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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!

  • Patti Hatton

Q/A Those Words Hurt

Updated: Oct 22, 2020

Q: What to do when your spouse says something mean or spiteful to you “in the heat of the moment.”

A: It is important to remember that there are really four people present with every couple. Two adults and two children. Children do not know how to articulate and resolve pain in their hearts, so they resort to childish tactics as a defense. When things become emotionally charged in a disagreement with your significant other, it is crucial to recognize who is in the room…the adults or the children.

When children get angry, they do ridiculous things to express their feelings and protect their heart. It is not uncommon for a child to name call, physically assault, or place blame on others to save face. We are all fully capable of responding to adversity from a childish perspective.

Most of the time, people do not mean what they blurt out in the heat of the moment. They are operating out of the “fight or flight” part of the brain. They are fighting to win, and their thoughts are not rational.

If you said a cruel and unnecessary thing to your spouse during an argument it will take more than an apology to turn things around. Words are powerful and can wound. Once spoken they cannot be unsaid.

Mending requires putting yourself in your loved one’s shoes and genuinely trying to understand how your words and actions made them feel. Verbally reflect to your partner what you hear them saying to let them know you hear their heart and care deeply about the injury. After you have done this, then say you are sorry and ask for forgiveness. Lastly, ask if there is anything you can do for them.

There is usually a grain of truth in words spoken in anger. Consider how you can communicate and resolve problems as an adult and not a child in the future. Adults seek to find solutions where both parties matter and both win. Good can come from the pain of saying something mean, if it will motivate you to learn the skills that healthy couples use to resolve conflict.

Patti Hatton, MA, LPC