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The day after a party a gracious guest will follow up with a thank you note or phone call. Do this within 1-2 days so your appreciation does not seem stale. The formula for a thank you looks like this:

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

Helping Couples Thrive

The leading marriage counselors and experts, Les and Leslie Parrott, wrote the following about marriage:

Modern marriages typically begin with a romantic relationship. Unlike marriages of the past, which were often arranged for political purposes or financial stability, marriages in the Twenty-First Century revolve around the initial rush a couple experiences while falling in love. Unfortunately, as so many licensed counselors and therapists already know, romance isn’t enough to sustain a marriage.

There are many factors at play in a successful marriage besides romance, but today’s engaged and married couples may not understand how prominent those factors are. As the butterflies of engagement and early marriage give way to broken expectations and disillusionment, couples often chase and grieve those early romantic feelings.

The first step to helping couples joyfully embrace a more realistic view of long-term marriage is to help them identify and bust common myths about romance. When we’re young, we often see one another through rose-colored glasses. But when the reality of real-life marriage strikes, it can feel deeply disappointing. Here are four myths about romance couples can explore.


Couples need to know that being in love does not mean their expectations align. In fact, each individual’s expectations may lead to tension down the road. It’s imperative that engaged couples in pre-marriage counseling understand where one another stands. And if a couple is married, then they need to explore their own expectations, and whether they are the source of frustration in the relationship. They should explore their spoken and unspoken expectations. What is their understanding of gender roles in marriage? How do they expect chores and responsibilities to be distributed? Who do they think should handle the bills, the cooking, or putting the children to bed? What personal expectations for behavior or intimacy does each individual have?


Many of the good things couples experience in dating and early marriage revolve around an idealized view of one another–which begins to fall away after the wedding, when everyday life sets in. Couples are often distressed when they realize how profoundly each individual can change after the initial romantic rush begins to fade.

Life circumstances change, people change, and marriage includes trade-offs and worries that single people simply don’t have. Couples should not assume that the good things will continue getting better over time.


Many dating and engaged couples subscribe to the belief that getting married will solve their problems. Instead, couples need to know that oftentimes, struggles and problems become worse after marriage. In part, this is because the rose-colored glasses do eventually come off. Suddenly, it’s apparent that romance can’t solve major issues the couple might have been ignoring.


It’s not possible for any person to complete another, or to make another whole. The responsibility for becoming a healthy adult lies solely on the individual. Each spouse must become a healthy individual so they can show up as their best, healthiest selves in their marriages. A marriage made up of two healthy, whole individuals is infinitely better than a destructive, codependent relationship–which is what spouses create when they expect the other person to complete them.

I strongly encourage all couples to read the Parrott’s newest book Helping Couples. It is a book written for marriage coaches, counselors, and clergy, but I think every couple should read it. I also recommend Healthy Me, Healthy Us. As the Parrotts say often, a relationship will only be as healthy as each individual is healthy. We must fix ourselves before we can hope for a truly functional relationship.

Together with you,

Lisa Lou