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A toast may be offered in any setting and made to an individual or a group. Increase your confidence at your next social gathering by learning the ins and outs of this ancient tradition. Toasting to someone’s health or honor goes back to biblical times and can be found in most cultures including the Egyptians, Greeks, and Persians.

We could spend hours diving into every aspect of table do’s and don’ts, but I want to give you my top 13 tips that will help you navigate any social or business gathering with confidence.

When God knitted together our precious children before they were even born, I am convinced he also wove in their personalities, gifts, and a love language! The concept of “love languages” is that each of us expresses and receives love in a unique way. The five love languages identified by Gary Chapman in his bestselling book are: Touch, Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Quality Time, and Gifts.

When God knitted together our precious children before they were even born, I am convinced he also wove in their personalities, gifts, and a love language! The concept of “love languages” is that each of us expresses and receives love in a unique way. The five love languages identified by Gary Chapman in his bestselling book are: Touch, Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Quality Time, and Gifts.

Vacations are back on the calendar, and many people are crossing the country through our friendly skies. I thought a refresher on airport and plane travel might do us all a little good.

I heard the most interesting ad the other day. There is a company that offers private-type flights for the commercial world. They describe themselves as a “hop on jet service.” On their website it states, “The convenience of private air but at commercial prices.” I looked them up, and there was one flight from Dallas to Houston for only $99!

“Conflict is part of every marriage. Thirty-seven percent of newlyweds admit to being more critical of their mates after marriage. And 30 percent report an increase in arguments. Whether you argue does not determine the health of your marriage. Far more important than how often you argue is how you argue.

With Father’s Day coming soon, you and your family will be celebrating one of the most important men in your life- Dad. As a child, he was your hero, your protector, and your solid rock. Now that you are older, you admire him for all that he has done for you and you still look to him for advice and wisdom. Picking out the perfect gift for Dad is not easy!

School is almost out for summer! Many of us want to gift our child’s teacher something special at the end of the year for all the love, kindness, and patience they have poured out on our little ones. Being a teacher is not easy, and they are so deserving of our gratitude especially after this wild 20/21 school year! Some common go-to gifts you might have thought of are bath and body products, Starbucks gift cards and mugs, but below are some additional gift ideas your child’s teacher will be touched to receive:

School is almost out for summer! Many of us want to gift our child’s teacher something special at the end of the year for all the love, kindness, and patience they have poured out on our little ones. Being a teacher is not easy, and they are so deserving of our gratitude especially after this wild 20/21 school year! Some common go-to gifts you might have thought of are bath and body products, Starbucks gift cards and mugs, but below are some additional gift ideas your child’s teacher will be touched to receive:

Graduation is a pivotal point in a young person’s life. It is the beginning of a season of responsibility, coming of age, and independence. As these twenty-somethings are about to discover the meaning of “adulting,” here are some gift ideas that will no doubt be a blessing in your college grad’s new life.

If some of you are thinking, “I believe I have read this letter before,” you would be correct. Our son and daughter (in law) had a beautiful wedding ceremony planned for April of 2020. As with thousands around the country, they had to postpone the big event, but chose to hold a private covenant ceremony in our backyard. Well, we are finally celebrating their wedding vows, and it was on my heart to re-post the letter I wrote to my son last year. Some things have changed (he is now 25, not 24 as the letter states), but I hope you enjoy!

 I heard the most interesting ad the other day. There is a company that offers private-type flights for the commercial world. They describe themselves as a “hop on jet service.” On their website it states, “The convenience of private air but at commercial prices.” I looked them up, and there was one flight from Dallas to Houston for only $99! 

“We read a lot of articles and books about how to get through the engagement process, but no one ever talked to us about what it would be like the first year of our marriage. I wish we had known what to expect,” said one of the couples my husband and I mentor. This is a common comment, and if you find yourself having similar feelings, do not fret! You are not alone. The first year of marriage is fabulous, but it can also be difficult. Two people learning to become one does not happen overnight.

We all like to think we have good manners in marriage, but with the people that are closest to us, we can sometimes find ourselves slipping a bit. As stated by Cindy Grosso of the Charleston School of Protocol, manners are not about a bunch of rules. Manners are the outward manifestation of the condition of our heart. If we have a heart that loves, honors, respects, and cherishes our spouse, then these traits will show in how we behave.

Society is opening and people are resuming long overdue vacations. This is great news! I recently posted some tips on making your travels successful, but let’s focus on dos and don’ts of traveling with friends.

 

1. Boundaries: When traveling with others, set guidelines, boundaries, and expectations before leaving town. If you know you and your husband want one night to yourselves, express this up front. If a quiet breakfast in bed is necessary to start your day, see if this fits with the group’s schedule. 

  • Lisa Lou

13 Dinner Party Skills Every Guest Should Know


We could spend hours diving into every aspect of table do’s and don’ts, but I want to give you my top 13 tips that will help you navigate any social or business gathering with confidence.


1. Leave The Cocktail Glass Behind

If you are attending a dinner party, there may be cocktails offered in another room before the meal begins. When the hostess signals it is time to head to the dining room, leave your drink behind. Why? The dining table has been pre-set with the glasses you will need and adding another to your place setting will only clutter the minimal real estate in front of you. Your palate is another reason to leave the cocktail behind. Many hostesses take great pains to pare wine with the food being served. Once seated at the table it is time to switch to wine or water.


2. Bathroom, Purse and Phones

Yes, No and No! Before you head to the table, stop by the bathroom. It is best not to leave the table during a dinner party and making a quick trip to the loo can alleviate this necessity. If the dinner is in someone’s home, the hostess will tell you where you may store your personal items for the evening. If you prefer to keep your purse with you leave it in another room during dinner. This holds true for cell phones. At a private dinner party, the cell phone should be in another room. If you are attending a dinner party in a restaurant, place your phone in your purse and your purse under your chair.


