Food & Drink

Guest Column

Put Your Best Fork Forward

Four of our troop leaders, ready to serve breakfast.
A table of Girl Scouts wait with a mixture of anticipation and trepidation, wondering what this event will be like - they were pleasantly surprised.
The troop leaders, with their well-mannered daughters. Maria Joyce of The Protocol School of New Jersey (back row, 5th from the right) ran this brilliant event.

“Mum!!  Look at me!  I’m eating with good manners!” remarked my daughter with glee.  “Please, show me again how my friends use their cutlery!”

This joyous outburst has been repeated several times since my daughter attended a Girl Scout event.  It was Badge Day for the Mountainside Girl Scouts in mid November and the Daisies, Brownies and Juniors all showed up to earn a petal or a badge.  This is an annual event where the focus is on the different troop levels mixing, sharing and learning together.  After a few hours the girls emerge jubilant –clutching some creation.  The troop leaders follow, wide-eyed and twitching, empty coffee mugs clutched in hand.

However, this was not the case for the 3rd and 4th graders this year, for they had been enrolled for a morning of instruction on good table manners, etiquette and hosting protocols. The magnificent Maria Joyce of The Protocol School of New Jersey ran the event with amazing skill and excellence.  The troop leaders were there to assist and wait on the tables.

Sign Up for E-News

The excitement started when each girl received a beautiful invitation through the mail requesting their presence on Badge Day in formal attire.  While the other girls showed up in everyday clothes, our troops stood out in their beautiful party dresses.  Ms Joyce met the girls at the doorway with a lovely smile and firm instructions on how they were to enter the room as well-mannered young ladies.  Our exuberant, boisterous and enthusiastic girls were instantly transformed into quiet, well-behaved people.

 Ms Joyce directed the girls on how to seat themselves correctly at the tables, and the magic continued as she sprinkled nuggets of information, fascinating stories and anecdotes from history, from her life story and from other well-known people.  Not only were the girls educated and entertained, but the troop leaders were also spellbound by this gracious, intelligent and personable lady.

The girls learned to introduce themselves politely, how to stand and sit, how to converse politely and make a good first impression.  They had been pleasantly surprised to find they would be served a continental breakfast during the morning, and they were sitting at beautifully prepared tables. 

The girls were eagerly awaiting their food and there were smiles of pleasure when the troop leaders started to serve the fruit salad.  Many girls picked up their forks, ready to stab a tempting piece of fruit to eat.  But NO!!  These smiles turned to looks of dismay and exclamations of horror as Ms Joyce instructed the girls to hold and use their cutlery in the continental fashion – apart from one girl – my daughter.  Although my daughter has spent most of her life in America, she has learned to use a knife and fork from her very English mother!  She stared in amusement as her American friends struggled to hold the cutlery correctly, let alone cut up the fruit as directed.  I was fascinated too, as I hadn’t realized quite how different our habits were.

Ms Joyce must have observed this scene many times, and I am sure that it never fails to make people realize just how varied tables manners are around the world.  Thankfully the girls had an easier time, buttering bite size pieces of muffin and eating them.

Apart from the pleasure of letting someone else run a Girl Scout meeting, and apart from the sheer blissful heaven of seeing our beloved girls sitting still, not interrupting and obeying, there was one outstandingly moment for me. 

The girls were all standing by their chairs and Ms Joyce cheerfully told them to sit down on their fannies as she had taught them.   WHAT??  Did I really hear that?  I very audibly gasped in horror and slapped my hand over my mouth.  Then I remembered – fanny has a different meaning in America.  Ms Joyce had told the girls to sit down on their bottoms. Perhaps I will leave you to look up the British definition!

I do hope that we can invite Ms Joyce to instruct more of our troops – she did a fantastic job.

Maria Joyce is the founder and Managing Director of The Protocol School of New Jersey. 

The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of or anyone who works for is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the writer. Click here to submit a Guest Column.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News


Upcoming Events

Tue, February 20

Scherman Hoffman Wildlife Sanctuary, Bernardsville

NJ Audubon: Volunteer Art Show!

Arts & Entertainment Green

Wed, February 21

Scherman Hoffman Wildlife Sanctuary, Bernardsville

NJ Audubon: Volunteer Art Show!

Arts & Entertainment Green

Thu, February 22

Scherman Hoffman Wildlife Sanctuary, Bernardsville

NJ Audubon: Volunteer Art Show!

Arts & Entertainment Green

Thu, February 22, 6:00 PM

UCEDC, Cranford

Next Level Business Planning

Business & Finance

Fri, February 23

Scherman Hoffman Wildlife Sanctuary, Bernardsville

NJ Audubon: Volunteer Art Show!

Arts & Entertainment Green


Fri, February 23, 4:00 PM

Resolve, Scotch Plains

Free Teen Anxiety Group (Ages 14-17) at Resolve

Springfield's Cannon Hall House is Open to Public Sunday, Letter from George Washington and Herbert Hoover will be on Display

February 18, 2018

SPRINGFIELD, NJ – Hit by a cannon ball, it survived the Revolutionary War.  Sunday, there is the Springfield Historical Society Open House at the Cannon Ball House. It will be open to the public from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.  

In honor of it being Presidents’ Day weekend, two samples of presidential penmanship will be displayed. One is a letter that George ...

‘Reefer Madness’ Comes to Chatham Borough Council; Cannabis Advocates Make Pitch for Chatham Marijuana Shop

February 14, 2018

CHATHAM, NJ - A group of pro-cannabis activists came to the Borough of Chatham Council meeting on Monday night and used the public commentary portion of the meeting to ask the council to support a marijuana dispensary in town.

The advocates, who say they have attended more than 80 town meetings to inform about the benefits of medical cannabis, mentioned the 1936 movie "Reefer ...

Seamen’s Church Institute Fundraiser & Collection at Trinity Cranford Feb. 25th

February 20, 2018

On Sunday February 25th Trinity Episcopal Church, 119 Forest Avenue, Cranford, New Jersey, will be holding a Bake Sale fundraiser for Seamen’s Church Institute(SCI) following both the 8:00 and 10:00 services. Trinity is also collecting trial-size shampoo, 2-4 oz. bottles of hand lotion, lip balm, soft pack of facial tissue, packs of chewing gum, and microwave popcorn, for SCI’s ...

We Need More Women Like Colleen Mahr in Municipal, County and State Government

February 19, 2018

Dear Editor:

I’m proud to support Colleen Mahr for Chair of the Union County Democratic Committee  (UCDC) and am encouraging my Scotch Plains peers to join me.

I was a first time candidate wanting to make a difference in my hometown of Scotch Plains, when Mayor Mahr of neighboring Fanwood stepped in to help me campaign and win my election to be Councilwoman three years ago.