Thank You Notes. Do We Still Have to Write Them?

Posted on Feb 21, 2017 in Uncategorized

Thank you note

Thank You Notes

This summer I’ve been doing a lot of traveling. I’ve traveled with my kids, their friends, and their cousins for a total of 65 hours’ worth of driving over a 5 week span.

Despite the incidents of the friend who had night terrors and would wake us up screaming in the middle of the night, the cousin who spilled cranberry juice on our white carpeting, and the friend who ran through the porch screen at the cabin, I was delighted at how some of these kids showed their gratitude to me for all of the driving and everything I did for them.

Maybe it is because I’m the “etiquette lady”, but I received the nicest hand-written thank you note from one of my son’s friends whom I had taken with us to Florida. He took the time to draw a great picture on the outside of the card, and then on the inside, went into detail about what he enjoyed on our trip. Needless to say, I was very impressed by his manners and that his mom would encourage him to write the note.

In my opinion, not only is it a good idea for kids to show their gratitude by sending a thank you note the old-fashioned way instead of a quick email or text, but because so few kids actually do, it makes them (and you) stand out and really make a great impression on the receiver.

Tips for Sending Thank You Notes:

1.  Kids should send a thank you note for any gift they receive. It is especially important to write one immediately if the gift was sent by mail to let the person know it was received and appreciated.

2.  Format and style matter.  This is a great time to teach your kids how to address an envelope and properly write a letter. Encourage them to write neatly and to ask you if they don’t know how to spell something. If your child is under the age of 6 and cannot write the whole note herself, you can buy the thank you cards where the child just needs to fill in the blanks. Below is an example of a nice thank you note that would be appropriate from an eight year old.

Dear Grandma,

I am so glad that you were able to come to my birthday party. It was really great playing games with you and swimming in the pool.
Thank you so much for the new Star Wars Lego set! I have already started to build it and am having so much fun. I’ll send you a picture of it when it’s all put together.
I love you,


3. Have cards and stamps ready! I have bought each of my children their own stationary (cheap at Target) and a book of stamps. So, when they need to write a thank you note there are no excuses like, “What do I use?”

For more information on the new and modern cotillion class called “Impressions”, tips, and videos on manners please go to Have an etiquette question? Please email me at and I’ll be happy to answer your question or even feature it in my next blog.

Aimee Symington is a modern cotillion instructor, etiquette expert, and creator of “Blunders” board game on manners. She has appeared on The Today Show and is a monthly etiquette guest on Charlotte Today and is the CEO of Finesse Worldwide, Inc. with offices in Charlotte and San Francisco.

Restaurant Etiquette for Kids – Don’t Be “That” Family!

Posted on Feb 21, 2017 in Uncategorized

restaurant etiquette

Restaurant Etiquette

You’ve seen them. The kids who act like Tasmanian Devils in a restaurant. They enter like they’ve come to the circus all reved up and ready to run around and play. They turn around in their booth to inspect other people’s food. They make structures with the sugar packets and salt shakers. They crawl under the table and … and …. well I’m not sure what they do under there.

Anyway, you get it. I just hope that your kids are not “these” kids. But, in case they do happen to need a little reminder on how to behave in a restaurant, have a look at my quick tips below.

Restaurant Etiquette for Kids

1. Remind your children ahead of time what behavior is expected of them. For example, no running around, talking loudly, and that they must use their best manners.

2. Bring something into the restaurant to entertain them if needed. This can be an activity book or something quiet for them to play with while waiting for their food (Manner Mats keep your kids entertained while teaching manners). I would be careful about just giving your kids your iPhone to play with because then I think they tune out too much. You want kids to be engaged in the conversation as well. I like playing games where each person at the table gets to ask a question and everyone takes turn answering it. It’s amazing what you can find out!

3. Remind kids what silverware to use with which course.
It is also a good time to review other basic dining etiquette such as elbows off the table, napkin and hand in lap, etc. For more dining etiquette tips, watch a quick video on “Teaching Kids Table Manners.”

4. Don’t pick things up
. If they drop something on the floor they should not ever go onto the floor to pick it up. If something like your napkin or fork drops just politely ask the waiter for a new one.

