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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

Top 10 Parks Around Houston

In the sprawling metropolis that is Houston, Texas, it can be difficult to get away from the traffic and noise. In order to destress and reconnect with nature, finding a good park to walk, run, or sit on a bench and enjoy is crucial. Having lived in The Med Center, Galleria, and Heights, I quickly learned about the best parks in and around the city. If you’re looking for a spot for some peace and tranquility, be sure to check out one of these Top 10 Houston Parks. (In no particular order)


1. Herman Park

With ample space and a variety of different attractions this park always has something new to see. Depending on what you want your park experience to be you can rent bikes and ride around the outer loop. Visit the Centennial Gardens and climb to the top of the mound. Or go feed the ducks on the lake by the zoo.

2. Brays Bayou Park

Though this park is located right next to Herman Park and even has bridges that attach the two, it has a dramatically different feel from its more structured neighbor. One section in particular, about a quarter mile to the right of the main parking area, takes you into an area which quickly transports you out of the city. The forested grove feels more akin to something out of a Tolkien novel.

3. Evelyn’s Park Conservancy

This little gem was one of my favorite places to people watch or set up my computer and work. There is an adorable little restaurant on the grounds called Betsy’s at Evelyn’s Park which has delicious coffee, food, and drinks. Events happen frequently on the lawn space at this park and there is an area with Alice in Wonderland statues and quotes which is fun to walk around.


4. Menil Park

Photo Menil Collection


Though tiny, this park was a go-to while I lived in Houston. It was always enjoyable to walk through the Menil Collection or sit in the Rothko Chapel before going out to the green space and laying on the grass. The area is perfect for a picnic blanket and to admire a sunset while listening to the hum of conversation floating through the air.

5. Buffalo Bayou Park

Sandwiched between Allen Parkway and Memorial Drive this park is a great spot to visit on a hot summer day as a breeze from the Bayou tends to make it cooler than other areas. Though not a park, a must visit while you’re there is the Buffalo Park Cistern. Reserve tickets online so you get a spot, and marvel at the incredible Romanesque architecture while learning about the fascinating history of this cistern that supplied the city with water starting in 1926.

6. West 11th Street Park

This gorgeous little park in the heights is full of a surprising number of wooded trails. I highly recommend it if you’re looking for a place to walk, run, or explore. Educational markers give information on native plants, and birds and small wildlife are incredibly active within these tranquil woods.

7. Memorial Park

Memorial Park (Memorial Park Conservancy)

It’s difficult to talk about Houston parks and leave this popular spot off of the list. With its famous dirt running/walking loop and a vast outlet of mountain biking and hiking trails this is an area many enjoy. The Picnic Loop Trail has some great running areas if you’re looking for something a little off the beaten path.


8. Levy Park

Photo Urban Land Institute and Levy Park

Filled with all sorts of whimsical playground equipment and climbing areas, this park would be a hit if you have any kiddos. My fiancé and I enjoyed strolling in the park and playing ping-pong at the free tables.

9. Terry Hershey Park

If you’re looking for a spot for either a long run or bike ride, this loop is a great place to check out. With more than 500 acres it makes for a huge area of outdoor exploration. There are also plenty of benches, playground equipment, and restrooms along the route if you’re planning for a day out with your family.

10. Houston Arboretum & Nature Center

A park perfect for nature lovers. The many paved, dirt, and wooded paths provide an up close look at native Texas Wildlife. There is no running or biking in the park, so this is a spot to come to if you’re looking for a leisurely stroll on pristine grounds.

-Alina Gersib