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“Dining Etiquette” Seminar for Young and Old!

On Saturday, December 6, 2008, Replacements, Ltd. Showroom Supervisor Jill Slatter led an entertaining and informative seminar on “Dining Etiquette” at our facilities. Jill, who has been employed at Replacements, Ltd. for more than 12 years, leads educational programs on a variety of dinnerware topics, including “Afternoon Teas,” “How to Lay a Holiday Table,” “Holiday Decorating,” and “Serving Wine with Crystal.” Bright and early Monday morning, Jill caught a flight to Delaware for her presentations on Tuesday, December 9, 2008, at the beautiful Winterthur Museum & Country Estate in historic Brandywine Valley. At Winterthur she gave talks entitled “Festive Elegance: Bringing the Holidays Home.” Her presentations featured holiday table settings as well as unusual sterling silver flatware pieces. With her various seminars and showroom responsibilities, Jill can be as busy as Santa and his elves during the holidays!

About 60 individuals, young and old, attended Jill’s “Dining Etiquette” program here at Replacements, Ltd. “One of the greatest gifts we can provide our children,” Jill commented in her presentation, “is the gift of good manners. Of course etiquette improves our daily lives. But think about how important good manners can be when a young person is out on his or her first lunch or dinner associated with a job interview. How they conduct themselves can make all the difference in their success or failure in the interview process.” She went on to provide not only useful specific information, but also general advice on how to be a good host or hostess, and a good guest! As an added benefit, people who attended the session were given 10% discount coupons for any showroom purchases made the day of the event.

Jill was entertaining in her demonstration of the “Dos” and “Don’ts” of etiquette. On the dining table used for her seminar, an absolutely gorgeous – and enormously tall and wide – poinsettia had been placed as a centerpiece. It towered over the china, crystal, and silverware. “Remember,” Jill said, “the goals of entertaining are conversation and friendship. So no matter how beautiful it is, never use a centerpiece like this one. Once they’re seated, your guests won’t be able to see over or around it, much less have an enjoyable conversation.” In its place, Jill placed an elegant silver bowl, filled with sparkling Christmas ornaments. “All from our showroom, of course,” she said, and everyone chuckled. “But as you can see, it’s an attractive centerpiece, and yet your guests will be able to have pleasant conversation, even diagonally, table end to table end.”

Jill then sat down at the table, slouched over with her elbows on top, picked up a teacup in both hands, slurped loudly, and set the cup loudly in its saucer. “Well,” she said, “I think I managed to do just about everything wrong,” she said. “Who wants to go first?” There was an immediate and enthusiastic show of hands. Discussion about deference, posture, and courtesy followed.

Then Jill invited four volunteers to lay place settings of china, crystal, and silver, along with serving pieces, for a very full holiday table. A husband and wife, a middle school student, and an etiquette consultant obliged. When they had finished laying the table, they joined Jill at the table for a review. A lively discussion followed, with many questions from the audience. Jill reminded us that place settings accommodate solids on the left, and liquids on the right; only utensils that will be necessary for the meal should be set. “If you’re not planning to serve salad, don’t lay the table with salad forks, no matter how formal you want your table to look,” she said. “It will only confuse your guests.”

Jill provided a wealth of information – when to pour water, how to establish proper spacing on the table, which way to pass serving pieces, when to start eating, and what to do with your napkin, should you leave the table during the meal. (This led to quite a spirited and elaborate discussion among attendees on the use, folding, placement, and care of napkins!) Jill finished her seminar with a discussion of the things we all can and should do to be not only good hosts or hostesses, but also good guests. “For example,” Jill said, in her crisp English accent, “it’s quite tacky to have your cell phone turned on during a meal. It’s even tackier to answer it!” As you can see, those who attended the seminar learned a great deal and enjoyed themselves, too. Be sure to join us soon for another Replacements, Ltd. educational program – we look forward to seeing you! And don’t forget, for last-minute help preparing your holiday table, visit our web site for handy place setting guides. Click on the “China,” “Crystal,” or “Silver” tab, then click “ Place Setting Guide” on the blue bar.


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