For more information on children’s etiquette, restaurant etiquette, and cotillion classes, tips, and videos on manners please go to Have an etiquette question? Please email me at and I’ll be happy to answer your question or even feature it in my next blog.

Aimee Symington is a modern cotillion instructor, etiquette expert, and creator of “Blunders” board game on manners. She has appeared on The Today Show and is a monthly etiquette guest on Charlotte Today and is the CEO of Finesse Worldwide, Inc. with offices in Charlotte and San Francisco.

Hostess With The Mostess. Are Your Kids Good Hosts?

Posted on Feb 21, 2017 in Uncategorized

Host etiquette

Host Etiquette

Last week, I answered a reader’s question about how to teach their son how to be a polite guest when on a playdate. It occurred to me that it is also helpful to teach our kids how to be polite hosts and have good host etiquette when having friends over to the house.

Knowing how to make someone feel welcome and comfortable in your home is a lifelong skill that will come in handy when your kids are hosting a party or dinner for a date, in-laws, or business associates. So, it’s not too soon to start teaching your children the basics of host etiquette so that their friends enjoy coming to your house and spending time with your son or daughter.

Here are some tips to teach even your youngest child who has friends over to play.

1.  Greet and Meet. Kids should greet their friends at the door and then introduce them to the family if meeting them for the first time. A proper introduction such as, “Mom. I’d like to introduce to you my friend, Kelly Peters. Kelly, this is my mother, Mrs. Symington.” Note that a child introduces their friend to you and that they use Mrs. or Mr. in the introduction. I prefer that kids call me “Miss Aimee” so I would then just tell the child what they can call me instead of Mrs. Symington. Kids should also introduce their friends to their siblings.

2. Provide choices.
 When the friend arrives your child should offer their friend choices of things to do and then let him/her decide. Like for example, “Would you like to play soccer, play a board game, or play legos?” This way the guest knows what the options are and can make the decision what he/she would like to do first. No one likes a Little Miss Bossy Boots telling them what to do!


3. Play not surf. I really encourage my kids that when they have friends over to play it means to PLAY not watch, surf, or text! This means not watching TV or sitting around playing games on their iPads or phones or texting the other friends who aren’t there! I figure that kids can do that by themself when their friends are not over!

4. Share. Remind your kids that they need to share their things when guests come over. A tip is to ask your kids if there is something they really don’t want to share then put it away and out of sight to avoid a fuss when the friend comes over. Another thing you can remind your kids to share is that if they get somehting to eat or drink that they need to offer the same to their friend.

5. Say Thanks. Walk the friend to the door when they leave and thank them for coming over. All of this is great host etiquette!

Is My Son a Playdate Nightmare?

Posted on Feb 21, 2017 in Uncategorized

Playdate etiquette

Playdate Etiquette

Do you ever wonder what your children are like when they go over to a friend’s house for a playdate? Do they walk through their house with dirty shoes, rummage through their refrigerator for something sugary to eat, or leave their toys/clothes/dishes all over the house? If you do wonder about your children’s playdate manners you are not alone!

Susan D., from Charlotte emailed me her etiquette question that I would like to share with you. She asked, “My son used to be invited to his friend’s house all the time, but recently his friend’s mother hasn’t wanted my son to come over. Can you please tell me what I need to teach my son so that he is a well-mannered guest and I won’t have to worry if he’s being a nightmare child?”

Teach your kids how to be a polite guest while on a playdate with these four easy tips:

1. Polite greeting. When your child goes to someone’s home, remind him/her that they should say hello to the parents (even if they have to seek them out), and any siblings that are around and then stay and talk with them for a couple of minutes. If they are meeting the parents for the first time, they will get parent “brownie points” if they introduce themselves and then shake hands and say “It’s nice to meet you Mrs. Whomever.” I can tell you from experience that last week when a boy came over to our house to play and rushed past me without even a “Hello”, I wasn’t impressed.

2. Clean up. I don’t know about you, but the last thing I want to do is to clean up after more kids! I love a guest who cleans up her stuff when she’s done playing, takes her dishes to the kitchen sink after lunch, and puts her shoes in the shoe basket and not in the middle of the floor. Remind your kids that when they are visiting other people’s houses that they should put away anything they use. If they do this, it will surely be noticed and appreciated by the parents.

