December 01, 2009

Good Holiday Manners for Kids

Making Life Better

Etiquette expert Cindy Post Senning on teaching your kids the art of graciousness

The holiday season can be hectic, so it’s no wonder that even the calmest children can forget their manners. The good news is that with a few gentle reminders before the season starts, you can guide your children through this special time.

When you are shopping, ask your kids to:

  • Greet everyone with a friendly smile.
  • Walk, not run, in the mall.
  • Offer to help with all those packages.

Even the youngest children can help out at a party by:

  • Clearing their things out of the party area and helping to decorate.
  • Making place cards and helping you set the table on the day of the event.
  • Greeting your guests at the door. (You can practice friendly hellos and handshakes with your little ones beforehand.)
  • Taking coats to their designated spot.

Kids can make family visits extra special by:

  • Greeting guests when they arrive.
  • Offering to help guests settle in. Kids can carry small bags and show family members to their respective rooms.
  • Sharing toys, games and computers with their visiting cousins.
  • Spending time with grandparents or other adult relatives.

You can add to the joys of gift-giving and gift-receiving by:

  • Planning some shopping trips so your kids can help pick out the gifts they are “giving.”
  • Providing them the opportunity to actually hand gifts to others.

Reviewing gift-receiving etiquette before the big day:

  1. Say, “Thank you.”
  2. Open the gift, and again say, “Thank you!”
  3. Even if they don’t like the gift, ask your kids to find at least one positive thing to say about it.

And everywhere with everyone: Warm words and smiles are the gifts that brighten the holiday season, without ever having to be wrapped!

Get your family organized and on the same page with Cozi, the free online family organizer.

About the author: Cindy Post Senning, Ed.D., is Emily Post’s great-granddaughter and a director of The Emily Post Institute Cindy’s professional background spans more than 30 years in health care and children’s education and uniquely qualifies her to write definitively on the subject of children’s manners in the 21st century. 

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Thank you so much for these tips. They are common sense yet we sometimes forget to review them with our children.


I do wish there were a gracious way to get this article out to those who need it. The day after Christmas my 5 year old grandaughter informed me that she REALLY didn't want one of the gifts I had given her (although she had circled it in an ad). This isn't the first time she has done this. This time my response was that I would take it back to my house and that I would not be replacing it with a different item. Needless to say it hurt my feelings after I had shopped extensively for the afore mentioned item.

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