15 Christmas Party Etiquette for the Child Guest

The Christmas Season is fast approaching and Children Christmas Parties and dinner invitations would soon be trooping in. These parties can be the source of memories for our children for the rest of their lives.  What better way to set unforgettable memories for your host than having a really well-bred child that is as charming as possible in all situations?

A mother once said to me, “I begi, stop disturbing my child with these your good manners. Hardly is any child polite anymore, why should my own child be?” If you are a mother and the idea of teaching your child good manners makes you feel cheated like this aforementioned mother, because some children hardly have it, it’s understandable. But if you turn your child’s back on good manners you would end up hurting your future, this is because having good manners help your child have an extra ordinary successful life.

A well-trained child is impeccable in manner. He or she speaks attractively, walks and moves faultlessly, plays fairly with other children, respect other people’s properties and is courteous and respectful to elders. If your child is invited to someone’s home for Christmas party, here are a few etiquette tips that reflect positively on you as a mother and make your child’s company special, and get him or her call back for future event. 

1. Acceptance or regret – Acceptances or regrets are inevitable when there is an invitation in place.  It is a bad taste to announce late to your host a few days to the event that you are unable to attend their party for which your child have been invited. If you have a hundred events to attend for the season with your child, let your host know in time you are sorry that you would not be able to honor their invitation and thank them for inviting your child. Otherwise, let the host know within a week that you are able to honor their invitation with pleasure, because your response to RSVP is an important piece of information that your host is relying on to prepare the right amount of food and party gifts.

2. Gift something – Nothing makes more of a bad impression than a mother who sends his or her child to parties and overlooks gifting. Help your child be a thoughtful guest. Have someone deliver to the host any gift you are able to afford before the set date for the party or your child can bring the gift along.

3. Dress appropriately – With less impressive manners around these days people notice what adult wear as well as children, because what a person wears say who they are. For example wearing overbearing clothes for a girl child creates certain negative impression of the girl’s mother and what sort of fashion sense child would grow up to have in future. Occasions is always a great opportunity to dress nicer and not to outdo others by wearing very expensive overbearing clothing. By age five help your child to start making good clothing choices that makes great statement and shows respect for him or her and the family, including others. I’m expatiating more on clothing choices for children in future post.

4. Avoid being late – In accepting an invitation for party or dinner for the festive, you and your child must not be late!  It is impolite to be late. You must arrive on the stroke of the time for which you have been asked to get to the party. Nothing is more unfair to others who are eager about whatever it is that is going to happen at the party, than to make them wait through poor planning.
Avoid poor planning. If your child is slow in getting ready, get him or her ready early enough. Also give yourself enough time when you leave the house. Nonetheless, everyone is late sometimes. Ten minutes late is not a problem, an hour late is simply rude. If you are going to be more than fifteen minutes late for any event, call your host and explain.

5. Give your child positive instruction with an image – It’s very unlikely that there would not be a glass or plate broken in parties. There is always one minor mishap or the other. Let the accidents not come from your child.
When your child is in someone else’s home, every part of it should be treated very carefully, and not like a playground at school. Help your child apply positive actions you intend and respect other people’s properties by communicating with him or her with positive, visual message.

For example, instead of saying “Don’t break anything at the party, “don’t let the plate and glass cup they serve you with at the party drop,” say “keep your hands away from breakable items until you leave the party” “hold on to the plate, glass or spoon very carefully.” Here, the image is ‘carefulness with everything child is served with and keeping hands away from breakables’ with a finish time on it. Giving Positive Instruction to children with an image of what you want them to do yields impacting results.  

6. Avoid being seen as an unfair – It is very unlikely that children would not fight over one thing or another in parties. Make every effort to take care of situations without taking sides with your child or showing displeasure that something is taken from him or her. Ask questions. Teach your child and other child difference between what they have done wrong and right. Discipline should be all part of growing up and it's important you reflect this when you are out there with your child. This sort of discipline could spare your child from getting into trouble in future.

7. Addresses – In the yes "ma" and "sir: culture, it is rude not to observe what is acceptable in the culture. Prompt your child to address grown-ups especially the big mummy, big daddy, aunties and uncles by "ma" and "sir" or how they preferred to be addressed. For example, your child should avoid saying “good afternoon” without the “ma” and “sir.”

8. Think before you speak – Virtually all the blames that comes to mothers when their children converse poorly in the public are caused by not teaching and showing children to think before speaking. As a matter of etiquette in social gatherings, prompt your child to think and say those things only which would be courteous to his or her mates and elders.

9. Maintain normal voice volume – At home or in the public, I have seen children shout rather than talk. This is not good-nature. If your child has been generally loud when he or she speaks and less conscious of their voice volume, encourage them to avoid talking at the top of their voice in a social gathering. A low voice is always pleasing, not whispered or murmured, but low in pitch.

When children are less than five, they are bound to run around and exercise their lungs screaming. Let your child know noise is disturbing. Prompt him or her to keep the noise low when playing with other children at the party.

