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5 Table Manner Tips for Kids at Thanksgiving

Family using phones at breakfast

Here are some simple tips to help encourage good etiquette and dinner table manner with your kids.

It’s a common time of year to reflect on everything you’re grateful for with friends and family. In addition to being thankful, here are some quick table manner tips to use at Thanksgiving dinner this year (and everyday) with your kids.

Depending on your kid’s age, the range for how established their dining etiquette is will vary. With that said, the bigger focus is that everyone arrives at the table with a positive attitude.

Table Manner Tip #1: Practice Patience

Always wait until everyone has received their food before you start eating. The host will usually make an announcement, “Let’s eat!” or say, “thank you” to the guests. 

Table Manner Tip #2: Be Present

Leave all devices and other distractions away from the table. Focus on connecting and trying to hold thoughtful conversation.

Table Manner Tip #3: Use Please & Thank You

Please and thank you should be at the beginning and conclusion of any requests. “May I have more mashed potatoes, please?” Followed up with, “Thank you!” This simple effort helps to support common courtesy.

Table Manner Tip #4: Pass Politely

If something you dislike is handed to you, simply and politely say, “No, thank you,” and pass it on to your neighbor. Comments like, “Yuck!” and “Gross!” should be kept to yourself.

Table Manner Tip #5: Find More Patience

Dinner is done when the table has been cleared. Enjoy your food and the company while waiting for the official end of the meal.

Bonus: Clean up after yourself or ask to help with any cleanup tasks. It’s a nice act of kindness to offer the host help. It’s also generally always appreciated.

Quick Tip: Which bread or drink belongs to you in a place setting? Use your left and right hands to form the letters, b and d (pictured above). Left is for b-bread and right is for d-drink.

Good manners build confidence and are a life skill kids will continue to use as adults. And remember that sometimes it’s the journey and not the destination, especially for the smaller kids. It won’t be a perfect Thanksgiving dinner, but preparing them with these lessons will serve them well in the long run.

For more lessons in manners and etiquette, find classes on ActivityHero from our friends at The Etiquette Factory by Miss Kim and Lady V’s Finishing School.

Read more Thanksgiving related activities:

5-Minute Fall Crafts for Kids

8 Great Holiday Activities You Can Do With Your Kids