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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!

  • Alina Gersib

5 Tips for Reducing Social Anxiety


With school starting up for the fall, the world seems to be opening again. Groups will start meeting, trivia nights will be re-scheduled, and co-workers will grab dinners together. In the past few months of distancing you may have found not being around people as much has you both excited but also anxious to re-engage. The thought of talking to new people can be daunting. If this is the case for you, do not worry. Below are a few easy to implement suggestions to quell social anxiety and get you ready for your next get together!

1. First Things First

Take a few minutes at the beginning of each day (especially on days when you have plans) to reset and speak some affirmation into yourself. This helps get your mind settled and automatically feel more confident. Some of my favorite affirmations are, “I enjoy socializing. I am a good communicator. I have something important for someone to hear, and I will share it today.” I find that saying these out loud and making eye contact with yourself in a mirror is a powerful way for the words to sink in.

2. Think About the Times You Feel Most Anxious

On a day when you do not have anything planned, sit down, and think through the times when you usually experience social anxiety. Is it attending a house party with lots of new people where you need to make small talk? Visiting a bible study? Going out with co-workers? Grabbing dinner with certain individuals? If you feel incredibly anxious under certain settings but not under others, this could be a sign that you do not feel you are allowed to be your authentic self in those settings. The best idea I can recommend is thinking thoroughly if the purpose of the group outweighs the feeling that you cannot speak from your heart.

3. Consider Finding an Alternate Way to Socialize

If you feel that you could go to a different sort of gathering and feel less anxiety, it is worth trying and comparing the two experiences. I used to feel incredibly anxious when I would meet with a specific group. When I stopped going to that group and joined another, I found my anxiety significantly reduced. If you are experiencing social anxiety it is far easier to build relationships by attending smaller gatherings, especially when there are a few trusted friends present as well. Remember, this is all about assessing why you feel anxious in certain settings. Be honest with yourself and make adjustments where necessary.

4. Go in Prepared

Once you have identified the areas you feel anxious, it is now time to figure out a game plan for the event. It is easier to socialize during an event if you prepare beforehand. If you find that making small talk with new people at house parties is what triggers your anxiety, then prepare a list of questions you could ask. People LOVE to talk about themselves and also love complements. I find an easy way to approach someone is to simply compliment something about them and then ease into a conversation from there.

5. Remember that You Have Something to Share

Many times, social anxiety can feel like a stone on your chest that weighs you down and keeps you quiet. However, this is not the way it was meant to be!! You are meant to speak truth and share what is in your heart for others to hear, not to be silenced by anxiety and fear. You have something vitally important to share. Remind yourself of this whenever you feel nervous. Take the focus off yourself and your own insecurities and put attention instead on the other people and see what you can bring to a conversation that will enhance their life.

At the end of the day, socializing should not be something to feel anxious over. You are simply sharing your life experiences and insights with another human being. With some people you may find a shared bond and continue to pursue the friendship. With others you may part ways after conversing once. This is totally fine! Enjoy yourself in the process and just remember that every other person at the party will feel awkward at some point, too. The easiest way to get out of your own head is to think about someone else. Be there for the person who is standing alone at a party and step out of your comfort zone to start a conversation with them. It will help you feel better, guaranteed.

Alina Gersib