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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

Top 7 Tips for Good Cell Phone Manners - Part 2

4. No one wants to hear your conversation. When you must speak on the phone in public, remove yourself and take your call in private. If you cannot find privacy, step at least ten feet away so you minimize the chance of disturbing others. No matter how private we try to make our call, our body language speaks volumes. Patrons enjoying a dinner out do not want to be disturbed watching someone throw their arms around while arguing on their phone.

5. If you do miss a message, once your evening has ended, respond quickly to the person. If they are frustrated you did not immediately get back to them, politely say, “I was having dinner with my husband.” No other explanation is needed. There is never a time in life you should be at someone else’s disposal 24/7. If you have this type of relationship, then you are not in control of your own time. They control your time, and they expect you to stop whatever you are doing to respond. The only people I am available for around the clock is my family. Even then, if they text while I am at lunch with someone, I wait to respond unless it is time sensitive or an emergency. We have a rule in our family if it is an emergency, we pick up the phone and call instead of texting, because we have agreed we will not drop everything to check our texts.* Do not let an electronic gadget keep you from being present with others.

6. Do not use the cell phone as a crutch. People can be uncomfortable in social settings, and instead of engaging with those around them, they hide in a corner and surf their phone. The introduction of social media via the cell phone has caused society to lose a large portion of their social skills. It has become such a problem with job-seeking college graduates that many universities have brought back basic etiquette classes to help students increase these soft skills. Put your phone in your pocket and step out of your comfort zone. Make personal connections with those around you. A little small talk can go a long way!

7. One last tip. When it comes to family dinners at home, I suggest cell phones remain in another room. Mealtime around the table is vital to the mental health of our families. Do not let technology damage the precious few moments you have together each day. There is not much I find more heartbreaking than observing families at a restaurant where the children, and Mom and Dad, have their heads buried in their phones. Children desperately need quality time with their parents. This is not possible every day, but we should do our best not to squander the minutes when it does come. Imagine if you could spend a full hour, every day having quality dinner time with your child. What if you could do this every week, every year, until they turned eighteen. Yes, I mean you do not miss one meal together. Even with all this time, which seems an almost impossible task, this would total only 274 days in the life of that child. Time is fleeting. We do not always need a lot of it to have a significant impact, but God also warns us not to waste it. “So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity…” (Ephesians 5:15-16 NLT). “Lord, remind me how brief my time on earth will be. Remind me that my days are numbered— how fleeting my life is.” (Psalm 39:4-5 NLT). There is not much more important than being present with our families.

Together with you,

Lisa Lou

*I ran across an article with a few disturbing cell phone facts:

47% of Americans say they are addicted to their phones

70% check their phone within 5 minutes of receiving a notification

48% feel panic or anxiety when their battery goes below 20%

If any of the above resonate, my strong recommendation is you work to resolve this. It is not healthy. If we are parents and fall into this category, then we are also modeling this behavior to our children. Teaching children to personally interact with others is of the upmost importance. This will only happen if the PARENTS model this same behavior.

A study was conducted in a work environment where employees logged every minute of their day. The results were eye-opening. Although they were in the office 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, their recorded time showed they were only productive 3 hours a day. Why? They were so distracted with their phones because of a lack of organizational skills, along with no boundaries on their phone use, that they could not perform at their maximum ability. What happens to a business in this situation? The same tasks must be accomplished, so more people must be hired. Because of the outlay of expenditures, this usually means the business will soon be bankrupt. Why? Because the team did not function effectively. Folks, we must learn to put boundaries around our time and our phones and implement systems to help us live each day to the fullest. Let’s get back to spending our best life, and let’s start with those in our own home.

If you missed part one, read it here!