Dining Etiquette Review

Hello Friends.  It’s been a while since we’ve talked “dining etiquette” and this is definitely a subject that needs refining from time to time.  More and more I go to business luncheons and dinners and am usually in “awe” of the lack of skills at the dinner table.  I’m not stating to sound judgmental, but to encourage all of us to pay attention to our table manners because others really do notice and it sends a message of how much we value the dining experience of those around us.  Here are a few things to remember:
  1. Our napkin remains in our laps until everyone is exiting the table.  If we must exit first or during the meal for any reason, our napkin goes in our chair and then upon our return, back to our lap.
  2. It is not polite to heap our plates full of food.  We should never have food stacked on top of each other.  We also don’t want to fill our plates so full that we can’t see the rim of the plate.  Think conservative, especially if we are at a business or professional luncheon or dinner.
  3. We should never never place our fingers in our mouth for any reason; not to clean our fingers, not to remove food from our teeth and not to get the last taste of sauce from our hands.  NEVER!!
  4. It is polite to only cut one to two bites of food at a time, placing our utensils down in between every one to two bites.
  5. We should never push our plates away from us after we are finished eating to signal that we are finished.  We simply place our utensils side by side at 5:00 with the handles of the utensils slightly off the plate.
  6. We should never stack plates in order to help clean up the mess when at a restaurant or formal dinner.  Only do this when you’re at home or when you have been asked to do so by the host.
  7. We never reach across anyone to get something at the table.  A simple, “please pass the ....” is all we need to do.
  8. We do our best to keep conversation at the dinner table light, refraining from speaking of too serious of topics or topics that are not appropriate such as gross things, vulgar things, sad things, political or religious debates.
  9. We always find ways to sincerely compliment the cook or host.
  10. We NEVER NEVER NEVER announce any dislikes while at the table.  We simply say “No thank you” if we would not care for something.  Hopefully, your host knows her manners and will never ask “Why not?”

These are just a few common mistakes that we tend to make while dining with others.  There are many more skills to use at the table.  Having proper table manners is a great indication of our education level, our ability to show self control and our sincere interest in the dining experience of those we are dining with.  Happy dining!

Monica Irvine
a.k.a. Mary Manners

True Test of a Gentleman

True test of a gentleman!  OK men, this one is for you.  Can you pass the gentleman test?  If your wife, your co-workers, your children were to be asked if you were someone they would consider to be a gentleman...would they say "Yes?"  Does it matter?  Statistics show that men who have more "gentleman" attributes get more respect from their peers, receive pay raises at a faster pace and overall report to have healthier and happier relationships.  It matters.  See how you do with the following questions...
  • Do I open the doors for all ladies and my peers?
  • Do I avoid ever speaking of offensive topics in the presence of ladies?
  • Am I careful to never engage in any behavior that could be misconstrued as inappropriate?
  • Do I always pay for the meals of those whom I invite to lunch or dinner?
  • Do I dress in a way that shows I have respect for myself and others?
  • Do I stand when a lady approaches or leaves my table?
  • Do I only extend my hand to a lady once she extends her hand first during an introduction?
  • Do I refrain from giving physical affection to ladies that I am in a casual relationship with, unless I have their permission?
  • Do I help all ladies in my presence with their coats, umbrellas or any other item that they need assistance with?
  • Do I refrain from ever borrowing money from a lady?
  • Do I keep my Word, always returning items on time and always completing task when I have committed to completing them.
  • Do I keep myself clean, always being mindful of my breath, body odor and overall hygiene?
  • Am I comfortable with making and keeping eye contact in all my conversation?
  • Am I confident, kind and honest?
  • Do I have polite table manners?  Do I use them at all times?
If you answered yes to most of these questions, then you my friend are a great example of a gentleman and I'm sure that you feel the benefits of being such in your life.  If you could not answer "yes" to many of these questions, may I suggest you call me.  We'll work on it :)

Professional Etiquette

Today, more and more companies are looking to etiquette experts to help transform their employees to the needed professionals that they must be to compete in this global market.  So, let’s have a little preview of what professional etiquette is here.  Here’s some things to consider:
  • Having a positive tone and voice when answering the phone is crucial.  It is the very first image your customers have of your company.  Customers ask, “Are they friendly?  Do they act like they’re interested in why I’ve called?  Do they act ‘put out’ that they’ve had to answer the phone?  Do they make me want to do business with this company?”  These are just a few questions going through a customers mind when interacting with someone on the phone at a business.  It’s also very important to never place callers “on hold” without their permission and never for more than 30 seconds without giving them the option of calling back later or leaving a message.  Yes, I realize this is “news” to many companies :)
  • Be positive at work.  Do you work with anyone who complains often?  It’s not that fun is it?  No one likes to work with others who complain and are often negative.  Complaining and being negative is very unproductive and tends to bring the entire atmosphere of the workplace down.  If you have an official complaint, then administer the complaint through the proper channels.  Besides that, be cheerful, positive and productive at work.  It’s not fair to unload our personal business or our “gripes” to our coworkers.  They are their to do their job and make the most of their circumstances while being a proactive and positive force for the company.  Either be a team player, or move on.
  • It is very unprofessional to gossip, but especially at work.  Gossiping is a very destructive force that literally leads to drops in production, declining company moral and even a loss of overall profit.  At work, we are to be professional at all times.  This means we look for the positive in those we work with, we work well as a team to reach optimal performance and we keep unproductive conversation at bay.  Don’t be a “busy body” at work, just be busy.
  • Take responsibility for your actions.  A professional knows that somedays we succeed and some days we fail but those who really succeed are those that learn from their failures and move on.  Sometimes we spend more time trying to cover our mistakes then the time it would take to take responsibility for our mistakes and then move forward to do many more wonderful things.  Never “pass the buck”.  Be a MAN.  Be a WOMAN.  Take ownership and move forward.
  • Give your 100% regardless.  Sometimes, employees loose interest in an assignment or a project and start “slacking” on their work ethics.  Giving 100% every time, every project, every day is what divides the winners from the losers.  We will always end up ahead by giving our all.
  • Help others succeed.  The real test of a great leader is how many great leaders did we help build.  Some people think that as long as they look out for themselves, they will always end up on top.  This is not true.  We may have some success with this as our motto, however long term success comes from helping others succeed and in turn, helping ourselves.  Be on the team.  The winning team.  Show integrity, honesty, character and moral conviction every day at work, rain or shine and you my friend will have a recipe for success.
More to come...

Monica Irvine
a.k.a. Mary Manners

FREE Give-a-Way for Teens

Hello Friends,

The Etiquette Factory is giving away 5 "Etiquette Masters" books.  This is the book that every teen MUST HAVE.  It will teach them:

  1. Etiquette While Job Hunting
  2. Etiquette on the Job
  3. How to be a Lady
  4. How to be a Gentleman
  5. How to show Appreciation for your Family
  6. and much more
Register to win Today!!

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"Set Right" Placemats Give-a-Way!!

Never again will your family have to worry about setting the table.  These awesome placemats not only show you where to set your fork and glass, but remind you and your family of some very important etiquette rules, such as "Thank the Cook" and "Chew with your Mouth Closed."

Sign up TODAY to WIN!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Social Media Etiquette

Hello Friends,

As we all spend more time on social media, it's time to outline some social media etiquette that will benefit us all as we apply these principles to our communications.  Here we go:

  • Messages should tend to be uplifting, informative or positive.
  • Posting more than four or five things a day, may be too excessive.
  • We should ask ourselves, "Is there anyone that I would rather not see this post?"  If anyone comes to mind, then we should not post on social media.
  • We should never engage in bullying, teasing or arguing via social media.
  • Our post should not be solely focused on ourselves, as this would seem narcissistic, but should rather include our family, our friends and outside influences.
  • Check our intentions before posting, asking ourselves, "Are we posting this to benefit others or to gain some perspective, or am I posting to hurt, insult or misguide others?"  If our intentions are proper, then it is appropriate for social media.
  • Be careful not to over share.  Usually, these are things that are gross, disgusting, vulgar, too private, or too intimate.  We never use names when speaking of situations where others were affected in a negative way.
  • Try to be humble when announcing accomplishments.  It's fine to be proud, we just need to be sensitive to sounding like we're bragging.
  • NEVER upload pictures of others to social media without their permission.  Come on, we all want to look our best, especially when the whole world can see.  Let's make sure our friends and family are OK with us posting pictures of them.  Email them ahead of time and ask if they mind if we share the image on social media.
  • Do not "tag" anyone without their permission, unless you are sure they want you to "tag" them.
  • If you don't like a comment or post, unless you feel like it is damaging your reputation or someone else's, there's really no reason to comment.  Just move on.  It's not our responsibility to inform every person of what points we disagree with them on.  Just let it go.
  • Don't "over ask" someone to "follow" you or "pin" your info, etc.  Invite and then let it go.
Here's another great link that has some further protocol for social media I really like:

Artwork by:  news.cnet.com

Have a great day,
Monica Irvine

a.k.a. Mary Manners

Chicken Curry Balls

Here's the recipe.  Make these for your next women's luncheon or shower.  They will be a huge hit.


