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It is summer in Houston, and last night our bedroom A/C went kaput! My first reaction was to grumble, but then I reminded myself to “choose happiness!” I was thankful we had a guestroom to sleep in that had cool air and a fan. As we crawled into an unfamiliar bed, I was quickly reminded of the times I preached to others: “Every good hostess should sleep in her own guestroom for one full night. You will immediately see what is missing!”

Today, where we see every form of fashion on our streets, the question of men and shorts still produces uncertainty among many. There is a reason for this that is embedded in our DNA, and to fully understand we need to explore a little history.

“What are the main table manners children should know?” A common question I am frequently asked. Yet I have a tough time narrowing my answer. I pick my top three, then a fourth pops into my mind. Then a fifth. We may not all attend black-tie events, but we do all eat. Your children will one day be placed in a situation where they need to skillfully know their way around a dining table.

As we approach Mother’s Day, I would like to take a special look at the precious women in our lives that hold the title of Mother-in-law. Do you remember the movie Monster-in-Law? It starred Jennifer Lopez and Jane Fonda in a romantic comedy centered around the tumultuous relationship between a bride and her future mother-in-law. If you have not seen it, you should. It will keep you laughing but, sadly, may hit closer to home than you would like to admit.

I recently asked a group of college students these questions showing them the same photos. I had them shout out adjectives for the pictures they were viewing. For the home I heard: beautiful; wealthy; cared for; loving family; a place I want to live. For the broken-down home they said: old; no curb appeal; I wouldn’t go near it; scary; unstable.

“Rules without reason equals rebellion.” -Cynthia Grosso, Charleston School of Protocol. This could be my motto! I have a stubborn streak that can serve me well, but when it gets me into trouble, I just blame it on my DNA. No matter the reason, I am not the best rule follower unless I know why a rule was created. 

Remove your hat! Don’t set it on the table! Never let someone see the lining! Women, keep your hat on! Women, take your hat off! Ahhh…..I’m so confused!!! The old rules of hat etiquette were so straight forward, and everyone knew what to do. A gentleman removing his hat inside a building was as second nature as brushing his teeth. In today’s changing society, there is much confusion about hat etiquette, for both men and women, so let’s solve this mystery by starting with the “why” of hat protocol.

Do you find your spouse often saying, “Are you listening to me?” Or maybe you feel your child is not being an active part of the dinner conversation. If this resonates with you, it might be time to brush up on the finer points of being a good listener, while teaching your family to do the same. Below are 11 tips to help you get back on track so you can start enjoying deeper and more meaningful communication with those you love.

“Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.” (Proverbs 19:11 ESV).

 

When I am tired and my mind does not seem to focus on a deep study of the Bible, I will flip to Proverbs to keep focused on God’s Word in a more simplistic way. Yet, every time I read this book, I walk away amazed at the power it brings and thankful for the renewal I feel. The verse I read today really resonated with me.

As a stay-at-home mom to 2 toddlers, a large part of my day is spent in the kitchen preparing food. Meal planning at the beginning of the week is essential to ensuring my family is well fed with home cooked nutrition (I give myself a break on the weekends)! If you get overwhelmed with meal planning like I used to, try these tips to sooth your soul:

As a wife and mother of two rambunctious toddlers, it is a challenge to get a home-cooked dinner on the table at a reasonable time. Pulling the children away from their toys, getting them seated at the table, cutting up their meal, blowing on food that is too hot, and calling my husband away from his work can be exhausting.

Sometimes you just need to re-post tips that were great to read. I find myself saying this quite often when it comes to The Gottman Institute. They are some of the leading relationship experts in our country, and the research they did on trustworthiness is very informative.

Meeting friends for dinner after work, grabbing coffee with your girlfriend or just ordering pizza on a Friday night with neighbors. We all have a deep desire to be connected in a world that often forgets the importance of relationships. Many of us have the desire to entertain, but we let our circumstances keep us from extending hospitality. Often it revolves around our lack of confidence in our ability to host events. I get this!

A perfect entertaining year for me would be hosting a different themed party each month! Will I do that? No. Will I dream about it? Yes! If I cannot have a party every 4 weeks, I can at least help my Lisa Lou family with ideas so hopefully a few of you can carry the torch of hospitality for the rest of us.

You are not allowed to complain about not getting something that you never asked for. Read that again.

You are not allowed to complain about not getting something that you never asked for.

You are not allowed to complain about not getting something that you never asked for. Read that again.

You are not allowed to complain about not getting something that you never asked for.

  • Lisa Lou

12 Party Themes Everyone Will Enjoy



A perfect entertaining year for me would be hosting a different themed party each month! Will I do that? No. Will I dream about it? Yes! If I cannot have a party every 4 weeks, I can at least help my Lisa Lou family with ideas so hopefully a few of you can carry the torch of hospitality for the rest of us.

When planning an event, I believe the first step is creating a theme. Answer these questions: Why am I doing this? What is my common connector? The answers help decide the direction you will want to go with your party ideas. Hosting can be more difficult if we do not know how everything ties together. Just as an essay needs a controlling idea, so does a party. If you know your controlling idea, all the decisions starting with choosing invitations, to meal planning, to party favors will be easy to make.

Most party themes do not, and in my opinion should not, be elaborate. Save the over-the-top Cirque du Soleil or Casino Royale events for special occasions like a 50th birthday or philanthropic fundraiser. For simple gatherings at home think of one thing that ties your event together in a cohesive manner.


