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Thursday, January 2, 2014

Elegant Sufficiency - Manners In A Modern World

Time to pack up and embrace the new year with most of the formal parties behind us it is now a season for casual summertime enjoyments, BBQs, river picnics, Shakespeare in the Gardens and Symphony Under the Stars.
Whether your entertaining/invitations are formal or informal the rules of manners still apply. If you are sent an invitation your RSVP should be in kind. For example, if you receive an invitation in the mail even if a phone number is provided for contact, it is still preferable to mail a reply. If you receive a facebook event invite then it is quite OK to reply using that means. 
reply you must
promptly, either in the negative or the affirmative with thanks for the invitation.
Do NOT hang out waiting to see if there is a better offer you would rather commit to
Do NOT not reply and then turn up
and do NOT affirm and then not show without an exceptionally good reason.

Naturally being prompt and punctual are a given but just as importantly is not over-staying your welcome. If invitations have a start and finish time then that is your guide. If the invitation is less specific and is for lunch say, then generally about an hour after the meal is finished is time to take your leave.
I couldn't put it any better than Provocative Manners in their post "Overstaying Your Welcome" "it is never appropriate to hang around till dinner.  RUDE!"  a short take on guidelines and what to look for.

There is never an appropriate time to be loud and inelegant. If you are enjoying a couple of drinks, then do exactly that, never pass the point where you become a nuisance to guests and an embarrassment for the hostess.
At table in this day and age, passing around a phone device to show pictures is acceptable as long as it is inclusive and not during the meal. What is NOT acceptable is using devices to check facebook status updates or messages. If you really are expecting a life or death message then absent yourself from the table and deal with it away from guests and in another room. Taking a call at the table and talking loudly is also a no-no.

I still believe written thank you cards are also a must after any formal party where the hostess has gone to extraordinary measures to provide a beautiful meal and entertainment.

Many of us are already in touch with these manners but are we forgetting to pass them onto our children and are we failing to expect our nearest and dearest to live up to them as well?
I have a favourite quote:

"Good manners are not artifice and hypocrisy but the oil that lubricates society, the small rules that regulate our behaviour and negate the need for more laws which curtail our freedom" 
June Daly-Watkins

How did your festive season go? Did you experience any ill-mannered behaviours? Are we getting complacent? Do you find modern technology creeping into entertainment circles and how do you see the lines drawn?


  1. A great post and one that is desperately needed in a technological-dependent world.

  2. I love your title Tanya. At the end of every meal my grandmother would ask us all if we had had an 'elegant sufficiency'! We always enforce the 'no technology at the table' rule at home, and it infuriates me when people check their phones during conversations. They would never leave a conversation hanging to go and talk to another 'real' person at a gathering, but seem to find it perfectly acceptable to interrupt a 'real' conversation for a virtual one.
    Rant over, but I would love to pursue a conversation about manners!

  3. Oh, yes, we are getting very complacent about manners Tanya......
    I remember saying at the dinner table that I'd had an 'elegant sufficiency'.....I don't think it lasted long but we always had to ask to be excused.
    It is up to parents to teach their children the basics, sadly they just don't seem to be that important these days......

    Claire x


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