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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!

  • Lisa Lou

Choosing a School: Public/Private/Homeschool

In the days of COVID, deciding how your child will be educated takes on a new meaning. Choosing a school is one of the fundamental decisions parents must make. There are pros and cons for each choice. In addition to thinking about your child’s specific needs, you must take into consideration the overall family lifestyle.

Public Schools: Public schools will ensure your child is introduced to the children in their neighborhood. This can be helpful when you are trying to find close-by connections. There is greater diversity in a public school because all children have a right to a free public education. There is usually greater diversity in academic classes as well as extracurricular activities, too. Be advised that in the larger schools, there can be a very selective process as students head toward high school. This may keep your child from participating in activities they wish to experience. Public school classes are taught according to specific curriculum standard guidelines. In addition, parents can keep tabs on the performance of the school, what their child is being taught, as well as how their school stacks up based on a variety of measures. One option in the public-school system is the charter school. To gain access to a charter school you must apply, as well as enter a lottery system (for those charter schools with a waiting list). School guidelines differ by state, but for Texas residents you may utilize these public school links for more information: ; ;

Private Schools: In a private school a student may be able to experience a wider array of extracurricular activities than students in a public school, simply because these schools tend to be smaller. You do not have to be “heading pro” to participate in athletic activities or the school play. Check into the classes and activities offered in the private school you are researching. Some private schools do not offer the same variety of academic and extracurricular options that you have in large public schools. One aspect to consider in a private school is their alignment with your family values. You might find a closer match in these institutions. If your family values are faith-based, science-focused, computer-focused, etc., and this is important to you, a private education may be a good choice. Keep in mind there is usually considerable cost for a private education.

Homeschool: Homeschooling is a great option for families that value flexibility and the opportunities that go with that whether they be real-life focused, or travel focused. A typical homeschool day can usually be completed in less time than their public/private counterparts. Which can leave more time for other educational opportunities. Make no mistake, homeschooling requires an intense commitment, typically from the mother. The homeschool mom must wear three hats in the family: mom, wife, and teacher. This can be a heavy load. However, there are a variety of academic, sports, and fine arts cooperatives for homeschool parents which can help lighten the load.

Contributing writer:

Donna Bahorich-Texas State Board of Education