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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

Be Happy - Part 3

Updated: Jun 3, 2020

Summary of the book The Law of Happiness by Dr. Henry Cloud


There used to be a commercial for the Nature Valley Sweet and Salty Nut Bar where there is a man swinging in his hammock trying to grab this nutritious bar off a tree stump. He ends up being unsuccessful getting the bar, because he won’t get out of the hammock to grab the food. All he had to do was stand up and take two steps, but instead he lets the food drop to the ground. Although the commercial is supposed to be funny, it is a good illustration of what happens when we choose to be inactive, or in other words…lazy. We miss out! Being happy takes effort. It is a choice we all make. We must reach out and grab happiness, or it will surely pass us by.


How do we reach out and grab happiness? We must engage with our time and invest in others. A few examples include:

1) Investing in relationships: this is often done through the church, or other organizations of interest, by getting involved with our time and meeting other people.

2) Pursuing goals: when a person is actively pursuing a goal, they tend to be happy.

3) Serving others: when we give of ourselves to make someone else’s life better, this tends to make us happy.


These are just a few examples of how happy people engage, but one common thread among these items is that they all require action. Happy people JUMP into life. They do not sit on the sideline. My husband and I rarely turn down an invitation and we both love an adventure. For him, it is traveling. For me, it is hiking through the mountains. No matter what activity we engage in, upon completion of the event, we always ask each other, “What did you learn? Anything new?” We take the approach that every experience we have teaches us something, thus making us wiser, and for us, this brings us great happiness. To receive this happiness, though, we must first act. We must first ACCEPT the invitation. We must MOVE off the couch and journey out into the adventure. Being happy takes work, and that work begins when we act.

Another aspect of happiness that ties into this is to remind ourselves that we are each responsible for our own happiness. No one else can make us happy. One day my husband came home with flowers, told me not to worry about the evening and spontaneously cooked me dinner. It was a wonderful night, but the problem was, I was in a bad mood before he walked in the door. It didn’t matter how nice he made the evening, only I could choose if I was going to be happy. He could not make me be happy. I had to choose to be happy. This can be very hard, because as human beings we tend to be driven by feelings. I didn’t “feel” like being happy that night. I didn’t feel like smiling, and my selfish desires were to make him miserable right along with me. I had enough sense, though, to recognize the effort my husband had put forth in creating a wonderful evening. I had a choice to make. I could let my selfish desires ruin the evening, or I could “choose” happiness. Choosing to be happy is another form of “doing.” I changed my attitude and was rewarded with a wonderful night.

To be happy, we must act…we must DO. If you have always wanted to write a book, then you must research the topic, take notes, sit at a computer and physically maneuver the keys to write words. You must DO. Happy people are not lazy. They are DOERS.


God warns against laziness. Proverbs 13:4 states, “The soul of a lazy man desires, and has nothing; but the soul of the diligent shall be made rich.” We’ve all known people that dream big dreams, but then waste day after day perched on the couch in front of the TV. They then wonder why their dreams never become reality. Usually it is because they spend most of their time “dreaming” instead of “doing.” (If we are honest, I think most of us can say we have fallen victim to the comfort of the couch one too many times. I know I can!) God told the Jews he would give them a Promised Land. At that moment, what greater happiness could there be for these people? Yet, the Israelites had to act on this information in order to receive this happiness. They had to go and claim the Promised Land. They had to DO. They could not stay where they were and expect to receive this promise. They could not exhibit laziness and expect to be rewarded.


I love Dr. Henry Cloud’s quote, “God has promised you abundant life, but he has not promised you an abundant life with no effort. Work on your happiness, take responsibility for it, get moving.”


I challenge each of us today to think about one thing that we have always wanted to accomplish. A goal we want to achieve. Write that goal down. Tape it to your computer screen, your bathroom mirror or on the front of the refrigerator door. Let it be a constant reminder. Then, take one step today toward achieving that goal. That one small step might be as simple as setting an appointment to get the ball rolling on a project, ordering a book to help you with some research or setting up lunch with a friend. Today, take a physical step towards happiness. Happy people are not lazy. Happy people DO.


Together with you,

Lisa Lou


(link to Be Happy - Part 4)