Table Etiquette for Kids

Table etiquette is just as important for kids as it is for adults … we have to learn somewhere, and at home is a safe place!  I have been teaching Noodle how to set a proper, albeit informal, table for dinner. This is something that my mom taught me when I was little and, as the year passed, I learned more and more about dining etiquette. Eventually, my career demanded more knowledge about business and cultural etiquette … and I was grateful to have learned the dining etiquette as a kid. It has come in handy more than a few times!

Dining Etiquette

My mom is a master tablescaper. She set this for a Cinco de Mayo party for us and Noodle. Click through to check out her other tablescapes!


Now, I teach youth from small to grown about the importance of table manners, among other things depending on their age. It is something I enjoy immensely. I also enjoy watching them practice awkward things like eating soup and holding knives and forks differently than they normally would.

Snooty Etiquette

I remember watching an etiquette video in junior high school where the trainer explained proper table manners to a group of teenage girls seated at a very formal dinner table. That was 25ish years ago (aack!). What I remember most is how snooty the trainer was. She was dressed to the nines … proper for the time and place, I suppose … but she kept scolding and correcting the young ladies when they “goofed up.”

Of course, I had no idea then that I would end up being the trainer someday. That memory has stuck with me all these years. When I did decide to start presenting etiquette, I vowed to never be like that snooty trainer! Kids don’t respond to that kind of method and it impedes their ability to remember what they have been taught. As a result, I am the laid-back Miss Manners, and I try to connect proper etiquette to things with which kids are familiar.

Why table etiquette is important

Napkin Folding

Noodle at a recent wedding. She’s trying to refold the napkin!

I certainly won’t begrudge moms who pile silverware in the middle of the table at dinner time and let everyone grab their respective pieces. I know how rushed we all get and it is often easier to do that. I do believe, however, that taking the extra few minutes to set the table … or have a kiddo set the table as part of his/her chores … teaches kids a valuable lesson from early on. It also provides them with a solid foundation and skill set that can be built upon as they grow and start thinking about careers.

And what about table etiquette on Downton Abbey?

Downton Abbey table etiquette

I love the dining scenes in Downton Abbey!

I am addicted to Downton Abbey, just as many others. The subject often comes up when I talk about dining etiquette with a group familiar with the show. I usually field a lot of questions regarding the formality of table settings and the preciseness with which the table is set. We often get a good chuckle out of the conversation … people in my “neck of the woods” don’t often have the opportunity to sit down to a formal dinner, certainly not with aristocracy. However, it does happen, and you just never know where you will end up in life!

If you love the Abbey as much as I do, check out Downton Abbey Cooks by Pamela Foster!


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