Holiday Etiquette for Gracious Kids

"Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor" Romans 12:10

Christmas is a time of year that has an abundance of teachable moments for parents to guide their kids towards graciousness.  Attending and hosting parties, formal dinners, gift giving and receiving...these are all occasions that present an opportunity for children to learn about etiquette.  The heart of good etiquette is about making the other people around us feel comfortable.  It's about putting others first and showing honor to them...out of love

I don't think that it's ever too soon to begin teaching our children how to be gracious.  Even a child who doesn't talk can be taught to sign please and thank you.  I'm not saying that my kids (nor I) have got it all figured out...not at all.  We're still learning.  The following guidelines are standards we strive toward in my family.

 It shouldn't be assumed that kids (or adults) just know good etiquette without first being taught.  But it also shouldn't be assumed that kids are incapable of displaying good etiquette, just because they're kids.  These standards may vary, depending on culture and region, but whatever your standards are, it's good to think about what they are so they can be taught- both explicitly and through your example.  

Graciousness is more about the heart than anything else- but the following guidelines are a great way put into action, the idea of putting others first. 

At the end of these lists of etiquette guidelines, you will find a free downloadable printable.  


~How to Be a Gracious Guest~

-Bring a gift or something to share (food or flowers are always nice)

-Pay attention to whether or not people take their shoes off (and follow that example)

- Smile, look people in the eye and say hello (to everyone)

- “Please" and “Thank you” (always)

-Don’t open any doors, drawers, or cupboards without permission

-Be respectful of other people’s property, treating it with care

-“No thank you” is the only thing that needs to be said if you are offered something you don’t like.

-Always say thank you for the invitation when it is time to leave.


~How to be a Gracious Host~

-Greet everyone with a smile and a hello

-Offer to take their coat or bags

-Introduce them to anyone they don’t already know

-Offer something to eat or drink, as well as a place to sit

- Put your guest's preferences in front of your own. 

-Always say “thank you for visiting” when they are leaving


~How to Receive Presents Graciously~

-Wait until invited to open the gift

-Read the card first and know whom it’s from

-Look the person in the eye, smile and say thank you

-Don’t rush

-The giver of the gift does not need to be told, “We have this already”.  A simple “thank you” is all that’s necessary.

- Send a thank you card (especially important if the giver was not present when the gift was opened)


~How to Give Presents Graciously~

-Smile and say “this is for you” and “you’re welcome” after the recipient has thanked you.

-The price tag should be removed first and the cost should never be mentioned

- A discreet gift receipt (without the price) may be included with the gift or (if asked for) the receipt may be given after the gift has been opened.  

 -Don’t ask the person if they like the gift.  That puts them in an uncomfortable situation if they don’t.


~How to Dine Graciously~

-Sit where you are asked without complaining

-Keep your cell phone away from the table

- Remain standing until the host takes a seat

-Do eat at the same pace as the other guests

-Don’t reach across the table

`Speak to guests on each side of you

-Don’t chew with your mouth open

-Don’t season your food prior to tasting

-Wait to be excused from the table


~Most Importantly~

Remember that these standards of etiquette are designed to make other people feel comfortable.  A gracious person never points out a broken rule of etiquette or intentionally makes someone else feel uncomfortable.  Always assume the best about another person and realize that every person has learned differently.  


For a free printable of this, download here