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Holiday Dining Etiquette For Kids
11 tips to make sure your children behave at the dinner table this holiday season.

Well mannered kids will lower your stress and offer pride during the holidays.

It's a good time to start talking to your children about what you expect when you visit friends and family over the holiday season before your arrive. By the age of three the words "Please," "Thank you," and "Youíre welcome" should be familiar and user friendly. "Would you please pass the gravy" and "Thank you for the nice dinner" are good starts. The following are a few basic table tips that will get you over the holiday dining hurdle and maybe even a few compliments on how well behaved your kids are:

1. Wait until everyone is seated and the host of the holiday meal has said grace or made a toast before starting to eat. Even children must show a little patience unless they are extremely young.

2.Spaghetti may not be cut unless you are still in kindergarten. Starting around the age of six, you should give twirling-the-pasta-around-your-fork a good, old-fashioned try.

3. If there is a food on the holiday table that your child does not like, remind your child that it is not necessary to announce it to everyone sitting at the table.

4. "Finger licking good" is just an expression. Children (and adults) should not lick their fingers, the knife or any other body part while enjoying the holiday meal.

5. Napkins are for the lap, unless you are a very young child. If it's a very young child who's having a difficult time keeping the napkin on his or her lap, it may be folded inside the front collar of their shirt to protect their holiday outfit. This rule does not apply if you are over the age of five.

6. If your child (or you) must leave the table temporarily, the napkin goes on the seat of the chair and the chair is pushed under the table to ensure no one trips over the legs of the chair.

7. Salt and pepper are happily married. If you are asked to pass one, encourage your child to pass both.

8. Never ask for ketchup at the holiday meal unless it is already on the table. That also goes for any other condiment or spice. If your host thought you needed extra gravy it would be in a gravy boat on the table.

9. Donít attack the dessert table like a starving reindeer. Only take a dessert when everyone is finished with their meal.

10. Donít overload your plate. Often, childrenís eyes are bigger than their stomachs and taking just a bit of everything rather than a large amount of everything is both courteous and appropriate.

11. Teach your child to offer to take his or her plate to the kitchen. The host may refuse the kindness, but it is a nice gesture and a good habit to get into.

Diane Gottsman, a nationally recognized etiquette expert, is the owner of The Protocol School of Texas, a company specializing in etiquette training for corporations, universities and individuals, striving to polish their interpersonal skills. You can reach Diane at 877-490-1077 or www.protocolschooloftexas.com. You can also follow her on Twitter @: www.twitter.com/DianeGottsman.

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