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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

Social Guidelines for Wearing a Hat


woman wearing a hat

Remove your hat! Don’t set it on the table! Never let someone see the lining! Women, keep your hat on! Women, take your hat off! Ahhh…..I’m so confused!!! The old rules of hat etiquette were so straight forward, and everyone knew what to do. A gentleman removing his hat inside a building was as second nature as brushing his teeth. In today’s changing society, there is much confusion about hat etiquette, for both men and women, so let’s solve this mystery by starting with the “why” of hat protocol.

The purpose of a hat was to keep you warm and the sun off your face. It also served as a barrier to dirt and dust. Imagine walking down a road where horses and carriages were passing. The amount of grit tossed in the air meant those walking nearby were coated in a layer of grime. The brim of a hat functioned to keep dirt and water away from the head and face. We see the hat had a purpose other than style, but why was it proper for men to remove their hat when entering a building? For the simple reason, the hat was usually dirty. If a man were to leave his hat on while sitting at the dining table, dirt and dust would fall from the brim and likely into his food.

Today, if you walk into a restaurant with a trench coat covered in rainwater, would you keep it on at the dining table? No. You would remove it at the entrance of the restaurant and retrieve it upon leaving. If you are working in your garden before dinner, do you wash your hands before sitting down at the table? Yes. Why? You do not want to contaminate your food. A man removing his hat, especially in the industrial era, was a matter of personal hygiene.

Why were women not required to remove their hats? Because their hat usually served a different role. A woman’s hat could keep the harsh elements away, but these head coverings were more for fashion than function. They were also used for modesty. In some religions covering a woman’s head was (and still is) required.


Some female hats had brims, but others were simple caps that coordinated with their attire. Pins, ribbons, and bows were used to secure them in place, and removing the hat was a big ordeal as they did not come off easily. The purpose of a woman’s hat was not as much for hygiene as it was for fashion. Therefore, women were exempt from removing their hat.


Now that we understand the background of hat etiquette, let’s discuss what is expected today.

Men still need to remove their hat when entering a building. If you are simply walking through a corridor or a public place, you may leave it on. Once you enter an area where you will be staying (office, restaurant, theatre), remove your hat.


“Do I remove my hat at the dinner table?” If you are expected to remove your hat when you enter an establishment, then, yes, you remove your hat at the dinner table. In reality, your hat should be off before you approach the dinner table, since you would have removed it as soon as you entered the building.


Other places you are expected to remove your hat:

1. Places of worship (unless your religion requires you wear head covering)

2. When you stand for the National Anthem (if you are attending an outdoor baseball game, you are probably wearing a hat, therefore remove it during the anthem)

3. Whenever the U.S. or state flags pass by (as in a color guard ceremony)

4. During a funeral procession (even if you are outdoors)

5. During a prayer (even if outside, the hat is removed)

6. Weddings (even if outside)

7. Dedications (inside or outside, the hat is removed during a dedication)

8. Photographs (if a picture is being taken of you, remove your hat, unless part of your costume)

9. When you are being introduced to someone (this is a sign of respect)


How to take your hat off when greeting someone:

Remove the hat with your left hand so your right hand is free to shake. Place the hat lining towards your body so only the outside of your hat is visible to those around you. Why? The inside of your hat is dirty.


Where to put your hat during the anthem (or another ceremonial event):

Remove your hat with your right hand and place your hat over your heart. You may also set your hat on a chair. It is up to you.

When entering an establishment, ask if they have a hat rack. If not, place your hat on a nearby chair. Do not put your hat on a table. Why? For the same reason women should never put their purse on a table. Hygiene!


Most hat rules for men have not changed throughout history. The biggest change in hat etiquette has been for women. Even today, women do not need to remove their hat when they enter a building unless they are wearing a unisex covering. An example would be a baseball cap. This is a hat worn by both men and women; therefore, a woman is expected to remove this type of hat. The easiest way to remember this is when wearing a unisex hat, women should follow the same rules as men.

Example: If a woman is attending a ballgame in her baseball cap and the national anthem is played, she should remove her hat. Why? She is wearing a unisex covering.

Overall, women still have more leeway than men when it comes to hat etiquette. A decorative hat, for example, does not need to be removed. A unisex hat does need to be removed. The exception to this is if your fashionable hat has a wide brim and will obstruct someone’s view. If you are attending a theatre performance, remove your hat if it interferes with other’s ability to see. Side note: Wide brimmed hats are meant for daytime. Why? A wide brim kept the sun off your face. If it is evening, then the purpose of the wide brim is no longer relevant. If you are attending a theatre performance in the evening, you should not have a problem with your hat interfering with others if you stick to the protocol that brims are only for daytime.


Let’s wrap this up and make it simple. Men, remove your hats. Women, remove your unisex hats. If you cannot remember…remove your hat.


Together with you,

Lisa Lou


(The above points are for civilian men and women. Military protocol regarding head coverings is quite different.)