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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!

  • Patti Hatton

Couples Counseling Benefits

Q: What are the benefits of therapy and counseling, and how do I remove the negative image my spouse has around couple’s counseling? When do you know it is time to seek therapy as opposed to just asking advice?

A: Such good questions! Mental health experts have been tirelessly working to demystify the shameful stigma associated with the mental health community. Elderly patients with terminal illnesses have been known to refuse to take an antidepressant because they feel shame admitting they are experiencing low moods and irritability. Go figure! Seems somewhat normal to struggle with low moods and irritability when confronted with a terminal illness and wise to use resources to overcome emotional physical pain. Scripture tells us that the Apostle Paul “learned” to be content in all circumstances. “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”-Philippians 4:11-13.

Just like Paul, we have many things to learn about navigating life’s twists and turns. Statistics tell us that persons seeking psychotherapy have higher levels of education than ever before. Consulting an expert when facing trials or for encouragement and inspiration is a smart thing to do. Successful people run towards resources to help with life’s struggles, not away from them. A licensed professional counselor’s role is not to tell you what to do, but instead to listen reflectively to create self-awareness and to aid in establishing and achieving goals. We cannot change what we will not acknowledge, and goals are accomplished in a series of defined steps.

If someone were to ask your children how their parents resolve conflict, what would they say? Chances are, they would not have an answer. Just like there are specific steps to learn to dance a waltz and specific steps to learn to dance a tango, there are specific steps to learn to resolve conflict and specific steps to learn to connect on a deep, emotional level. Do you know these steps? Dr. John Gottman of The Gottman Institute says, “Couples do not divorce necessarily because they fall out of love, couples divorce because they never ‘learned’ how to resolve their problems.”

Couple’s counseling offers a platform to learn vital skills needed for a healthy and intimate marriage relationship, namely healthy communication, and conflict resolution. It also teaches things like common differences between men and women, ways to strengthen a relationship, ways to prevent erosion in a relationship, how to take responsibility for “your side of the street,” how to appreciate personality differences and so much more! We all bring baggage into our marriages from childhood experiences, and counseling offers a venue for resolving issues that hamper our emotional wellbeing. Another option is to find a church that offers marriage counseling, through on-staff counselors, or by way of a married Bible study class. A marriage class is extremely beneficial. You receive the tools needed to have a successful marriage, while at the same time developing friendships with others in your same stage of life and who are also like-minded. A good marriage surrounds itself with other healthy relationships.

Do not let pride stand in the way of taking necessary steps to grow and learn to create a fulfilling relationship with your spouse. God warns us in only four words what happens to those who hang onto pride. “Pride goes before destruction…” -Proverbs 16:18. Successful people do not run away from learning the skills needed to be in a healthy relationship, they run towards them. Good marriages do not “just happen,” rather, they evolve from learning how to resolve problems and connect in meaningful ways.

Patti Hatton, MA, LPC