3. Where Do I Sit?

Most hostesses will have place cards at each setting to tell guests where to sit. Find your spot and stand behind your chair until the hostess takes her seat. If there are no place cards, wait for the hostess to direct you.


Side note: If there are place cards present, NEVER switch them even if you rather sit by someone else. Where you have been placed is no accident. When I am hosting a dinner party, I will spend as much time arranging the seating assignments as I do on the guest list. A hostess works hard to match people based on personalities, similar interests, and/or business associations. If you switch the cards, you could potentially disrupt the dynamics of the table.



4. Napkins

Once your hostess places the napkin in her lap you place your napkin in your lap. (Fyi: Your napkin is the one to the left of your fork or found in the center of your plate.) The napkin stays in your lap the entire meal. Should you need to excuse yourself during the meal, place your napkin in your chair. Why the chair? No guest wants someone else’s dirty linen on the table next to their food. Once dinner is completed, fold your napkin, and place it on the table where your forks used to be (which is to the left of the plate).


5. Utensils

There are exceptions to this rule, but for simplicity sake, remember you use your utensils in the order they are placed, working from the outside in.


Example: The fork sitting farthest to the left of your plate and on the outside will be for salad.


Why? Because salad will be the first course served. The fork directly to the left of your plate, but to the right of your salad fork, will be for the main entrée. Why? Because this is the next course served. Dessert utensils are placed at the top of your plate or brought to you when this course is served.


6. Plates

The salad plate is directly to the left of your forks and the bread plate is placed above your forks. Here is a little trick to help you remember. Bring both of your index fingers and thumbs together in an “OK” symbol. Your left hand makes a “b” for bread and your right makes a “d” for drink. Bread plates (partnered with salad plates) are always on the left and your drinks are always on the right.


7. Glasses

Drinking glasses are placed to your right and above the knife and spoon. If wine is served the order of glasses from left to right will be water; red wine; white wine. I remember this by mentally alternating the color of the beverage: white-red-white (water (white); red wine (red); white wine (white)).


8. Bread & Butter

If butter is being passed use the knife on your bread plate or the butter knife accompanying the butter. Do not take butter from a community bowl and place it directly onto your bread. Instead, place a small serving of butter onto your bread plate. When you are ready to eat your bread, tear off a bite-sized portion and butter it. Never butter the entire roll, and do not bite into a roll. Nothing good comes from this. Why? First, if you bite into a fully buttered roll, you end up with food stuck to the front of your teeth. This is unsightly to the person you are speaking with. Secondly, bread can be chewy. Biting into a roll will necessitate tearing the bread away from your teeth. I made the mistake once of biting into a roll only to end up having to use both hands to rip the bread away. It was not pretty!


9. Set It Down

In between each bite set your utensils down. Do not hold them in your hands. This accomplishes two things. First, if your utensils are in your hands, you will unintentionally swing them around while carrying on a conversation. This can cause food to fly and make people uncomfortable when fork tines come close to their face. Secondly, when you set your utensils down between bites, it forces you to eat slowly. This helps avoid shoveling food. It is a more pleasant experience for the guests, and better for your health. Utensils are used for two purposes: to cut food or place food in your mouth. Any other time they should be out of your hands.


10. Resting Position

In between bites, place utensils in the resting position. The knife is placed at an angle at the top right corner of your plate with the blade facing toward you, and the fork is placed in the middle of your plate, tines up, with the handle pointing at 4 o’clock. If you are in a restaurant, this will signal to the waiter you are just taking a break, and they will not remove your plate. *


11. Eating

Try to pace your courses with that of your hostess. If you are a slow eater, pick up the pace, or tell yourself you will not worry about finishing that portion of the meal. A hostess will watch her guests to see if they are finished before bringing out the next round of food. You do not want to be the reason everyone at the table must wait.


12. Passing

If you are asked to pass a dish, do so by handing the food to the person on your right. Everything at a table moves counterclockwise. Why? Because most people are right-handed. Whatever dish is being passed, it will be easier for the guest to serve themselves using their right hand. If you pass a bowl of mashed potatoes to the right, and you offer to hold the bowl while the guest serves herself, she will now be able to use her right hand. If, instead, you pass the bowl to the left, your tablemate must use her left hand to serve herself. This works if she is left-handed, but most people are right-handed. Thus, the reason we pass to the right.


13. Finished

When you complete your meal utensils should be placed in the finished position. This is with the knife and fork laying parallel in the middle of your plate, handles pointing at 4 o’clock. The tines of the fork will face up. *


With most dinner guidelines there are historical reasons that form our modern protocol. I do not like to follow a rule without knowing the why. When we can answer the why, it gives us greater understanding. It also commits that rule to memory. If you want to explore some interesting “why’s” read our History of Etiquette.


If you can master these 13 tips you will be able to successfully, and confidently, coast through any dinner party. And if you make a mistake, do not panic! I attended a black-tie dinner one time, and my husband and I were seated at the head table. While I was gently trying to cut through the very tough, rubbery meat my fork slipped, and my chicken went airborne landing on the OTHER side of my husband’s plate! He leaned over and whispered in my ear, “Aren’t you the etiquette lady?!?” I shrugged my shoulders, laughed, and said, “…life happens.” We are going to make mistakes. Shrug it off. If someone else judges you, then THEY are the one with poor manners, not you. Do not take life too seriously and learn to laugh at yourself. A cheerful heart makes our world much easier to navigate!


Together with you,

Lisa Lou

(*European dining etiquette, otherwise known as Continental Dining, handles certain aspects of the utensils differently. Everything in this post addresses American protocol.)