3. Be sweet. I won’t name names, but a few years ago my daughter’s friend kicked my younger son when she was at our house on a playdate. Did that child ever get invited back you ask? Heck, No!  Please convey to your kids that when they are visiting someone’s home, they need to behave even better than they do at home IF they want to be invited back. This means, no fussing about toys or who goes first, not being mean to their siblings, not doing something they know is forbidden, etc. If the long term goal is to continue being invited back to this friend’s house, then kids need to remember to be sweet and play nice.

4. Say “Thank you”. Remind your kids to say “please” and “thank you” often. Like, “May I please have some water? Thank you.” And, certainly when your child is leaving their house it is important for them to go to the parents and say “Thank you for having me over. I had a great time.” The magic words can do magic for parents!

For more information on children’s etiquette and cotillion classes, tips, and videos on manners please go to Have an etiquette question? Please email me at and I’ll be happy to answer your question or even feature it in my next blog. Thank you!

Aimee Symington is an etiquette expert who has appeared on The Today Show and is a monthly etiquette guest on Charlotte Today, is the inventor of the nationally-selling boardgame on manners called “Blunders”, and is the CEO of Finesse Worldwide, Inc. with offices in Charlotte and San Francisco.

Smacking, Slurping, and Crunching, Oh My!

Posted on Feb 21, 2017 in Uncategorized

Table manners

Table Manners

As an etiquette expert, I admit I have a problem! I look at and judge other people’s table manners and I just can’t help myself. But, I know that I am not the only one who’s bothered when eating with someone who chews with their mouth open smacking their food, puts their elbows on the table hunching over their plate, or packs their cheeks full of food like a chipmunk in order to talk.

Most parents care if their children have nice table manners when they visit grandma’s house or when they go to their friend’s house for dinner. We don’t want other people to think we haven’t taught our kids the right things, but let’s be honest; it’s not always easy to teach kids table manners. We don’t always have time, and we might not be sure about all of the etiquette rules ourselves.

If you want to help your children (and maybe your spouse?) have nice table manners, here are 3 basics tips for before, during and after the meal.
Before the meal.

  1. Sit properly in the seat with feet in front of you.
  2. Put napkin in your lap.
  3. Wait for everyone to be seated and for the host to begin eating before diving in.

During the meal.

  1. Pass food to the right, and the salt and pepper together.
  2. Use utensils from the outside of the plate working in towards the plate. Hold your fork like a pencil.
  3. Keep elbows and arms off the table any time when food on the table.

After the meal.

  1. Place fork and knife on the plate with the fork tines up and the blade of the knife facing you. Silverware should be placed at a 10:00/4:00 position as if the plate were a clock face. This indicates that you are finished eating.
  2. Place napkin to the left of the plate only when you are ready to leave the table.
  3. Thank the host for the meal and push in your chair when leaving the table.

Teach these table manners to your family and then have them practice at every meal until they become second nature. These table manners will help them make a good impression when they are at a friend’s house for dinner, out on a date or at a job interview after college. It might be hard at first, but you are teaching them essential lifelong skills!

For more information, children’s etiquette and cotillion classes, tips, and videos on manners please go to Have an etiquette question? Please email me at and I’ll be happy to answer your question or even feature it in my next blog. Thank you!

What Impression Do Your Kids Make?

Posted on Feb 21, 2017 in Uncategorized

Kids Manners

Kids’ Manners

I’ve just survived an eight-day trip to Orlando with my 11-year-old son, his friend, and my 14-year-old daughter. We weren’t there for the Disney parks. We were there to endure a week-long volleyball tournament and soccer camp. Just picture our little hotel room at night filled with three pairs of stinky socks, shoes and sweaty jerseys.

During this trip, I had the opportunity to meet a lot of teenage girls and tween boys, and I started comparing my first impressions of these kids. Some of the kids were great when meeting me. They smiled, looked me in the eyes, and said “Hello” and even ventured a bit of a conversation. There was even one girl who immediately shook my hand and said “It’s nice to meet you.” My first thought about her was what a great kid she is and what a wonderful job her parents have done teaching her manners.

