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Have a fun 50's Party at home!

a magical mixture for a meaningful life

Manners & Mayhem is the blog of the Martine Cotillions and is devoted to supporting families who value courtesy, character, high personal standards, respect for self and others, and of course, good manners! As life moves faster and faster, we offer ways to slow down and focus on those who matter most in our lives.  With advice on parenting, fun family projects, food for thought and food for dinner, along with other ideas to bring an easy elegance to life at home, we hope you find much to enjoy!  

Manners Begin at Home

Surviving and thriving together

Written by Gena Martine Santoni

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It's true that manners really do begin at home, and home is where we find the most important people in our lives. But have you ever noticed that sometimes people treat perfect strangers with more consideration and respect than their own family members? Strange as that may seem, it is actually normal, at least from time to time. Since we are together so much, our families see us both at our worst and at our best. Nevertheless, if we believe respect and consideration are important, wouldn't we best show that in how we treat our nearest and dearest? 

Right now, when we are cloistered at home and everyone is on top of one another all the time, it is easy to feel like family time has become too much of a good thing. We might be trying to work, or study, or just find some solitude and quiet time to think. Meanwhile, someone else in the house wants to belt out 80's classics or build something with power tools. In these moments it is easy to feel like the whole world is conspiring against us, including our beloved family.

So, where to go for advice on living in close quarters 24/7 with a bunch of lovable yet sometimes irritating characters? Submarine captains and astronauts, obviously! Here are some great tips I gleaned from reading their advice:

Remember your mission. How would you and your family define your mission during this time? What is the bigger picture or higher purpose that you can focus on? Having this mission in mind can help to bring things back in focus when individuals are feeling frustrated, irritated or anxious - and perhaps using their outside voice...inside.

Communicate. For a family to act like a team it helps for everyone to be on the same side with the same goal in mind. When individual family members collaborate on schedules and chores, and seek to understand the needs of others as well as voicing their own, it helps bring the team together and lessens the chance that any individual will feel that they are less important than someone else.

Find a place where you can get away. My husband and I recently created a little

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Have a fun 50's Party at home!

Plan a wholesome house party with a fabulous fifties theme the whole family will love! Fifties costumes are easy to create for every member of the family and putting them together can be a fun project itself leading up to the day you have chosen for your party. You could have a sock hop in the living room and practice your Swing steps! Dance the Twist and do the Mashed Potatoes! (Elvis's dance.) Throw in some Hand Jive, too!

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At Cotillion we play musical chairs for the game at our Fifties Party and serve small Classic Cokes and yummy chocolate chip cookies. Here is a link to my current favorite recipe. (Another fun project!) Round out the evening with a 50s Diner menu like hamburgers and milk shakes. (In & Out, perhaps?) You could watch some fun fifties movies, too! My favorite? Back to the Future!

Click here for 50s music ideas!

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Once I said to my mother: 'You would be happy if I just kept well-dressed and had good manners,' and she said: 'What else is there?' Cy Twombly

Manners are like the shadows of virtues, they are the momentary display of those qualities which our fellow creatures love and respect.

Sydney Smith

Since we are dining at home more than ever, why not use this time to empower children with a little dinner prep know-how?  When my mother was young, she and her sister were each given the responsibility to plan, shop for, prepare and serve a family dinner one a month - with their mother's help and coaching, of course! Did I mention they also were responsible for cleaning up afterward? Oh yes! The whole shebang! This experience gave them regular practice and helped them to learn how to time dishes to come out together - a real challenge for beginning chefs!  It also gave them a small repertoire of signature dishes that they were confident about preparing to carry with them when they moved out of mom and dad's kitchen and into their own.

This is such an important life-skill, and it does not take a complicated recipe to make a special meal. Of course there is more to making a meal special than the food! The table setting, the centerpiece, the attention to detail in choosing special touches are all part of creating a convivial atmosphere - as well as being part of the fun!

Good manners come into play, too. While at the table, the whole family can practice their dining skills. Tall posture, napkin in lap, small bites and chewing with mouths closed in between lively and attentive conversation. No devices allowed! Children can also have fun choosing dinner music to go with their culinary masterpieces!

We have planned a simple three course meal that is easy to prepare, looks beautiful and tastes delicious!  We hope you are inspired!


See the menu!​

This is a real gem. Short and sweet. A great keepsake in hardcover. There are some real Navy Seal lessons in here, so not a light read. Parents will find some wonderful stories and talking points to discuss with their kiddos.

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Write a Fan Letter!
Send a hand written treasure.
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While email, texts, phone calls and even face-time are wonderful and easy ways to keep in touch, there is still nothing like the classic and timeless art of a hand written missive.


Taking the time to write a  note, card or letter is such a personal and special way to connect - especially in this electronic age. There is magic in the written word and a hand written letter can be a keepsake or even a treasure that lasts a lifetime.

The smooth feel of fine paper, a specially chosen photo on the cover of a card, the beautiful and colorful designs of unique stationary, not to mention the pleasure of one's favorite pen, all contribute to an experience that is so much more than words on a page. 

We tend to express ourselves differently when writing versus speaking. And when 

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We're living in what I like to call the 'Thank You Economy,' because only the companies that can figure out how to mind their manners in a very old-fashioned way - and do it authentically - are going to have a prayer of competing. Gary Vaynerchuk

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