Monday, December 10, 2012

Emily Post Etiquette Challenge

Emily Post penned her first etiquette book in 1922; today the Emily Post institute, based in Burlington, VT keeps her legacy alive through authoring books, and teaching etiquette courses to private companies.  We recently sat down with Emily's great-great-granddaughters Anna and Lizzie Post, as well as Dawn Stanyon, the Director of Sales and Relations at the Emily Post Institute.

Anna Post, Lizzie Post, Emily Post Institute
Anna and Lizzie Post

While the subject may seem intimidating, the Post women are anything but. "We do not take out a ruler and space our dishes when we are at home," said Anna Post. Like their great-great-grandmother, Anna and her sister Lizzie offer an image of class and composure, in a warm and inviting manner. They explained that the idea behind good etiquette is not a strict set of rules, but rather to treat people with consideration and honesty.

Emily herself once said, " I don't care which fork you use, I just care that you use a fork."

When Emily Post set out to offer a guide to proper etiquette, the world was a much more formal place. Today, the Post sisters aim to tackle a broader spectrum of appropriateness. While there are cases when fine dining manners will come in handy, they say that etiquette comes into play whenever two people come together. That could be at a work meeting, a funeral, a date, or even via social media. 

Emily Post Institute, Emily Post Book
A copy of Emily Post's early book on etiquette

While Emily might have never considered anything but a formal dining gown, the Post girls say today, the right pair of jeans can be appropriate at a dinner party. The recurring theme in the modern world of etiquette is that there is always an exception to the rule, and if you are a person who is concerned with having good manners, you probably already have them.

The sisters were instantly attracted to the show, Downton Abbey. Anna figured that Emily would have been around the same age as the Dowager Countess, and would have started writing her books around the time that the third season takes place. The girls are particularly interested in the way that the characters on the show interact with each other, and how they show self-containment in very emotional circumstances. They say that this is reflective of the time period, when it wasn't that people didn't care about each other, but rather that they were very reserved in their expressions.

Emily Post Institute

It is not a stretch to imagine that Emily Post would have run in the same circles with the Crawley family, and the sisters are confident, that had Downton Abbey hosted a dinner party, Emily would have been invited.

Anna and Lizzie speak affectionately of the woman whom they never met, but who has clearly been a source of great pride. They speak lovingly of her as they thumb through the pages of her books, and reflect on her sense of humor, her passion for gardening, and her love of youth culture. They believe that her story would make for an exceptional television show or movie, one that would find a place in the hearts of Downton Abbey fans.

Emily Post Institute
In the meantime, they are eagerly looking forward to the season three Downtown Abbey premiere. They have even offered to take part in Vermont Public Television's Experience inspired by Downton Abbey at the Essex Resort and Spa on January 5th and 6th.  Guests should not be intimidated by their presence; they won't be handing out etiquette report cards. They do however hope to hold etiquette challenges, including:

  • "Box-o'-China" Table Setting Competition
  • Dowager Countess Impersonation Challenge
  • Bow, Curtsey, and Hand-Kissing Demonstration

They will also present a tea demonstration showcase of some of Emily's china, and raffle off prizes for guest participation.
Anna Post, Camille Dodson, Emily Post Institute
Anna Post and social media intern Camille at the Emily Post Institute in Burlington, VT

If you haven't already, you can buy your ticket for VPT's Experience Inspired by Downton Abbey at the Essex Resort and Spa at our website, To keep up to date with the food, fashion, and fun "like" our Facebook page and follow us on Twitter

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