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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

Traveling with Friends

Society is opening and people are resuming long overdue vacations. This is great news! I recently posted some tips on making your travels successful, but let’s focus on dos and don’ts of traveling with friends.

1. Boundaries: When traveling with others, set guidelines, boundaries, and expectations before leaving town. If you know you and your husband want one night to yourselves, express this up front. If a quiet breakfast in bed is necessary to start your day, see if this fits with the group’s schedule.

2. Destination: Determine your destination. This may sound unnecessary, but it is important. I cannot travel to high altitudes, and the friends we travel with know this. They are always kind and accommodating when I am around. People have preferences in their choice of destinations so get everyone’s input before proceeding.

3. Transportation: How will you get to your location? Are you flying, driving? Is everyone taking their own car, or are you renting a van? If you rent, remember to let the company know who will be driving, as this matters for insurance.

4. Finances: Be honest about what you can and cannot do. There is no shame in this. It is honorable to be a good steward of your money. Ways to cut back: stay in a B&B and cook your own food; instead of a 5-star hotel stay in a 3-star; go camping; stay fewer nights. It is better to stay 2 nights and enjoy all the activities (which cost money) than 5 nights and have no money to participate in the events with your friends.

5. Who Pays: Decide who pays for what activities and meals before leaving town. Is everyone on their own? Will you split things down the middle? If participating in shared activities, maybe one person fronts the cost and everyone else Venmo’s the money to that person before the activity begins. Have a plan and pay promptly.

6. Itinerary: Plan what you will do on your trip before leaving town and get input from the group. Once the itinerary is in place, have one person take the lead in preparing a written agenda. This avoids confusion. No one can say they did not know, because it is written for all to see. An itinerary also helps people plan accordingly when packing.

7. Contacts: If you are traveling with people you do not know, make a few friends, and put their contact information into your phone. This allows you to stay connected to the group and can be extremely helpful if you are running late or have an emergency.

8. Be on Time: When working within a group, be on time. You do not want to be “that” person who is always running late. If you tend to get behind allow yourself an extra 15 minutes before you need to meet up with your friends. Being prompt is one way of showing respect to those around you.

9. Good Companion: Have a good attitude. If your group agrees to an activity, participate unless there is a reason why you cannot. If you do not wish to join in, tell everyone up front you will sit this one out. If you do not feel well or need rest, let them know. You do not need to be beholden to everyone else, but honesty is key. Be a good communicator about what you will and will not do.

10. Luggage: Do not overpack. Rule of thumb is one suitcase and one carryon per person. Remember you have other people to think about. Fitting four adults into a sedan with four suitcases and four carry-ons will be quite tight. Be mindful when packing.

11. Roommates: If you are in a situation where you will be sharing a room, ask the organizer of the trip to do their best to match people with similar habits. A night owl and an early riser? Probably not the best combination.

12. Social Media: Be careful what you post. Other people may feel left out if they were not included in your friend group. Also, showing pictures while you are out of town is an open invitation for criminal activity in your home. Police departments strongly advise against posting when you are traveling. Most importantly, you are with friends presumably to be together. Minimize your phone time and learn to be physically and mentally present with the people you are with.

Vacationing with friends can be great fun. The key is to communicate up front, be intentional, set boundaries, and have a plan. Not all people have a personality that travels well with others. If you are the type of person that needs a certain structure, is not flexible, and becomes irritated if you must change plans midstream, then group travel is probably not for you. When others are involved, flexibility, a good attitude, and a little grace are necessities. Friends that frequently go places together know their ultimate outcome is not exclusively about the destination or excursions. Their goal is creating deeper connection, love of each other, and memories to carry them through life.

Together with you,

Lisa Lou