Chamomile tea filled the porcelain tea kettles. Fresh flowers sat in small steel buckets. Library staff served turkey, vegetarian and peanut butter and jelly finger sandwiches as well as ginger lemon cremes, dark chocolate sea salt caramels and petite palmiers. On May 9, 39 ladies attended Northside Library’s Mother-Daughter Tea Party Etiquette event.
“I find that etiquette is a lost art,” says Cheryl Lee, branch manager and program coordinator of Northside Library. “People should know about manners and etiquette. If we teach kids manners, it’d help them later.”
Lee likens etiquette consultant and workshop presenter Linh Dang to etiquette guru Emily Post.
“I started Tea Party Etiquette because when I travel to London, I love the tea parties,” Dang says. “I also have seven nieces and nephews. I was giving my niece, who was four, a tea party for her birthday, and I realized the party goers didn’t know what to do with the napkins, how to hold the cups or how to handle the forks. I saw an opportunity to educate them and others.”
At the workshop, Dang taught basic British tea etiquette and American table manners. She demonstrated how to sit properly, eat in small bites and wipe a mouth by dabbing the sides of the lips with a napkin. She also taught that folded napkins go on the diner’s lap during a meal, reaching across the table for food is a no-no, and lipstick stains on a cup can be an offending sight. The three magic phrases at the table are “please,” “thank you” and “you’re welcome.” Contrary to the notion that the pinky finger should be up when lifting a tea cup, Dang says that pinky fingers should be down, as pinky fingers pointed up might be considered an arrogant gesture.
“If your husband isn’t modeling good table etiquette, don’t correct him in front of the kids,” says Dang, who advises the conversation be done in private. “It’s good for husbands to know good etiquette for business trips or meetings with the boss.”
“It was fun to learn about the importance of posture,” says Camille, 7.
“My favorite part was when she put the napkin on her head,” says Evie, 4, pointing out a moment when Dang showed the ladies what not to do.
“I learned to put my napkin on the left side of my plate when I’m done,” says Sophia, 7. “I also learned to ask someone to pass things to me when I want them.”
“This is the most beautiful way to teach manners to your child because the event carries the warmth of good food and conversation you need to motivate your manners,” says Cindy Jerdonek, whose Mother’s Day weekend with her daughters got off to a sweet start.