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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

Seating for a Dinner Party



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.


Depending if your dinner is formal or casual, there are two ways to seat guests. Put another way, ask yourself if your dinner is one that will follow official protocol, or one that is geared more toward matching people with similar interests. The most common approach, and often the most enjoyable for guests, is to match people based on personality and common connections, regardless of protocol.

Things to consider with your seating assignments:


1. Separate couples: When two people know each other well, it is easy for them to slip into their comfortable rolls of just talking to each other, especially if one or both tend to be shy around strangers. You want to avoid making it easy for a couple to disengage from the group.


2. Alternate male and female: Why is this important? When women are grouped together at one end and men at the other, the instinct is to only talk to those people, thus ignoring the opposite end of the table. To have a table that is fully engaged, it is best to alternate.


3. Match personalities: Think about your guests and how they interact with others. Do you have two people attending your dinner that are more reserved? If so, you do not want to seat them together. Do you have several talkative guests that love to attend parties? If so, spreading them among the others ensures there will be lively interaction as they will help carry the conversation in their section of the dining table.


4. Match interests: If you know two individuals just returned from a fabulous trip to New Zealand, it might make sense to seat them together. They could spend the entire dinner talking about their shared experiences. What about business interests? If several of your guests work in real estate, they will enjoy having this common topic to discuss throughout the meal.


5. Separate potential problems: If you have two guests attending you know do not get along, put them on opposite ends of the table.


6. One table or two? I prefer smaller dinner parties with 12 or less people. If possible, keep everyone at the same table. The synergies of conversation are always much livelier, and there are more people for your guests to converse with. This also helps avoid those awkward silent moments that occur more readily when guests are in smaller groups. For a large party more tables are sometimes necessary. Just remember that a smaller table of people that do not know each other means your ability to match your guests appropriately becomes that much more important.


7. Hostess: As the hostess at the table, it is your job to instigate the conversation. If I see two guests sitting quietly, I might say to them, “Suzy, Debbie and her family just moved to the neighborhood, and her children will be entering our local elementary school where your children attend. Do you have any tips for her that might help the transition go more smoothly?” The responsibility of the hostess to help with conversation is another reason I prefer not to separate my guests into different tables, because that means there is no hostess present to steer the dialogue. If I do have more than one table, I will choose one guest I know well to serve as the hostess for that table. My other guests never know this, but I rest comfortably knowing my chosen helper will ensure a quality time for the other people.


8. A hostess needs easy access to the kitchen. Your goal is to be able to quietly slip in and out of your chair without causing a stir. If your table is a rectangle, you will sit at the end closest to the kitchen. If it is a round table, pick whatever chair is closest.


9. Table size: If you have a choice, round tables work best for overall conversation, but all shapes will work. I have a round table in my kitchen that can seat 8 and a rectangular table in my dining room that can seat 12. Tip: My dining room is shaped to only accommodate a rectangular table. To give it a round table feel, I had a new top made that is wide enough I can put two people on either end, as opposed to a traditional table where there is only room for one at each end. This helps with conversation flow at both ends of the table as though everyone was perched around a circular table.


Together with you,

Lisa Lou