November In-Home: Formal Etiquette and Tea

Junior League of Phoenix In-Home Meetings offer a fun, informal way for members to learn about a variety of topics and socialize outside of GMMs (General Membership Meetings) and volunteer placements.  Held in the fall and spring, topics can range from leadership ethics to belly dancing, and everything in between.  In this series we’ll give highlights from a few of the November In-Home trainings.


The definition of etiquette is, “proprieties of conduct as established in any class or community or for any occasion.” Our etiquette and decorum are the first thing people notice about us. Jo Gemmill is trained by the American School of Protocol and teaches etiquette classes at her tea house, the English Rose Tea Room, in Carefree. As part of the November In-Home trainings Jo taught a refresher class on formal etiquette for entertaining and high tea.

While learning proper use of a napkin, the role of a good hostess, and proper host/hostess gifts, Jo also shared how to properly dress a table.

Here are a few quick tips to help with your formal etiquette this holiday season.

  • A handy way of remember where to put your fork and spoon. The word LEFT has 4 letters in it. As does the word FORK. So the FORK always goes to the LEFT of the plate. It works for spoons as well. The word RIGHT has 5 letters just like the word SPOON. Therefore, the SPOON goes to the RIGHT of the plate.
  • When eating you start from the outside and work your way in, with dessert fork and spoon being above the plate.
  • Napkins should be fold in half and set on your lap with the fold at your knees. When wiping fingers on your napkin use the inside of the napkin so when your hands are folded on your lap they aren’t on a dirty napkin.
  • If you need to leave the table before you are finished set your napkin on your seat, not on the table.
  • Don’t start eating until your host is served and ready. You will know they are ready when they place their napkin on their lap.


formal dining

Image edited to better show teachings.  Original image care of One Kings Lane.

To learn more about Jo’s etiquette classes or her tea room please visit or visit Jo at the English Rose Tea Room:

English Rose Tea Room

201 Easy Street, Suite 103

Carefree, AZ 85377

Phone: 480-488-4812


Thank you to Dana Wayne for opening her beautiful home for this event, as well as taking these photos. And thank you to Jo Gemmill for putting together a lovely tea.