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The day after a party a gracious guest will follow up with a thank you note or phone call. Do this within 1-2 days so your appreciation does not seem stale. The formula for a thank you looks like this:

Some dinner parties require a more formal protocol. For example, a military dinner will have strict guidelines as to where personnel will sit. If you are hosting a client dinner, you might also prefer a more formal arrangement. Even in a casual setting, you can choose to follow protocol to honor a special guest. The below description is based on a social party (vs. business), a rectangular table, and includes both men and women:

When hosting a dinner party, where you place your guests around the table is a crucial element for the success of your event. You presumably put thought into who you invited to the gathering. Do not stop there. The placement of each person around the table is something that should not be thrown together at the last minute.

I love entertaining friends and family in my home, especially during the holidays. But I must admit, it can be a bit overwhelming hosting a dinner party in the stage of life with little ones running around. The cooperation I receive from my toddlers is a significant factor in how efficient I am on a daily basis. Add in hosting a party, and it can be overwhelming. If you find yourself wanting to gather friends for a festive evening, here are my tried-and-true tips for entertaining with young children:

Planning a party can be fun, but do you know the best way to ensure everything runs smoothly? Have a rehearsal for your party. Yes, you heard correctly. You have spent a great deal of time planning your theme, creating your guestlist, and delivering your invitations. Now is the time to do a mock rehearsal which will allow you to create an action list of outstanding items around your home that might need attention. It also helps solidify any last-minute details.

These thirteen tips will get your through any dinner party. Here is a quick refresher. 

1. Leave The Cocktail Glass Behind:

If you are attending a dinner party, there may be cocktails offered 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 go to great lengths to pare wine with the food being served. Once seated at the table it is time to switch to wine or water.

You just received an invitation to a party, and the attire says: Shabby Chic; Razzle Dazzle; Cowboy Couture. What??? Word to hostesses: when listing the attire on the invitation for a party, make it clear. We do not want our guests to solve a riddle to understand what is expected of them. There is a phrase I like to quote, “To be unclear is to be unkind.”

Table manners are the area in which I receive the most questions, but it is introductions that have people the most baffled. After I explain the correct way to conduct an introduction, I often get that starry-eyed stare that tells me, “I really don’t understand what you just said.” To help all of us, I have broken down the process into a simple format. Before I proceed, let me say this. Do not let a lack of confidence in managing an introduction keep you from DOING an introduction. Even if you are unsure, most people do not care.

When attending a party, there are certain expectations we have of our hostess. We appreciate everything she has done, but we do assume there will be food, drinks, a clean bathroom, and a home that does not smell like the local pet store. What some people forget is there are also expectations of the guest. When a hostess plans a party, a great deal of time is spent deciding who she will invite. What group of friends go well together?

Have you ever seen someone walk into a party looking scared, so unsure of themselves, and then watched them slink off to an obscure corner? Their body language screamed, “I wish I was anywhere but here!”

You are invited!!! There is something special we feel when we receive an invitation. It is the anticipation of a celebration, the excitement of choosing what to wear, but more importantly, it is the affirmation that tells us, “I was chosen!” We know a hostess has responsibilities to ensure her party is a success, but did you know there are expectations of the guests? And your first job begins when you receive an invitation that says RSVP. Follow the six steps below and the hostess will be singing your praises!

  • Patti Hatton

2021 Decisions: Success or Failure

Updated: Jan 28, 2021

The Covid-19 quarantined lifestyle has had its challenges! I have been proactive in areas such as cleaning and organizing, spending time with loved ones, and learning to play online Mahjong. However, I have slipped into some comfort- zone patterns of behavior that are not serving me well, and it is these activities I would like to address.

Behaviors are driven by the decisions we make, and decisions determine our successes and failures. There are big decision categories such as what type of person we marry, will I develop my spiritual life, or what vocation will I pursue. Then there are daily categories: will I eat healthy foods; will I exercise; will I foster and develop strong friendships; will I monitor what goes into my mind. How we answer these questions will guide our decisions and our decisions will drive our successes, failures, and future.

The decision is the seat of power and the place where Christ awaits to give us strength when we are weak (2 Corinthians 12:9). Utilizing our freedom to make good decisions is key to living a satisfying life. Are you conscious of the decisions you make each day? The purpose of making decisions is to drive preferred goals and to secure positive outcomes. What are you choosing? Are you accepting ownership of yourself and making choices to live your best life?

Let’s try this exercise. Name a personal target area for growth or area of behavior you want to change in 2021. Now, name two people you know who are succeeding in this area and name two who are failing. If you study each person, you will see common actions each are taking, or not taking, resulting in a positive or negative result.

The rut of behaviors I find myself in because of quarantine is watching too much TV and eating too many snacks…while watching TV. During the day I eat in a healthy manner and exercise regularly. In the evening, I give myself permission to eat a treat. To me, TV and treats represents the finish of a busy day and a respite from the pressure to perform. This is not a bad thing if handled properly. My problem arises in the amount of time I watch TV. During the shutdowns, my screen watching has increased dramatically, and so have the amount of treats I consume.

What is your challenge? What area do you wish to change? Do you drink more than you would like? What about excessive shopping online? Have you stopped initiating activities to build friendships, grow your mind, create something, serve or mentor others? Do you need to learn a new skill, study your Bible more, or clean out your closets?

Give serious thought to an area you would like to change. Begin to observe your thought patterns associated with your challenge. What rituals will you put into place to help you avoid slipping back into the same bad habits?

I rate my behaviors on a scale from 1 to 10. Wanting to watch TV and eat snacks is an 8 for me. This is high. But I also know the cost of my unsupervised behaviors will cause me to waste time, gain weight, and lose sleep. I need to actively come up with ideas I can use to substitute my actions. I must find tools to put in my toolbox I can use the next time I want to sit on the couch and binge.

When I look introspectively, I realize I enjoy rest time and pleasurable snacks. Knowing this about myself, I can take steps to determine other ways to meet these same needs, which will also accomplish my goal to remain healthy.

These are the three alternative behaviors I have chosen when I want to watch TV:

  • Turn the TV off and leave the media room at a pre-determined time.

  • Choose two nights a week to forgo watching TV and work on a creative project instead.

  • Cultivate a habit of writing in a journal at the end of each day, which requires cutting TV time off at a reasonable hour.

Here are my three alternative behaviors for snacking too much in the evening:

  • Plan to drink decaf tea after enjoying one treat. The tea represents a soft finish and fills the stomach.

  • Sit on the floor and do sit-ups, or some form of exercise, as a distraction and to create new energy.

  • Embrace the discomfort of saying no to overeating. (This is a big one because you are allowing yourself to be uncomfortable. Change can cause discomfort, which is often why we resist it. Ask God to make Himself strong on your behalf and to combat the desire to eat. Over time, the neurological wiring in the brain will alter and the uncomfortable urges will dissipate. Celebrate the discomfort knowing that you are experiencing your body making a positive shift.)

Fill your toolbox when you are not in the middle of your challenging activity if you want to experience success. This way, when temptation arises, you are prepared. Without a pre-planned roadmap, the pressure becomes too strong, and you will slip back into the never-ending cycle of repeat failure. If you need extra support, rally a friend, spouse, or professional counselor to encourage you. Help can come in many forms, and our likelihood of success is greater when we are in the presence of people that care for us.

Cheers to you and to making decisions that will drive you to experience a happy and healthy 2021!

Patti Hatton, MA, LPC