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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

The Art of Toasting

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.

Toasting to someone’s health or honor goes back to biblical times and can be found in most cultures including the Egyptians, Greeks, and Persians. The toast was usually given to honor their gods, but sometimes they would toast each other. Once toasting moved into the Roman culture, the word “toast” came about because the Romans began adding toasted bread to their wine to soak up the acidity. The bread helped improve the flavor of the wine, and it had the benefit of creating a nice, fruity piece of food. There are different theories as to how the toast was performed, but the most commonly held was the person offering the toast would take a sip of the drink and then pass the glass around for everyone else to partake. The person being honored would be the last to drink which also meant they were allowed to eat the sweet tasting toast.

Drinking vessels in the ancient world were made of pottery or metal and the traditional toast was offered by raising the tankard in the air. Clinking the mugs together did not begin until the custom of toasting spread to Europe where it was more common to use glasses that contained lead. There are two theories why people would clink glasses, and some historians believe both are correct. One thought is the hitting of the vessels was a sign of good faith. It showed the person you were with that you were not trying to poison them. The images on TV depicting medieval men aggressively smashing drinks together comes to mind. This would cause the contents of both mugs to spill into each other’s drink. If a person participated in a toast with someone they were trying to poison, that person now ran the risk of poisoning themselves because they would be drinking a portion of both drinks. A toast, therefore, became a sign you came in good faith.

A second theory is once drinking vessels became more refined with higher percentages of lead, tapping glasses became a way to add another “sense” to the art of toasting. People could taste, see, and smell wine, but now they could hear the toast through the ringing of their glasses. As time progressed the toast evolved into that of honoring another person. This is where the phrase “toast of the town” came from. We use this phrase, even today, to mean someone that is well known, and revered, among others.

No matter the history we know the toast is an ancient tradition that has continued into modern society. I personally believe a toast is warranted at every meal when you are entertaining. It is a beautiful way to bestow honor on those around you.

Protocol Of The Toast:

Giving A Toast:

1. The host offers a toast at the beginning of the meal to welcome the guests. Do this by standing and saying a few words to the entire group.

2. When dessert is being served, the host may now give another toast that is directed towards an individual or honored guest. (If you are an invited guest, allow the host to begin the toasting. Do not go before him/her.)

3. The host stands and says a few words directed toward the person being honored. Toasting someone does not have to be for a monumental reason. You might be celebrating a birthday or graduation, or you may simply want to recognize your childhood friend whom you have not seen in years.

4. A toast should be brief. No more than 30-60 seconds.

5. Once you have spoken, ask the table to join you by raising their glass toward the guest. Then, take a sip of your drink. (Just a sip! If others at the table offer a toast, you do not want your glass to be empty.)

6. In today’s culture many people clink glasses after the toast. Officially, a toast is conducted by raising your glass in front of you, but not clinking with the surrounding guests. But, since most people do like to clink, a mannerly person will follow the lead of their tablemates and host. If the host offers a toast, raises his glass to the honoree, and then takes a sip without clinking, the guests at the table follow suit. If the host clinks glasses, then do the same.

7. Always remember, toasting someone is done to honor that person. Roasting them is not recommended. Save that for another time.

Receiving A Toast:

1. If you are the one being honored there are a few things to know. Stay seated and receive the words with gratitude.

2. Do not pick up your glass when everyone is raising their drink to you. This would be like giving yourself a pat on the back.

3. Once the toast is completed, you will stand, with glass in hand, and offer a toast back to your host. You may simply say thank you, or you may say a few words. Either is fine.

Here Are A Few Things To Keep In Mind When Offering A Toast:

1. Who is being honored? Example: your son.

2. Why are they being honored? Example: 21st birthday.

3. What other guests are attending? Example: a large group with a mix of generations represented. Know your audience. Grandparents in attendance might not know the latest hip words of the 20-something generation. When speaking, make sure everyone is included in the toast. This means using words the entire group understands and not telling inside jokes that alienates a portion of the table.

4. Keep the toast short. As already mentioned, no more than 30 seconds. One minute at the most. A wedding or anniversary toast might be a little longer, but even those should not exceed 60-90 seconds.

5. Remember that you are there to honor, not embarrass, the one being toasted. If it is a small gathering of your college friends, ok, you might get a jab or two in, but this should be reserved for close friends in intimate settings.

Using the above example, my toast might sound like this: