Tea Party Etiquette
July 24, 2013
Recently, I had the pleasure of hosting a tea party program here at the branch. We had a visit from a wonderful representative of the John Wornall House Museum and Alexander Majors Historic House and Museum. Her name is Dorene Disbrow, and she taught us all kinds of useful things related to table manners and setting the table for tea. She was able to impart this knowledge to us because she is a graduate of The Etiquette Institute in St. Louis. It was fascinating to learn that there is a proper was to sit in a chair, a proper way to put a napkin on your lap, and a proper way to fold a napkin when you’re finished using it!
For a simple tea service, the cup is placed on the saucer with the handle pointing to the right. There’s even a proper way to grip the cup and to stir your tea! The cup handle should be pinched with your fingers. Your fingers should not loop through the handle. The custom of extending the pinky is just not done anymore. Tea should be stirred by putting in your spoon at the 12:30 position (imagine a clock) and lifting from the bottom. You can't make noise, and you can't stir your tea more than three times. When finished, your spoon rests across your tea saucer behind your tea cup. When you are finished with your tea, your spoon should be placed on your saucer to the left of your cup. Raise your hand if you already knew this. I sure didn’t!
We also learned a good way to remember which side of the plate the silverware goes on. The knife and spoon go on the right. The fork goes on the left. If you count the number of letters in “knife” and “spoon,” you’ll see they have the same number as “right.” Additionally, “fork” has four letters, and so does “left.” The glass goes at the right and the roll plate goes on the left. Counting letters works for those as well!
As I was regaling my family (at the dinner table) with my newfound knowledge of table etiquette, one of my daughters rolled her eyes and said, “Does it really matter?” I was so glad that she asked me that question because I was then able to pass on another story that Ms. Disbrow shared with us about a young lady who, some years ago, graduated at the top of her class from the UMKC School of Law. She was being courted by a major law firm, and they invited her out to dinner. The following day, the law firm placed a call to the university to let them know they were no longer interested in having this young lady join their firm. Apparently, she did not have good table manners.
Should you wish to test your etiquette and learn more about the proper and mannerly way to do things in social situations, I invite you to check our collection. We have a number of items on that topic.
Blue Ridge Branch