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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

Attire: What Do I Wear to the Party?



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.” When we are unclear, this only serves to add stress on those we have invited. An invitation to a party should be a joyful experience from beginning to end. I grew up with a grandfather that was a cattleman. If I received an invitation that said “cowboy” in it, I would don my favorite pair of jeans, polish my boots, and head out the door. The word “couture” might give me a clue that I should elevate my choice of attire, but why leave your guests wondering?


Here is a guide that will help clear up any confusion you might have.


Casual


Let me clarify up front. Casual does not mean athletic gear or cutoff shorts. Save this for the gym or yard work.


Women: If your invitation says casual, the best choice is a pair of jeans and a cute top. A comfortable pair of crop pants and flats always works, too.

Men: A nice pair of jeans and a collared shirt. This can be a golf shirt or a button down with the sleeves rolled up. *


*Casual Chic


Women: Step up your game a little in the casual department. Add heals with your jeans and throw on a blazer.

Men: If you mix jeans with a sports jacket, you will fit right in.


Business Casual or Business:


Women: Skirt or slacks with a sweater and flats for a casual look. A blouse, blazer, and heels for business.

Men: Slacks, a collared shirt, and a sports coat for a casual look. Maybe add a fun tie. For business go with a traditional suit and tie. You may switch up the color of your shirts but stick with traditional colors.


Cocktail


Women: A short, black dress is usually a great “go-to” outfit. Anything ankle length is also nice. Throw on some jewelry, heels, and a great handbag, and you are set.

Men: Dark suit, white shirt, and a tie.


Black Tie Optional


I find this dress code more difficult, because it leaves people wondering which way they should go. Let me clear this up. When the hostess of an event says “optional” what they are trying to say is, “If you do not own a tux, or do not feel like renting one, we do not want this to keep you from attending our event, so come on anyway.” The hostess is saying she wants you in a tuxedo, but your presence is more important to her than your attire. So, when my husband and I receive a Black-Tie Optional invitation, we always err on the dressier side and go Black Tie! If you do not wish to do this here is the best choice.


Women: A longer dress (does not need to be floor length), heels, great jewelry, and an evening handbag.

Men: Very dark suit, white shirt, and very dark tie. Preferably a solid black or dark navy. This can be a regular tie or a bow tie.


Black Tie/Formal


This is the easiest to decipher because we all know what to expect.


Women: Floor length gown, heels, elegant drop earrings and an evening handbag.

Men: Tuxedo. In all things know your audience and your hostess. A Hollywood gala or political black-tie event might be dressier than a friend’s 7p.m. wedding. Use your judgement and feel free to ask the hostess what she is wearing. This is sometimes the best route!


Together with you,

Lisa Lou


*A comment about men and shorts. In our casual culture, it is more common and acceptable to see grown men wearing shorts. A word of caution, though. Here is a quick recap on the history of shorts and when they should and should not be worn.