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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 Communicating with a Quiet Spouse

Updated: Oct 22, 2020

Q: My spouse comes from a family that does not share their feelings with each other. He is quiet which makes it difficult to communicate. I come from a family that shares everything. How can we better communicate with each other?

A: Opposites attract, and I can see why you were drawn to one another. If you learn to meet in the middle, a beautiful balance can be obtained. Not knowing the full situation, I will give one word of caution. Sharing “everything” is not the norm for healthy relationships (depending on what you mean by “everything”). Once a word is spoken, it cannot be taken back and there are some things that are sacred between husband and wife that need to be treated as such. When it comes to sharing information about our own life, we can take liberties, but we need to seriously discern if information about our spouse is ours to share. A good test for this is imagine your conversation with a parent or friend is being video-taped. Would you want that videotape being replayed for your spouse? Would he be happy with what you revealed? If not, we need to hold those conversations to ourselves. Otherwise, trust issues will arise between the couple, which causes a quiet spouse to become even more quiet.


Regarding your question in getting a quiet spouse to speak, open-ended questions are a great way to offer a person a platform for conversation. For example, asking a person if they like or do not like something is asking for a yes or no answer. Whereas, asking what a person thinks is an open-ended question. The spouse cannot answer with a yes or no. They will be prompted to share their feelings about the situation. If your spouse is not quick to respond, he may be a slow processor. He needs time to think about your question and formulate his answer. This is when you need to practice reflective listening. Sit quietly while your spouse takes time to answer. When he speaks, repeat back to him what he said. This demonstrates you are actively listening and allows him to clarify his point if there is any misunderstanding. Many times, the talkative spouse will ask an open-ended question but lack the patience to sit quietly while the quiet spouse thinks, contemplates, and formulates his response. If the talker asks a question of her spouse, then proceeds to offer her own thoughts, and answer her own question, then the quiet spouse will sit quietly while the talker just continues to talk. He may even wonder if his opinion or counsel is desired or if the talker just needed a sounding board. Talkers often ask questions, give their opinions, and come up with their own answers, all before the spouse has a chance to answer. Before the husband can speak what he has formulated in his mind, the talker has moved on to another subject. Bringing conversation cards to date night is a fun way to have guided opportunities for connection.


Conversation questions could be things like:

1) What motivates you? What stirs your heart?

2) What does it mean for you to feel nurtured?

3) What is a favorite memory from high school?

4) What would days 1, 2 and 3 of your ideal vacation look like?

When it comes to a quiet spouse verses a talkative spouse, the talker needs to learn to ask open-ended questions that cannot be answered with yes and no. The talker also needs to learn patience by sitting quietly after she asks the question, giving her spouse time to answer.

Patti Hatton, MA, LPC

www.pattihattoncounselor.com