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Tea Time Etiquette for Kids

by Susan Revermann

Once the formal invitations are out, it’s time to get ready for tea time. Teaching your child proper etiquette and encouraging the other tea time participants to act appropriately helps continue on the tradition of a formal tea time. This social event is a great way for your child to visit with her little friends, while learning how to use manners in a social setting.

Arrival

When the guests first arrive at the tea party, each little lady should find her seat and stand behind it until the hostess pulls out her chair. This indicates that the guests can now sit down. At this cue, each child should pull her chair all the way back so it clears the table and she can sit down without sitting on the tablecloth. Enter on the right side of the chair. The tea time participants should sit up straight in their chairs, with their hands resting on the lap. Elbows should not rest on the table. A folded tea napkins should be picked up and unfolded completely on the lap with the crease opening up toward your waist. The napkins, also called a serviette, should be used to blot the lips, not wipe.

Tea Cup Handling

To pick up the tea cup, insert the index finger through the handle, place the thumb on the top of the handle and the middle finger should rest under the handle. The rest of the fingers follow the natural curve of the hand. The pinkie can be raised when the child takes a sip of the beverage. The eyes should be directed into the tea cup when the child is sipping. If the child wants to add a lump of sugar, she should stick to one lump or two per cup. When stirring the sugar or cream, the spoon should not clink around loudly or be shaken to remove excess liquid. Instead, gently slide the spoon on the edge of the cup to remove the liquid.

Passing and Handling Foods

Children should be taught to properly pass foods around the table and how to handle food items. When passing tea time foods around the table, show the kids how to pick up the serving plate and pass it from right to left. The person picking up the plate to pass it should not help herself to the foods first. When a child is removing a finger food item from the plate, she should only use her first two fingers and her thumb to pick it up.

Handling Silverware

The kids should know how to properly handle and use the table utensils. Large food items should be cut before eating. The fork is held in the left hand and used to secure the food. The knife is held in the right hand and is used to cut the food item. Only one or two bites should be cut at a time. When the child is done using the knife, it should be placed on the upper right edge of the place with the cutting edge pointing in. The fork is then transferred to the right hand and the left hand placed in the lap. When the fork is not in use, place it on the plate with the tines at 10 o’clock and the handle at 4 o’clock.

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