Etiquette was very important when I was a kid. I learned to eat continental style, was taught the box step (which came in handy just in time for waltzing at the balls I attended in my teen years), and had to have wonderful telephone manners. My brothers additionally had to hold doors open for adults. I remember telling my mother that when I got married, I wanted to have a son so I could raise a proper gentleman.
Fast forward to today, and my son opens doors, walks curbside while walking with a girl, and holds wonderful conversations with adults. My daughter can answer the phone politely, eat multi-course meals continental style, and is knows how to co-host afternoon teas.
Is proper etiquette a lost art in today’s fast paced digital world? Maybe in some places, but not in Princeton. Some people here still mail handwritten thank you notes, and there are classes in town for those who’d like their children to learn the tact and decorum of being lady or a gentleman, or just need to brush up their on skills.
The Barclay Classes at Trinity Church – Barclay teaches children in grades 4 – 8 ballroom dancing, table manners, manners in other social situations, how to make a good first impression, and the art of polite conversation. It’s a 10-session program meeting monthly. The children MUST dress up for classes. A girl would typically wear a dress, thin soled shoes, and white gloves (grades 4-6). Boys must don a jacket, dress shirt, dress pants, a tie, dark socks and dress shoes. YES, this is old school, but this is giving children invaluable skill sets for the future. Think cotillions, college interviews, fine dining, etc.
Taking Tea in Style – Children are guided in all of the social graces of an afternoon tea. Tea etiquette and table manners are taught in groups of 8 – 100 for 30 minutes. These are customized workshops, which could be provided for an organization or even a birthday party.
Mary Harris Etiquette – Mary Harris offers three courses: Introduction to Etiquette, Business Etiquette, and Dining Etiquette. The intro course is perfect for young adults in their senior year of college, or anyone looking to brush up on their social skills. The business course is for those already in an environment where they come in contact with clients, customers, or colleagues, and would like to further improve their communication skills. The dining course is good for individuals who go out for business lunches or dinners. Courses can be modified for a group’s needs. Ms. Harris can even put together a program for kids upon request. A year and a half ago, I was invited to a session condensing all three courses, and enjoyed it. You can read about it here.
FYI: Adults looking to take ballroom dancing for weddings or other formal events, can go to the Fred Astaire Dance Studio of Princeton.