Reviewing Books on Manners

Recently, I was on CBC Radio’s The Next Chapter, talking with host Shelagh Rogers about something that never goes out of style. No, I’m not talking Golden Girls reruns. I’m talking manners.

I reviewed three books about manners, including one dating back to 1530! I didn’t even know they had paper then, let alone books. I’m sad to report that, according to the book, flatulence was a major problem in the 16th century. Some things never change.

Anyway, here are some things I learned about manners as a result of my investigative research. I’m passing along these golden nuggets to you, dear reader, in the hopes that we can create a more civilized world.

Send Thank You cards. Sure, sending a text is easier, but handwritten notes are so much more personal. That is, if you still remember how to write by hand. If you don’t, ask an elderly person to show you. They’ll even tell you what a “postage stamp” is. And, if you’re really nice, they might even lick the stamp for you.


Create dinner menus. From what I hear, having friends over for dinner is fun. And given this gluten-free, soy-free, dairy-free, carb-free and flavour-free world we live in, no doubt your guests will appreciate knowing what’s on the menu. That way, they’ll know what things they’ll be hiding in their napkin.

Get creative with napkins. In my household, we usually stick with paper towels, but if you really want to impress someone, real napkins are the way to go. In his book, The Butler Speaks: A Guide to Stylish Entertaining, Etiquette and the Art of Good Housekeeping, author Charles MacPherson shows you how to create fancy shapes with napkins. I picked one that was supposed to be a fleur di leaf, but I got confused along the way and ended up with something that looks like a sad bunny. Which would be perfect if you’re having Easter dinner. Or serving rabbit.


To show how much I’ve learned about manners, I’d like to thank you for taking the time to read this blog post. I do hope it was a sufficient use of your time. You can listen to my interview here.

Thank you again. 

No, I mean it. Thank you. Really.