Good Manners and Emotions | Meredith Sweetpea | Manners Quotes


“Good manners have much to do with the emotions.
To make them ring true, one must feel them, not merely exhibit them.”

–Amy Vanderbilt


Befuddled by the Flatware at a Formal Dinner?

formal-place-setting-silverwareMiss Meredith Sweetpea loves to attend a formal dinner. All the courses, with their delightful tastes, are just a pleasure to enjoy.

Attending a formal dinner, however, can befuddle some who are not familiar with the array of flatware (a.k.a. silverware) that is set upon the table. Often you’ll see a variety of forks, knives and spoons set beside and above the plate setting, along with a number of drinking glasses.

According to Miss Manners Judith Martin, when it comes to silverware,”Ten would be the maximum number of complements that could be on the table at the same time: a seafood (or cocktail) fork (nestling in the soup spoon); the soup spoon; sets of forks and knives for three courses (usually fish, meat, and salad and/or cheese; if more are needed for additional courses, they should be brought in separately); and a dessert spoon and fork above the plate.”

“A teaspoon has no place at a formal table because tea and coffee are not served during the meal; after-dinner coffee, formally served in a drawing room in a demi-tasse cup, requires the small spoon. If people do wish to drink coffee at the table, for example, the appropriate spoon should be put on the saucer.”

Which Utensil Do I Use for Which Course?

As a rule, silverware should be used from the outside in. In other words, the pieces farthest away from the plate on either side of it should be used first. After each course in a formal dinner, the used silverware should be placed upon the plate to be taken away, leaving the next set of flatware available on the outside of the serving plate. Soup spoons are often served on the plate with the soup, a butter knife usually rests on your bread plate to the left of your forks, and dessert utensils are generally placed above the plate and should remain there until the dessert arrives.

Follow the Host

If you are still befuddled by the array of flatware, the simple rule is to watch the host and do what he or she does.

–excerpted from “Miss Manners’ Guide for the Turn-of-the-Millennium,” by Judith Martin.



This Pageant Family Really Blew It

boy_cryingMiss Meredith Sweetpea was sitting at a Little Miss and Mister pageant at the local county fair recently behind a family whose son was entered in the age 2-4 category. The family was intently watching, and of course, cheering on their young entry.

When the finalists names were announced, this boy was not among those on the list, and apart from the obvious disappointment any family feels when their own precious child is not deemed “most precious of all,” this family had a different reaction.

The father snatched up the two-year-old boy, stood up, and announced to the family (and all those around him) that he was leaving. He said, “Why should we sit here and watch other people’s children win?” And he encouraged the family to leave with him, right in the middle (and within sight) of the judging for the four finalists.

Of course, Miss Meredith Sweetpea was shocked. What happened to the spirit of competition? Do athletes stomp off the field when only one of them wins a relay, for example? No, they generally support the other players and congratulate the winner. It’s all in the name of “good sportsmanship.”

Let’s Support Good Sportsmanship

In good sportsmanship, the teammates, opponents, and officials treat each other with respect. They encourage and support each other as athletes, or in this case, contestants.

One of the brilliant things I witnessed when working with girls in the Miss America Pageant system was their ability to support, respect and honor each other throughout the pageant process. There may have been a few tears now and again when one was not chosen for a coveted title, but that girl always recovered and and offered a heartfelt and sincere congratulations to the winner.

Pageants are not the place to air your grievances or to create a scene when you or your child didn’t win. Their loss should have been accepted with grace and dignity. This family should have stayed to watch just who won, and offered their congratulations to the winning family. Who knows, they may have learned just why this child won and theirs didn’t so they could do better next year.

Children learn from their parents how to behave, so it worries me how this young child will grow up.

How to Signal to the Waitstaff That You are Done Eating


Fork and knife placement signaling the end of the meal – American style.

Miss Meredith Sweetpea had the rare pleasure of dining out this past weekend with a dear friend. We went to a local Italian restaurant, of the mid-range variety, nothing fancy.

This friend had plenty to talk about, and we were settling into a wonderful conversation as the courses began to arrive, but began to become annoyed by the constant interruption of the server. It seemed whenever we paused and put down our forks, and even while we were eating,  someone came over to grab the plate away–even though we obviously were not finished.

At first, the servers reached down to grab the plates and began to remove them without asking. We had to grab our plates back as they swooped past. After a few times of this, they at least began to ask if we were done yet. In addition, at two times, the managers stopped by our table to see how things were going. They too, grabbed at our plates.

At first, we laughed about the constant interruptions. Then they began to irritate us. What then should have been an enjoyable time out together, was spoiled. We took the rest of our meals to go. Continue reading

The Real Test of Good Manners | Meredith Sweetpea | Manners Quotes


“The real test of good manners is to be able to put up with bad manners pleasantly.”

