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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

Quarantine Gift Ideas for Mom

Updated: Jun 3, 2020



How do we celebrate Mom when we are stuck in quarantine? Get your creative juices flowing and make a list of things she loves. This will help focus you in the right direction. To get you started, I have listed 15 ideas that you can pull off when you cannot leave your home.


Virtual Wine Tasting: I love this idea. You can sign up with different wineries and do virtual tastings. Offerings vary based on the company, so do some research. Here is a link to get you started. https://www.wine.com/content/landing/virtual-tastings#

Flowers or Balloons: I don’t care what gift experts say, flowers NEVER get old! I sometimes mix it up and send a bouquet of balloons. This is so festive.


Find a Friend (or company) to Serenade Her: My mother had two friends come over, unannounced, and sing to her outside her home. They then left a batch of homemade muffins. It was so memorable! If you hire a professional, not only are you giving a great gift, but you are also helping support them during difficult times.


Kindle: If she enjoys reading and has not tried books on Kindle, quarantine is a good time to start.


Home Shopping Spree: Instead of sending her out the front door, where many stores are not open, she can curl up on the couch and shop from home. Most boutiques have websites, and I strongly encourage supporting our local businesses. Shopping on Amazon will work, too. But shop local if you can!


Coupon Book: Ideas: clean the house; make breakfast, lunch or dinner; whatever her chores entail let the family take over for one week. There is no end to what you can include in this book. Make one coupon for each month to last a year, or one for each day that lasts a week. Let the children get involved in crafting the book. The sky is the limit on this gift!


Puzzle: Order a puzzle with a picture of her favorite vacation spot with a promise you will visit as soon as you can travel again.


Favorite Dessert: Make it or order it. Let the children be involved if you are making.


Art Set: If she enjoys art, or has wanted to start back up, order a beginner’s set from Amazon.


Pajamas and Slippers: We are spending a lot of time in clothes other than our normal street wear. Now is a great time to invest in a nicer set of pajamas and slippers.


Comfortable and Stylish Lounge Outfit: For the same reason mentioned above, a new, chic lounge outfit will be greatly appreciated.


Create a Playlist of Her Favorite Songs: This is a special treat for those that do not enjoy technology but want to have a solid playlist of music. Having someone else create the list for you is a treat.


Online Course She Wishes to Take: If there is a course she has wanted to take, purchase this online, and give her a coupon book that offers to take over her responsibilities so she has the time to complete the course.


Instant Pot or Slow Cooker: With all the homecooked meals we are devouring, now is a good time to upgrade the Crock-Pot you received when you married or invest in a first-time Instant Pot. Include a recipe book of easy to follow meals. Go a step further. Tell her she will receive her gift in the evening. Don’t let her in the kitchen. Make a great meal for her in her new appliance and then present both to her at the same time. (I may have to do a blog on competing opinions: slow cooker or Instant Pot?!?)


Silky Sheets: Sheets can be expensive. Indulge her in a beautiful set of new linens for the bedroom. This might be something you let her choose, but you can include it in the coupon book!


Although we tend to think of tangible items when it comes to gift giving, the best way to please Mom is to learn to speak her love language. These languages include words of affirmation; acts of service; receiving gifts; quality time; physical touch. If you have not taken the 5 Love Languages quiz, I encourage you to do so. Everyone of us speaks all five languages, but some of our languages rank higher than others. When it comes to gift giving, if you know which of Mom’s languages rank the highest, it will help guide you in the type of gift that will please her most. And if you can learn to master her language, this will be the greatest gift of all. https://www.5lovelanguages.com/quizzes/


Together with you,

Lisa Lou