Good manners are always in style, but when you’re a debutante, proper etiquette is crucial.
Especially when your Grand Ball society debut in less than two months away, as it is for Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital Guild Silver Rose Debutante Jennifer Fugger of Valencia.
“At the ball, I want to show people that I’ve learned something, that I actually participated in this debutante program,” Fugger said.
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Fugger and seven other high school seniors from the Silver Rose Debutante program, which raises funds for laboratory services at the hospital, learned valuable etiquette skills at the table manners class taught by author and etiquette expert Louise Elerding.
The 2010-2011 Silver Rose Debutantes include Leah Michelle Blumenthal, Kendal Muir Glendinning, and Heather Aileen Lincoln of Hart High School; Jordyn Rae Byers, Jessica Lauren Crowder, and Jennifer Marie Fugger of Valencia High School; Vanessa Jaclyn Ferral of Bishop Alemany High School; and Courtney Elaine Hertenstein of Canyon High School.
Held in the private dining room at Salt Creek Grille, the two-hour class reviewed fundamentals such as where to place a purse, how to butter bread properly, and guidelines on cell phone usage during meals, modern day’s number one etiquette problem, according to Elerding.
“Ideally, turn off your phone before sitting at the table, unless you’re expecting an emergency call. If you must have a cell phone conversation, excuse yourself from the table. That’s the best, most courteous thing you can do,” Elerding said.
Glendinning asked if she could request cell phones be put away entirely while dining out.
“You can, yes, but that’s hard to do. Tone and timing are everything,” Elerding responded.
Other hot topics included the wearing of hats at the dinner table (permissible for women, not for men), what to do with gloves while eating (place in a purse or over the back of a chair) and the importance of hostess gifts, something Byers was already well-versed in.
“My mom told me a long time ago, ‘You can never go to a party without a gift,’” she said.
“It’s harder at our age, though,” Crowder chimed in. “You can‘t just pick up a bottle of wine to take with you. So I bring cookies instead.”
Elerding also suggested gourmet hostess gifts such as jams, chocolates, or even a basket of fresh, recently-picked lemons.
“Be creative. Think of what someone may like to use in the future. The gift doesn’t have to be used at that event,” she said.
As the debutantes demonstrated their new skills over a four-course dinner, Guild chair Stacey Mayfield looked on proudly.
“I think etiquette is something of a lost art. I don’t think kids today are taught proper etiquette at the dinner table anymore,” Mayfield said. “I think this will help them not only at the Grand Ball, but for the rest of their lives.”
That sentiment was echoed by Fugger.
“I want to be a lawyer, so I’ll be attending a lot of dinner meetings,” she said. “This will help me feel confident and be professional.”
The Henry Mayo Guild Silver Rose Debutante program is opened to female high school seniors with a grade point average of 2.5 or higher. Debutantes commit to 50 hours of community service at hospital events during the program, which lasts from September to March. For more information, call (661) 253-8051 or visit www.henrymayo.com.