Thank Goodness We Don’t Have to Do That Anymore: 1950’s Style Introductions

Be very mature and giggle at the author’s name. We’ll wait.

I have this great book called Etiquette for Young Moderns from 1954. It’s exactly what you would expect from a 1950s etiquette book for teens. And it starts out with how to make introductions.

The rules for introductions, according to this book, are pretty simple:

  1. You introduce men and boys to women and girls
  2. You introduce younger people to older people

This means that you say the name of the “socially superior” person first. Their charming examples:

Right: Mother, this is Chad Bowles.

Wrong: Chad, I’d like you to meet my mother.

Right: Mr. Walser, this is my kid brother, Bill.

Wrong: Bill, meet Mr. Walser, principal of Jefferson High.

They also list out acceptable and unacceptable phrases to use during an introduction.


  • I’d like to introduce
  • I’d like you to meet
  • This is…


  • Mostly this has to do with “giving orders” like, “meet” and “shake hands with”
  • May I present is considered too formal for most introductions

When you are introduced to someone, you simply acknowledge it with a “how do you do” or “hello,” but don’t use frilly phrases like “charmed.”

Men and boys must always shake hands when introduced to each other, but when a man is introduced to a woman, it is up to her to extend her hand first!

These rules are very similar to all the rules you will find in older etiquette books such as Emily Post. Like I said before though, I’m just happy if someone introduces people at all, without having to remember who is introduced to whom.


Nice to meet you! [Via Flickr user schluesselbein]

Introductions are one of those areas of etiquette that I see otherwise super polite people fall down on. I get it, because we get wrapped up in what we are doing and who we are talking to and forget to notice if we are leaving anyone out. But it’s really really awkward to be standing there while your friend talks to their other friend that you’ve just bumped into without introducing the two of you. Yes, you can and should introduce yourself if this happens, but be the bigger better person and introduce EVERYONE.

How to do introductions:

  • You are in a little group where you know all the other parties and they do not know each other.
  • You say, “Oh by the way, Millicent, this is Evelyn” they say hi and you move on and everyone is fine.


  • You are in a little group where you know all the other parties and they do not know each other. But you are hosting a party and need to mingle with your other guests.
  • You say, “Evelyn, this is Millicent- she went to college with me. Millicent, Evelyn plays on my recreational croquet league with me” And now they know something about each other and you can move on.

I am also a big fan of the walk into a big room of people and someone reels off everyone’s name. At least then you have been “introduced” and can reintroduce yourself later.

Whatever you do, just do something! I will tell you all about the crazy introducing rules that we don’t have to follow anymore on Friday.

Our Best Search Terms

We’ve been going at this etiquette thing for a year already! And it has been a total blast. In that time, we have been found with some pretty crazy search terms. Here are some of our favorites:

  • how to eat french onion soup (notable because of how often it comes up- who knew there was such anxiety about how to eat French onion soup?)
  • body bag bondage
  • polite what is wrong with you
  • cheese pun
  • invited to party dont want to wear a dress
  • erotic victorian chastisement
  • http://www.south african super snuff chewing debate
  • pigeons without toes
  • why is eating pizza with a fork strange
  • uncommon fetishes
  • proper etiquette to eat quail
  • if you’re hooking up with someone just casually how long should you wait to call them
  • i want to be alone on thanksgiving 2013
  • why did women take naps during balls in the 1800s
  • why southern belles didnt wear panties
  • witches email address 2013
  • can you put deviled eggs on a silver platter
  • french onion soup can i eat the cheese
  • assholes in a moshpit
  • http://www.chicken feet curse spell .com
  • what is the ediquette on christmas cake
  • i’m not hot enough to be negged
  • “bachelor party” “in a dress”
  • social nightmares
  • to catch a spinster
  • I don’t want to wear a maid uniform

A Different Way of Teaching Your Children Etiquette

Catherine Howard, the product of being reared by fancier relatives.

Send them away to be raised by someone else! It sounds intense, but during the medieval and Renaissance period in England, it was quite common for families to send their children to live with a different family to be taught things like a trade, but also how to behave. For most people, children were sent away in their early teens, to become apprentices and learn a trade. But for the aristocracy, the children were sent away much younger and in turn, their families also took in children from other families. The thinking was that parents loved their children too much to be properly strict with them. It was also believed that children would obey strangers more than their own parents.

A lot of aristocratic children were especially sent to the households of richer relatives or patrons. There, they would act as pages or ladies in waiting. This was especially done to teach the children how to behave at court and all the very fancy court manners (especially if their parents were not wealthy or noble enough to be part of the court themselves). These placements would also help the child to gain a helpful sponsor who was better placed to find them a good position or make a good marriage than the parents themselves. In turn, the children basically acted as servants (remember, ladies and gentlemen in waiting to the Queen and King actually WERE the servants because actual servants were too lowly to serve the Queen and King directly.)

Boys of course, were also prepared to be knights by passing through the stages of page and then squire. Combat training was a big part of their life away from home. Then, of course, as a squire, a medieval boy would be with the knight he served.

Catherine Howard, King Henry VIII’s fifth wife, was raised in the household of her step-grandmother, the Dowager Duchess of Norfolk, who was much more powerful and influential that her own parents. As a influential duchess, a whole gaggle of girls and boys were sent to live in her household and learn from her. However, the Dowager Duchess was somewhat lax in the supervision of these girls and boys and Catherine Howard had some early romances with the boys in the household which later helped convince the King to chop off her head. However, it was her connection to her uncle, the Duke of Norfolk (a powerful member of court) who got her placed in the Court to be noticed by Henry in the first place. So, you win some, you lose some in this system.

Napkin Etiquette

And this is what your napkin looks like after the meal, loosely gathered and placed to the left of your place setting.

And this is what your napkin looks like after the meal, loosely gathered and placed to the left of your place setting.

This is what your place setting looks like before you start. Napkin is under your fork. (Also, bless my mother for ensuring that I own a set of cloth napkins and placemats!)

This is what your place setting looks like before you start. Napkin is under your fork. (Also, bless my mother for ensuring that I own a set of cloth napkins and placemats!)








Yeah, I know you think you know how to use a napkin, but from my observations, there are some finer points to napkin etiquette that not everyone is aware of.

Different kinds of napkins:

  • Lunch napkins- lunch napkins are smaller than dinner napkins. You don’t fold it when putting it in your lap.
  • Dinner napkins- are the biggest napkin, and you fold it in half before putting it on your lap.
  • Cocktail napkins- are small and are mostly used to put around the bottom of your drink.

How to Use Your Napkin:

  • When eating meals, always put your napkin across your lap (I even do this when eating lunch at my desk at work…there is such a thing as taking etiquette too far!).
  • You never refold your napkin at the end of the meal, you gather it loosely and place it next to your place setting.
  • Napkin rings are used to hold a used napkin for the next meal (and they should be different…or if you are a WASP, monogrammed…so everyone knows which belongs to them), but this should only be done with immediate family. Nowadays, napkin rings are used more for additional decoration.
  • Napkins must never be tucked into the collar, except for very small children.
  • Generally at formal meals, the napkin matches the color of the tablecloth. At very fancy restaurants, the waiter will sometimes change out the white napkin for a black one if you are wearing dark clothing, to prevent lint spots (this happened to me at Commander’s Palace in New Orleans recently!)
  • If you need to leave the table during the meal, loosely gather the napkin and place it next to your plate (try to have the least dirty side facing up). It is generally recommended not to leave the napkin on your chair, as it will dirty the fabric of the chair cushion.