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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

9 Tips for Elevator Etiquette

Updated: Sep 7

Elevator etiquette? Did you know there was such a thing? Use these 1-minute interactions with fellow passengers to show kindness. Even the smallest gestures can make someone’s day better.

1. Sleeves are Great: When pushing the elevator button use the cuff on your shirt, or your elbow, to punch the button. This keeps you away from germy surfaces.

2. Stand to the Side: When you are waiting for the elevator to arrive, stand to the side. People may try to exit when the doors open, and you do not want to block their way.

3. Walk, Do Not Ride: The unstated rule is to take the stairs if you are only going two flights. Walk when you can. It is a healthier choice. (There are exceptions to this for our senior friends, parents with babies, and people with disabilities.)

4. Hold the Door/Do Not Hold the Door: We have all had the experience standing in an elevator when someone in the lobby yelled, “Hold the elevator!” Protocol states, if you are the only passenger, be kind and hold the door for the late arrival. If the lift is full, though, only hold the door if the late arrival can reach the doors within a few seconds. Otherwise, they need to catch the next ride. Why? Everyone’s time is important. You either sacrifice the time of those in the elevator, or you sacrifice the time of the late arrival. The late arrival should not ask an elevator full of people to wait. Always show kindness but use your judgement.

5. Go to Your Corner: If another passenger is on the elevator when the door opens, place yourself in the corner opposite them, and face forward. If you know you will be riding the elevator to the furthest floor, position yourself towards the back. This way others in the elevator do not need to walk past you to exit. Keeping a distance of at least three feet is considered the minimum for respecting someone’s personal space.

6. Floor 5, Please: If another person is closest to the button panel, tell them your floor number so they can push the button. This avoids many hands touching the same pad.

7. Greetings: Always Say hello when you enter an elevator with other people. This immediately breaks the ice and helps avoid that uncomfortable silence. No other words are necessary unless you know someone on the elevator. But a simple hello and a smile makes everyone feel comfortable.

8. Cell Phones: Passengers do not want to hear your cell phone conversation. No phone calls on the elevator.

9. Exit: Let those in the front two corners exit first. If anyone is standing in the middle, they go next. The two back corners exit last. If you are in the back of an elevator, it is nice to announce when your floor is arriving so others may move aside to let you exit.

We navigate life through the rules of etiquette, which is simply a playbook that shows us how to work together harmoniously. In all things, practice kindness. Good manners are nothing more than the outward expression of the condition of your heart. Smile, make eye-contact, and give others a nod. Your good intentions will shine through.

Together with you,

Lisa Lou