New On The Blog

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

Halloween Fun During COVID



Murder Mystery Dinner with Friends


Halloween in 2020 will be different than past years, but there are still ways to enjoy this festive start to the holiday season. This blog may seem early, but October 31st is only 7 weeks away! It is time to start planning. Below are my top 10 ideas for a jovial and happy start to your fall celebrations.


1. Decorate: I always feel “in the moment” when I put the final touches on my Christmas decorating. Halloween is no different. In fact, go bigger this year. Hang lights on the trees and fill your porch with jack-o-lanterns you and the family have carved.


2. Murder Mystery Dinner: This is my favorite party to host. You can find these dinner party games online. Make this event as formal or casual as you wish. The key to success? Your guests need to be good sports. Introverts do not work as well when you are asking everyone to step out of their comfort zone and play a character. But ohhhh, this party is a blast! Is it safe during these times? That is up for you to decide (and based on your state’s regulations). For most of the games you only need 10 people, so this party works well in a COVID world.


3. Scavenger Hunt: There are numerous options online for scavenger hunts. You can do this with your family or gather a few neighborhood friends. This type of outing allows you to social distance, but still gather in small groups. Once the hunt has concluded, have everyone return to your front yard. Gather outside for cookies and drinks. Remember to have prizes for the winners!


4. Cookies and Cheer: Decorate Halloween themed cookies with your children. Take this a step further. Let the children dress up and deliver these treats to neighbors and friends. Everyone loves a random act of kindness.


5. Scary Movie: Who does not love this! Build a fort inside, pop some popcorn, and watch an age-appropriate Halloween movie.


6. Fire and Stars: Host family and friends, with whom you are comfortable socializing, and have an outdoor campfire. Roast marshmallows and hot dogs and tell stories. If you have a telescope, do a little celestial gazing. I find there is nothing more mysterious about God’s world than when I stare into His star-studded sky.


7. Driveway Treats: If you have an active neighborhood with a lot of children, organize your block for Halloween. Have each family set up a table with Halloween candy and treats. The neighborhood children can go driveway to driveway. Have bags pre-made with goodies inside each package. Ask an adult from each home to hand a bag to the child. This avoids dirty hands digging into baskets.


8. Haunted House: Yes, there are social distancing haunted houses! In many cities drive-thru exhibits are popping up. Check your local listings.


9. Pumpkin Carving Contests: This is a blast and is something the adults can do. It takes two people. One person is the carver. The other person stands facing the carver and describes the carver’s face. The carver must follow the verbal directions of the describer and carve a pumpkin to reflect what the talker is describing. The trick? The carver does not know the talker is describing the carver’s face. As you can imagine, the end results are hilarious. Oh, and the describer has a sheet of paper or clipboard they hold so the carver does not know there is not a drawing of a face that the describer is describing. Of course, you could print out real faces to describe, but it is more fun to have the carver create his own face on the pumpkin (without knowing!). Have prizes for the best and worst likeness.


10. Floral Pumpkins: My son and I made these when he was in elementary school and gave them to each of his teachers. Find smaller pumpkins. Cut the top and remove the insides. Place a floral foam piece inside soaked in water. Buy cut flowers and make a floral arrangement. These are sweet gifts and a great way to have fun with these beautiful fall gourds.


Together with you,

Lisa Lou