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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!

  • Lisa Lou

Decorating For Spring

Updated: Jun 3, 2020

Top 5 Must Do’s

Are you ready for spring? Although I love the beginning of a new year where I can re-set my goals and turn over a new leaf, I have always felt spring brings about a cleansing of the soul like no other time or season. There is something about longer days, more sunshine and flowers bursting forth with color that brighten almost any mood. Spring is the time I take inventory of my home and prepare to make the transition from winter to summer. Here’s a list of my Top 5 Must Do’s:

1. Take Inventory: The first thing I do is take inventory of the things around my home that need attention. This can be from repairs to cleaning. That doggy door that was broken during Christmas? Time to get it fixed. The eaves that are overflowing with debris? Get the blower out. What about those filthy windows? Grab the Windex. Other items to consider: clean the refrigerator; power wash the patio furniture and sidewalk; deep clean your bathrooms and kitchen; change the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.


2. Organize: Spring is the best time to organize your home. The pantry is usually overflowing with extra food from the holidays that has been sitting there for 3 months. And your garage often becomes a storage unit during winter, because you are too tired or it’s too cold for you to tackle. Use the spring to organize your pantry, closets and garage. I also organize all the drawers and cabinets in my office. After a year has passed, I have so many stacks of mismatched notebooks, pens and paperclips I could open my own supply store. It’s time to purge!


3. Go Shopping…At Home: One of my favorite ways to feel as though I have a fresh start is to re-arrange my furniture. If you have a room that just is not working, start by moving some pieces to another room. Or, store it in the garage to give you some breathing room until you can figure out what to do with it. If you find that piece no longer works in your home, then donate it to someone that will put it to good use. If you put away certain décor during winter, it is time to pull it back out. Changing up a room, even if that means you are just moving items from one place to another, can keep things from looking stale.


4. Add Color: After I have cleaned and organized my home, I have two more rituals that complete my spring preparation. I shop for color! This can be in the form of painting or refreshing an old wall or making a new purchase for my home. My favorite thing to do, and it seems to get the most bang for my buck, is to add a few brightly colored throw pillows to my couch. A pop of red, pink or green will do wonders to brighten up a room. I also bring color into my home in the form of flowers and foliage. Place a potted floral plant in a high traffic area in your home, like the great room or the kitchen. You do not need to overdo this, but a few well-placed plants can liven up a home. Don’t forget to add color to the outside of your home. This can be done with fresh planting, flowers and porch decorations. We have two rocking chairs out front, and I love to place a festive, colorful pillow in each of these. It’s the first thing I see when I come home each day.


5. The 5 Senses: When I decorate and entertain, I make sure the 5 senses are engaged. Not only do we want to see a beautiful home, but we need to be able to touch, taste, hear and smell a beautiful home. See and Touch: this was taken care of when we cleaned, organized, brought in beautiful plants and added new spring fabrics into our décor. Taste: now is a great time to bring in fresh fruits and revitalize your favorite summer recipes. Hear: it is a rare moment that you will walk into my home and NOT hear music playing. Songs are an easy way to lift your spirits, and spring is a perfect time to turn your thoughts to the beach with summer tunes you love. Smell: once I have completed all (or most) of the above, I celebrate my spring makeover by lighting a newly purchased candle. Smell is the most powerful sense we have that conjures up memories. Introduce beautiful aromas into your home that will cement happy times in the minds of those you love.


Together with you,

Lisa Lou