Maybe you are hosting a spring brunch and the best flowers this time of year have shades of blue and yellow. If so, then let the colors of blue and yellow be your connector. You might start with blue and yellow invitations, choose a menu with bright spring colors, adorn your table with blue hydrangeas and yellow roses, set your tablescape with your favorite blue linens, and send your guests home with a sweet-smelling blue hand soap tied with a yellow ribbon as a thoughtful party favor. See how easy that was? All because I had a theme for my party, I was able to channel my focus and make quick decisions.


As I live vicariously through each of you, I have listed twelve different party ideas I would love to host. Some, I have done before. Others are still on my list to do. They range from creative to traditional (and expected) gatherings. These are fun events I wanted to pass along so when the occasion arises and you are out of ideas, just grab this list and see what I would recommend. Remember, a get-together does not need to be unique. Often the tried-and-true celebrations are what your friends and family really desire.


1. January: Football Party: January is when the college playoff games are held. People are usually still recovering from the holidays, so this is a fun, casual and relaxing party to host during January.


2. February: Game Night or Casino Party: This month seems like a “blah” time of year for some. It is the depth of winter, we are surrounded by the color grey, it is cold, and we feel stuck inside. What a wonderful time to host a Game Night or Casino Party! Game Night can be executed on a tight budget. A casino party, if you hire a company, will be a more expensive affair. Both are great fun, and it really depends on your crowd. There is nothing better to pull people out of the doldrums than laughter, friends, and the sound of rolling dice.


3. March: Chef Party: Spring is around the corner, and it is a great time to learn new recipes as we begin to see warmer temperatures. If you enjoy cooking, you can be the celebrity chef and save money. Or enlist a friend to help. If you feel like splurging, hire an expert from a top-rated restaurant or find an aspiring chef that is just starting out. If you have a culinary school in your area, this is a perfect place to search for someone with a little experience, and their fee will not break the bank. You might choose a more formal evening with couples, or you can go casual and have the chef demonstrate their favorite BBQ techniques. Invite just the girls over and focus on healthy recipes they can make for their families. There are many options when you host a chef inspired evening.


4. April: Movie Night: Spring Fever has taken hold, and a fantastic way to celebrate is with a classic movie…outside! This is fun for an adults-only night or make it more child friendly and bring the entire gang. (My friends in the northern part of the U.S. may have to wait a little longer to host parties outside. Brrrr…).


5. May: Pool Party: This month is full of opportunities from graduation parties, bridal showers, end of school events and of course, Memorial Day. This is a great month to have a pool party. Children are eager for that first splash in the water, and even the adults are excited to dip their toes in the cool blue. In most parts of the country, May weather is nice but not too hot. In addition to patriotic colors, give your party a military theme. After all the reason we have Memorial Day is to honor our soldiers who have given their all. Let’s always remember this when we celebrate the start of summer on what should also be a day of remembrance.


6. June: Bridal Brunch: June is still one of the most popular months for weddings. It is an exciting time to host a brunch for those within your circle of friends who have upcoming weddings.


7. July: Independence Day: This holiday never gets old when it comes to hosting a party. You can create an event resembling the Memorial Day party mentioned in May, but this theme should be all about the red, white, and blue. Most guests prefer casual for an event like this, but if you are entertaining a more senior crowd that might struggle with the heat, having a comfortable sit-down dinner inside is always an excellent choice.


8. August: Back to School: Often families leave town in July or early August before it is time to ramp up for a new school year. This month can be a challenging time to entertain because many people are away. Personally, I stay away from August entertaining (I am usually away, too!). But, if you have school-age children, this is a fun time to throw a back-to-school party. If you do this, I suggest it be the weekend before school begins. Some families vacation right up until the day before classes start, and you do not want your turn out to be small.


9. September: Wine Tasting: The children are back in school and cooler weather is around the corner. This is a perfect month for more adult entertaining. Host a wine tasting! An elegant evening with a group of close friends is the perfect introduction for the start of the festive fall season.


10. October: Murder Mystery Dinner: October is my favorite month of the year. In the south, where I live, we are just beginning to have a break in hot weather. I have always felt October represents “what is coming.” There is so much you can do during this month from pizza and a slumber party to a progressive dinner which allows you to enjoy the fall foliage as you go from house to house. A favorite party of mine is a Murder Mystery dinner. It fits with the Halloween theme and adults love it! There are also Murder Mystery dinner kits you can purchase for teens.


11. November: Thanksgiving Dinner: Thanksgiving is usually the gathering of choice for this month, and I agree. Your efforts should go into extending hospitality to family and friends, but also to those around you that do not have loved ones nearby. Turn your thoughts outward during this month. Hosting a casual “Friendsgiving” is a great way to connect with people that might not be able to go home for the holiday.


12. December: Leftover New Year’s Eve: Christmas brings endless party opportunities. There are too many to mention in this post, so let me tell you about a different party we hosted for years. It was called a Leftover New Year’s Eve! It was great fun and works beautifully for families with young children who cannot get babysitters. The entire party revolved around Christmas leftovers being served, all party guests chipping in, and families arriving in their pajamas.


Hosting can be fun, and it does not need to be stressful. When you choose one common thread that ties everything together, starting with your invitations and ending with your party favors, it will make all your decisions easy. If any of you have hosted a themed party you would like to share, we would love to see it!

Coming soon: Ideas on decorations and party favors for each theme listed above; and be on the lookout for menus and recipes that accompany each party!

Together with you,

Lisa Lou