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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

Why We Love Hallmark Movies

My Prince Charming

Walking into the room, my husband pauses in front of the TV. Turning to me with a spoiler alert about my favorite Hallmark movie he says, “Hey Lisa…they get married.” And you know what? He’s right! The girl found her prince charming, and the couple has a happy ending, every time.

Why do we love these movies? Why do we keep watching the same ones over and over, each with its already known predictable outcome? I believe there are two reasons we are drawn to this timeless message. My first theory revolves around relationships. Here is the typical formula in almost every show:

  • A busy executive is forced to return home.

  • Once she arrives there is a chance encounter with an old love.

  • Due to unforeseen circumstances, the two set out to save a local business from the destruction which causes the couple to now have a shared mission.

  • The work is hard, but they take a spontaneous break to play together, usually prompted by unexpected snow that magically appears.

  • Now exhausted, the moment calls for rest by a warm fire, where the power suddenly goes out.

  • This forces quality time between the two and evidence of tangible love begins to surface.

  • Just before a pivotal kiss, the phone rings. They choose to ignore it because they will no longer allow the world to come between them.

  • In another scene we see her fix his tie (they are always crooked). She has now become his helpmate.

  • They are successful in saving the local business and work well together as partners.

  • Towards the end of the show a villain appears on the scene, often in the form of a current boyfriend from the evil big city.

  • Prince charming must fight for his sweetheart. At the same time, she is faced with a choice. “Do I follow my heart and give up my old life, or do I make the safe choice of perceived security?”

  • In the end, her restless soul chooses true love which ultimately leads her home.

In healthy relationships there are certain traits most couples have in common. A husband and wife share more than love. They are partners. They have common goals. They share a mission. They serve as helpmates. They play together. And when one person is willing to sacrifice for the love of another, it gives us a sense of worthiness. When home is an emotionally healthy place, there is a feeling of protection and security.

Hallmark movies have all the ingredients real couples seek. A partner, a shared mission, a playmate, a protector, and a love that will sacrifice everything. It is no secret why we yearn for these movies as we search for that authenticity to fill the void in our heart.

My second theory runs parallel to the first. Marriage was created by God to give us a taste of what is to come. But our soul is never quite satisfied because the union between man and woman is just a small sampling of the authentic relationship we seek with God. This is why it pains my heart when I hear young brides say of their new groom, “He completes me.” It may feel that way initially, but soon the restless heart stirs, still searching. Why? Because she has put her hope in man instead of looking to God for true completeness.

Compare the formula found in all romances to God’s continued calling:

In Hallmark, the character returns home. I am reminded Christ is our true Home, and we are on a continual search until He returns. “For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come.” (Hebrews 13:14 ESV). “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ…” (Philippians 3:20 ESV).

The return of the character in the story often represents a family member that has gone astray. I am reminded God always welcomes the prodigal home. “‘I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.’ And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said… ’For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.” (Luke 15:19-23 ESV).

In the movie the character often has no place to stay. They feel lost and alone. I am reminded God says we are never alone. “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10 ESV). “…the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9 ESV).

In our show, the character is often a loner with no family. I am reminded God says we are a part of His family. “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God,” (Ephesians 2:19 ESV). “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God…” (John 1:12 ESV).

In Hallmark there is always a lost love. I am reminded, “…God is love.” (1 John 4:8 ESV).

In the movie the girl is searching for her prince. I am reminded God says He is our Bridegroom. “Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb (Christ) has come… ” (Revelation 19:7-9 ESV-parenthesis mine).

In the story the couple become partners. I am reminded God allows us to partner with Him to accomplish big things according to His will. “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10 ESV).

In a Hallmark movie the business is saved. I am reminded God allows us to experience victory, according to His will. “But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 15:57 ESV). “For the Lord your God is he who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies, to give you the victory.” (Deuteronomy 20:4 ESV).

In the film when the villain appears, the woman’s true love must fight for her. I am reminded God is my hero and sacrificed all for me. “The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.” (Exodus 14:14 ESV). “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8 ESV).

In our fairytale the beautiful girl is all dressed up and waiting for her love to arrive. I am reminded God tells us we are His bride, and He will come for us one day. “‘…and his Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure…’ And the angel said to me, ‘Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.’ And he said to me, ‘These are the true words of God.’” (Revelation 19:7-9 ESV).

In the movie narrative the young woman must make a choice by following a new way of life or returning to her past. I am reminded God tells us to follow Him. “Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’” (John 8:12 ESV).

Caz and Cecelia at their covenant ceremony

When you look at the romantic formula for every fairy tale, it becomes clear it is the same pattern God uses to call us to Him. God designed earthly marriage to represent the coming marriage of the Lamb when the bridegroom (Christ) will come for His bride (the church). Our yearning for love is real because God is love. Our desire for a prince is real because the bride of Christ eagerly awaits her groom. Do not brush these feelings away as foolish school-girl dreams. These are real desires because they have been placed in our hearts by a real God. When you read the Bible in its entirety, you realize the pages are a love story about God calling us Home.

The next time we watch a Hallmark movie, and the title says something like Family for Christmas or Romance in Spring, maybe we will understand why we feel that internal tug. St. Augustine said it so poignantly when speaking to God, “You have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.” Our soul searches for our one true love, but once we find Him, our spirit rests, finally confident we will one day reach Home.

Together with you,

Lisa Lou