French Fries – How Do I Eat Them?

There are many foods that present a classic dilemma for diners young and old. The question is, “fork or fingers?” The answer is sometimes definitive – you definitely eat your peas and mashed potatoes with a fork. That’s a no-brainer. But how about french fries? It’s a sometimes fingers/sometimes forks answer: If the food the french fries are served with is a finger food – a sandwich or a hot dog on a bun – you can eat the french fries with your fingers also. If the food is a fork food – steak or a broiled chicken cutlet, for instance – then you eat the french fries with a fork.

One other basic rule of thumb has to do with ketchup and gravy. If you’ve smothered your french fries with either, you should use a fork to eat them.

However you manage them, french fries can be pretty delicious. Enjoy!

Fork or Fingers?

New Possibilities in a New Year

Hello All,

A new year is an exciting time. It offers all sorts of possibilities and a fresh start. 2012 is particularly exciting in the new possibilities it offers me. After 12 years co-directing the Emily Post Institute with my brother Peter and my sister-in-law Peggy (married to a different brother), I am retiring from management duties and taking on a part time role as a consultant. I will continue to write The Gift of Good Manners, manage the family program, train trainers for children’s etiquette programs, and confer with the others when they need my “sage” advice. I won’t drive 45 minutes in the snow, sleet, freezing rain, and the dark anymore. I also won’t attend many, many management team meetings. I know they will go on successfully without me as I am leaving those duties to able and talented people at the Institute.

The children and parents or family program is near and dear to me. My background in maternal child health and education has informed so much of my practice in this family business. I firmly believe in the social development scale we created to help parents and teachers know when they can teach children the essential social skills that will serve them for a lifetime. I am glad that I will be able to continue this blog as it gives me the opportunity to think through many of the issues that are important to all of us. I hope you will continue to read it and contribute your ideas whenever you are so moved.

Here’s to tried and true efforts of the past and to new possibilities in the future.

With warm wishes for exciting new year and new paths for all of you!

Cindy Post Senning

Happy Holidays

Holidays bring festivities, breaks from routine, and opportunities to spend time with family and friends. We share meals, exchange gifts, and connect with people we see infrequently. I know kids and staff will enjoy a break from the routine school schedule, employees at businesses that take a break during this season will enjoy their time off, and those who find themselves working through the holiday weeks may enjoy the quieter pace that often prevails during this time. Whatever your situation, whatever holidays you celebrate throughout the year I just wanted to take this opportunity to wish you all a great holiday season right now and hope you will carry those wishes with you for all of 2012.

With warm wishes and good cheer,


A Gift – Not a Tip For a Teacher

Gifts or Tip???

Every Holiday Season we get many questions about tipping: how much, who, when, gifts or cash? One of the trickier questions has to do with who. The answer is simple: people who have provided a service for you and to whom you want to show appreciation. That, after all, is what tipping is about. There is another guideline that helps – generally speaking we don’t tip professionals: doctors, nurses, lawyers, teachers, and dentists. However, it is certainly reasonable that you might want to give any of those folks a gift when the service they have provided was especially meaningful. Many children want to give a gift to their teacher. While giving a cash tip to a teacher is not appropriate, involving your child in giving a gift makes perfect sense. Two points to keep in mind:

  • First, check out school policies. Some schools have strict policies around gift giving and you don’t want to put the teacher in a difficult position.
  • This is not a time for spending a large sum of money. The point of this gift is to engage your child in giving, to show the teacher how much you appreciate what she/he does all year long and to express a sense of caring.

It’s only natural that children want to give gifts to their teachers: after all, they spend hours every week with them. But what gifts can they give? Here are some suggestions. But don’t limit yourself to these: they are simply ideas. Also, talk with your child. After all, it’s their gift to their teacher.

