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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

4th of July Recipes

I love celebrating the 4th of July! I have so many memories over the years of bike parades, money dives, and belly flop contests at the neighborhood pool. As well as helping my mom prepare for a big family cookout. At night, we would dress in our most festive red, white, and blue attire, stuff ourselves full of BBQ, and eagerly anticipate the main event – fireworks! Since coronavirus hit this year, many of those celebrations will be cancelled or socially distanced. Although the holiday will not be quite the same, there are still fun ways to celebrate our nation’s birth. Our family is planning a stay-at-home celebration with a backyard cookout featuring a festive red, white, and blue themed menu. There are fabulous options available this time of year with delicious seasonal produce. Posted are recipes for the starter and dessert along with ideas for an easy main menu. Enjoy!

MENU

For starters:

Burrata with roasted tomatoes

For the main course:

Blue-cheese burgers

BBQ chicken

Red skinned potato salad

Sliced watermelon

For dessert:

Pretzel Crust Key Lime Pie



RECIPES

Burrata with roasted tomatoes - serves 6-8

To make the roasted tomatoes:

2 pints cherry tomatoes, assorted colors, and sizes if available

4 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced

Grated zest of 1 lemon

1 t. fresh thyme

¼ t. crushed red pepper

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

¼ cup olive oil

1 t. balsamic vinegar

2 balls burrata cheese

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Toss the first five ingredients in the olive oil and place in a small roasting pan. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast the tomatoes for about 25 minutes until they begin to soften and blacken in spots.

While the tomatoes are roasting, prepare the burrata. Place 2 balls of cheese on a large platter. When tomatoes are warm and bubbly, remove from oven and immediately pour over the cheese. Drizzle balsamic vinegar over the top of the tomatoes and garnish with fresh herbs such as chopped thyme or basil.

Enjoy with crackers or a toasted baguette.

Note: Burrata cheese is also delicious for dessert with watermelon and fresh mint, roasted peaches with brown sugar or strawberries drizzled with balsamic vinegar. These options would be good with toasted bread or grilled pound cake.


Pretzel Crust Key Lime Pie – serves 8-10

Crust:

1 ½ cups finely ground graham crackers

1 ½ cups finely ground graham crackers

1 ½ sticks unsalted butter, melted

1 t. sugar

Key Lime Filling:

1 ¼ cups freshly lime juice (can use either Key Limes or regular limes)

1 T. finely grated lime peel

2 14 oz. cans sweetened condensed milk

2 large eggs

Whipped Cream:

2 cups heavy whipping cream, chilled

½ cup powdered sugar

1 t. vanilla

Fresh berries for garnish

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Spray an 11 inch by 1-inch tart pan with a removable bottom with cooking spray.

Using a food processor, crush graham crackers and pretzels until finely ground. Add sugar and melted butter and pulse to combine. This mixture should resemble wet sand. Press the crumbs into tart pan, covering bottom and sides evenly.

In a large bowl, whisk the eggs and sweetened condensed milk together. Add lime juice and lime peel until thoroughly mixed. Pour filling into prepared crust.

Bake pie for 35 minutes until filling is set and crust is slightly browned. Place the tart pan on a baking sheet to prevent spilling since the crust will be very full. Remove pie from oven and let cool before refrigerating. Chill for at least 6 hours or overnight.

Right before serving, whip the cream then garnish decoratively. Serve with a mixture of fresh berries – strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries.

Mother/Daughter Contributors

Mom: Lisa O’Connor and Daughters: Megan and Allie