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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

Providing Meals Outside the Home




Whether you feel like spreading a little love with a homecooked meal, are taking care of a sick family member or providing food for new parents, there are certain things you can do to make sure your gift is a blessing and not a burden. If you want to leave your friends begging for more, follow these 10 tips when providing meals outside the home.


1. When giving food to others it is important to consider their likes and dislikes, as well as any allergies they might have to certain foods. Just ask, they will tell you.


2. Whether you make the meal from scratch or buy it from the local restaurant, either is appreciated. The key is to make sure it is prepared and ready to consume. If you are delivering food to a sick friend, asking that person to assemble ingredients and spend time making dinner probably defeats the purpose of why you are offering to give them a helping hand. The key is to reduce the amount of work so they might receive a little respite.


3. Unless you know the ingredients for their favorite sushi, stick to basic comfort food. This is usually the best choice, especially if someone is recovering from an illness.


4. Bring everything in disposable containers. In years past, this would have been frowned upon. It was not uncommon for food to be delivered in the giver’s favorite casserole dishes. If you were the young mom home with a newborn, it would have been easier to order take-out than be burdened with cleaning containers and making the arrangements to have everything returned. The key is to reduce the homebound person’s workload, not increase it.


5. Label every item. People like to know what they are eating. This becomes more relevant if there are children in the family. The individual can pick and choose what they like.


6. As mentioned above, bring the meal ready to eat, but do include reheating instructions.


7. Make sure your quantity is large enough to feed the entire family. If one spouse is home recovering, the other spouse is now serving as care giver. They both need a helping hand. If children are in the mix, knowing there is one night that no one needs to think about the evening meal is an added blessing. I think it is always nice to bring enough for leftovers, too.


8. If you can, bring the entire meal, including sides. I do not just bring a lasagna. I bring the salad, dressing and rolls, too. Adding a dessert is an extra treat. Mentally go through the meal. If you were eating what you are providing, is there anything missing? Maybe some butter for those rolls? Salt and pepper for the salad? The bigger the load you can carry, the greater impact your gift will have.


9. For a little extra pop, ask yourself if there is anything else you could bring to brighten the day. When delivering the dinner meal, maybe include a bag of their favorite pastries for the next morning. What about a basket of snacks? Their favorite coffee? All gifts are appreciated, but it is nice to go that extra step and ask what you would love to receive if you were in their place.


10. When you agree to deliver a meal, whatever you do, do not cancel! It seems this would go without saying, but I see it happen too often. A person has signed up through their bible study class to deliver a meal to new parents. Something happens at work and they are delayed so they are unable to follow through. They cancel on the couple at the last minute, and the new parents now must scramble around to put food on the table. Will they starve? No, but when we do not follow through, we have now added a burden when our goal was to eliminate added work. If you find your plans truly keep you from delivering the homecooked meal, then place an order from a restaurant that delivers. This may cost more money, but you committed to provide a service, and it is important to follow through.


In our COVID-19 world, I will add one extra tip. If you are making the meal from home, it is good practice to wear a mask and gloves. Let the person know you took the appropriate precautions to protect them. A family member or friend who is ill might be wary about consuming outside food in which they did not have control. Making them aware of the steps you took to protect them will bring the comfort they need.

Food is a gift that God has given us, and healing seems to take place when we join each other around the table. “You satisfy my soul with the richest foods. My mouth will sing your praise with joyful lips.” Psalm 63:5. Make the giving of food an important part of your life. A hungry world needs us to be the hands and feet of Christ.

Together with you,

Lisa Lou