This past weekend I had the pleasure of teaching a couple of classes at Anachrocon, an alternate history/steampunk gathering featuring Tea Dueling, Maker’s Faires, authors, bands, a Car Show, and costumes galore. I was asked to participate in the Etiquette and Indulgence Track, and I had a great time revamping some classes I had done before to fit the theme.
Dining at Downton
I presented “Dining at Downton”, exploring the protocol-filled landscape of a formal dining party. First, class participants completed a proper R.S.V.P. based on an invitation and a few examples of acceptances and refusals. Volunteers then took on the roles of Butler, Footmen, and other ‘Downstairs’ staff to set up the table properly, and others became ‘Upstairs’ guests. A hostess was selected and it became her job to arrange seating for all of the guests in correct order of precedence. Guests then paired up and processed in and around the table, taking their appropriate seats. Since this was a class in a hotel classroom, it was done without actual food. I printed formal place settings on large place mats and provided each guest with game markers. The Footmen then served courses of food that were printed on paper plates, and the Guests had to use their markers to indicate which piece(s) of silver or glassware they would use for each course. If they got it wrong, the group was advised to give the “indignant harumph”. This was a great hit, and much ‘harumphing’ was heard!
We ran out of time before we got to the line-up for both Upstairs and Downstairs personas that I had planned, done in order of precedence for each group. A good time was had by all, even though one of the ladies present found it unacceptable to be sent off with the other ladies at the end of the meal while the men stayed behind with the bottle of port!
My second etiquette class was “Tea Time”, and included a powerpoint presentation about the terminology and traditions around taking tea. We also select a “hostess” for this class that puts together a silver tea service and tea table according to Emily Post’s instructions. Both classes were well attended and had very good comments from those present.
I look forward to being able to present these classes again. Not only do they provide important and forgotten rules for using the very best of manners, but they are loads of fun! How wonderful that programs such as Downton Abbey make etiquette cool again!
Feel free to contact me if your group might like one of these presentations!