Nov 13, 2012

Kids & Etiquette: Going into the holidays with grace

If dinner time with the kids sounds like 3 cows chewing on their cud then please pay attention!!

As you prepare for your 2012 Thanksgiving holiday I thought it appropriate to share the work of another chic busy mom, entrepreneur and author, Sabrina Cobb. This mom of two (9 & 14) has set her sights on bringing etiquette to parents and children one fork and a spoon at a time. 

I interviewed Sabrina to understand why etiquette, manners, and social grace have become her passion especially with children. Check out her delicious story:

Q: Why is the topic of etiquette so important to you? 
A: I used to work in corporate and I learned that hiring selections often included how well you can dine with clients.  
Q: Surely, that isn't the only deciding factor, can you explain a little further? 
A: Of course, first imagine that all things are equal. As you are moving up the ranks, you will need to dine out. How many times are deals made over dinner? Fact: I have been in conversations where managing directors have had to weed out folks within the best skill set. They would assess their dining skills which ultimately would rule someone out of a position. (CBM talking here: Isn't that crazy?!)

Q: You also teach dining etiquette prep classes in NJ, tell me more about that.
A: Yes, the class also covers social graces. We start our work with kids ages 7-14 primarily. If you start them older than, that they are too set in their ways and it can be more of a challenge. We basically take an intimate group of about 10 children max to a very nice restaurant and have a great meal. The dinner becomes a dining experience where we teach specific skills.  It looks something like this: 

  1. Reservations are made a fine dining establishments  
  2. Kids get dressed up (it sets the tone)      
  3. I meet the parents at the restaurant with their kids
  4. Parents then drop-off
  5. As a group we discuss how to have a conversation, where to place your cloth napkin, what flatware goes where, which utensils to use during each course. We hit all the points.
  6. Costs vary on the actual restaurant (ex. Ruth Chris $160 per child)

Q: And coaching sessions?  
A: Yes, these are more focused sessions. We teach them the same information as the group classes but these sessions are more private and provide individualized attention.

Q: Do you practice at home with your own kids?
A:. Absolutely, and they know the rules. If they violate them have to pay a dollar which I ultimately use on them anyway (but shhh they have no idea). It's something you have to maintain as a lifestyle and make it seamless to their everyday routine.

Q: What about if you don't have time to add a etiquette prep class or coaching session to your schedule or frankly have the money in these hard times?
A: I'm going to be honest with you, the feedback I have received from the moms who have tried it out is that they love it. And trust me I know kids' schedules can be a challenge. But look at it like this, we pay for all kinds of enrichment programs we why shouldn't we also focus on this. It can go a long way towards their future.

To your other point we've also created a tool kit, Setting the Table Made Easy that you can order from us and use at home. It includes the teaching placements and flatware that I created. 

Sabrina has authored two books. One entitled The Wind Blew My Way: An Entrepreneur's Journey Built on Faith

As well as an E-book called: Where the heck are our children’s table manners? Available on for the Kindle and for the Nook, $2.99.

As referenced above, after watching her daughter eat one day Sabrina came up with her signature placemat and hand-engraved flatware products that moms can buy and use as a guide for dining. You can leave on the table so they can be reminded each day. For $137 you get 4 customized placemats and 4, five-piece flatware settings (a total of 20 items). 

Bonus: For one month only beginning today, Chicbusymom readers can receive a 10% discount on their order, just use the following code: CBM2012.  See photos below:

Well folks, there you have it. As we get into a very busy holiday season filled with lots of family dinners, parties and the like I hope you might find Sabrina's words, and products of use to you. 

Lord knows, if it's one thing I can't stand its eating with your fingers or chewing with your mouth wide open. Yuck! 

Happy Pre-Thanksgiving and click here to check out more of Sabrina's work, order the placemats, flatware set or sign up for one of her classes via her website. 


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