  • A gift of cookies, homemade jellies, jams or salsa packaged in holiday wrapping with a card written by the student is always appreciated.
  • With digital cameras, it’s easy and fun to take photos, make and decorate a cardboard frame, put names and dates on the back, and give to the teacher to enjoy.
  • A small plant or good luck bamboo in a small vase brightens up their desk and the classroom for the rest of the year.
  • A mug full of jell beans or an individual pack of hot chocolate mix. Add a candy cane for a special mint hot chocolate treat. If the teacher has been in the business for fifteen years, they may already have a zillion mugs, but a new teacher may be just starting their collection.
  • If you know of a special interest the teacher has, shop for an ornament or box of note cards that reflects it.

Wrap any gift in festive paper and help your child write a note to go with the gift. If they are too young to write, have them color the message part of the card and “sign” their name. Before the day gets started at school or after school, go with your child to see the teacher and help them give the gift. That way you can share the experience and joy of giving together.

One idea for you, the parent. Add your own note of holiday cheer and appreciation. It’s a gift from you that means a great deal to the teacher who gives to your child everyday.

The Gifts You Don’t Have to Wrap

The holiday season has begun. The crowds on Black Friday were certainly welcomed by store owners across the country. However, is that all there is? Sales, gifts, wrapping paper, ribbons, tags, lay away, and credit? Our 5 year old Emily doesn’t think so. At the Emily Post Institute Store you can find EMILY’S CHRISTMAS GIFTS full of ideas for those gifts you don’t have to wrap: kindness, consideration, helping with holiday tasks, giving time, fun and laughter. You don’t have to wrap them, they don’t cost a cent, and they are appreciated by everyone who receives them.

Consideration - a gift you don't have to wrap!

Helping Out - and it doesn't cost a cent!

For the next three weeks we have a special, special deal if you purchase EMILY’S CHRISTMAS GIFTS through The Emily Post Store. The book is half price off the retail price, AND if you buy one, you get one free if you purchase it by December 21.

Whatever you do, talk with your children about the gifts you don’t have to wrap, ask them what they think those gifts might be, and, most of all, have a wonderful Holiday Season!

From Least Favorite to Most Favorite

Happy Thanksgiving!

It just occurred to me that October and November are linked in more ways than just on the calendar. They each have a holiday that between the two of them represents each end of the “my favorite holiday” spectrum from least to most. I’m always relieved to get to the end of October and not have to worry about Halloween for another year.

On the other end of the spectrum, in November, I look forward to my most favorite holiday of all. As I’ve repeated over the years – imagine a holiday devoted to saying, “Thank you.” If you work in the world of etiquette as I do, that has to be the best! Actually, no matter where you work that has to be the best. When we take time to show our appreciation whether it’s for a gift given, a favor done, or assistance rendered, we expand the good will that should and does exist among us all AND we put a smile on another person’s face.

At Thanksgiving we have the opportunity to say “thanks” for all our blessings – friends, family, food, shelter, work, and anything else that is a part of our lives. We live in such a wonderfully diverse country. There are so many ways to say “Thank you” in so many languages. If we all learn the universal sign language for it, then it doesn’t matter what language we speak and we can all celebrate this super special holiday together.


Thank You: Touch the chin or lips with the fingertips of one flat hand, then move the hand forward until the palms are facing up. The hand moves out and down. This sign is similar to the gesture of kissing one’s hand and extending the hand towards someone else.

What better way to teach your children the importance of showing appreciation than to celebrate a day devoted to it and learning the universal sign for saying Thank YOU!


“Trick or Treat”

Trick or treat!

It’s Halloween again – my least favorite holiday as a parent for several reasons. First it required a level of creativity and craftiness that I simply don’t possess and consequently felt sort of failurish every Oct. 31. Second, bags of candy and the need to arbitrate between the kids on who got what, who had to share what, and when who could eat what. The cuteness factor of Halloween costumes did offset some of that but…

On other Emily Post sites and in prior years we’ve talked about Halloween manners in general but here I want to spell out some specific trick or treating manners. Parents can have a little reminder session before they take their kids trick or treating; and if they notice their kids are slipping up a bit during trick or treating they can remind them in between houses.

