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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!

Elevator etiquette? Did you know there was such a thing? Use these 1-minute interactions with fellow passengers to show kindness. Even the smallest gestures can make someone’s day better.

Every party needs an invitation, and there are certain guidelines that need to be followed. You have made your guest list and chosen your theme, so the next step is creating or purchasing invitations.

There are different forms of communication you can choose, from evites to hand-written notes. For a special evening, I recommend staying with an invitation that requires a stamp. For something quick and easy, an evite might be a suitable choice. No matter what you decide the information included will remain the same.

Do any of you relate to this question I received from a reader? “Hosting a dinner party alone can be stressful. I know all the work will be on me, and I am still expected to have a nice meal ready, the house clean, and have my hair and make-up done. I also need to get the children dressed, looking clean and tidy, all while nagging my husband a thousand times to do his man-chores and shower before guests arrive. He seems to wait to the last minute to get ready, then I get upset and no one is happy. Help!”

Creating the guest list for a party can be stressful. My desire will always be to minimize the pressure we put on ourselves and get to a point where all aspects of entertaining become a joyful experience. With that said, I admit deciding who will and will not be invited to an event can be intimidating. Not to add more pressure but who makes it on the guest list and who does not often pre-determines if the party will be a success or just ho-hum. Here’s the good news. If you follow these steps when creating your list, it will not matter what type of event you throw as fun will be had by all!

At Lisa Lou’s we believe no table is complete without a decorative charger! These underplates, along with napkin rings, are the go-to accessory every tablescape needs. They can dress up, or dress down, the simplest of dinner plates. Just as we can change the look of a black dress by the accessories we choose, we can do the same to basic pottery with the chargers and napkin rings we use.

What is a charger plate and why are they used? Drop into any boutique that sells place settings, and you will see tables decorated with, what appears to be, exceptionally large dinner plates. Chargers, sometimes called an underplate or service plate, can set the tone for your entire look. This is the one piece in your setting that will stay on your table throughout most of the meal, and it is the item that will be most visible to your guests once they are seated.

“I don’t know what to say when I enter a room full of strangers!” I hear this quite often from people, including some you would never suspect had any type of social anxiety. Knowing how to engage in small talk is an essential tool we need to increase our soft skills. But before we learn a few tips, we need to change our psychology.

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.

When I read the words, “But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord,” I am reminded that as a spouse and a parent, our homes and families come under our leadership. We cannot control whether those under our roof accept Christ, but we can control how we act within those four walls.

Have you attended a party where you were enjoying (or maybe not enjoying) a conversation with the people around you, but you needed to remove yourself to speak to someone else? How do we graciously extricate ourselves without seeming rude. Here are a few tips to help you exit a conversation with style.

  • Lisa Lou

How to Use the Charger Plate in a Tablescape

At Lisa Lou’s we believe no table is complete without a decorative charger! These underplates, along with napkin rings, are the go-to accessory every tablescape needs. They can dress up, or dress down, the simplest of dinner plates. Just as we can change the look of a black dress by the accessories we choose, we can do the same to basic pottery with the chargers and napkin rings we use.

As much as I love the beautiful accessories artisans create for tables, I need to understand how they work when I am entertaining. A breath-taking centerpiece is not good if it is too tall for my guests to easily converse with the person across the table. Along that same line, a place setting stacked high with a dinner plate, salad plate, and soup bowl, all sitting on a charger, is cumbersome for guests. How do we serve a meal with a table set this way? All of this takes the focus away from genuine and simple hospitality and puts the attention on the extravagance of the table. Always remember, hospitality is our goal.

So, what is the protocol for these 13” plates that create the base for our settings? Let’s look at several points.

  • After you decide if you will use a tablecloth, begin setting your table by placing a charger in front of each seat. It is up to you if you put a placemat under the charger. It is not necessary and would only be used if you want a very layered look.

  • The charger should be 1” from the bottom of the table.

  • If possible, there should be 24” between the center of one plate to the center of the next plate. This gives the elbow room needed for guests to be comfortable.

  • If your meal is plated in the kitchen, as opposed to family style service, have your guests sit down with just the charger in front of them. As the host, you then bring out the pre-plated salad to serve each guest. Place the salad on the charger.

  • When the salad course has been completed remove the salad plate but leave the charger.

  • Bring the pre-plated entrée to the table and serve each guest, placing the dinner plate on the charger.

  • Once the entre has been completed remove the dinner plate AND the charger. It is at this point the charger is no longer used.

  • Bring the pre-plated dessert to the table and place in front of guests (no charger).

Some hostesses prefer guests be seated at a table with a charger and dinner plate present. They then place the pre-plated salad on top of the dinner plate. When entertaining at home, I say, do what you want! The reason this is not official protocol, though, is we are never to serve fresh food onto a dirty plate. The point of a charger is to catch food that spills from the current course being consumed (it also helps retain heat for the entre). Example, if you have a salad plate on top of a charger, the odds are a little dressing will spill onto the charger. That is all right, as this is why the charger is used. But, if you have a salad plate sitting on top of a dinner plate, which is on top of a charger plate, the dinner plate has now taken on the role of a charger. The dinner plate must catch any spills, which means the dinner plate must now be cleaned before it can be used for the main entre. When we serve on top of the dinner plate, we have now changed the purpose of that plate.

In the end, do what you want, but remember our goal is to make our guests comfortable. It is not to wow them with a beautiful table that is awkward to navigate. Let’s keep hospitality at the forefront of what we do, as this is the real reason we entertain.

Together with you,

Lisa Lou