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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

7 Ways to Save on Gifts this Holiday Season



Does this blog seem early? Did you know we only have 10 weeks before we move into December? It is time to start planning!


1. Decide how much you can spend. If you have a $500 budget and 10 people you need to give gifts, then you can only spend $50 a person. If some of these people are couples, combine their money and buy one gift worth $100 they will both enjoy. A $100 gift certificate to their favorite special restaurant? Great idea! Do not feel pressured to spend more than your budget. Maybe it is time you cut down on who you give gifts to. Do you have a large family: aunts, uncles, cousins, siblings, 10 nieces and nephews? Where does it end?!? There comes a point you need to rein in the gifts.


Communicate early in the fall if you decide it is time to decrease the quantity of gifts, reduce the amount you will spend on a gift (maybe you agree each family member cannot spend more than $30), or if you plan on discontinuing gifts all together. This way others have time to digest the news, and you avoid that guilty feeling when the person says, “Ohhhh, I already purchased your gift!” Be firm in your decisions. If someone complains or tries to guilt you into giving “just one more time,” politely say no. Putting boundaries around your family budget is important for the health of your financial situation. By the way, you might be surprised how many family members sigh in relief, because they have felt the same way!


2. Instead of a physical gift, create coupons for your TIME. A coupon to wash mom’s car, to organize dad’s tools, or to give your cousin a homemade manicure. What about treating your sister and brother-in-law to a romantic, homecooked meal followed by free babysitting so they can enjoy a night on the town? There is no end to the creative options you have.


3. One way to increase your holiday spending allowance is to adjust your yearly budget. Look at areas you can cut to have a little extra money during this month. Do you normally eat out two nights a week? Tell yourself in October and November you will not go to a restaurant. Use the extra savings to increase your gift giving. There are always ways to reduce your spending, but you might need to get creative, and you will also need to practice a little self-discipline and self-sacrificing.


4. Did you know Christmas and Hanukkah come every December? Surprise! The holidays should not sneak up on you. They occur the same month every year. If you are organized, and plan ahead, you can find little jobs throughout the fall to earn extra cash. This could be as extreme as taking a second job, or you can focus on odd tasks people need help with during this busy season: dog walking, baby-sitting, yard work, gift wrapping, helping serve at private parties. These are just a few ideas.


5. Do you have old gift cards lying around you never used? Did you know you can sell them? Why not gather these up, cash them in, and increase your holiday budget? Here are two sites you can research: https://www.cardpool.com/ ; https://www.raise.com/ .


6. Save money on expensive wrapping paper. This can kill your budget! If you have children, a fun way to wrap gifts is to use their artwork. I used butcher paper when our son was young (you can also use the inside of paper grocery bags). I rolled the paper on the floor, and our son would draw whatever was on his mind. It is a great art project, and parents and grandparents love receiving homemade gifts from the children. (You can also choose to wrap the gift and then let your child showcase his artistic side. Whichever is easiest.) Tie the presents with natural twine you can find at the craft store, and you are set.


7. Never discount re-gifting! There are some rules you need to follow, though. Re-gifting does not mean giving junky gifts you received that you did not like. If you did not like it, the odds are other people will not either. Proper re-gifting means utilizing what you already have that you know will bring happiness to someone else. After all, the reason we give is to show our love and affection for someone else. So, make sure it is something the receiver will enjoy. Were you given two copies of a book by an author your sister loves? Then this would be a good re-gift for your sister. Whatever you give should be new and in its original box. You should not give away a gift that someone spent time and love giving to you. Example, no matter what my husband gives me, I would never re-gift it! This holds true with family heirlooms. Hang onto these, no matter what you might think of the item, because you have been entrusted with a piece of family history. Do not re-gift within the same circle of friends, and make sure you re-wrap the gift. You should treat your re-gift with as much love as you would something you purchased with your own money.


Remember when it comes to gifts, you are dealing with one of the 5 Love Languages. If a person’s highest love language is receiving gifts, you will need to be creative to avoid making them feel you are withholding your love. For the person whom gifts rank high on the love scale, remember it is not about the physical item as much as it is about what the gift means (the time you spent creating the gift, the thoughtfulness you invested). To learn more about the love languages, I highly recommend you read Gary Chapman’s books and review his other resources.


Above all else, remember why we celebrate this time of year. Do not let the commercialism of the season override the true meaning. It is in your control to keep the priorities of your family in check. Happy giving!


Together with you,

Lisa Lou