  1. When a person answers the door, look up at them, smile, and say a pleasant, “Trick or treat!” which replaces both  “please” and “Hello.”
  2. Only take one unit of what is offered: one candy bar, one baggie of treats, one handful of little candies from a bowl, one apple, or one brownie.
  3. Say, “thanks” and move aside so the other kids in your group can have their turn.
  4. And as they turn to leave, all the kids should say “Happy Halloween, good bye, and thank you!” (Yes, that’s right, say thanks twice – when they get their candy and when they leave. They can’t say it too many times.)

Some neighbors will ask kids about their costumes, how the trick or treating is going, if they’re having fun… all of which are fine questions and kids should respond with enthusiasm. Trick or treating is meant to be fun and enjoyable for all. Everyone on both sides of the door should keep that in mind, keep things light, and have a wonderful Halloween!

Happy Birthday, Emily

139 years old today (Oct. 27, 2011) and yet many people, when asked, think Emily is alive and about ten years older than they are. It just goes to show – etiquette really is timeless and so is Emily.  Whether it’s 39 or 139 we wish Emily the happiest of birthdays and many more!

Maybe this happy look was on another birthday years ago!

It’s A Family Affair

The 18th on the 18th! October 18th is a big date for us here at the Emily Post Institute. It’s the publication date of EMILY POST’S ETIQUETTE, 18TH EDITION: Manners for a New World. I could tell you about the new etiquette; it includes things like texting manners and fist bumps and pocket dialing. I could remind you that even though the manners may have changed in the past six years, the principles of respect, consideration, and honesty are still the same. I could list the manners associated with a destination wedding.

But I won’t do any of those things.What I want to do is to talk about the next generation. On this book – the 18th edition – we are introducing the fifth generation of Posts, Emily’s great-great grandchildren. Peggy Post, fourth generation, has been the author and spokesperson for the 16th and 17th editions. On the 18th edition Peggy has worked with her nieces and nephew to write the most up-to-date book of etiquette advice yet. Lizzie Post and Anna Post are sisters. Daniel Post Senning is their cousin. Their youthful voice and approach to strengthening relationships whether they are within the family, social circles, or work environment brings fresh light to the topic whether new or traditional manners are the subject at hand.

Those of us in the fourth generation – my sister-in-law Peggy, my brother Peter, and myself – are so proud of these young adults. They have all been working with us at the Institute for years and clearly have a firm understanding of the importance of etiquette in everything we say and do. They are gracious, intelligent, well spoken, and delightful. So join us as we celebrate them as they embark on their new venture with Peggy.





Spectator Sportsmanship

So often we talk about sportsmanship as it relates to players – follow the rules; listen to the coach; don’t blame the ref; be a good winner; be a good loser; and so on. Sometimes I like to think about sportsmanship as it relates to spectators. With school just starting there are new teams to be joined, games to be played, skills to be be learned, and competitions to be watched. This time of year presents a great opportunity for parents to live out the Golden Rule of Parenting as good sports. (The Golden Rule of Parenting: Always be the kind of person you want your children to be.) If you want your children to have good sportsmanship in the stands, you must be a good sport in the stands. What does that mean?

  • Cheer loudly when your team does something good.
  • Refrain from booing.
  • Never cheer when an opposing team player is hurt.
  • Keep control of your emotions.
  • Sit down when the crowd around you does.
  • Keep quiet when the participant needs to concentrate (golf and tennis for example)
  • There is no need to use offensive language.
  • Wait for a break in the action to move in and out of the row where you are sitting.
  • Need I even say it? Don’t throw things on the field/rink/court/track/etc.

Watching your kids at a sporting event can be so exciting. They’ve practiced for hours, they’ve worked to develop a team approach, they’ve invested their hearts and souls – not to mention their bodies. The sports field presents an opportunity for them to learn about winning and losing. The stands present an opportunity for you to teach them spectator sportsmanship – but a lesson that is every bit as important as the one they learn on the field.

GO TEAM!!!!!