–Khalil Gibran

The Essential 55 – Rule 5 | Manners & Etiquette

The Essential 55 by Ron Clark

The Essential 55

Meredith Sweetpea was thrilled to come across a little, yet powerful book titled The Essential 55 that showcases author and teacher Ron Clark’s development of 55 classroom rules that transformed his apathetic students and turned them into award-winning scholars.

In this New York Time’s best seller, Ron Clark describes the 55 rules and expectations he had of his students at the Inner Harlem Elementary School and how he used manners and respect to help his classes achieve outstanding test scores.

His story became a movie: The Ron Clark Story

His results were so amazing that his story was made into a movie, The Ron Clark Story: Inspired by the True Story of a Teacher,”starring Matthew Perry in the role of Ron Clark. (2006).


Here is just one of the 55 rules that can easily translate into everyday life…


If you win or do well at something, do not brag. If you lose, do not show anger. Instead, say something like, “I really enjoyed the competition, and I look forward to playing you again,” or “Good game,” or don’t say anything at all. To show anger or sarcasm, such as “I wasn’t playing hard anyway. You really aren’t that good,” shows weakness.




First Date Etiquette | Manners & Etiquette

Make it a fun first date!

Meredith Sweetpea remembers her first date well…because she asked the guy! I asked my high school crush to the school’s annual Sadie Hawkins dance. Tradition stated it was the one day of the year when the women could ask the men.

First dates can be scary and exciting all at the same time. My date was so nervous that he drove across my parent’s lawn when trying to park the car.

Keeping in mind some etiquette tips for first dates can help make the experience easier and more enjoyable.

Tips for a Great First Date

Preparing for your first date

  • First of all, properly groom yourself and wear something clean that you are comfortable in. Dress nice but appropriately to the event you will be attending…this is no time to dress up just for show or to flaunt your sexuality. You’ll feel much more at ease if you are dressed for the occasion. Remember that the first date can be the foundation of whether you get future dates, so the first impression starts here.
  • Plan the date, but don’t go overboard. Planning helps to make sure the date goes smoothly. Tell your date what you have planned so that they can be prepared and dressed appropriately.
  • If you don’t know your first date well, or if it is a blind date or someone you met over the Internet, it may be safer to meet at your public destination rather than have a stranger come to your home to pick you up.
  • Be punctual.

Starting your first date

  • Compliment your date. Tell them they look nice, or give compliments throughout the date. It is always nice to feel appreciated and noticed and can put everyone at ease.

While on your first date

  • Flirt with your date. Tell stories. Make them laugh. Laugh at your date’s stories and jokes. Enjoy a fun and stimulating conversation. Relax and have fun.
  • Keep it light, and never talk about past relationships. And avoid the topics of politics and religion. Done be rude or angry or make offensive jokes.
  • Be interested while your date is speaking, and answer appropriately. Look at your date while they are speaking, not around the room.
  • Ask questions to show interest but don’t be aggressive with them. Don’t ask probing or personal questions, and back down if you see that your date is uncomfortable with the direction the conversation is taking. Don’t fire questions at your date; tell stories instead.
  • Don’t get too physically close to your date. People who are unfamiliar need more space than those who are more intimately involved. Even if you are a touchy-feely person, be aware that leaning in too close, or even touching can make your date feel uncomfortable.
  • Turn off all electronic devices while on your date. That email of your friend’s latest gaffe can wait until after the date. (If an emergency is imminent, you may keep your cell phone on, but inform your date at the beginning of your date that you are expecting an important call and must take it.)
  • Don’t drink too much or get drunk. It is not a pretty sight.
  • If you are gentleman, act like one. Hold the door for your date, and help her get seated before you sit. If you are a woman, act like a lady and remember to thank your date for his invitation and kindness. (If the woman is treating, the men should remember to say thank her.)

After your first date

  • The first date is not the time to jump into a sexual relationship. Hugging is always nice, and appropriate, and if you feel a special connection, even a first kiss is allowable.
  • Even if you feel it, the first date is not the time to tell your date that you love them. It is more appropriate to say something like, “It was a pleasure to meet you.”
  • It is always nice when the first date ends with a promise of future dates. If you feel as if you would like another date with this person, it is appropriate to ask for another date, or to inquire about interest in future dates.
  • Say “thank you.”

Actress/singer Jennifer Lopez

Jennifer Lopez’s first date advice

“If you kiss on the first date and it’s not right, then there will be no second date. Sometimes it’s better to hold out and not kiss for a long time. I am a strong believer in kissing being very intimate, and the minute you kiss, the floodgates open for everything else.”
–Jennifer Lopez

Send us your first date tips and stories.

Do you have any tips for first dates?  Or any great first date stories to share? We’d love to hear them.

%d bloggers like this: