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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!

  • Alina Gersib

Cottage Pie

An English classic, cottage pie is a hearty and warming meal to try during the winter. A savory beef filling is covered with fluffy mashed potatoes, parmesan cheese, and olive oil before being baked to a golden crust. Differing from a Shepherd’s pie in that beef is the base of the filling instead of lamb, this combination is sure to be a crowd pleaser for whoever tries a serving.

Cottage Pie
Download PDF • 357KB

Makes 8 servings

Preparation Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour and 30 minutes

Ingredients for filling:

*1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil

*1 onion, finely chopped

*3 cloves of garlic, minced

*1 1/2 celery stalks, finely chopped

*1 1/2 carrots, finely chopped

*1 1/5 lbs ground beef

*1/4 cup flour

*3 tablespoons tomato paste

*2 cups beef stock

*1/2 cup red wine

*1 teaspoon better than beef bullion

*1 1/2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

*1 teaspoon thyme

*2 bay leaves

*1/2 teaspoon salt

*1/2 teaspoon pepper

Ingredients for mashed potatoes:

*3 pounds potatoes, cut into small chunks

*1/4 cup salted butter

*1/4 cup cream + 3/4 cup water

*salt, to taste

*pepper, to taste

*1/4 cup of parmesan

*2 tablespoons of olive oil

Preparation of filling:

*Heat oil in a skillet on medium high heat. Add garlic and onion and cook for 1 minute. Next, add celery and carrots and cook for 4 minutes.

*Turn up heat to high. Add beef and brown, breaking it up as you cook. About 7 minutes.

*Sprinkle in flour and mix. Stir in broth, red wine, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, bouillon cube, thyme, bay leaves, and salt and pepper.

*Bring mixture to a simmer, then reduce heat to around medium so it is simmering rapidly. *Cook for 30 minutes, stirring periodically, until mixture reduces down and almost all of the liquid is absorbed. Taste, add more salt if wanted.

*Spoon mixture into a pie dish and cool. (overnight preferable)

Preparation of Pie:

*Place potatoes in a pot of cold salted water.

*Bring to a boil and cook uncovered for 15 minutes or until tender. Drain well.

*Place potatoes back into the hot pot and let them steam off any remaining water for 2 minutes.

*Preheat oven to 350F.

*Heat cream and water mixture in the microwave until warm to the touch.

*Add butter and mash the potatoes, then slowly add in cream mixture and keep mashing until smooth.

*Add salt and pepper to taste. *Spread potatoes over the beef mixture in the pie dish. Sprinkle with parmesan and drizzle with olive oil.

*Bake for 30 minutes or until golden and bubbling at the edges.

*Let stand for 5 minutes before serving, then enjoy!

Recipe Creator - Alina Gersib