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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

10 Airport and Plane Etiquette Tips

Vacations are back on the calendar, and many people are crossing the country through our friendly skies. I thought a refresher on airport and plane travel might do us all a little good.

1. Weigh your bag before going to the airport: If your bag is overweight (50 pounds for most carriers), you will be forced to shuffle items around between your suitcases. This holds up everyone behind you waiting to check in. Buy a simple luggage scale so you can weigh your suitcase at home. This is the one I use. It has lasted for years and they make great gifts for the seasoned traveler in your life.

2. Remove all metal items from your clothing before you enter the security line if you know you are wearing something that will beep. I have my go-to “day of” travel outfit that I know will make it through security without setting off alarm bells. Part of my air travel “uniform” includes no jewelry. I keep these items in a small bag in my purse so I can easily put my jewelry on after I get through security.

3. If you did not have time to eat before arriving to the airport, grab a bite once through security, but try to finish your meal before boarding. Airplanes consist of re-circulated air and cramped quarters. When you bring your food on the plane others will have no choice but to inhale the smell of your half-eaten pastrami sandwich! If you simply must bring a meal with you, try to consume something mild that does not insult the olfactory of those around you (a bagel and cream cheese is a much better choice than your sandwich piled high with sauerkraut).

4. Once you board the plane and find your seat, always greet the person sitting next to you. If you do not wish to carry on a conversation throughout your flight, after greeting them and getting settled, plug your earbuds in as this will be a visual sign that you are out of commission.

5. The overhead compartment above your seat is the storage area you should use, and the space under the chair in front of you is for your smaller items.

6. As a vertically challenged female I appreciate how difficult it can sometimes be to get my bag in an overhead compartment. If you see someone struggling, offer to help.

7. Always use headphones when listening to music or watching a video. No one wants noise pollution.

8. Know where your personal space begins and ends. If you are in a window seat, you get the window and the armrest next to the wall. If you are on the aisle, you have the space in the aisle and the armrest by the aisle. If you are the unfortunate traveler stuck in the middle, the good news is you get both armrests!

9. Be aware of your hygiene! Shower before you hop on a plane, use deodorant, make sure your breath smells nice, and leave off the perfume/cologne. Oh….and please don’t take your shoes off midflight! No one wants to smell stinky feet, and most toes are not cute!

10. If you need to recline your seat, do so very carefully and only go back as far as you need. Yes, we have the right to recline, but it’s almost always unpleasant for the person behind us. Just be cognizant of who is behind you and how you are affecting their comfort.

Bottom line, when it comes to airport and plane etiquette, treat others like you wish to be treated. Knowing you will never see that person again does not excuse poor behavior. Remember, our manners are really nothing more than a condition of our heart. Be patient, kind, and respectful in all circumstances. You will feel better about yourself and so will those around you.

Together with you,

Lisa Lou