  • 2 packages (3 ounces each) cream cheese, softened
  • 2 tablespoons orange marmalade
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 3 cups finely chopped cooked chicken
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped green onion
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped celery
  • 1 cup finely chopped macadamia nuts, toasted (or you can substitute almonds)


  • In a large bowl, beat the first five ingredients until well blended. Stir in the chicken, onion and celery.
  • Shape into 1-in. balls; roll in nuts. Cover and chill until firm (can refrigerate up to 2 days). Yield: about 20 servings

It's the Little Things that Count

It’s the Small Things That Count

Hello Friends!  We are going to start a series on being a Host that I hope you will enjoy.  This month we are going to begin with Houseguests.  If you’re like me, I love having company...well most of the time.  I love when friends and family come to visit and I love to do things that show how much I enjoy and appreciate their visit.  One way we can do this is by putting forth a little effort in furnishing the guest room with some fun accommodations for our guest.  Even if your “guest room” is your child’s room, with the right extras, you can make any guest feel like they’re on vacation and well cared for.  For those who don’t have an official guest room, making a guest basket is a really fun idea.  My children have helped me create our guest basket which has heightened their excitement when guest visit, as they are excited for them to see our special basket.

Below you will see a list of suggestions for your guest room or guest basket.   Please don’t feel like you have to provide all of these suggestions, but hopefully you will see a few that you like.  Your guest basket is not for your guest to take home with them, but remains in your guest room while they are visiting.  Each time guest come, we just simply freshen it up with fresh snacks, etc.  Here are the suggestions:

extra blanket good reading light clock radio wastebasket
coat hangers safety pins luggage rack fresh soaps
lotion bath salts shampoo/cond new toothbrush
toothpaste fresh towels fresh cloths short books
magazines suntan lotion snacks sweets
calendar vase of flowers lint roller extra pillow
headache med stomach ache med notepad pens

Once again, just have fun with preparing your guest basket.  I don’t purchase these things all at once.  When I’m out, I just keep by guest basket in the back of my mind in case I see a great deal on something.  Letting our children help prepare for guest, teaches them a really valuable lesson.  The lesson is “It’s the Small Things that Count.”  What a great opportunity to help our children experience the joy of giving and helping others to feel valued.  Have fun.

Have a great month,

Monica Irvine

a.k.a. Mary Manners


Hello Friends,

It's time for a Give-A-Way.  Win a KidBudget Program!!!!

How do you enter the drawing?  Simply share this post on your Facebook Page and then copy and paste your post into an email to me at monica@TheEtiquetteFactory.com.  We will draw a winner Friday morning, Feb. 15th, 2013  at 8:00am and announce the winner at 8:30am.

What are you winning?  Let me tell you about it.

KidBudget is a money management workbook and program for children ages 6-12 years of age.  It's really quite amazing!  I love it because it's so simple.  Your children will work their way through the student workbook and as they do, they will learn how to manage their money.  They will learn the concepts of "short term goals," "long term goals," "donations," and "play money."

It comes with these little pouches that help the children organize their money, so they can see where it is going.  It also comes with worksheets, simple charts and other resources to help your children master the skill of money management.  What a beautiful gift to give our children!!  

Once again, this is soooooooo simple, yet sooooooooooo effective.  We just spent about 10 minutes each day working on 1 assignment and before we new it, we were done with the workbook and actually managing our money.  In reality, these skills are for the whole family.  This will be one of the most valuable skills we will teach our children.  Each child needs their own workbook but first, WIN this one and then you'll be SOLD.  Enter the DRAWING TODAY!!!


Facebook parties are FUN and a great way to get FREE advice, FREE prizes and FREE fellowship with others that share in your same interest & goals.

"Like" Us

How do you Participate? 

