Manners and Etiquette  

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Manners and Etiquette   

 

Books I recommend:

The Goops and How to Be Them (excellent for very young children to help them understand the importance of good manners)

White Gloves and Party Manners  Marjabelle Young Stewart and Ann Buchwald

Stand Up Shake Hands, Say How Do You Do?  Marjabelle Young Stewart and Ann Buchwald

Manners by Kate Spade

Being Dead is No Excuse Gayden Metcalfe and Charlotte Hays (humorous look at Southern tradition plus some great recipes)

The Grits (Girls Raised in the South) Guide to Life by Deborah Ford with Edie Hand (Interesting, but consider your own guidance on certain issues)

 

Do you have questions on Etiquette Southern-style that you would like answered?
 Email us your question.  We'll try to address the question on this website.

I find the loss of civility in our society alarming.  Lord Chesterfield once wrote his son, "The most well-bred person in a room is the one who makes the fewest other people uncomfortable."  Spenser wrote, "The gentle minde by gentle deeds is knowne; For a man by nothing is so well betrayed as by his manners."  SPENSER 

For Southern women, teaching their children manners is of the utmost importance.  It is important not just for the parents, although it is immensely rewarding for others to comment upon how well-mannered our children are, but for the children themselves.  How awful for a child when others find them so rude in their conduct that they refuse to invite them back to their homes! 

When our youngest daughter got married the first thing I gave her was a book with a contemporary look at manners and a book on writing thank you notes.  I am amazed at the number of people who comment on the thank you notes she has written to them, and how promptly they were written. 

I shall write more on this later.  Your comments are welcome. 

 

Southern Etiquette Questions and Answers

Websites:
http://mrsparty.com/manners.htm#MAXIMS_OF_CONDUCT
http://www.thegoops.com/
 

Southern Lady Creates Southern Hospitality

Dos for a Good Conversation (Social Graces by Ann Platz and Susan Wales, p. 72)

  • Share the conversation.  Let everyone take a turn.
  • Keep the talk interesting and light.
  • Never embarrass your hostess.
  • Never ask what something costs.
  • Never use rude or shocking language.
  • Keep personal problems private, especially at another's expense.
  • Be sincere with your compliments.
  • Correct your spouse's etiquette, grammar, or behavior in private.
  • Talk with the people on your left and on your right when dining.
  • Be honest.
  • Listen carefully.
  • Be respectful.
  • Learn to compromise.

Guests should remember (Social Graces by Ann Platz and Susan Wales, p. 72)

  • Be punctual, but not early.
  • Cancel only if there is an emergency.
  • Make it a point to speak with the other guests.
  • Offer to help the hostess.
  • Wear appropriate attire--if you are unsure, ask the hostess.
  • Do not go to the party ill.
  • Don't be the last to leave.
  • Always tell your hostess you enjoyed the evening when you leave.
  • Call your hostess the next day to tell her you enjoyed the evening and write a thank you note immediately.

Southern mothers lessons for her son

  • Always say yes ma'am or yes, sir / no ma'am or no, sir to one's elder and to those in authority
  • Remember to say please and thank you for gifts, kindnesses, and services rendered
  • Remember to write a prompt thank you note when someone has entertained you and for every gift
  • RSVP means Respond if you please.  That means write to accept or regret.  Regrets only means to write if you will be unable to attend.  Do so promptly.
  • Always stand when a lady comes to the table and remain standing until the lady is seated
  • If a lady does not know to sit, or at least not linger until a man's food is cold, she should at least request that you again be seated before you sit
  • Never wear a hat inside    (Howard, M.L. (2006). Hat Etiquette: Evil Swede's guide to proper hat etiquette. Retrieved on [October 4, 2008], from the Barbary Coast Vigilance Committee Web site: http://www.bcvc.net/hats/)
  • Hold the door for a lady
  • Stand when a lady enters or leaves a room
  • Walk on the street side of a sidewalk when walking with a lady
  • Turn off your cell phone when entering a theater, church or meeting
  • A gentleman precedes a lady down the aisle of the theatre and takes the outer seat on the row, unless that is the better seat.  He then should relinquish that seat to a lady.
  • Never use rude or vulgar language around a lady.
  • Do not talk with your mouth full
  • Wait until everyone is served before eating.
  • If your dinner knife becomes dirty, do not put it on the tablecloth.  Place it on the edge of your plate.
  • Place the napkin in your lap immediately upon being seated.  If you must stand after putting your napkin in your lap, place it on the chair and not on the table. 
  • Wait until everyone is served before beginning to eat.
  • Young ladies and gentlemen give up their seat to adults, the infirm, the handicapped, expecting women, or the elderly in crowded buses or waiting rooms. Never be seated until your mother is seated.
  • Help ladies put their coats on and take them off.
  • At the dinner table, a gentleman helps the woman to the right of him as she sits or rises from her chair.

