Friday, November 12, 2010

Charm school: lesson 1, proper table manners.

Most people in this day and age don't know the first thing about proper etiquette for a few various reasons - and honestly I am also included in that category. I'm a bit better then some of my peers since I went to a Christian school from kindergarten to fourth grade (the worst years of my life!!) and I had certain things imprinted upon me that a lot of people in public schools did not. I'm very conscious about speaking properly, and that includes situation appropriate volume, and I also feel very strange when I see people my own age running around in public like wild animals. Perhaps my personality and ideals are well suited for lolita in this sense but there are plenty of things that I need to learn and I'm sure there are plenty of things other people want to learn too so welcome to the first post of my charm school series! : )

First off, lets talk about proper table etiquette. I chose this as the first post because it seems that for a lot of lolita's, meetups are essential in socializing with other lolita's and they often involve tea or lunch. This often means that this is the first impression you make on the other lolita's in your community and if we didn't want to be friends with our peers, we wouldn't go to meetups now would we? : p That being said, heres a list of some simple do's and don'ts of table manners. Do we expect you to know the difference between the salad fork and the dinner fork? Not really but I think these guidelines will help improve ones overall impression, especially for those who take lolita seriously. : )

Simple, Good Manners

-Always respond to an invitation within a week of receiving it.
-Dress according to the recommended (if any) dress code. NEVER attempt to "out dress" the hostess!
-Be punctual - never more than 10 minutes late.
-If you wish to bring a guest as your partner, good dinner table etiquette demands that you should always check with the host first. If you are the one hosting the party and a guest of yours arrives with an unexpected friend, be polite & courteous with them, and speak with your inconsiderate guest at another time!
-It is considered polite to take along a small gift for your host and hostess. Flowers, chocolates or champagne are always appreciated.

Dinner Table Etiquette - the 10 Do's!

-Once seated, unfold your napkin and use it for occasionally wiping your lips or fingers. At the end of dinner, leave the napkin tidily on the place setting.
-It is good dinner table etiquette to serve the lady sitting to the right of the host first, then the other ladies in a clockwise direction, and lastly the gentlemen.
-Hold the knife and fork with the handles in the palm of the hand, forefinger on top, and thumb underneath.
-Whilst eating, you may if you wish rest the knife and fork on either side of the plate between mouthfuls. When you have finished eating, place them side by side in the center of the plate.
-If the food presented to you is not to your liking, it is polite to at least make some attempt to eat a small amount of it. Or at the very least, cut it up a little, and move it around the plate!
-It is quite acceptable to leave some food to one side of your plate if you feel as though you have eaten enough. On the other hand, don't attempt to leave your plate so clean that it looks as though you haven't eaten in days!
-Desserts may be eaten with both a spoon and fork, or alternatively a fork alone if it is a cake or pastry style sweet.
-Should a lady wish to be excused for the bathroom, it is polite for the gentlemen to stand up as she leaves the table, sit down again, and then stand once more when she returns.
-Always make a point of thanking the host and hostess for their hospitality before leaving.
-It is good dinner table etiquette to send a personal thank you note to the host and hostess shortly afterwards.

Dinner Table Etiquette - the 10 Don'ts!

-NEVER start eating before a signal from the host to do so.
-Forks should not be turned over unless being used for eating peas, sweetcorn kernels, rice or other similar foods. In which case, it should be transferred to the right hand. However, at a casual buffet or barbecue it is quite acceptable to eat with just a fork.
-It is not generally regarded as good dinner table etiquette to use one's bread for dipping into soups or mopping up sauces.
-Loud eating noises such as slurping and burping are very impolite. The number one sin of dinner table etiquette!
-Talking with one's mouth full. is not only unpleasant to watch, but could also lead to choking! Definitely not a good idea!
-Don't stretch across the table crossing other guests to reach food, wine or condiments. Instead ask a guest sitting close to pass the item to you.
-Good dinner table etiquette sometimes involves a degree of diplomacy when it comes to the host's choice of food and wine! Even if you feel that you can do better, don't ever offer your criticism. If you feel unable to pay any compliments, at least remain silent on the subject.
-Picking teeth (unless toothpicks are provided) or licking fingers are very unattractive! The only exception to the latter is when eating meat or poultry on the bone (such as chicken legs or ribs). In which case, a finger bowl should be provided.
-Drinking too much wine can be very embarrassing! Where a different wine is served with each course, it is quite acceptable to not finish each glass.
-Don't forget to make polite conversation with those guests around you. Dinner parties are not just about the food, they are intended to be a sociable occasion!

For anyone who would like to read up on more proper etiquette guidelines, check out Debretts, Etiquette for Girls.

Now, I'd like to add something as someone who prefers vegetarian meals (but unfortunately her current situation is stifling that somewhat D X> ) if you have any kind of special requests make sure you let the hostess of the meetup know beforehand so she has time to plan for you. This is a great excuse to reply to the invitation within a weeks time. If you're lactose intolerant, let her know she can prepare a special dish or two for you without milk products in it. If you're a vegetarian or vegan, let her know so she can make a dish with no meat and in the case of vegan lolita's, no animal by product at all. Or, if you want to save your hostess the trouble, let her know your situation and opt for bringing your own food so you know for sure you're going to enjoy yourself. You obviously don't want to attend a meetup and not be able to eat anything while everyone else is so these are as much for you as it is for the hostess.

In that same vein, if the one organizing the meetup is of one situation or another, she should make sure to let her guests know that in the invitation. If she's a vegetarian, she should make the others aware of it but also let them know that shes going to offer none vegetarian options as well for them. None of this is rude, its common courtesy, so no one should ever be hesitant to communicate these things with fellow lolita's in fear of seeming rude or bitchy.

The same goes for lolita's with special needs. For instance, I like to lurk on the lolita_secrets comm on LJ and I saw one post where a lolita who was in a wheelchair was scared of attending meetups because she didn't want the others to shun her or not accept her as a lolita. Theres no reason for people to feel like this and I understand that lolita has some major cunts but what social group doesn't? There ARE nice lolita's out there, don't let a few ruin your dreams ok? : )

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