect.

Shaking hands replaced bows and curtsies, while also serving as proof that both parties came unarmed.

In medieval Europe, the handshake became a powerful symbol of the bond between husband and wife. It was the final gesture of wedding ceremonies.

Today, a hand shake can symbolize multiple things but mainly it is used to say hello, goodbye, congratulations, and to seal the deal.

“Achoooo. . . . God Bless you!”

It’s almost as much of a reflex as sneezing itself.  Here in the United States, when someone sneezes, “God Bless you” will often be heard immediately after.

But why? We don’t acknowledge any other bodily functions in such a way. So how did this response originate? 

Some point to the Greeks and Romans for starting this fascination with sneezing. They viewed it as a sign of wellness – a means of expelling bad spirits from the body – and would routinely offer blessings unto the sneezer.

Centuries later, widespread fears brought on by the outbreak of the bubonic plague cast suspicion on the sneeze. Pope Gregory VII called on the people of Europe to utter a short prayer, “Bless you”, after every sneeze to protect against the sickness.

Upon reflection, it is a very strange custom - - -that doesn't appear to be fading anytime soon.

Dining Styles - Continental or American Style Dining?

As all of The American School of Protocol’s Certified Graduates know, there is a stark difference in dining styles once you cross the Atlantic.

In the United States, “Zig-Zag” is used, while our European neighbors predominantly eat “Continental.”

It is very surprising to learn that the traditional European method was in fact originally the American style. The "dining style divide" resulted when British colonists sailed across the Atlantic, bringing their multi-step cutting method to the New World.

The colonists retained this dining style, but back in Europe, the Industrial Revolution brought a faster pace of life that left little room for the niceties and courtesies of the previous era, leading to the more streamlined Continental style.

Clinking glasses

After a toast, it is tradition to clink glasses with fellow diners. This iconic act of celebration comes from a dark past.

Clinking glasses originally started with the intention of spilling a little of the other person’s drink into your own to demonstrate that neither party had poisoned the other’s glass. The clink was a sign of good will, a feeling that has endured to today.

Elbows off!

“Don’t put your elbows on the table!” The origin of this classic motherly saying dates back to medieval times.

Feasts were held in great halls and hundreds of people would eat together at long wooden tables. While the food was often plentiful, space was not.

Furthermore, when dining in the presence of the lords and ladies of the realm, it was deemed “peasant-like” to hunch over one’s plate, guarding the food from others. The act gave off an aura of distrust, and has since become a commonly repeated rule.

Today, it is acceptable to have your elbows on the dining table in between courses and when there are no dishes on the table.  Other than that it's a good idea to follow this old rule. 

It is truly interesting to trace our everyday behaviors – many of which we don’t give a second thought.

#1 Bring a gift for the host. 

#2 Offer to help to the host.

#3 Participate in the holiday traditions.

#4 Ask the host where you should sit at the dining table.

#5 Wait for the host to begin the meal. A blessing or a few words will often be shared to thank everyone for being there.

#6 Eat slowly and engage in conversation with others during the meal.

#7 Say something nice about the food and thank those who helped make all the preparations.

#8 After the meal is over, see how you can help clean up.

#9 Don't overstay your welcome.

#10 Send a thank-you note to the host expressing your gratitude and appreciation for the meal.

 

Awkward, inappropriate and ill-mannered conversations are meant to rock the boat. Encounters like these will make you ready to abandon ship and often leave you feeling drunk as a sailor.

What’s even worse is when you are held prisoner to this inappropriate dialogue which is heading for shipwreck because it is unfolding over a meal.

An interesting discussion usually makes the meal even more enjoyable, however even the best food can smell fishy when paired with unwanted dinner conversation.

Below are a few tactics that will keep you from being dead in the water when you feel like the titanic heading straight toward an iceberg of unfortunate conversation.

Know which way the wind blows

If someone asks you an inappropriate question, know the ropes and don’t take the bait.

Simply respond by saying “What an interesting question. I am going to need some time to think about that.”

Hook, line and sinker

Then, as quickly as you can, take the wind out of the sails and change the subject to something lighter- - - like how delicious the oyster appetizer looks.

Loose lips sink ships

If you can feel that the tone of the conversation will veer you off the straight and narrow guess what? You are the captain of this ship.

Quickly hold the topic at bay by linking to something said in a previous conversation.

Keep your head above water

It is always good etiquette to keep the response positive. Find something complimentary to say about the guest or topic.

Then, stay on course and begin moving full speed ahead.

Barge right in

You can also be more honest and answer with, “I really don’t want to dive right into the deep end … I just want to hear about you and what’s going on in your life.”

Rats abandon a sinking ship

Be ready to turn the tables and look for opportunities to engage in a conversation with someone else.

Sink or swim

If you sink you will end up with knots in your stomach.

If you swim, use humor as your lifeboat to steer the conversation into calmer seas.

Be ready to walk the plank

If the focus doesn’t change remember the restroom is a safe harbor. Kindly excuse yourself and take a few minutes to gather your thoughts.

Don’t let any conversation leave you high and dry. Throw caution to the winds and remember, a smooth sea never made a skillful sailor.

In the aviation world, these three words are considered a common approach to flying situations. 

Aviation studies have discovered that during emergencies pilots can get so focused on solving the problem that they forget to actually fly the airplane.

Being prepared and knowing exactly what you will do before you do it serves us well in all aspects of life. This tactic can also be employed to help you feel more comfortable when dining with others. 

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[one_half_last]You won’t be panicked because you accidently used someone else’s bread plate or so frazzled that you forget to eat.

Here are a few tips that will ensure you land once you have taken off!

Prepare For Take Off 

Avoid Turbulence

Final Approach

The Landing

The takeoff is important just like the landing and everything in-between, but the most important part is how you walk away feeling after the experience and how you made those around you feel.

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Location  Atlanta, Georgia

2018 DATES

February 11 - 15

June 10 - 14

October 14 - 18

Click here for more information on the Children’s Etiquette Certification Training. 

 You can also contact us with any questions at
404.252.2245 or email team@theamericanschoolofprotocol.com

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