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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

Hospitality Verses Entertaining

A duck on water. On top, it appears to glide gracefully over the pond, but underneath you see webbed feet paddling energetically towards its destination. When hosting a party, we may feel more like the duck under the water than the duck on top of the water. Throwing a gathering takes time and can be stressful, but our goal should be to reduce as much of these feelings as possible. Is this realistic? It can be if we get our priorities right.

Why should people be treated to a calm hostess? Because our attitudes will directly reflect onto those around us. If we are stressed, others will become stressed. If we are stuck in the kitchen, our guests will feel they need to work in the kitchen with us. And if they do not help us, they will feel a twinge of guilt as they think they have become a burden. It becomes an unpleasant experience for all.

The social skills we display when hosting a party should have one goal in mind: treat our guests like we want to be treated. If we want our friends to feel welcome and relaxed, then we need to model this behavior. Parties are about hospitality, not about entertaining. If gatherings in your home cause undue stress, then step back and ask why. Is it because you are trying to compete with the Pinterest perfect parties on social media? Feeling as though you never quite measure up? Maybe your menu is too extensive, or too difficult to execute.

When I entertain, I rarely decorate any part of my home except the table (Christmas being the exception!). Why? It is difficult to decorate an entire house unless done to the extreme. I focus my efforts where the food will be, whether this is a buffet, sit-down dinner, or both. To give my home a little extra pop, I might place a few floral arrangements in strategic areas where I know guests will wander. My favorite menu is a sandwich buffet where everyone can create what they want. I make a couple of sides and might have a soup. It is easy and relaxed.

I learned years ago that my desire to go overboard with my party themes was starting to cause me to stop entertaining. I was too overwhelmed. Knowing hospitality should always trump entertaining, I took a step back, re-evaluated and went back to the basics: KISS (keep it simple, silly). A clean house, a clean bathroom, a decorated table, and a few floral arrangements. That is all that is needed.

Figure out what is causing your stress and then simplify. We want to give our best, but if entertaining causes anxiety to the point we stop displaying hospitality, then we are missing the point. Opening our home to friends, family and strangers should be our goal, and if the only way we are comfortable doing this is with paper plates and take-out from the local restaurant, then go for it!

Change your focus to WHY you are gathering people together and stop obsessing over HOW you are entertaining. We host parties to show love to those around us, and that love will only be felt by our guests if they know they are more important to us than creating our version of the perfect evening.

Life is a party, and it should be enjoyed. Have you ever asked yourself what the final act will be in God’s big plan when He welcomes the church? We are invited to a huge, extravagant banquet! The wedding supper of the Lamb. (Revelation 19:7-10) But God’s ultimate goal for this party is not to entertain, it is to welcome us Home.

I want those in my presence to feel that same love and peace when they walk through my doors. I want them to feel I have just wrapped them in an oversized, warm blanket and put my arms around them.

Let’s have our big parties, fun decorations, and great menus, but let’s always keep in check what is important and why we are doing what we are doing, which is to create simple connections with family and friends.

Together with you,

Lisa Lou