Minding Their Manners

By Jessica L. Tonn — July 26, 2005 1 min read

On Wednesdays this month, boys and girls from all over the Show Me State have been going to Missouri’s capital city to take part in a one-day class in good manners, held at the governor’s mansion.

Kristi Daugherty, 10, waits for more punch at a manners class.

During the “Put Your Best Foot Forward” program, children ages 8 to 12 practice a variety of skills, including table manners, table preparation, proper introductions, and letter-writing techniques. The program, which has a $60 registration fee, benefits Missouri Mansion Preservation Inc., the nonprofit group that oversees education and preservation for the Jefferson City residence.

Among the lessons: Eat your food, don’t play with it. Hold doors open for adults. Address a woman before a man.

The curriculum is based on material from the Protocol School of Washington, an etiquette- and protocol-services provider based in Yarmouth, Me. Volunteers, many of whom are teachers or docents at the mansion’s museum, lead the classes.

The fee includes the three-hour manners class, a buffet reception in the mansion’s ballroom, a souvenir etiquette booklet, and a four-course luncheon for the child and an accompanying adult.

At the reception, children learn how to go through a receiving line, and then nibble petit fours and sip punch. At the luncheon, they choose between forks for their tossed baby greens and chocolate cake.

Participants get to show off their manners to their hostess, Melanie A. Blunt, the wife of Gov. Matt Blunt. The children are required to write her thank-you notes before leaving.

Mary Pat Abele, the executive director of Missouri Mansion Preservation, said more than 150 children will participate in the program this summer.