Mrs. McVeigh's Manners
a division of Elise McVeigh's Life Camps
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Make teaching your children manners fun!

 When it comes to teaching a young child good manners, finding a positive spin on etiquette will bring you more success than threats and negative words. To teach your children manners, make it fun and interactive.

If you have a young daughter, she probably enjoys playing princess. Next time she is in her princess costume, ask her to pretend how to meet you as her favorite princess. As she is meeting you, if she looks down, tell her princesses are confident and poised, they use good eye contact and a confident-sounding voice.

If you son likes to dress up as his favorite superhero, tell him Superman has a firm, but not too hard, handshake when he meets people.

If your child likes to play with dolls or action figures, play with him or her and have the dolls use good manners.

A lot of popular children’s characters have their own book, DVD or dolls related to good manners. The ones that I use in my camps include the Berenstain Bears, Madeline, and Barbie. Children not only love involving their favorite characters, but also learn a lot from them.

If you want your child to learn how to set a table, find a fun placemat that helps them know where all of the pieces in the place setting belong. You can also go online and find a picture of a correct place setting and print it out for them. I have both on my site,

Tune into your child’s interests, and engage them in learning manners in a fun and interactive way.


Funeral etiquette, acknowledgement

When someone you know has a loved one pass away, doing or saying nothing is the most comfortable thing to do, but is also the rudest. For showing the person that you are sorry for his loss, as well as following the rules of etiquette, here are some suggestions. 

As soon as you see the person, acknowledge his loss. If you will not be able to see him, then a phone call and/or handwritten note would be appropriate.

Find out when the wake and funeral are scheduled, and plan on attending. Funerals are not fun for most people, but remember that funerals are for the living, not for the dead. Going to the funeral of an acquaintance’s loved one will mean so much to the person.

Men should always dress in a dark coat and tie, and women should wear a conservative dress, skirt or suit.

If the person suffering the loss is your boss or your employee, attend the wake and funeral if it is in town. The office should also send flowers to the funeral home. If there is not a budget for this, then take up a collection from your coworkers, or, as the boss, pay for it out of your own pocket.

If you are sending flowers to an acquaintance or coworker, you should spend at least $25, preferably closer to $50 or more. If the person is a friend, then $50 or more for flowers or a donation to a favorite charity would be acceptable. 

If you are a friend of the family and are invited to a reception afterwards, bring food for the family. Bring it in a disposable container so the family does not have to return it to you.

If you find out about a funeral after the fact, acknowledge this as soon as possible in person and/or send a handwritten note. In the note, express your sympathy for the loss; an apology for not attending the funeral is also fine.

If you are the one with the loss of a loved one, write thank you notes to all who gave flowers and charitable donations, and brought food. If all or anyone who attended the services touches you, a written note would of course be appreciated.

When eating out leaves a bad taste in your mouth


Eating out several times a week is part of our lifestyle as Dallas-area residents, so you’re bound to encounter an unpleasant experience from time to time.

Letting the management at a restaurant know of your dissatisfaction is doing them a favor. They want you to tell them (instead of all of your friends) what was wrong with your dining experience.

If your complaint has to do with the food, you have every right to eat a few bites and send it back for a replacement. One time I was out to eat with my parents and my father found a nail in his pasta. The owner/chef came out and told us he figured out that the nail came from his strainer. He offered the table a complimentary dessert, but, in this case, he should have offered to take care of our whole bill.

If it is a complaint about the service, find the manager on your way out, and politely and calmly explain why you are dissatisfied. My husband did that at one of our favorite restaurants and the manager took immediate action, speaking to the server right away. This server continues to wait on us and now is nothing but attentive and delightful.

What should you tip after a bad experience? If the server was bad or rude, leaving a small tip sends a clear message. If it is the fault of the kitchen, leave a 15 percent tip for the server, and inform the manager of your waiter’s good service and the kitchen’s shortcomings.

If you have an exceptionally great experience, leave at least a 20 percent tip, and definitely tell the manager about it on your way out.

Ordering wisely at business meals, on dates

My radio show co-host Elizabeth Moundas told a story about how she ordered something that you use ketchup with during a job interview lunch. She could not get the ketchup to come out, but kept on trying because she did not want the interviewers to see her as someone who gives up easily. When the ketchup finally did come out, it splattered and ended up all over the place.

If you are out to eat on business or a date, the nature of the outing can cause a lot of nerves by itself. Make it simpler by ordering easy-to-handle foods.

Salads and other foods that can be cut up into small pieces are always my favorite things to order. If I have a sandwich, I feel self-conscious taking a huge bite into it, so I usually cut it up. People always give me a look when I cut up my sandwich, so I suggest avoiding sandwiches altogether.

Stay away from any foods with a strong odor or a big presentation. You don’t want to call attention to yourself in that way. Seafood is also a poor choice. Just having seafood at the same table makes some people very uncomfortable, because of allergies or a strong dislike for it.

If you go to an Italian restaurant, lasagna is safer than spaghetti. Why take the chance of having a noodle run down your chin?

Try to avoid mishaps with your food by ordering easy-to-eat dishes, and then you can focus on the business at hand.

Some foods don’t belong in the workplace

With downsizing and pay cuts, a lot of American workers are choosing to stay at the office during lunch, and sometimes they even eat at their desks.

Common sense should be used when thinking of what to pack in your lunch or what food is acceptable to bring into the workplace.

There are a lot of foods that have an odor when put in a microwave, one that can linger for the rest of the day. Ever have a coworker heat up liver and onions? If you have, you would definitely know. Glad someone in the office is eating healthy, but save that kind of dish for home.

Popcorn is a common afternoon snack around the office, but I would check with people close to the break room before popping it, to make sure it is OK with them.

Also be considerate about what foods you store in the refrigerator. Some smells dominate the refrigerator when you open it.

When sitting at your desk to eat lunch, especially at a cubicle, think about the kind of smell that your food may make. Fast food especially has a strong smell. The smell could make the person at the next desk nauseous, or may just annoy him for a variety of reasons.

We spend more time with coworkers than we do our own family, so try to be considerate of others and think about your food choices at work. It will make the workplace a lot happier —and better smelling.

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