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.

Back to School Etiquette | Etiquette for Children & Teens

Order this Susan Winget chart from Teacher's Paradise

It’s back to school time!

Whether you are a senior in college or a kindergartener just starting out, the rules for manners and etiquette in school are the same. And surprise–they continue into your adulthood at work and in other parts of your life.

Mannerly behavior is set into place for several reasons: to give you and those around you a more pleasant experience, and to help maintain civility throughout the day.

You are in school to learn. It is a right and a privilege for all children to attend school, and one person should not interrupt that right for anyone else through their behavioral choices. Both the teachers and the other students need everyone’s cooperation to make the learning experience a great one.

Quick tips for classroom etiquette:

  • Arrive on time and be timely throughout the day
  • Don’t talk back or use inappropriate tone of voice
  • Don’t sass or use sarcasm when responding to teachers, administrators or fellow students
  • Do not disrupt the class
  • Do not be noisy
  • Cooperate with school officials and the other students
  • Do not lie
  • Pay attention to the teacher and do what they ask you to do
  • Don’t talk while the teacher is talking
  • Don’t steal or take anything from anyone else
  • Don’t fight, pull, push or shove anyone
  • Pick up after yourself. It is up to everyone to keep the school tidy.

Meredith Sweetpea loves school…do you?

Send us your tips!

I’m sure there are plenty of teachers who have advice they can offer as well. Whether you are a student or a teacher, please write and tell us your suggestions for classroom manners.

–See illustrated and other teaching charts at Teacher’s Paradise.

Proper Chewing Gum Disposal | Manners & Etiquette for Children & Teens

Meredith Sweetpea had a funny conversation with a teacher friend who was setting up her classroom for the new school year and complaining about the dried chewing gum she found stuck to the bottoms of the chairs and desks…and other unmentionable places!

So that prompted me to write a brief lesson on proper disposal of your gum.

First of all, you should not be chewing gum in school.  That being said, children will still chew gum in school, so let’s do a quick review…

Where NOT to dispose of your gum:

  • On the floor
  • Stuck to the bottom of a chair, counter, desk or any other piece of furniture or fixture
  • In the grass
  • On the street
  • On the side of your plate
  • In a cloth napkin
  • In a water fountain
  • In a urinal or toilet
  • Someone’s personal property

The proper way to dispose of chewed gum

The best way to dispose of your chewed gum is to deposit it into  the original wrapper, wrap it up, and toss it into an available trash can. If the wrapper is not available, a tissue or any other scrap of paper will do.

Discretion is called for in this situation. The gum should be gathered directly from the mouth into the wrapper if possible.  If the fingers are used, touch the tip of your fingers to your tongue to moisten them. This will keep the gum from sticking to the fingers and causing a sticky mess.  Remember to wash your hands after you are done.

Spitting your gum directly into a trash can should be your last option, and should only be done when nobody else is around.

BONUS! Chewing gum removal tips

As a bonus, here is a great web page that talks about time-tested ways to remove chewing gum from a variety of surfaces.

Do you have any funny gum stories you can share?

A Poem of Good Company Manners | Manners & Etiquette

There is a tiny book titled, “The School of Good Manners,” written in 1822 by Nancy Sproat, that contains the following charming poem. It is written in rhyme and outlines the basic manners of being “in company,” that still apply today!  Meredith Sweetpea hopes you enjoy it.

In Company

Intrude not where you’re not desired,
Nor stay till every one is tired.
Writhe not your limbs in every shape
Of awkward gesture, like an ape,

Nor twirl your hands, nor hit your toes –
Nor hum a tune – nor pick your nose –
Nor keep in motion as you sit,
Nor on the floor or carpet spit,
But in the first with prudent care.
Nor lean upon another’s chair.

If you must cough, or sneeze, be still
In doing it, if possible.
If you must yawn, just turn aside,
And with your hand the motion hide.
And when you blow your nose, be brief,
And neatly use your handkerchief.

All whispering, giggling, squinting shun,
Don’t turn your back on any one.
Nor bite your nails, nor lolling stand,
Nor in your pockets keep your hand.

Do not allow yourself to look
In letters, papers, or a book,
Till you have leave. If one is reading,
Don’t overlook him; ’tis ill breeding.

Don’t wear a frown upon your face;
Let cheerfulness your aspect grace.
To your superiors always strive,

In walking, your right hand to give.
A proper distance keep in mind,
Crowd not too near, nor lag behind.
To equals let your conduct be
Marked with sweet affability.

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