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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

July Independence Day Party Ideas

Updated: Jul 3, 2021

Decor Ideas:

1. The type of food you serve will partially serve as your décor. If you have hot dogs and hamburgers, along with corn on the cob, these foods bring back feelings that remind us of summer days. This is also the purpose of party decorations. They liven up a space and help the guests feel whatever theme you are trying to create. So, there is nothing wrong with letting your food serve do the talking.

2. For a sit-down dinner centerpiece or a buffet table, I would have bouquets of red, white, and blue flowers in baskets. Buying floral plants from a garden store is often easier than cut flowers.

3. Insert some small American flags in the bouquets.

4. Use red and white linens.

5. Around the table you can spread out parchment paper copies of the Declaration of independence. Or print out famous quotes from our founding fathers, cut them out and scatter them around. Throw some confetti on the table in the shape of stars, and your festive table is complete.

6. Party Favors: Pocket copy of the Constitution.

Spotify Playlist for July 4th Outdoor Party

Spotify Playlist for July 4th Seated Dinner

Menu Ideas:

All recipes come courtesy of Penny and Eleazar Martinez.

Taste Tests for the menu ideas come out every Friday, so if you do not see the one you're looking for now, be sure to keep checking back here or on our Instagram.

July 4th Outdoor Party Recipes

Perfect for a more casual get together with friends.

July 4th Outdoor Party Recipes
Download PDF • 1.99MB

Big Texas Hotdog Taste Test

BBQ Chicken Taste Test

Grilled Vegetable Platter Taste Test

Baked Beans Taste Test

Spiced Deviled Eggs Taste Test

S'mores with Homemade Vanilla Marshmallows Taste Test

July 4th Seated Dinner

An elevated menu perfect for a fancier dinner party.

July 4th Seated Dinner
Download PDF • 2.07MB

White Bean and Mushroom Soup Taste Test

Rosemary Crusted Filet of Beef and Asparagus Taste Test

Lemon and Basil Crème Brulee Tart Taste Test

Together with You,

Lisa Lou