Living just off LSU’s campus, April Setliff loves to throw parties for football games. Years ago, she had the idea to start a business that’s sole purpose is to teach people how to host properly.
Setliff started Red Stick Refinement, teaching etiquette classes out of her home. In her classes, she aims to show what minding your manners actually means.
“I’m not looking to the person to my left at dinner like, ‘Did they use the wrong fork?’ I’m not judging people. I tell my students that having good manners is the opposite of judging,” says Setliff.
One of her students is the daughter of a Baton Rouge real estate agent Ashley Laborde Vuci. She sent her daughter to Redstick Refinement hoping to show her what she learned growing up.
Vuci’s family says that the South is a family-oriented place where hosting parties is an art. People expect things from their hosts and hosts expect things from their guests. But, according to Setliff, manners have no boundaries, though they might look different from place to place.
“Wherever you go, respect is respect,” says Setliff.
While I was at Setliff’s house, I showed her my favorite aspect of hosting a party: the cooking. I walked her through each step of my recipes for red sauce and meatballs that are famous in my family. In turn, she showed me where each fork, spoon and plate goes on the table. At the end of the day, we sat and enjoyed a meal together.
While etiquette standards and conventions may change over time, the foundation of polite and proper hosting remains. And its people like Setliff that are ensuring that that foundation remains strong in the future.