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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

Observing Official Protocol Seating at a Dinner Party



Observing official protocol:


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:


1. Host: He will sit at the head of the table on one end.


2. Hostess: She will sit at the opposite head of the table. (This only works at tables not divisible by 4. See diagrams for further explanation.*)


3. Seated to the right of the hostess: This place is given to the male of highest rank. Highest rank might consist of political position, business position, or ecclesiastical hierarchy. If the dinner is in honor of a friend’s birthday, then they would be the guest of honor that “ranks” the highest, so give them this seat.


4. Seated to the right of the host: This seat is given to the wife of the man being honored. If a male senator is placed to the right of the hostess, then his wife would be placed to the right of the host. If your honored male guest is not married, then the woman of highest rank would be placed to the right of the host. This allows you to stay with the alternating male/female seating.


5. Left of the hostess: The second highest ranking male sits to the left of the hostess.


6. Left of the host: The wife of the second highest ranking man sits to the left of the host.


7. Remaining seats: Fill in the rest of your seats based on your best matching ability which should be determined by the interests of your guests. For a military or political dinner, the remaining seats would continue to go in order of hierarchy, with the center of the table being the lowest rank (this is different in other countries).


In the end, do what you feel is best (unless official protocol is required). There are times I have hosted parties where the highest ranking and second highest ranking guests were both very quiet individuals and placing them directly across from each other would not have made for good conversation. In this case, since my events are all social in nature, I chose to match seating assignments based on personalities instead of position. In social settings, you get to decide who should be placed in the seat of honor. Maybe you determine this by age. We should always honor our seniors! If you are celebrating someone’s birthday, then they should receive the place of honor. Use your best judgement but, no matter what you decide, remember that the seating arrangement at your dinner party is important. Do not take it lightly, because it can make or break your event. Jennifer Gilbert, who is the CEO of the event planning company Save the Date, is quoted saying, “Arranged seating is the only decent thing to do. Every party is about the seating – period.”


*Below is a diagram where the host is on one end of the table and the hostess is on the other. The male guest of honor is to the right of the hostess and the female guest of honor is to the right of the host. As mentioned above, this only works on tables not divisible by four. Why? If you have a table for 12, for example, and you put the host at one end and the hostess at the other, then you will not be able to utilize your male/female alternating seating chart. As I have mentioned previously, alternating male/female usually works best for dinner parties.




If you have a dinner party where you can divide the total number of seats by 4, as in the example below, then the host will go at one end of the table, and the male guest of honor will go at the other end of the table. The hostess, instead of being at the end of the table as in the above diagram, just moves one seat to the left (thus still putting the male guest of honor to her right). This allows you to stay with the male/female alternating order.




Together with you,

Lisa Lou