It's hard for kids to mind their manners at the holidays when so many exciting things are happening. But it's more important than ever to know how to act at this time of year, when friends and family gather to celebrate the seaon. Here are some rules for kids, plus some guidelines for how parents can help their children share in holiday events.
Holiday Rules for Kids
1. Help your parent(s) whenever possible with shopping, gift wrapping, cooking, decorating the house, setting the table, etc.
2. When shopping indoors with your parent(s) or your friends, walk, don't run.
3. Greet all adults with smiles and handshakes.
4. Say 'please' when asking for something and 'thank you' after someone does something for you or gives you something.
5. Be appreciative of every gift you're given, even if it's not what you wanted. If Aunt Agnes gives a sweater you don't like, grin and bear it and say thank you.
6. When other kids visit, share your toys, both new and old.
7. Wash your hands before each meal.
8. No phones or games at the table.
9. No elbows on the table!
10. Stay at the table through the dessert course. If you want to leave then, say "May I be excused?"
Holiday Tips for Parents
Help your children take part at holiday time by giving them specific tasks to help decorate the house and prepare for entertaining. Talk to them early on in the month about what will be expected of them and what your house rules for behavior are. Here are some important guidelines:
• Teach your children that the holidays are not just about getting presents, but about sharing with others and spending time with friends and family.
• Let your children help decorate the tree and the house for the holidays. It's helpful to give them specific tasks. And remember: handmade ornaments are often the most charming of all.
• Let your child help pick out hostess gifts or teacher gifts.
• If your child is young, make sure he or she has had a nap and a snack to tide him/ her over before an evening of entertaining.
• By the age of 7, a child can learn to set the table. Show your children how to do this and count on them to do so when entertaining.
• Kids love projects, so let them make colorful place cards.
• Making cookies together is a treasured holiday pastime. But children can also help in the kitchen preparing food for holiday meals. Just be very clear about how you want things done and when, and what the safety rules are.
• Review your house rules before the guests arrive.
• Teach your children to say hello to and shake hands with visitors.
• Children can help make guests feel at ease by telling them where coats and purses are kept and where the restroom is.
• Teach your kids to offer refreshments and pass hors d'oeuvres.
• Make your child sends thank-you notes for holiday gifts right after Christmas. Handmade or hand-decorated ones will be especially welcomed by adults.
Lisa Mirza Grotts is a recognized etiquette expert, an on-air contributor, and the author of A Traveler's Passport to Etiquette. She is a former director of protocol for the city and county of San Francisco and the founder and CEO of The AML Group (www.lisagrotts.com), certified etiquette and protocol consultants. Her clients range from Stanford Hospital to Cornell University and Levi Strauss. She has been quoted by Condé Nast Traveler, InStyle magazine, the Los Angeles Times, and the New York Times. To learn more about Lisa, follow her on www.Twitter.com/LisaGrotts and www.Facebook.com/LisaGrotts.