Passionate About San Antonio
and the Moms Who Live Here

Social Graces for Holiday Places

Okay, turkeys. Thanksgiving is right around the corner, and I don’t know about you, but a few weeks ago I started to become slightly concerned about my kids’ table manners (or lack thereof). Contrary to popular opinion in my house, spaghetti is not finger food, you shouldn’t squat in your chair while eating at the dinner table, and texting at the table (no matter how discrete you think you’re being, no matter how dim your iPhone screen may be) is inappropriate. My family of 6 will be spending a quiet, casual day of thanks at my parents’ house this year, but I still thought it would be good for our kids to brush up on their manners before we all sit around the table together. Enter Social Graces of San Antonio, which is owned and operated by a San Antonio native and friend of mine, Luci Pipes Bell.

Luci is a graduate of the American School of Protocol and is a Certified Etiquette Consultant. She teaches a variety of classes to children, families,  college students and business executives on the particulars of proper social behavior.  For more information about Social Graces of San Antonio, click here.

The kids and I arrived at the San Antonio Country Club on a recent Sunday evening and were warmly greeted by Ms. Bell, who led us to a private dining room. Luci began our two-hour class by teaching my children about proper introductions and place cards and showed my boys how to assist a lady with being seated.

Eric helps Eleanor to her seat at the table.

Eric helps Eleanor to her seat at the table.

After setting their own utensils and learning where the various forks, knives and spoons go, my kids enjoyed a five course dinner and etiquette instruction that Luci calls her “Holiday Etiquette Primer.” After learning what to do with a napkin and how to hold a stemmed goblet (hold the bowl, not the stem, pinky in!), they discovered how to cut a pat of butter, how to properly enjoy and pass a bread basket, and then proceeded to the intricacies of eating soup.

Ms. Bell helps Sadie drag her soup spoon to the back of the bowl while Grant practices.

Ms. Bell helps Sadie drag her soup spoon to the back of the bowl while Grant practices.

The kids learned how to pass and serve tureens of salad dressing, which utensils should be used for each course, where their utensils should be placed to demonstrate that they are resting or are finished with the course, and how to enjoy an intermezzo (yummy raspberry sorbet) from a stemmed glass between courses. They also learned the proper way to hold their utensils, examining the differences between American-style and Continental-style dining. They were served a main course of chicken breast with lemon cream sauce, whipped potatoes and green beans–all items similar to our upcoming Thanksgiving dinner, so it was great that they got to learn and practice cutting their chicken and green beans with their knives and forks.

Eleanor tries her hand at cutting her chicken.

Eleanor tries her hand at cutting her chicken.

Dessert included chocolate cake, vanilla ice cream, and a demitasse cup of hot chocolate.

Sadie learns to anchor her ice cream with a fork so it doesn't slip around the plate.

Sadie learns to anchor her ice cream with a fork so it doesn’t slip around the plate.

My kids asked lots of good questions about proper table behavior, and Luci’s answers were helpful, informative, and age appropriate. If you are looking for a unique and enjoyable opportunity for your children to brush up on their table manners, I highly recommend Social Graces of San Antonio. I learned a lot during our two-hour primer, and I’m looking forward to seeing my kids wow my parents when they put their knowledge into use this Thanksgiving Day!


I paid Social Graces of San Antonio for this course, and this is my personal opinion. 



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One Response to Social Graces for Holiday Places

  1. Lindsay November 21, 2013 at 8:04 am #

    I love how you wrote that spaghetti is not a finger food! We are trying our best with manners in our house (our 3 year old thinks nothing is funnier than the oh-so charming sound of burping at the table). Thanks for sharing this great experience with us!