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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

Flag Etiquette and Protocol

Flag Day is celebrated on June 14 and commemorates the official adoption of the Stars and Stripes by the Second Continental Congress. Anytime the flag is flown, it represents our identity as a sovereign nation. It is for this reason there are certain etiquette rules that guide our use. Listed below are 15 points that will help you fly your colors with pride.

1. Display the flag from sunrise to sundown.

2. The flag may be displayed at night, but it must be illuminated.

3. The flag can be flown any day of the year, but it is specifically encouraged on national holidays.

4. The flag is hung in every public location including schools and election polling sites.

5. When the flag is hung horizontally or vertically on a wall, the canton (blue square on the flag, also called the union) should be to the viewer’s top left.

6. If the U.S. flag is carried in a parade with other flags, it will always be the flag on the right (from the flag’s position). Or, it can be in front of all the other flags.

7. When displaying the flag on a stage with a speaker, it should always be to the flag’s right (audience’s left).

8. In the U.S., no other flag is flown above the U.S. flag.

9. If the U.S. flag is flown with another state flag on the same pole, the U.S. flag is flown on top.

10. If the U.S. flag is flown with another state flag, but on separate poles, then the U.S. flag is flown to the flag’s right (the observer’s left).

11. If several state flags are flown with the U.S. flag, and all poles are the same height, then the U.S. flag is flown to the flag’s right (observer’s left). If the center pole is higher, then the U.S. flag is flown in the center and always on the highest pole.

12. Only a state or MIA/POW flag may be flown on the same pole as the U.S. flag. Any other flag, like a company flag, may not fly on the same pole.

13. The canton (union) should be flown from the top of the staff.

14. Although not specifically stated in the flag code, it is recommended that all flags fly at least 3-5 feet from the ground, at minimum. This tidbit becomes more important when asking yourself how high off the ground to mount your home flag. Home flags may be flown in any prominent place on a house or tree.

15. Dispose of flags that are frayed or damaged. Protocol is to fold the flag in a triangle (as you would see during a funeral) and burn the flag in its entirety. While the flag is burning recite the Pledge of Allegiance and/or salute, followed by a moment of silence. End by burying the ashes.

If you are a civilian, here is a quick trivia point you might not know. When my son was in the military, I noticed the American flag on his right shoulder appeared backwards. The blue union was at the top right, yet all the protocol I just wrote about states the canton is always at the top left. I asked him about this. He said, “The flag on my left shoulder has the stars at the top left. The flag on my right shoulder has the stars at the top right. This gives the impression, no matter which shoulder you are viewing the flag is moving forward and into the wind.” I researched this further, and I will always remember the answer I found. According to military tradition the flag is displayed on the uniform to appear as though a soldier is carrying the stars and stripes while constantly moving forward, presumably into battle. Thus the wind would cause the flag to wave backwards with the stars in the top right corner as the carrier of the flag advanced. Why is this visual important? Because a U.S. soldier never retreats.

Together with you,

Lisa Lou