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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!

  • Alina Gersib

Queso con Carne Taste Test

Happy Foodie Friday! These recipes come courtesy of Penny and Eleazar Martinez.

Each of our Taste Test Reviews comes with the original recipe and the tester's notes/changes listed with the ingredient list in blue. We hope you enjoy!

Being a self-proclaimed connoisseur of queso, I was more than excited to try my hand at making a batch. As I was heating the various cheeses the consistency was more akin to a queso fundido. I made one-third of the recipe and ended up adding about a 1/4 cup of water and a few tablespoons more of cream to thin the queso out. If you are making the full recipe, watch the consistency and know you may have to add more liquid than you think. Even with adding some extra liquids the queso ended up being more on the thick side. Overall, the recipe was simple to follow and tasted great. The Carne topping came together easily and was a perfect complement to the dish. If you like Queso, definitely give this recipe a try!

Queso con Carne
Download PDF • 2.80MB

Makes 20 servings

Preparation Time: 5 Minutes for the Carne

Cook Time: 10 minutes for the Queso, 10 minutes for the Carne

Cost: $25

Ingredients for Cheese:

*1 cup heavy cream (You may have to add extra cream and water to thin the queso out)

*3 pounds cream cheese, room temperature

*3 pounds mild cheddar cheese

*1 tablespoon onion powder


*In a large saucepan, warm up the heavy cream on medium heat.

*Add the onion powder and stir to dissolve cream.

*Start adding the cheeses in batches, allowing each batch to melt nicely before adding the next batch. Always keep stirring.

*When all the cheese has been incorporated, place the queso in a dish, top with carne topping. (Recipe below).

Ingredients for Carne Topping:

*1 tablespoon olive oil

*2 pounds ground beef

*1 tablespoon smoky paprika (regular paprika can be substituted, but smoky tastes better)

*1 tablespoon cumin

*1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic

*1 cup Roma tomatos, chopped

*1/2 cup fresh chopped cilantro

*Salt and pepper, to tast


*In a large skillet heat up the oil on high heat.

*Add the beef and work well with a spatula until nicely crumbled.

*Turn the heat down to medium and add the rest of the ingredients and cook, constantly stirring, for 5 minutes (add a splash of water if needed to moisten the beef).

*Take off the heat, serve and enjoy.

Recipe and Taste Tester - Alina Gersib