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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!

  • Sami Reyna

4 Family Meal Planning Tips

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:

1. Make a list of your favorite, go-to meals that you make well, and often. Each time you prepare a dish that is a hit, add it to your growing list of menu items. This will save you time in the future, and it ensures you have plenty of ideas to quickly choose from when you are planning out your week. These favorite dishes also become family traditions which is great for making memories with your kids! I recommend categorizing the list by cuisine or theme! Here are mine: Mexican, Italian, Asian, Comfort Food, Family Favorites, Mediterranean. Try to have several go-to recipes in each category to rotate and repeat!

2. Don’t try to plan out too many meals! Be realistic! If you know you rarely cook 5 days a week due to your family’s schedule, anticipate that! It can be frustrating when you buy too many ingredients that sit, unused, due to the whirlwind of life. It pains me to throw out groceries from the refrigerator simply because I ran out of time. Also, remember with each meal you make you will also have leftovers. This should account for another meal. I would recommend only 3-4 days for meal planning but do what works for you!

3. Pick out three meals from your established list and write down what you need to purchase for the week. This only takes about 15 minutes. It is stressful to have no plan and head to the grocery store not knowing what to buy. You end up throwing things in the cart and hoping for the best! Always take inventory of what you have in the refrigerator and pantry after choosing your meals and before shopping. Try to create a menu based on what you already have in stock. If you need to save more time, order your groceries online for delivery or curbside pickup. Do not feel you must make a meal on the exact day you had planned. It can be very frustrating and overwhelming to stick to a strict schedule. Give yourself some grace and go with the flow. This will help you not feel like you are failing in some way. Because life happens!

4. Group meals together by cuisine. This helps to reduce food waste, save money, and simplify grocery shopping. Who wants to do Italian one night, Asian the next, and then Mexican the following? You will no doubt have ingredients left over. It’s just too much. You don’t want to get overwhelmed with a long list of different items you need from the store, either. I love variety but hate food waste. I will make several different Mexican meals in a week so I know I will use all that cilantro I purchased or empty out that tortilla packet. You will not become bored thinking you are eating the same thing each night, because each meal will be different. You are just using similar ingredients. I love taking this approach, because it makes for great snacks, too! You can use the leftover meat from taco night to make nachos the next day. It’s a win/win and your family will love it!

I hope these tips alleviate your meal-planning stress! Share your own tips in the comments below. I would love to know what works for you!

Samantha Reyna

Mom to 2 toddlers and loving wife