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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!

  • Patti Hatton

Q/A As a Mom Making Time for Yourself

Updated: Oct 22, 2020

Q: As a mom when do you make time for yourself to make sure your own glass stays full before filling everyone else’s glass? When is it alright to give yourself permission to be alone or away?

A: Self-care is a priority for parents with children of any age that are still in the home. A mom should not feel guilty for taking time to attend to her spiritual, physical, and emotional needs. However, small children require continuous supervision and there are times we sacrifice self-care for the necessities of parenting. With that said, if adult needs are ignored, over time relationships will become strained and problematic. Practical ways to attend to personal needs are to use nap times for your own rest or work. Hire a teenager to play with your children while you retreat to another part of the house. If you set this up on a routine basis, then you can be more organized in your day-to-day activities knowing the hours you do and do not have time to yourself. Take turns keeping a friend’s children. You can trade weeks and give each other a break. Plan a lady’s night out and take a cooking class, painting class or join a book club. Exercise is a top priority to keeping yourself mentally and physically healthy. Most gyms have childcare, so this is another way to give yourself a break, while at the same time improving your health. Have an early and consistent bedtime for children. Use the evenings to meet your personal needs and spend time with your spouse. For your birthday or other gift giving holidays, ask family and close friends for gift cards or babysitting money. Read blogs (like Lisa Lou’s!) to see how other mothers are coping. Weekly playdates with moms can give you needed adult human connection as well as educate you on how other mothers are handling the same issues. We all learn from each other!


Patti Hatton, MA, LPC

www.pattihattoncounselor.com