  1. Save the date/time and make sure you take note of the timezone.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve missed a party due to the time difference.
  2. RSVP to my email ahead of time if possible (monica@TheEtiquetteFactory.com).  Often by RSVPing you are added to a drawing.
  3. You must go on the Facebook Page where the party is happening and LIKE the page.
  4. Out of courtesy it is proper etiquette to like the sponsors and cohosts facebook pages, as well.  After all, they are the ones who are most likely providing the fabulous giveaways and offering their expert advice.
  5. Refresh Often or press F5 to make sure your not missing any scoop.  Facebook Parties are much easier to keep up with than twitter parties, but you will need to refresh often.
  6. Sometimes party favors (freebies) or special discounts are given to the facebook attendees(that’s you)  towards the end of the party.  Directions will be given to you in regards on how to obtain your goodies usually with an email address.
  7. Comment when asked, you never know when your answer just might be the answer that your new friend has been searching for.
  8. Enjoy.  Facebook Parties are fun and a great way to get great ideas and insights to what we care about.  Invite your friends to come because everyone walks away every time with at least one (usually many more) great tips on being a better you, a better mom, a better wife or maybe just learning to love yourself better because you are amazing.

Helping Children Cope with Divorce

This of course is a topic approached with sincerity and sensitivity, but one that is important to reflect on with the idea of manners and social graces.  Although we could spend many words on etiquette between the separating spouses, let’s focus on the children and how we can help this difficult transition be as gentle as possible.

Before a separation or divorce, it is respectful and honorable that both parents sit down with their children together and explain what’s happening before one parent decides to move out. 

Children should hear this news from their parents, not other family members or friends.  These moments can be extremely important as it is a time to reassure children of the love that both parents have for them and it sends a message to the children that when it comes to parenting, both parents are willing to set aside their differences and parent their children as a parenting unit.

To a child, divorce or separation (which to them means divorce) ends their world as they know it.

It is usually devastating regardless of the circumstances.  However, as both parents make a commitment to their children in front of each other that they will do their best to NEVER make their children feel like a go-between or like they have to choose one parent over the other, children will feel more secure in the coming changes.  Children do not need to be involved in issues they can’t understand.  

Statistics show that even when there is abuse, most children want their parents to stay together, reminding all of us of the uncertainty and devastation that children feel when their parents separate.

Statistics also show that children who appear to have the most success and have the least amount of reported trauma stemming from a divorce, are those who continue to have a healthy relationship with both parents after the divorce.

Relationships are nurtured with quality time spent together and when visits with parents are without fear of offense to the other parent.  

As each parent encourages their children to love the other parent, these children will tend to be more open about their true feelings regarding the divorce, new relationships their parents have and other important family dynamics.  Trying to convince a child why they should withhold their love, time or attention to a parent is a sure way to cause confusion, guilt and bitterness in children (I am not speaking of circumstances where one parent is guilty of abuse towards a child.  That is another circumstance all together that calls for special council and considerations).

This is by no means the only advice to offer on this subject.  I would encourage both parents to seek advice from people who the children’s best interest at heart and clergy and sociologist are always a good resource.  Sometimes we tend to take advice from our friends who have a hard time discerning between their loyalty to us and what’s really best.  

Here are a few other things to consider:
  • Having consistent rules between both houses is very beneficial for the children.  Rules should stay as they were when both parents lived together to limit the changes the children have to endure.
  • NEVER allow a child to hear one parent speaking negatively about the other parent.  Children tend to associate themselves with their parents and regardless of what one parent does, they continue to love them.  When children hear their parents speak negatively about the other parent, they feel hurt and betrayal by even being privy to the conversation.  Please don’t place any child in this situation.
  • Stop asking.  “Quizzing” a child regarding what they did, who they did it with, what they ate, etc. regarding their visit with the other parent is crossing the line of abuse in my opinion.  Children are not that naive.  This makes children extremely uncomfortable, causes them increased stress and can cause them to “shut down” and become withdrawn as a defensive mechanism.
Let’s make sure we do not cause any child one more ounce of stress, pain and hurt than is already caused by the loss of the life as they knew it.  Encourage them to love their parents.  Be happy when they have a happy, healthy relationship with each parent.  Allow them to love, uninhibited, so that they are secure with our dedication to their happiness.

Have a great month.
Monica Irvine
a.k.a. Mary Manners