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It is summer in Houston, and last night our bedroom A/C went kaput! My first reaction was to grumble, but then I reminded myself to “choose happiness!” I was thankful we had a guestroom to sleep in that had cool air and a fan. As we crawled into an unfamiliar bed, I was quickly reminded of the times I preached to others: “Every good hostess should sleep in her own guestroom for one full night. You will immediately see what is missing!”

Today, where we see every form of fashion on our streets, the question of men and shorts still produces uncertainty among many. There is a reason for this that is embedded in our DNA, and to fully understand we need to explore a little history.

“What are the main table manners children should know?” A common question I am frequently asked. Yet I have a tough time narrowing my answer. I pick my top three, then a fourth pops into my mind. Then a fifth. We may not all attend black-tie events, but we do all eat. Your children will one day be placed in a situation where they need to skillfully know their way around a dining table.

As we approach Mother’s Day, I would like to take a special look at the precious women in our lives that hold the title of Mother-in-law. Do you remember the movie Monster-in-Law? It starred Jennifer Lopez and Jane Fonda in a romantic comedy centered around the tumultuous relationship between a bride and her future mother-in-law. If you have not seen it, you should. It will keep you laughing but, sadly, may hit closer to home than you would like to admit.

I recently asked a group of college students these questions showing them the same photos. I had them shout out adjectives for the pictures they were viewing. For the home I heard: beautiful; wealthy; cared for; loving family; a place I want to live. For the broken-down home they said: old; no curb appeal; I wouldn’t go near it; scary; unstable.

“Rules without reason equals rebellion.” -Cynthia Grosso, Charleston School of Protocol. This could be my motto! I have a stubborn streak that can serve me well, but when it gets me into trouble, I just blame it on my DNA. No matter the reason, I am not the best rule follower unless I know why a rule was created. 

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.

Do you find your spouse often saying, “Are you listening to me?” Or maybe you feel your child is not being an active part of the dinner conversation. If this resonates with you, it might be time to brush up on the finer points of being a good listener, while teaching your family to do the same. Below are 11 tips to help you get back on track so you can start enjoying deeper and more meaningful communication with those you love.

“Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.” (Proverbs 19:11 ESV).

 

When I am tired and my mind does not seem to focus on a deep study of the Bible, I will flip to Proverbs to keep focused on God’s Word in a more simplistic way. Yet, every time I read this book, I walk away amazed at the power it brings and thankful for the renewal I feel. The verse I read today really resonated with me.

As a stay-at-home mom to 2 toddlers, a large part of my day is spent in the kitchen preparing food. Meal planning at the beginning of the week is essential to ensuring my family is well fed with home cooked nutrition (I give myself a break on the weekends)! If you get overwhelmed with meal planning like I used to, try these tips to sooth your soul:

As a wife and mother of two rambunctious toddlers, it is a challenge to get a home-cooked dinner on the table at a reasonable time. Pulling the children away from their toys, getting them seated at the table, cutting up their meal, blowing on food that is too hot, and calling my husband away from his work can be exhausting.

Sometimes you just need to re-post tips that were great to read. I find myself saying this quite often when it comes to The Gottman Institute. They are some of the leading relationship experts in our country, and the research they did on trustworthiness is very informative.

Meeting friends for dinner after work, grabbing coffee with your girlfriend or just ordering pizza on a Friday night with neighbors. We all have a deep desire to be connected in a world that often forgets the importance of relationships. Many of us have the desire to entertain, but we let our circumstances keep us from extending hospitality. Often it revolves around our lack of confidence in our ability to host events. I get this!

A perfect entertaining year for me would be hosting a different themed party each month! Will I do that? No. Will I dream about it? Yes! If I cannot have a party every 4 weeks, I can at least help my Lisa Lou family with ideas so hopefully a few of you can carry the torch of hospitality for the rest of us.

You are not allowed to complain about not getting something that you never asked for. Read that again.

You are not allowed to complain about not getting something that you never asked for.

You are not allowed to complain about not getting something that you never asked for. Read that again.

You are not allowed to complain about not getting something that you never asked for.

