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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!

Elevator etiquette? Did you know there was such a thing? Use these 1-minute interactions with fellow passengers to show kindness. Even the smallest gestures can make someone’s day better.

Every party needs an invitation, and there are certain guidelines that need to be followed. You have made your guest list and chosen your theme, so the next step is creating or purchasing invitations.

There are different forms of communication you can choose, from evites to hand-written notes. For a special evening, I recommend staying with an invitation that requires a stamp. For something quick and easy, an evite might be a suitable choice. No matter what you decide the information included will remain the same.

Do any of you relate to this question I received from a reader? “Hosting a dinner party alone can be stressful. I know all the work will be on me, and I am still expected to have a nice meal ready, the house clean, and have my hair and make-up done. I also need to get the children dressed, looking clean and tidy, all while nagging my husband a thousand times to do his man-chores and shower before guests arrive. He seems to wait to the last minute to get ready, then I get upset and no one is happy. Help!”

Creating the guest list for a party can be stressful. My desire will always be to minimize the pressure we put on ourselves and get to a point where all aspects of entertaining become a joyful experience. With that said, I admit deciding who will and will not be invited to an event can be intimidating. Not to add more pressure but who makes it on the guest list and who does not often pre-determines if the party will be a success or just ho-hum. Here’s the good news. If you follow these steps when creating your list, it will not matter what type of event you throw as fun will be had by all!

At Lisa Lou’s we believe no table is complete without a decorative charger! These underplates, along with napkin rings, are the go-to accessory every tablescape needs. They can dress up, or dress down, the simplest of dinner plates. Just as we can change the look of a black dress by the accessories we choose, we can do the same to basic pottery with the chargers and napkin rings we use.

What is a charger plate and why are they used? Drop into any boutique that sells place settings, and you will see tables decorated with, what appears to be, exceptionally large dinner plates. Chargers, sometimes called an underplate or service plate, can set the tone for your entire look. This is the one piece in your setting that will stay on your table throughout most of the meal, and it is the item that will be most visible to your guests once they are seated.

“I don’t know what to say when I enter a room full of strangers!” I hear this quite often from people, including some you would never suspect had any type of social anxiety. Knowing how to engage in small talk is an essential tool we need to increase our soft skills. But before we learn a few tips, we need to change our psychology.

A duck on water. On top, it appears to glide gracefully over the pond, but underneath you see webbed feet paddling energetically towards its destination. When hosting a party, we may feel more like the duck under the water than the duck on top of the water. Throwing a gathering takes time and can be stressful, but our goal should be to reduce as much of these feelings as possible. Is this realistic? It can be if we get our priorities right.

When I read the words, “But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord,” I am reminded that as a spouse and a parent, our homes and families come under our leadership. We cannot control whether those under our roof accept Christ, but we can control how we act within those four walls.

Have you attended a party where you were enjoying (or maybe not enjoying) a conversation with the people around you, but you needed to remove yourself to speak to someone else? How do we graciously extricate ourselves without seeming rude. Here are a few tips to help you exit a conversation with style.

  • Lisa Lou

Create Small Talk Like A Pro



“I don’t know what to say when I enter a room full of strangers!” I hear this quite often from people, including some you would never suspect had any type of social anxiety. Knowing how to engage in small talk is an essential tool we need to increase our soft skills. But before we learn a few tips, we need to change our psychology.

1. Realize others in the room feel the same way you do. Instead of making yourself the focal point of your internal feelings, turn those feelings around and say, “Today, I am going to rescue someone at this party.” Look at each guest and tell yourself you are the only person who can save them from feeling awkward and alone. Find a person (or single couple) standing by themselves and introduce yourself. Usually, you will see a sigh of relief in their body language that screams, “I am so glad someone came over to talk to me!”

2. I have heard others say “keep things light” when speaking with someone for the first time. I do not always agree. When I converse with a person that is “small talking” me with shallow stories and information, my immediate reaction when they depart is, “That was a waste of time.” Studies show people prefer deeper conversations that are rewarding. I am not suggesting you dive into your solution for the world’s nuclear crisis. I am suggesting you put on your counseling hat and say, “Tonight, I am going to help one of these guests by providing a much-needed referral for a job.” Or, “Tonight, I am going to help one person make a connection within my sphere of influence that they might not have access to.”

3. People love to talk about themselves, so ask questions. By being the instigator in the conversation, this also takes the spotlight off you. Open ended questions work best because the other person cannot give you one-word answers. Instead of asking, “Did you enjoy the movie you saw last night?” Say, “What did you enjoy most about the movie you saw?” The first inquiry will give you a one-word answer. The second requires the response to become a discussion. My favorite conversation starter with someone I do not know is, “Tell me a little about yourself.” This has endless possibilities and allows the person you are speaking with to take the conversation in any direction they wish.



4. Find common ground to start your discussion. If you are both at the same social gathering, then the most obvious point of connection is the hostess. Your first question might be, “How do you know Suzy?” The answer to this simple question will provide you with enough follow up questions to successfully small talk your way to the next person. A normal progression for this type of conversation might look like this:

Person A: “How do you know Suzy?”

Person B: “We went to college together.”

Person A: “Oh, where did you attend school?”

Person B: “State University down the road.”

Person A: “I had several friends that attended school there. There was a favorite restaurant everyone went to called Spanky’s. My best friend, Kristi, worked there.

Person B: “I know Kristi! We became good friends because I always went to Spanky’s!”

5. People love to feel like an expert, so seek the expertise of the person you are engaging. Out of professional courtesy, I am not suggesting you ask the doctor to diagnose the pain in your leg. Rather, if you learn their children go to a nearby elementary school, you might say, “My husband and I have been considering that school for our children. Have you been pleased with your choice?” Or: “If we decide to send our children there, we will have to move into the area. What do you find are the pros and cons of the neighborhood?”

6. Use your body language to show you are interested. We have all been in conversations where the person is speaking TO us but not fully engaged WITH us. They continue to glance around the room or take quick peaks at their phone. This inevitably makes the recipient feel undervalued, as though they are a place holder until someone better comes along. When you speak with someone, make eye contact, and do not allow yourself to be distracted. Learning to listen effectively is a skill that needs to be mastered.



Here are some tried and true small talk questions that will give you confidence in any situation:

  1. What brought you to your current company?

  2. If you know they have children, ask how old they are, where they are in school, etc.

  3. Are you originally from (name the hometown where the party is being held)?

  4. When you are not working, how do you like to spend your time?

  5. What is the most enjoyable theatre performance you have attended?

  6. Are there any books you have read recently you would recommend?

  7. What is the best vacation you have taken? Why?

  8. If you could only take one more vacation, where would you go?

  9. Did you participate in any extracurricular activities in college?

  10. And my favorite, “Tell me a little about yourself.”

Together with you,

Lisa Lou