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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!

  • Rebecca Steinbach

A Child's Love Language

“My frame was not hidden from you

when I was made in the secret place,

when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.

Your eyes saw my unformed body;

all the days ordained for me were written in your book

before one of them came to be.” (Psalm 139:15-16)

When God knitted together our precious children before they were even born, I am convinced he also wove in their personalities, gifts, and a love language! The concept of “love languages” is that each of us expresses and receives love in a unique way. The five love languages identified by Gary Chapman in his bestselling book are: Touch, Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Quality Time, and Gifts. My husband and I have learned that knowing and speaking our children’s love language can work like magic to improve behavior and family relationships.

For example, one of my daughters is an Acts of Service girl. She is my go-to if I need something done. She will often come into the kitchen and say, “What can I do to help?” When she was only two years old, she noticed her newborn sister needed a diaper change. She carefully laid out a changing pad, a clean diaper, and two wipes before alerting me of the dirty diaper. This is a girl who innately anticipates needs! She feels loved when I ask her to help cook, clean, or grocery shop. When I include her in these tasks (even when it makes it harder on me), her “love tank” is filled and she feels secure.

My youngest daughter lives for Words of Affirmation! She not only likes receiving them, she naturally gives them. As soon as she could talk, she was saying “good job!” to encourage her older sisters. If there is a behavior I want to correct in her I have learned to not only provide verbal correction for the wrong behavior, but to provide copious praise when she does it right. This is not my love language, so I must dig deep and find my inner cheerleader. But, if she is praised consistently for the good behavior, she will do it again. When there have not been enough positive words in her day and her love tank is low, her behavior will show it! I have learned to recognize meltdowns and disobedience as indicators that she is running on empty.

Applying the concept of love languages helps us lovingly correct our children. My husband and I try to use a two-pronged approach to discipline: 1) consequences for wrong behavior and 2) intentionally speaking their love language. We have found that when the love tanks are full, the need for consequences greatly decreases and peaceful interactions increase.

God sent us our sweet kids pre-wired with gifts and tendencies. We have the privilege of learning about their uniqueness and loving them exactly as God designed!

Challenge: With some intentional observation, your children’s preferred love languages will become clear. Ask God to help you see the way your children show love to you and others. Do they give lots of hugs (touch), tell you all the details of their day (quality time), frequently make you artwork or bring you treasures (gifts)? Try to reciprocate those gestures, even if it does not feel natural to you. Experiment with the various love languages and watch how your children respond!

Rebecca Steinbach

“In the Trenches” Contributing Writer

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