  • Lisa Lou

My 10 Favorite Hostess Gifts

Updated: May 3, 2021


Giving a party requires a great deal of work. If you have been fortunate enough to be included in a festive soiree, it is nice to arrive with a gift for the hostess. The typical present will cost between $15-$30, but there are less expensive things you can find at the local discount store. I love the challenge of putting together a nice basket of goodies for pennies on the dollar. When trying to figure out what you should bring, keep in mind what type of party you are attending. Is it a formal dinner? A backyard BBQ? Also, know the likes and dislikes of your hostess. If she is allergic to flowers, you probably will not arrive with a bouquet in hand.


I like to give items that can be consumed in some fashion (and this does not just mean oral consumption). This way I have not taken up precious space in her home with something she might or might not enjoy. Here is a list of some of my favorite hostess gifts.


Wine

Yes, this is what everyone seems to say, but, if you have a hostess that enjoys great wine, it really is nice to give. Put some thought into the selection. Maybe the two of you tried a new chardonnay at a local restaurant, and you both loved it. Purchase a bottle of this with a note attached saying how much you treasure your friendship. If she enjoys vacationing in a certain region or country, see if you can purchase a bottle from that area. If you do not wish to bring wine, bring an elegant wine stopper to add to her collection.


Food

Food can be nice to bring, but make sure it is the right type of food. If the hostess has invited you over for dinner, showing up with a platter of appetizers would not be the best choice. She has worked hard on her menu and might feel obligated to serve what you brought. The added addition might mess up the food choices she has planned. Instead, bring something for her to enjoy later, or maybe something that has meaning to you. I love giving a small bottle of our favorite home-made steak rub. It is unique and shows I took time to give something made by hand. Or stir up a batch of your favorite pasta sauce. You can tie a raffia bow around the lid and attach a wooden serving spoon.


One of the more enjoyable gifts I have received was a basket filled with Graham crackers, a bag of marshmallows, and 8 Hershey bars. It was my own little s’mores kit! Memorable and delicious. If you decide to bring food, let the hostess know this is a special treat to be enjoyed after the party. By doing this you are saying, “I brought food, but I do not expect you to serve this during the party.”


Stationary

A box of notecards or a journal makes a wonderful gift. Maybe purchase a gratitude book where she can keep track of moments and people she is grateful for. Add to the beauty of the journal by writing on the first page how much you appreciate her. Attach a pretty pen and you have a memorable gift.


Paper Guest Towels

I never have enough of these, so this is a favorite item I enjoy giving. You do not even need to wrap these. Just tie a festive bow and attach your greeting card.


Soaps

Beautiful hand soaps are a favorite for many. A bottle of pump foam goes great in the kitchen or powder room.


Christmas Ornament

I love presenting a beautiful ornament during the holidays, but only if I know my hostess has an eclectic tree. Giving a hanging football with the name of her favorite college team probably does not work when her tree is decorated with crystal balls. Of course, ornaments can be collected and used in other ways. So, as with everything else, know your audience.


Candle

A candle is always a well-received gift. If the hostess has a certain brand she enjoys, then treat her to her favorite fragrance. Candles are a great item you can stack up on during after-Christmas sales. Most stores will mark down their seasonal merchandise from 50-75% off.


Reading Material

If your hostess is a reader, purchase the newest release from her favorite author, or bring a gift card to the local bookstore. A stack of her favorite magazines would be fun or a subscription for an audible book app are two other ideas.


Coffee

This could go under the food category, but it makes a wonderful gift, so I listed it separately. Purchase a fun mug and a bag of her favorite flavored coffee. This can be done with tea, too. There are wonderful little pots that come with a single teacup on top. Wrap this in cellophane, add a bow and include her favorite tea leaves.


Games

I enjoy giving board games, if I know this is something my hostess and her family enjoy. A nice deck of cards with the family’s initials printed on the front is a treat.


Many of the above items I have found for $10 or less at my local discount store. A hostess gift does not need to be expensive, but it should be memorable and show you have taken time to think about the recipient. This is your way of showing her that she is appreciated and valued for gifting YOU an evening of celebration.

Together with you,

Lisa Lou