I wish I could say that every kid I met had nice manners, but unfortunately, many of the kids I met would just briefly look up from their iPhone, grunt a “Hi”, and then look away. My impression of these kids was that either they have not been taught the proper way to greet someone, or they didn’t care. In either case, these kids did not make a good first impression.

Why do first impressions and kids’ manners matter? They matter because once we form an impression about someone, it is much harder for us to change our mind. So, if you want to your children to be able to make friends easier, and have teachers and adults immediately like them, you can teach your children these easy steps on how to make a great first impression.

Kids’ Manners: The four steps to making a great first impression:

1. Happy body language. Stand up straight, smile, and look the person in the eyes. This shows that they are confident, happy, respectful, and looking forward to meeting the person.

2. Firm handshake! Regardless of age or gender, your child should immediately extend their hand to shake hands. The handshake should be strong and be the whole hand not just the fingertips. Practice this at home until they get it right.

3. Proper greeting. Say “Hello, I’m (inset name). It’s nice to meet you (insert their name).” Children should use an adult’s last name until the adult gives them permission to call them something else. For example, “It’s nice to meet you, Mrs. Jones.”

4. Polite conversation. Kids who can carry on a conversation with other kids or adults will do so well in life. Encourage your children to ask questions about other people and to answer questions in complete sentences. Use the analogy of a volleyball game in that a conversation is like a ball being hit back and forth over the net. You ask a question (throw the ball over), they answer and then ask you a question (throw the ball back), and so forth.

The trick to teaching your kids’ manners is to have them practice at home with you, and then have them do it every time when they meet someone for the first time. Your children will really stand out from the others and make a great first impression!

Find more information, tips, and videos on manners at Have an etiquette question? Please email me at and I’ll be happy to answer your question or even feature it in my next blog. Thank you!

Top 5 Holiday Etiquette Tips

Posted on Dec 8, 2016 in Uncategorized

Top 5 Holiday Etiquette Tips
The holiday season is upon us, which means it’s time for buying gifts, entertaining, visiting family, and trying to teach our children that the holidays are not just about getting stuff.
Below are some of my top tips for this time of year, or you can click HERE to watch my Fox News segment on this topic for more information.
1. Don’t Give Your Boss a Massage!
  • While it’s very nice to give your boss or colleagues a gift for the holidays, make sure that it is not too personal in nature (i.e., nose clippers), or too expensive which might say that you are either trying to “show off” or are “sucking up.”
  • For clients or customers, find out their HR policies about accepting gifts or give something that can be enjoyed by their whole office (i.e., basket of sweets).
2.  Be a Nice Party-Goer
  • R.S.V.P. to invitations immediately and if you say you’ll attend then don’t cancel at the last minute. If you want to invite others ask the host ahead of time.
  • Bring a gift for the host/hostess of the party such as a bottle of wine/liquor or a fun household item. Avoid homemade items or anything too personal.
3.  Don’t Give Cookies to Your Housekeeper
  • Those service people in your life appreciate an extra tip during the holidays such as your hairdresser, house cleaners, kids’ bus driver, and garbage collector. Cash or a gift card is always preferable! Click HERE for complete tipping guide
  • If you cannot afford to buy something for everyone, prioritize based on their relationship to you and how much they might need the tip.
4. Make Your Bed
  • When visiting other’s homes over the holidays, be sure that you are a polite guest and one they will want to have return. Do things like make your bed and tidy up your room, pick up after yourself around the house, and offer to help out with the cooking and cleaning. Even bring extra food/alcohol with you when you come!
5.  Wrangel Your Kids
  • While the holidays are fun times, there are also times when kids need to have nice manners. Help your kids do these things to show their respect and appreciation:
    • Write thank-you notes for gifts received.
    • Help out with the shopping, decorating, and cooking for the holidays.
    • Make homemade gifts for family members.
    • Have nice table manners when at other’s homes for holiday meals/parties.
    • Do something personally for a charity or for someone in need.

For a complete tipping guide throughout the year, click HERE.