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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

The Art of Toasting

A toast may be offered in any setting and made to an individual or a group. Increase your confidence at your next social gathering by learning the ins and outs of this ancient tradition.

Toasting to someone’s health or honor goes back to biblical times and can be found in most cultures including the Egyptians, Greeks, and Persians. The toast was usually given to honor their gods, but sometimes they would toast each other. Once toasting moved into the Roman culture, the word “toast” came about because the Romans began adding toasted bread to their wine to soak up the acidity. The bread helped improve the flavor of the wine, and it had the benefit of creating a nice, fruity piece of food. There are different theories as to how the toast was performed, but the most commonly held was the person offering the toast would take a sip of the drink and then pass the glass around for everyone else to partake. The person being honored would be the last to drink which also meant they were allowed to eat the sweet tasting toast.

Drinking vessels in the ancient world were made of pottery or metal and the traditional toast was offered by raising the tankard in the air. Clinking the mugs together did not begin until the custom of toasting spread to Europe where it was more common to use glasses that contained lead. There are two theories why people would clink glasses, and some historians believe both are correct. One thought is the hitting of the vessels was a sign of good faith. It showed the person you were with that you were not trying to poison them. The images on TV depicting medieval men aggressively smashing drinks together comes to mind. This would cause the contents of both mugs to spill into each other’s drink. If a person participated in a toast with someone they were trying to poison, that person now ran the risk of poisoning themselves because they would be drinking a portion of both drinks. A toast, therefore, became a sign you came in good faith.

A second theory is once drinking vessels became more refined with higher percentages of lead, tapping glasses became a way to add another “sense” to the art of toasting. People could taste, see, and smell wine, but now they could hear the toast through the ringing of their glasses. As time progressed the toast evolved into that of honoring another person. This is where the phrase “toast of the town” came from. We use this phrase, even today, to mean someone that is well known, and revered, among others.

No matter the history we know the toast is an ancient tradition that has continued into modern society. I personally believe a toast is warranted at every meal when you are entertaining. It is a beautiful way to bestow honor on those around you.

Protocol Of The Toast:

Giving A Toast:

1. The host offers a toast at the beginning of the meal to welcome the guests. Do this by standing and saying a few words to the entire group.

2. When dessert is being served, the host may now give another toast that is directed towards an individual or honored guest. (If you are an invited guest, allow the host to begin the toasting. Do not go before him/her.)

3. The host stands and says a few words directed toward the person being honored. Toasting someone does not have to be for a monumental reason. You might be celebrating a birthday or graduation, or you may simply want to recognize your childhood friend whom you have not seen in years.

4. A toast should be brief. No more than 30-60 seconds.

5. Once you have spoken, ask the table to join you by raising their glass toward the guest. Then, take a sip of your drink. (Just a sip! If others at the table offer a toast, you do not want your glass to be empty.)

6. In today’s culture many people clink glasses after the toast. Officially, a toast is conducted by raising your glass in front of you, but not clinking with the surrounding guests. But, since most people do like to clink, a mannerly person will follow the lead of their tablemates and host. If the host offers a toast, raises his glass to the honoree, and then takes a sip without clinking, the guests at the table follow suit. If the host clinks glasses, then do the same.

7. Always remember, toasting someone is done to honor that person. Roasting them is not recommended. Save that for another time.

Receiving A Toast:

1. If you are the one being honored there are a few things to know. Stay seated and receive the words with gratitude.

2. Do not pick up your glass when everyone is raising their drink to you. This would be like giving yourself a pat on the back.

3. Once the toast is completed, you will stand, with glass in hand, and offer a toast back to your host. You may simply say thank you, or you may say a few words. Either is fine.

Here Are A Few Things To Keep In Mind When Offering A Toast:

1. Who is being honored? Example: your son.

2. Why are they being honored? Example: 21st birthday.

3. What other guests are attending? Example: a large group with a mix of generations represented. Know your audience. Grandparents in attendance might not know the latest hip words of the 20-something generation. When speaking, make sure everyone is included in the toast. This means using words the entire group understands and not telling inside jokes that alienates a portion of the table.

4. Keep the toast short. As already mentioned, no more than 30 seconds. One minute at the most. A wedding or anniversary toast might be a little longer, but even those should not exceed 60-90 seconds.

5. Remember that you are there to honor, not embarrass, the one being toasted. If it is a small gathering of your college friends, ok, you might get a jab or two in, but this should be reserved for close friends in intimate settings.

Using the above example, my toast might sound like this:

“Son, you are one of the greatest blessings in my life. No parent could be prouder of their child than I am of you. Today, we celebrate the occasion of your birthday, and I pray God will keep His hand on you all the days of your life. I love you. Please join me in raising your glass to my son!”

Short, sincere, and heartfelt. By instructing the table, “Please join me in raising your glass,” you have given instructions to your guests as to exactly what you want them to do. A toast that leaves you hanging is like an orchestra with no conductor. Do not leave your guests wondering.

I believe much of our culture has lost the art of toasting. It is not difficult to do, and it makes such an impact. Saying a few sincere words evokes emotion in a way that allows you to show your gratitude to those gathered with you. Make toasting a priority at your next event!

Together with you,

Lisa Lou