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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!

  • Rebecca Steinbach

5 Tips for Husbands Who Travel

My husband travels frequently for work, often to other countries, traversing time zones and cultures. This presents a challenge to our connectedness and family life. Over time, we have developed some practices that make the travel schedule work for our family. Here are 5 tips that can help a wife feel supported and valued even when her husband is not physically present.

1. Include her in the planning process when possible. For example, if you know a work trip needs to happen but the date is somewhat flexible, ask your wife for input. “Should I leave this day or the next day?” “Which week would be better for you?” “What are the dates for school events I can’t miss?” These conversations will make your wife feel heard and prioritized over work.

2. Call or text her once a day while traveling. A two-minute phone call is better than no phone call at all! A quick check-in will help you both feel more connected and help you stay up to date on the events of the week once you return home. When you choose to take time out of your busy day to check in on things at home, your wife will feel chosen and less alone.

3. Hire help when you can. It is a lot for one parent to take on all responsibility on a daily basis. Talk about your budget and what kind of help would be most beneficial for your situation. This could be getting a housekeeper, an afternoon homework helper, a meal service, grocery delivery, or a nanny. Just because your wife can do something (like cook or be the math tutor) does not mean it is always the best use of her time and energy. When you are not traveling, make family time a priority. The trade-off is worth it to hire a yard guy, handyman, or mechanic to eliminate things from your own weekend to-do list. You may be taking money out of your bank account, but you will be investing a great deal more into your family. Finding help to assist you with your chores frees up time to reconnect with your wife and kids.

4. Encourage her to schedule breaks and be social. If you know ahead of time that you will be gone several nights in a row, that is a great opportunity for your wife to find a sitter for one evening and take the night off. It could be a ladies’ night out or just time alone at a coffee shop while someone else takes care of bedtime. A few hours “off-duty” is refreshment for the soul!

5. Lastly, you can encourage your wife by loving on your kids even from a distance. You can record video messages or send pictures specifically for them. Or have your kids pick a favorite stuffed animal that can make the trip with Dad and who makes appearances in photos. If you ever see my husband photographing a dolphin beanie-boo in the business class lounge, just know there are three little girls at home feeling very loved!

By being intentional about your time and working together, it is possible to stay connected as a family and create some sweet family memories amidst a busy schedule.

Rebecca Steinbach

“In the Trenches” Contributing Writer

Wife, Mother of 3 girls, and avid travel planner!