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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

My Party Needs a Rehearsal?

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. If time allows, I recommend doing this as soon as you know you are hosting an event, and again the week of your party. This gives you time to make necessary adjustments in advance as well as catch last minute items the week of.

When I do a rehearsal for my parties, I pretend I am a guest that is just arriving to my home. Walk up to your front door, ring the doorbell, walk inside, hang up your coat, etc. Be detailed in this process. Doing a walk-through for your event is no different than a rehearsal for a wedding. You will not catch everything that needs attention unless you physically go through this exercise.

The other day I performed these steps for an upcoming gathering in my home. What happened? I realized how dirty the doorbell looked. I noticed one of the porch lights was burned out. The time of year I was hosting increased the odds for rain, so during my rehearsal I pretended I was a guest arriving with my umbrella in hand. I suddenly realized I had no place to store wet items. I remedied this by placing a lined basket by the front door. There will inevitably be things you miss, but if you perform this exercise, you will be surprised how much you catch, and it will give you confidence on the day of your event knowing you were thorough.

As you create an action list of items that need to be corrected or repaired, make notes of things you need to plan or execute during your party. Will you have decorations? What will the menu be? Will you have any type of entertainment? Write down everything as you do your rehearsal.

Things to ask yorself:

1. Where will my guests park?

2. Is there a place for them to hang their coats and put their purse?

3. Upon arriving at the party, who will be stationed at the door to greet them?

4. Once inside, will a server be there to hand them a drink, or will I have a bar set up?

5. Will hors d’oeuvres be passed around or will there be a designated station for food?

6. How long will cocktails last and what time will I serve dinner (if it is a dinner party)?

7. Do I want decorations or just a few floral arrangements?

8. What type of music will play in the background?

Do not let the work involved in entertaining take the joy out of showing hospitality. If you get to the point you yell at your family before every event because you are stressed, you need to take a step back and ask yourself, “Why am I hosting this party? Where is this pressure coming from?”

Maybe you had visions of creating the 5-star dish you saw in a cookbook you purchased, but the reality hit you do not have the expertise to pull it off. If so, let the dish go. Find something easier you are comfortable making. Your friends, and your family, will have a better experience if you do not spend the entire party in an anxious state. When a hostess acts uptight, it makes her guests feel they have become a burden. If we dump our negative feelings onto those we invite into our home, we have done the opposite of what we intended. We are no longer displaying hospitality. We are displaying bad manners.

I used to stress over parties to the point my husband told me the entire family wanted to check into a hotel the night before our events, just to get away from me! I had to do a reality check and change my focus, because I had let entertaining override my desire for hospitality. We are to behave with excellence, but excellence is different than perfection. No one achieves perfection. Once I give my best, I need to let it go and enjoy what life gives me. Learn to entertain with confidence by being organized, having a plan, and simplifying your events. When you do this, you will be able to focus on what is important, and that is hospitality!

Together with you,

Lisa Lou