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Giving a party requires a great deal of work. If you have been fortunate enough to be included in a festive soiree, it is nice to arrive with a gift for the hostess. The typical present will cost anywhere from $15-$100. What you spend will be determined by your relationship and the type of event. Is it a formal dinner? A backyard BBQ? Also, when possible, know the likes and dislikes of your hostess. If she is allergic to flowers, you probably will not arrive with a bouquet in hand.

1. Choose the table. Will you use a round that seats four or a rectangle that seats twelve? This decision will determine your centerpiece.

Warmer weather will be arriving soon, and I am seeing more of our four-legged members making an appearance in the dog parks and on walking trails. With pets taking more prominent roles in our lives, I thought it would be good to brush up on basic dog etiquette and ownership responsibilities.

Meeting friends for dinner after work, grabbing coffee with your girlfriend or just ordering pizza on a Friday night with neighbors. We all have a deep desire to be connected in a world that often forgets the importance of relationships. Many of us have the desire to entertain, but we let our circumstances keep us from extending hospitality. Often it revolves around our lack of confidence in our ability to host events. I get this!

A toast may be offered in any setting and made to an individual or a group. Increase your confidence at your next social gathering by learning the ins and outs of this ancient tradition.

A perfect entertaining year for me would be hosting a different themed party each month! Will I do that? No. Will I dream about it? Yes! If I cannot have a party every 4 weeks, I can at least help my Lisa Lou family with ideas so hopefully a few of you can carry the torch of hospitality for the rest of us.

Remember as children, during holidays, we would spend what seemed like hours creating homemade craft projects for our parents? It might be a paper Christmas snowflake sprinkled with glitter or a cutout heart for Valentine’s Day. We would address it: To: Mom or To: Dad. We would sign our name, and this became the gift we gave our parents. The act of giving is how we should view all letters, especially a thank you note. We may not be cutting out cute hearts, but when we take time to put pen to paper and share a little of ourselves with someone else, we are giving a part of our heart to another person.

A successful hostess remembers one of the most important factors to make her guests feel welcome: engage all 5 senses! When entertaining, ask yourself, “How have I embraced taste, smell, sight, sound and feel?” It is easy to do and your friends and family will be left saying to themselves, “I don’t know what is was, but that was a fabulous party!”

As your holiday social calendar is no doubt filling up, you may be looking for a family friendly party idea to get into the spirit! A Christmas Cookie Swap is wonderful for large groups and something the entire family will enjoy! I would recommend inviting at least six families so there are enough cookies for the exchange. This party idea is budget friendly for young families, the ingredients for the cookies are generally inexpensive, and your party décor is already in place with festive decorating.

  • Writer's pictureLisa Lou

13 Dinner Party Skills You Should Know

Updated: Oct 18, 2022

These thirteen tips will get you 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.

2. Bathroom, Purse and Phones:

Yes, No and No! Before you head to the table, stop in the powder room. It is best not to leave the table during a dinner party and making a quick trip to the loo before the meal might alleviate this necessity. If the dinner is in someone’s home, the hostess will tell you where you may store your personal items for the evening. If you prefer to keep your purse with you leave it in another room during dinner. This holds true for cell phones. At a private dinner party, the cell phone should be in another room. If you are attending a dinner party in a restaurant, place your phone in your purse or in your lap and cover it with your napkin.

3. Where Do I Sit?

Most hostesses will have place cards at each setting to tell guests where to sit. Find your spot and stand behind your chair until the hostess takes her seat. If there are no place cards, wait for the hostess to direct you.

Side note: If there are place cards present, NEVER switch them even if you rather sit by someone else. Where you have been placed is no accident. A hostess works hard to match people based on personalities, similar interests, and/or business associations. If you switch the cards, you potentially disrupt the dynamics of the table.

4. Napkins:

Once your hostess places the napkin in her lap you place your napkin in your lap. (Fyi: Your napkin is the one to the left of your fork or found in the center of your plate.) The napkin stays in your lap the entire meal. Should you need to excuse yourself during the meal, place your napkin in your chair. Why the chair? No guest wants a dirty linen next to their food. Once dinner is completed, fold your napkin, and place it on the table where your forks used to be (which is to the left of the plate).

5. Utensils:

There are exceptions to this rule, but for simplicity’s sake, remember you use your utensils in the order they are placed, working from the outside in.

Example: The fork sitting farthest to the left of your plate and on the outside will be for salad.

Why? Because salad will be the first course served. The fork directly to the left of your plate, but to the right of your salad fork, will be for the main entrée. Why? Because this is the next course served. Dessert utensils are placed at the top of your plate or brought to you when that course is served.

6. Plates:

The salad plate is directly to the left of your forks and the bread plate is placed above your forks. Here is a little trick to help you remember. Bring both of your index fingers and thumbs together in an “OK” symbol. Your left hand makes a “b” for bread and your right makes a “d” for drink. Bread plates (partnered with salad plates) are always on the left and your drinks are always on the right. Or just remember: BMW (bread, meal, water).

7. Glasses:

Drinking glasses are placed to your right and above the knife and spoon. If wine is served the order of glasses from left to right will be water; red wine; white wine. I remember this by mentally alternating the color of the beverage: white-red-white (water (white); red wine (red); white wine (white)).

8. Bread and Butter:

If butter is being passed use the knife on your bread plate or the butter knife accompanying the butter. Do not take butter from a community bowl and place it directly onto your bread. Instead, place a small serving of butter onto your bread plate. When you are ready to eat your bread, tear off a bite-sized portion and butter it. Never butter the entire roll, and do not bite into a roll. Nothing good comes from this. Why? If you bite into a buttered roll, you end up with food stuck to the front of your teeth. This is unsightly to the person you are speaking with. Also, bread can be chewy. Biting into a roll will necessitate tearing the bread away from your teeth. I made the mistake once of biting into a roll only to end up having to use both hands to rip the bread away. It was not pretty!

9. Set It Down:

In between each bite set your utensils down. Do not hold them in your hands. This accomplishes two things. First, if your utensils are in your hands, you will unintentionally swing them around while carrying on a conversation. This can cause food to fly and make people uncomfortable when fork tines come close to their face. Secondly, when you set your utensils down between bites, it forces you to eat slowly. This helps avoid shoveling food. Utensils are used for two purposes: to cut food or place food in your mouth. Any other time they should be out of your hands.

10. Resting Position: