As you know, I love to study, write about, and report on parenting tips and tactics in all areas of our busy lives. My greatest reward is undoubtedly meeting fellow Mompreneurs who share my passion for helping other Moms make life more productive. One such Mompreneur was a friend of a friend turned friend and someone I love to follow online.

Aviva Goldfarb , author and founder of The Six O’Clock Scramble®, has focused on the bewitching dinner hour, and she does it with great finesse! Aviva, Mom Since 1997 (MS’97) shared some great and timely tips on table manners, offering The MomTini Lounge readers a great “tune-up” in time for Thanksgiving. Enjoy! – Amy

aviva goldfarb
Do Your Family’s Table Manners Need a Tune-Up for the Holidays?
By Aviva Goldfarb, Six O’Clock Scramble author and guest to The MomTini Lounge

Our children, who are 10 and 12 years old, are at the point where eating dinner with them shouldn’t be like watching hyenas devour a carcass on the African plain. Then again, we’re a good deal older than they are, and don’t always act like we are dining with the Queen, either!

Last week at the dinner table I noticed that they were hunched over their plates, shoveling food in by the forkful. While that probably reflects well on the recipe I was testing that night (Sizzling Korean Beef), it doesn’t reflect well on their table manners. Then I noticed that my husband and I weren’t exactly ideal role models for refined dining habits. I had an elbow on the table and was sitting cross legged, and Andrew looked like he was orally vacuuming food rather than chewing it. Our whole family needs a table manner “tune up” before Thanksgiving if we want to distinguish our eating habits from those of Suerte and Jesse, our beloved dogs.

Is insisting on good table manners old-fashioned? Not at all! According to Cindy Post Senning, co-author of Emily Post’s Table Manners for Kids (Collins, May 2009), “Table manners are tools that can keep eating and mealtimes as pleasant as possible. Also, if you know which one is your glass, you’re less likely to drink your neighbor’s cider. If you know how to hold your utensils, you’re less likely to spill your food in your lap.” In other words, meal time is more enjoyable and more sanitary when we observe good manners. Plus, basic table etiquette shows respect for your dining companions, be they royalty or relatives.

I have come up with a list of my top 10 table manners that will likely help all of us get more enjoyment out of family dinners. (Of course, depending on the age of your children, some of these goals may be too lofty; you may have to settle for having younger ones eat from the table and refrain from mashing food in their hair, or yours.)

1. Wash your hands before eating.

2. Put your napkin in your lap at the beginning of the meal, and don’t forget to use it.

3. Pull in your chair, sit up straight, and keep elbows (and feet!) off the table.

4. Wait to begin eating until everyone is seated and served.

5. Use proper utensils to eat, and cut your food into bite-sized pieces.

6. Ask your neighbor to pass an item on the table rather than reaching across their plate to get it.

7. Chew with your mouth closed, and don’t talk with food in your mouth.

8. Be an active and considerate participant in the conversation.

9. Ask to be excused before leaving the table, and clear your plate. (You may also want to ask your family to load their plates in the dishwasher and clear something extra.)

10. Kiss (I mean thank) the cook. (I’m particularly fond of this one!)

Your family may have different priorities for good manners than mine does.

Editor’s Note: I love Aviva’s tips (especially the visual of her cooking the sizzling beef!), and as I love to say, unless we set the expectations for our kids, they’ll set their own! Gobble, Gobble, and Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family! – Amy

Guest author bio:
Aviva Goldfarb is a mother of two and the author and founder of The Six O’Clock Scramble®, an online weekly menu planner and cookbook, and is author of the upcoming cookbook, “SOS! The Six O’Clock Scramble to the Rescue: Earth Friendly, Kid-Pleasing Meals for Busy Families” (St. Martin’s Press, 2010).