If anyone has ready my posts before you’ll know that I am originally from the U.K and was educated at a private all-girls school. There were restrictions on the length of one’s skirt which was measured with a special rule if you were suspected of hitching it up a few inches! My dear Grandmother paid for my education with monies earned by selling antiques and collectables she sourced from flea markets and house clearances.
Early memories include helping wash and dry the newly acquired treasures, cataloguing them then adding a price tag which was always written beautifully in black ink using a real fountain pen.
I was also very lucky to have a great grandma living at my grandmother’s house, so can recount many days making them both tea insuring that they had a cup and saucer (no spills mind) and a plate with either hot buttered crumpets or a few biscuits on – so they could chat about their days and simply enjoy each other’s company for fifteen minutes. We do this about 6 times a day in the UK – biscuits are not always offered!
I went to extracurricular speech and drama classes which meant Saturday mornings reading and attending recitals, and I even lent my hand to a few poetry writing competitions so was frequently occupied with all things prim and proper.
Now I am not saying I did not have a game face when it came to hanging out with other kids, however I always had the advantage of being able to switch my mannerly persona on or off, depending on the crowd I was hanging out with at the time.
It was noticeable in my 20 years of visiting family in California that children here were not exactly up to date with manners. I always put it down to the next generation of kids, with cellphones, absent parents (whether it be ones who worked all day or kids who did not have the luxury of having more than one parent at home). It was during these years I realized that if I ever did bring a child into the world I would try my hardest to stay at home so I’d be the one responsible if he/she did not turn out as mannerly as I expected.
More than 25 years after setting foot on American soil I am married to an American and have given birth to one! I am so fortunate to be a stay at home mum and have the luxury of raising her my way in my time and on my terms. Or rather the terms instilled in me when I was a youngster.
Before a recent spurt of bad news including my husband losing his job and becoming a semi stay at home parent (while looking for a full time position), I as a mother and wife had to get my thinking cap on - Edie Bea’s Travelling tea Party was an instant solution to our dilemma – I could instill traditions, manners and the art of tea drinking to my adoptive land which would be perfect – Children’s parties at the weekend so I can still be a stay at home mum and make money at the same time.
Since I emigrated in 2005 I have been a party planner, saying this I got paid to throw parties for big corporations, non-profits and also hired staff for such events – the first impressions some of the candidates brought to the table were incomprehensible to me – I mean sneakers with dress pants? Seriously? I needed to brush up on my Cali etiquette too!
Seeing my kid interact in the sand box and seeing other parent’s social and teaching skills made the decision to open up a party business which taught etiquette through play was a natural progression for me. In fact I see my husband losing his job as an opportunity for me to grow and become a great role model for children in the east Bay.
Good manners are always in fashion too, it doesn’t matter when you use them they will always bring one respect and appreciation. “Understanding respect, consideration and honesty is essential to being able to create and nurture good relationships” Cindy Post Senning (yes a relative of Emily Post).
We are not born with manners, they must be learned and a birthday party is a fabulous reason for your children to begin and understand the rules of etiquette. It is their day not a shared holiday and can be used as a training ground to setting out on the right path in life. Simple rules and pointers are instilled from the first moment you pick up the phone to book a party.
I advise on the guest list and even send out the invitations if I have enough notice. One rule is to mail the invitations especially if not everyone in your class is invited. Imagine how hurtful it would be to see someone handing out invites and you did not receive one?
Throughout the two hour party your guests and host (i.e. the birthday girl or boy) is instructed how to use correct table manners, which side to pass the sandwiches to, be gracious, instructed on relevant subject matters, how to ask an open ended question to entice more than a yes or no answer! The host and guests are taught that even if they are not interested in a particular topic or game that they get involved and not be a party pooper!
I take on the persona of Miss Jo Jo and dress in vintage dresses and aprons as I serve the tea (or whatever you request) from a beautiful china tea pot. The table is laid with real bone china adult sized cups and I bring the dainty sandwiches and fairy cakes with me so I can serve while I pass on many etiquette tips. We play age appropriate British party games such as pass the parcel and musical statues and also have time for a craft project. If you book an Alice in Wonderland party for example we make Alice bands for one’s hair, or if it’s a Mary Poppins party we can create beautiful bejeweled umbrellas. The basic etiquette party starts with a design a doily craft which is a fabulous way to get to know each other as we decorate a doily with our name and then use it as a place setting.
Edie Bea’s Travelling Tea Party (www.edbteaparty.com) brings the party to your home. The price includes set up, decorations including balloons, antique china and vintage linens. We serve, supply the food, bring music and games then clean up and leave – not before instructing the host on the art of sending a thank you note. Your kid will be revved up to thank their guests for their presence and presents. Miss Jo Jo even leaves a pack of thank you cards so there is absolutely no excuse not to send one!