10. Avoid Dirt – Nothing makes brilliant party messy than throwing dirt, or toys over the floor.  Even though there is house help in place, your child shouldn’t be careless just because someone is there to clean up. Prompt your child to keep dirt he drops picked up and drop every waste in the waste bin. 

11. Help your child learn the following food eating manners dos and don’ts

  • Prompt your child to keep his or her elbows away from the dining table.

  • Where utensils are available prompt your child to avoid using fingers.

  • Eating loudly, talking with mouth full of food, slurping noises while taking a drink from the bottle is not acceptable. Help your child know such bad table manners would gross his or her host. If child must talk, he or she should wait until the food in his mouths is chewed and swallowed.

  • Sound of cutlery on the plate while eating should be avoided. Show your child how to eat without making noise with cutlery.

  • Prompt your child to avoid the urge to point at people around the dining table with the cutlery. Cutlery pointing is considered bad table manner.
  • Prompt your child to avoid licking the spoon, fork or plate once he or she is done with their food.

  • Prompt your child to avoid holding the spoon like a shovel while eating. Teach child how to hold the spoon. The spoon should come under child index finger and the thumb as shown in the diagram below.  

  • Playing with food or spreading it across the table is counted as bad table manner. Prompt your child to avoid it.

  • If your child is served food he or she can’t bear to eat at all at the party, they should move the food around on their plate so it appears they are eating. It’s rude to leave food untouched.

  • Food relocation strategies:

  • Tuck food in backward layer to reduce the overall surface of the food. As child reduces food surface, he or she should cut a few bites of the meat or fish and put in their mouths.

  • While applying the secret of food relocation strategies, if child is mature he or she can engage in lively conversation so the host would look at their brow, or their food. If the host noticed and then ask “Don’t you like the food?” or “Are you not eating?” the child should just smile and say “It’s delicious.”

  • When child drop food on the floor at the dining table and it’s not messy, prompt him or her to bend down, pick it up, and place it discreetly on the edge of their plate or table mat to avoid germs. 
  • If your child drops food (such as soup or liquid) he or she can excuse themselves, saying “How could I be so clumsy?” and go fast into the kitchen for a spoon, sponge, or paper towel (unless the host advised them to leave it until after meal).

  • In a gathering where the host serves meals with complete cutlery prompt your child to apply the following body language of silverware:

  • When your child wants more food or he or she is simply pausing between meal, the utensils are placed in the “resting position” with the knife placed on the right side of the plate in the 4 o’clock position, blade in, and the fork placed on the left side in the 8 o’clock position, tines up. This tells your child's host that he or she is not finished eating or wants more food. If the host is not experienced, your child can say what he wants.

  • When child is done eating, continental style the fork tines face down as it’s shown in the diagram below. 

  • A child who is lazy and has low standard of cleanliness leaves his or her plate as it is shown in the diagram below. Prompt your child to avoid taking on this bad table manner.

12. Time to leave – When the party is over and people are getting ready to leave, encourage your child to wait with you and not wander off to play with the other children.

13. Say thank-you – Show your child how to say a nice thanks to the host before leaving. This helps your child learn respect for people and the hospitality they offer.

14. Posting event photos to Facebook – Don’t post any pictures without first asking for the permission of your child’s host and fellow guests. Even if you think the photos are harmless, they may not be flattering shots or pictures that mothers are comfortable sharing. You know how mothers can be sensitive? So be thoughtful. “Do you mind if I post the children's photos to my Facebook page?” is a courteous question to ask.

15. Send a written thank-you note – Sending a thank you note on behalf of your child after the party is also part of good manners your child must have. The note should be sent within a few days of the event and should mention something specific that your child enjoyed at the party. Use sample thank-you note below:

Dear Mrs. Solade,

What a great party! The children had a wonderful time and the dash was delicious. It was wonderful to meet the other children and their mothers. Thank you so much for including my children.

Warm regards,
Sade Afolabi

Wishing you all peaceful and prosperous Christmas and New Year in advance,
Damilola Ogunremi
Founder, DRS Etiquette and Image Consulting


Bertie said...

Wow -Food relocation strategies - Now that has put a smile on my face - I am old school - You eat your food or you get no desert LOL.

But on the other hand its the host/hostess duty to check why the child or person is not eating their food. The food might contain ingredients that the guest is allergic too. My grand father was allergic to eggs - whenever he attended a function the chef was advised of his allergy and a special plate of food was prepared for him.

It is also good manners to advise the host/hostess well in advance of any problems

DRS Etiquette & Image Consulting said...

Bertie, you are pretty accurate on your point that, it is host/ hostess duty to check why the child or person is not eating their food. I would post tips and bits sometime next year on host/hostess etiquette. Until then, anyone needing help with hosting can ask for guidelines, leaving a comment on the post. Thanks so much for dropping by. Your comment is invaluable!