Domestic Etiquette & Manners

Gain confidence and reduce anxiety with etiquette training! Below are courses available for children and adults, along with frequently asked questions about etiquette and the benefits of it in modern life.

The instructor, Sara Vizcarrondo, is a certified American School of Protocol etiquette teacher.

Domestic Etiquette Class for Children 6-18

6 Etiquette classes for $650

This traditional etiquette class is suited to students ages 6-18 and features 7 gatherings. In class 1 we learn the beginning of conversation (introductions, guest/host obligations, body language, public safety) and appetizers.

In lessons 2-5 we practice the utensils and rules of the salad, soup, bread, parfait, and main course.

Lesson 6 is a party at a restaurant, at which the students use all the skills they’ve gained in lessons 1-5, as well as give a small oral presentation on a country (to practice decorum in public speaking). This party also allows the child to experience SILENT SERVICE which will test their etiquette skills. The final lesson is on correspondence and features an open door to the parents when they may listen while their children report on what they learned. Food included, please disclose allergies. Ask me about parent helper discounts.

Complete this form if you are interested in domestic etiquette for 6-18 yr olds

Two Hour Etiquette Primer $200

This 2-hour class is a breezy etiquette primer that moves at a swift clip through the basics of social convention (introductions, conversation, public safety and body language) as well as a 6 course meal. Please disclose allergies. This class takes place at Lisa’s Tea Treasures in Downtown Los Altos.

Complete this form if you are interested in a two hour etiquette primer.

Etiquette Chat for Groups

Most people have heard the word “etiquette” but aren’t sure what it means. That’s why I offer this MINI COURSE to service and social groups. Etiquette is a system of behaviors that helps you identify the what and why of social interactions. This Mini Course can also occur as a lecture or “chat” depending upon the needs of your group or gathering. The topics we can cover include body language, social cues, public safety, the rules of introductions, guest/host obligations, conversation basics, and correspondence. The fee for this mini course is $50.

Frequently Asked Questions about Etiquette

Q: What is Etiquette?

A: Etiquette is a French word meaning “label.” We often use the word as a synonym for “manners,” and that’s accurate, but I think on the subject differently. When you meet someone, you will be inclined to do a handful of things considered “normal”—like look the person in the eye to show you want to speak with them or face your shoulders in their direction to demonstrate you’re giving them your attention. But life is full of exceptions and surprises. You might find looking someone in the eye hard or even painful if you are not neurotypical. So that person looking at you might give you hard feelings when they’re just trying to say “hello.” Look at how many wires can get crossed when no one recognizes what they’re trying to do.

If you can label our most common social behaviors, you can decode your social experiences and make them more accessible, clearer, and ultimately more fun. This is a pathway to comfort with others, confidence in yourself, and leadership skills.

Q: What do you learn in an etiquette class?

A: The class length determines the number of topics covered, but in each etiquette class, we cover the basics of conversation, dining, and correspondence. 

Q: What do you learn when you learn about conversation?

Conversation includes greetings, public safety, introductions, and body language. It’s how to start and maintain a conversation—but we say a lot with our bodies, which is why body language is part of the dialogue.

Q: Why is public safety part of etiquette?

A: I’ll give you an example: You arrive at a party, and you don’t know anyone, you stand in the doorway looking around the room to see where you should go. Meanwhile, a logjam of other guests is waiting behind you to go in. Is this bad etiquette or poor public safety? Regardless of what we call it, the cure is the same. If you know (even generally) what to do, your nerves will be calmer, and you’ll be set up for success.

Q: What’s a condolence card?

A: A condolence card is traditionally given when someone loses a loved one—however, I teach this card more broadly. Think of all the things that break our hearts: lost stuffed animals, lost pets, lost jobs. Modern life moves quickly, and we see a lot. If we knew what to say, we’d be more willing to confront the hard situation and keep our relationships. 

It takes guts to have a good life.

Q: Why does dining etiquette matter?

A: Dining etiquette isn’t what it used to be. Most dining rules are organized around the royal courts; the group living in the castle ate together, at the same time, daily. They sat close together and used the eating as part social time, part secret message sending. 

Today, we seldom dine, even though we eat three times a day. Today, families often eat separately, send children to their homework with dinner plates, or (more dangerously) put food in their mouths as they run around. It happens—we are all responding to practical pressures. But there will be a day that child who ate dinner in her room has to eat among others, and that’s when you need to be empowered with etiquette training.

Q: If this is a standard place setting, why don’t I see it at all the restaurants I visit?

A: This is a standard table setting. It can vary based on the menu and style of service, but if this isn’t familiar to you, that probably isn’t why. California dining values non-conformity. So you probably haven’t seen the station even if you’ve had culinary adventures. If you’ve gone from cafe to lounge to club, and nothing looks the same, there’s nothing to remind you of the standard. 

How will you remember? Or, if they’re young, how will they learn?

That’s really why etiquette classes matter. It’s also helpful when a neutral third party teaches etiquette.  

Q: Can children 5-8 really sit through a 3-hour class?

A: Yes, they can! We move very swiftly through a lot of material, and that includes standing up, moving dishes, sitting down, and following different rules at different moments. As we keep them busy, we keep their attention. However, I always leave it to the parent to decide as the parent knows their child’s personality best. And if it appears the child is best suited to shorter classes, they can enroll in my 7-Class course, which meets seven times for one hour each.

Q: Will I learn all I need to know in one of your classes?

A: Yes and no. Etiquette is based on simple tenants, but it’s not easy to remember. This is why we always advise taking refresher courses. Etiquette is not something you take once; it’s a practice, and the more you do it, the more confident you become in it. It’s like going to a party or introducing two people: the more you do it, the better you are!