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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

Q/A My Money His Money Our Money

Q: I have several money questions. I am recently married. Is it alright to buy myself things without checking with my husband? Is it alright to spend my spouse’s money on things for myself? Should you spend your spouse’s money even if you can afford it with your own money? Is it wiser to just have your own separate bank account to deposit your money in?

A: To get to the root of the issue, we need to change the questions. Healthy couples set up a system for handling finances that enables both to feel safe. Household expenses and other necessities are clearly defined along with goals for saving and giving. Surplus money can be allocated for luxuries or travel and other mutually agreed upon items. Marriage is about “oneness” and walking in agreement. When we marry, we make a covenant with God and take on each other’s identity. Our lives are no longer mine or his, but ours. We celebrate together, we mourn together, and we carry each other’s burdens. If one spouse is sick, the other steps up to take care of them. We would not say, “Sorry you are sick, but you are on your own. Hope you feel better soon.” If one spouse has a problem they are dealing with, the other spouse does not say, “Sorry about your problem. Have fun solving it.”


In marriage, there is not my money and his money. If the mother stayed home to take care of the children, and the husband was the breadwinner, would the mother not be allowed to spend money because, technically, the husband earned it, thus making it his money? As a couple, we contribute to the greater good of the marriage and family through shared contribution. This might include salary, house chores, yard maintenance, cooking, cleaning the dishes, on and on. Both husband and wife bring their contributions to the marriage in different ways.


If you take a “my money/his money” approach, how would this next scenario work? The wife agrees, with her salary, to save for their child’s college tuition, while the husband, with his salary, agrees to save for the house mortgage. Mom receives a pay cut due to hard times and cannot save as much. Would dad say, “Sorry, daughter, you cannot attend college because, mom wasn’t able to save enough.” In marriage, we do life together. We are partners. One of the top struggles in marriage is finances. Some maintain a hers vs his mentality. When we do this, we have not merged every aspect of our lives. We are still living as two separate people. This is what roommates do, not spouses. Why would we combine every other part of our lives, but when it comes to money we say, “Oh, no, you don’t! I made this money. It is mine and stays in my corner.” If one spouse brings debt into a marriage, the other spouse does not say, “Have fun paying that debt off.” Instead, they tackle the debt together. My burdens become my spouse’s burdens.


Couples need to look at their combined income, create a budget (we call it a spending plan in our family), and agree, together, what the goals of the family will be. Does this mean you have no freedom to splurge on your own? Of course not. We all need that freedom, and we do not need a spouse staring over our shoulder. But that decision should be made as a couple. If you have $1,000 of discretionary money remaining each month (after savings and giving), then you might agree that each of you take $500 for yourself. You do not need to then ask each other if it is alright if you buy something with your $500. You have agreed, together, that it is yours to spend as you wish, and the other spouse should not question this.


If you find the next month you only have $600 of extra money, then you both need to tighten in your belts, regardless of who’s income went down. Money problems is one of the top reasons for divorce. It is something that needs to be worked out. If you and your husband struggle in this area, you may need to address the need with a counselor or respected third party so the problem can be defined, and a reasonable solution found. Dave Ramsey is a leading expert in the field of finances and marriage. Here are 2 articles that talk about marriage and money. I highly recommend diving into his resources for healthy examples of marriage and money: www.daveramsey.com


Article 1:

https://ktar.com/story/2587495/dave-ramsey-says-married-couples-should-combine-finances/#:~:text=Jesus%20said%20it%20this%20way,re%20reaching%20for%20those%20together.

Article 2:

https://www.daveramsey.com/askdave/relationships-and-money/daves-take-on-separate-checking-accounts#:~:text=Dave's%20Take%20On%20Separate%20Checking%20Accounts&text=If%20you%20want%20to%20be,to%20avoid%20bouncing%20checks%20otherwise.

Knowing how to handle finances is important for the relationship. When you use the correct tools to set up a healthy system, you will be amazed how this helps your overall marriage.

Patti Hatton and Lisa Lou