    • A man's word is his bond.  You will be remembered by how you kept the honor of your name.

Southern mothers lessons for her daughter

  • Always say yes ma'am or yes, sir / no ma'am or no, sir to one's elders and those in authority.
  • Remember to say please and thank you for gifts, kindnesses, and services rendered.
  • Remember to write a prompt thank you note when someone has entertained you and for every gift
  • RSVP means Respond if you please.  Do so promptly.
  • A gentleman stands when a lady comes to the table and remains standing until the lady is seated.  Do not linger and leave a gentleman standing. Extend a brief but cordial greeting and progress on...or sit if invited so the gentleman might sit and continue his meal.  It is better not to intrude on a private gathering.
  • A lady may wear a hat inside.
  • Proceed through the door held by a gentleman with a smile and a thank you.
  • Walk on the inside when walking down a sidewalk with a lady.
  • A lady never walks and smokes.  Indeed, it is preferable that a lady not smoke as that habit will affect her children and the aesthetics of her home and vehicle.
  • Never use rude or vulgar language.
  • Do not talk with your mouth full.
  • Wait until everyone is served before eating
  • If your dinner knife becomes dirty, do not put it on the tablecloth.  Place it on the edge of your plate.
  • Place the napkin in your lap immediately upon being seated.  If you must stand after putting your napkin in your lap, place it on the chair and not on the table. 
  • Wait until everyone is served before beginning to eat.
  • Young ladies and gentlemen give up their seat to adults, the infirm, the handicapped, expecting women, or the elderly in crowded buses or waiting rooms. Never be seated until your mother is seated.
  • Turn off your cell phone when entering a theater, church or meeting.
  • Be modest in demeanor and dress
  • Just like a man, a lady's word should be her bond


Proper Table Setting    Social Graces by Ann Platz and Susan Wales

 

Place setting for lunch Resting during the meal Finished the meal

 

In answering your questions, I want us all to keep in mind that manners and etiquette is mainly just common sense, thoughtfulness and consideration. It has become formalized simply because not all of us are gifted with the same innate sense of courtesy as others. Frequently, the customs of the past that made us a genteel, gracious society have fallen out of custom and therefore, websites like this are merely reminders of how society works best and what is expected of us from those who do know the rules of etiquette. Many of the questions I answer address the "dance" of good manners. None of us want to be embarrassed by bumping into a gentleman who has been so gracious as to stand and pull out your chair when you return to your seat at the table. To save us from that embarassment, rules of etiquette were developed just to choreograph situations in which we will all find ourselves. Because of new situations in our increasingly technological age, we will have to develop a new choreography.

Questions and Answers

I hope you can help clarify something for me.... Verbally we always call women 'Miss.' and then their first name such as Miss Pat.  We do this whether they are married or not so, how do we correctly put that in written form if they are married?  I often see people write out Mrs. Pat and it seems odd since that is not how we say it. Is it wrong to do Ms.? Tyanne

That is an excellent question. I would think one would just write "Miss Pat," but not on the outside of an envelope. "Miss Pat" is really just a form of endearing familiarity. If one were writing a formal correspondence one would surely use the formal address (Mrs. Patricia Jones or Mrs. John Jones, for example). Ms. would be an appropriate address for a divorced woman.
Those are my thoughts on that southern dilemma. Sharman


 

I have a question regarding a lady approaching the dinner table and being seated: Which side of the chair are you to approach to be seated - to the right or to the left? Also, from which side do you exit when dinner is over?

A lady approaches the chair from the right because the man on your left will be pulling your chair out for you to sit. Should the gentleman pull your chair back at the end of the meal, I would think he would be doin so from the same direction you approached the table so you would also step back from the right However, it all depends on where the gentleman is standing. The most important thing in any social situation is to make others feel comfortable. Having too hard and fast a rule on these things complicates situations in which there might be a crowd -- or a conversation -- and a lady must act graciously accordingly.

 

Also, when addressing the outside of an envelope (just regular correspondence),  where does the return address go, on the front upper left side or on the back of the envelope flap? And, when inserting a birthday card, etc., into the envelope, do you insert it so that when the envelope is opened,  it is facing the recipient? 

The address should be on the front upper left side unless the address has been formally printed on the envelope. You place a card into the envelope fold side first so that when a right-handed person pulls the card from the envelope the card is facing the recipient.










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