Etiquette of Fun

The tableware and décor of a proper party delight little learners.

Memories are made by the details. Little touches, whether unique, beautiful, or both, that were meticulously planned, can sometimes mean even more than big actions or grand gestures.

The table setting for these yet-to-be-made memories has been thoughtfully arranged, ever so carefully, and no detail has been left unplanned. Perfectly patterned plates and napkins, all in the prettiest of hues, and matching name cards, placemats, table runners, and prim paper flower centerpieces sit patiently, waiting for the guests of honor to arrive.

Dainty cucumber sandwiches have been made, tasty tea has been brewed, and other delicious snacks and treats have been laid out with the utmost care on brightly colored paper tablecloths.

The hosts, teachers Jenni Newberry and Kayna Schlichte, have worked diligently on the details for this soiree, and they can hardly await the arrival of their guests: a combined class of first- and second-graders excited to start their much-anticipated “manners” tea party.

The children’s little faces light up as they enter the newly transformed classroom and begin to take in the sight of the whole room decorated to the nines in lavish paper décor just for them.

“It is truly priceless!” Schlichte says of seeing the kids come into the room for their party. “Their surprised and excited faces say it all and make what we do for this event even that much more special. Our students love the opportunity to practice the manners that we have taught them.”

The tableware, made from engineered airlaid nonwoven papers, is thin and light but rigid and durable, thanks to the web-like structure formed by short fibers of pulp. The construction of airlaid paper tableware allows it to endure tea spills and little hands practicing the art of delicate sandwich passing, but it is posh enough to transport the children to a setting far outside of their everyday classroom—one fit for high tea.

“The themed tableware and décor truly captures our students’ imaginations,” says Schlichte. “They really get into being polite and using their manners because we have transformed the classroom to a fancy party.”

Throughout the festivities, the children practice placing their napkins carefully in their laps. The little gentlemen pull the chairs out for the little ladies, and it’s the details—the fanciful settings and colorful paper wares—that really drive what Newberry and Schlichte say is a very lovely day for them and for the young partygoers.

Dressed in their finest garb, the lucky first- and second-graders in the Newberry-Schlichte classroom are treated to a special reading and performance of Miss Spider’s Tea Party by David Kirk, to kick off the day’s festivities.

The picture book story is about lonely Miss Spider who wanted only to invite other insects to her tea party, but no one would accept her invitation. In fact, not only did the bugs decline Miss Spider’s invitation, they were frightened of her and quite rude, too.

“We thought this was a great lesson to teach our students about being polite and kind to each other,” says Schlichte. “[The children] learn very important manners that will hopefully carry on throughout their lives.”

Miss Spider comes to life at the children’s tea party in the form of one of the teachers attaching paper legs to her back before beginning to read the story: “If I had friends like these,” she sighs, “who’d stay a while with me, I’d sit them down on silken chairs and serve them cakes and tea.”

While the lesson is one of acceptance and friendship, no one is without friends in the scene of the tea party put on by Mrs. Schlichte and Mrs. Newberry.

“We love putting on these parties to make learning fun for our students,” says Schlichte.

And learning is such fun for the students, so much so that the party hardly seems like learning at all, even though their teachers can see the manners that the children acquire last the whole year through.