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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

My Party Needs a Rehearsal?



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. If time allows, I recommend doing this as soon as you know you are hosting an event, and again the week of your party. This gives you time to make necessary adjustments in advance as well as catch last minute items the week of.


When I do a rehearsal for my parties, I pretend I am a guest that is just arriving to my home. Walk up to your front door, ring the doorbell, walk inside, hang up your coat, etc. Be detailed in this process. Doing a walk-through for your event is no different than a rehearsal for a wedding. You will not catch everything that needs attention unless you physically go through this exercise.


The other day I performed these steps for an upcoming gathering in my home. What happened? I realized how dirty the doorbell looked. I noticed one of the porch lights was burned out. The time of year I was hosting increased the odds for rain, so during my rehearsal I pretended I was a guest arriving with my umbrella in hand. I suddenly realized I had no place to store wet items. I remedied this by placing a lined basket by the front door. There will inevitably be things you miss, but if you perform this exercise, you will be surprised how much you catch, and it will give you confidence on the day of your event knowing you were thorough.


As you create an action list of items that need to be corrected or repaired, make notes of things you need to plan or execute during your party. Will you have decorations? What will the menu be? Will you have any type of entertainment? Write down everything as you do your rehearsal.


Things to ask yorself:


1. Where will my guests park?


2. Is there a place for them to hang their coats and put their purse?


3. Upon arriving at the party, who will be stationed at the door to greet them?


4. Once inside, will a server be there to hand them a drink, or will I have a bar set up?


5. Will hors d’oeuvres be passed around or will there be a designated station for food?


6. How long will cocktails last and what time will I serve dinner (if it is a dinner party)?


7. Do I want decorations or just a few floral arrangements?


8. What type of music will play in the background?


Do not let the work involved in entertaining take the joy out of showing hospitality. If you get to the point you yell at your family before every event because you are stressed, you need to take a step back and ask yourself, “Why am I hosting this party? Where is this pressure coming from?”


Maybe you had visions of creating the 5-star dish you saw in a cookbook you purchased, but the reality hit you do not have the expertise to pull it off. If so, let the dish go. Find something easier you are comfortable making. Your friends, and your family, will have a better experience if you do not spend the entire party in an anxious state. When a hostess acts uptight, it makes her guests feel they have become a burden. If we dump our negative feelings onto those we invite into our home, we have done the opposite of what we intended. We are no longer displaying hospitality. We are displaying bad manners.


I used to stress over parties to the point my husband told me the entire family wanted to check into a hotel the night before our events, just to get away from me! I had to do a reality check and change my focus, because I had let entertaining override my desire for hospitality. We are to behave with excellence, but excellence is different than perfection. No one achieves perfection. Once I give my best, I need to let it go and enjoy what life gives me. Learn to entertain with confidence by being organized, having a plan, and simplifying your events. When you do this, you will be able to focus on what is important, and that is hospitality!

Together with you,

Lisa Lou