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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!

  • Lisa Lou

3-Year Old Luci’s Galentine’s Party

Sami writes for Lisa Lou, and when I heard her precious little girl was hosting her own Galentine’s Day party I had to share. What an incredible mom! Sami knows the importance of helping her daughter learn how to show hospitality. Remember, as I say repeatedly at Lisa Lou, hospitality is different than entertaining. Hospitality is how we love on others. Inviting people into our home even when it is a mess. Taking food to a sick friend. Speaking to a stranger. These are all acts of hospitality. Entertaining is the way in which we show hospitality. Beautiful tablescapes and thematic parties would fall under this category.

Entertaining is fun, and I love decorating for a dinner party, but we should never let our desire to entertain override our responsibility to extend hospitality. I am so proud of Sami for doing both!

Luci, who is 3 1/2, helped her mommy set the table with pretty plates, napkins, and decorations. She also participated in creating the fringe backdrop you see in the photo. Mom taught Luci a good lesson about the work involved when entertaining. The two shopped together for all the items they would need, and Luci worked diligently in the kitchen with her mom to prepare the food. Hosting a gathering is much harder than it looks! It is good Luci learned this at such an early age.

Luci and mom had fun preparing to entertain, but Sami instructed her daughter on the most important part of being a good hostess. She taught her how to say hello to everyone and make them feel welcome. Luci did this by showing her friends around the house and where the bathroom was (just in case). Luci also shared her toys with her invited guests.

I love that this party had an activity. This is important for children, but it can also be great for adults. I often incorporate activities in my grown-up parties. We are never too old for fun!

Thank you, Sami, for sharing Luci’s fun party with us. And kudos to you, Mom, for teaching your sweet girl such an important lesson about hospitality.

Together with you,

Lisa Lou