Minimalism & Etiquette

A few weeks ago, my children had their first tea party. They’d gotten a cute little book about bunnies going to tea and were enamored.

We had a lovely time! Zucchini brownies (that actually did taste good), tea with lots of sugar and cream (they are 2 and 4 after all) and a great disposable table cloth I found in the basement that looked great, was doused in chocolate zucchini splotches (compliments of the 2 year old) and was happily thrown away afterwards.

Here is a picture of the kids at the tea party. My daughter had a bug bite on her eye lid which is why she looks a little funny. Notice the toy duck came to tea too.


Only one problem – I don’t own a tea pot. I officially own a beautiful oneida coffee pot.

Were the toddlers and I using ‘proper’ etiquette?

Not completely.

Am I planning a teapot purchase in the future? 


One of the hardest struggles I’ve had with minimalism is deciding what to do with etiquette rules.

In proper etiquette, you don’t wear white shoes after labor day, you use the proper kitchen pieces for the proper uses. (ie: only salad forks with salad, soup spoons with soup, desert plates for desert…), the correct kind of stationary for the correct notes.

However, I’ve had to admit that some ‘proper’ things are not for me at this time. I have other priorities.

Areas that work for me right now though are not proper:

Tableclothes and Proper Linens: When people come over, a table cloth that needs to ironed beforehand, then afterwards treated, soaked, and handwashed is not going to work very well. (More likely, somewhere in the middle of that process, I’ll forget about it and find it moldy in the basement sink next season…). At this time, I’m having to admit my own priorities and use disposable table clothes or decorate the table in a different way.

Thank you notes: (This is my biggest confession in the article!) 

Right now thank you notes I write are via email, text, and Facebook messaging. It’s the only way I seem to get them written and handed off. I am especially embarrassed to admit this, but I finally had to admit that shooting a kind, well-thought email the night after a gift or visit was tons better then writing a note, carrying it in my purse for weeks, and then throwing it away unsent because I am too embarrassed at how bent up and creased it had gotten on its pre-sending adventure.

Correct glassware:

Target sells all the glassware for a great price, we’ve only bought their standard, martini, and champaign glasses though. (Standard because I dream of being a minimalist who is enamored with a “Do-it-All” glass, and martini because my husband dreams of being a great drink maker who is enamored with the drinks looking cool and dipping the rims in salt and all that.) (Champaign because just a couple times a year – on an anniversary or holiday, we’ll have a 9:00 PM living room date after the kids go to bed with cheese, crackers, and champaign and that just is more special with the real champaign glasses!)

I found this GREAT chart off of Yup. Definitely not going to be getting most of these glasses!


Conclusion: I am not discarding etiquette. I think it plays an important role. My kids will grow up knowing it. However, purchasing, storing, and caring for rarely used items for the sake of ‘proper,’ or being slave to rules that cause more stress then help is foolish.

If I had the time and strength, I’d still do everything ‘properly,’ and I expect someday I will have a teapot and send ‘real’ thank you notes.

In the mean time, my priorities and limitations make a more minimalist approach to etiquette a relief!

What are some ‘improper’ ways you’ve found to live life more freely?

- Verity

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