Hosting Dinner Parties

We're going to continue on the topic of being a great host with the focus on dinner parties.

Let me start by helping you relax.  You don't have to be Betty Crocker or Martha Stewart to host a dinner party.  You don't have to have fine china or sterling silver salt-n-pepper shakers.  Really!

What you do need to host a dinner party is motivation, some creativity (not much),
 and a desire to help your guests feel valued.

I always appreciate and notice when a host has taken the time to think through the evening.  A great host always knows how many people his/her home can comfortably handle.  He/she also knows her friends and family well enough to invite those who he/she thinks will enjoy each other and have a lot to talk about.

A host is always aware of ambiance.  

Sometimes you may need to rearrange furniture to help traffic flow.  Sometimes you need candles, fun lights, or extra decor.  Sometimes just finding the right music is all it takes to set the mood of the party.  A good host knows how to balance this.

A great host oftentimes will have a fun appetizer or hors d'oeuvres ready when the guests begin to arrive to make sure no one starves while waiting on dinner to be served.  It also can become a conversational piece.  

Having a variety of drinks ready once the guests arrive show that when a guest has something in their hand, they are more relaxed.

Whether serving a sit-down dinner or a buffet-style dinner, the trick to success at the table is simple but really tasty.  

A dinner party is usually not the time to try out a new recipe that you're unfamiliar with

New recipes have a way of surprising us, and usually a host doesn't like surprises.  Choose items you know you're great a preparing so your stress level is as low as possible.  Items you can prepare ahead of time and hold warmth, flavor, and texture for longer periods are usually ideal.  It's nice if the host doesn't have to spend the whole evening in the kitchen.

The host is always keenly aware of conversation throughout the party.  

He/she knows when the subject needs to be changed or when it's time to ask someone else a question so conversations are not hogged by only a few.  A great host takes a peek in the powder room throughout the evening to make sure things are order.

As you smile, greet, and speak to every guest individually, you're sure to have a successful evening. Regardless if the meat was cooked to perfection or the cake was moist enough, people want to feel valued, and they can see and feel that through the efforts that a host makes.

Don't be intimidated in hosting a dinner party.  Just have fun and be yourself!

Monica Irvine

Encouraging our Children to Give the Gift of the Pen

Hello friends,

I want to take a moment to talk about the lost art of writing and sending letters, notes or cards.  I have been so very touched in my life when someone has taken the time to pen a letter or a note to me.  I have shed tears when opening an envelope only to find someone has written a note to thank me for a Sunday school lesson, or to share their concern over me being a new "empty nester" or the time someone dropped offed a sympathy card when we lost our dog.  These kind acts have been so warmly received and bonded me to these individuals for life.

Today, we are quick to send a text or email, which is appreciated as well, but I fear we are not putting enough effort into taking the time to personally pen a letter or note.  Parents, I want us to teach our children this valuable skill.  It is such an act of charity, when we take time out of our life, to do and give something that someone else will cherish.

When I was a child, as many of you, I loved all my different kinds of stationery sets and I loved writing and sending letters to my grandmothers, cousin Tracy and my friends that lived in my old hometown.  Finding letters addressed to me in the mailbox was a cherished memory.

I am excited to announce that The Etiquette Factory is now carrying adorable sets of stationery just for kids.  We have a beautiful stationery gift set that is available now, and starting next week, we will be carrying individual stationery sets.  Whether you purchase from us or from someone else, or decide to create your own, I hope you will encourage your children to find the joy in writing letters. I'm so excited for our efforts to bring back the art of writing to send love to those around us!

Blessings to you and your family.  Spring is coming!!

To see our new product, click here.

Very best,
Monica Irvine

President/The Etiquette Factory

Hosting House Guests


I'm going to start a series on being a host that I hope you'll enjoy.

This month we're going to begin with house guests.  If you're like me, I love having company... well, most of the time.  I love when friends and family come to visit, and I love to do things that show how much I enjoy and appreciate their visit.

One way you can do this is by putting forth a little effort in furnishing the guest room with some fun accommodations for your guests.  Even if your "guest room" is your child's room, with the right extras, you can make any guest feel like they're on vacation and well cared for.

For those who don't have an official guest room, making a guest basket is a really fun idea.

My children have helped me create our guest basket, which has heightened their excitement when guests visit, as they're excited for them to see our special basket.

Below you'll see a list of suggestions for your guest room or guest basket.  Please don't feel like you have to provide all of these suggestions, but hopefully you'll see a few that you like.  Your guest basket is not for your guests to take home with them, but it remains in your guest room while they're visiting.  Each time guests visit, just simply freshen it up with fresh snacks, etc.

Guest Room/ Guest Basket suggestions

  • Extra blanket, good reading light, clock radio, wastebasket
  • Coat hangers, safety pins, luggage rack
  • Lotion, bath salts, shampoo/conditioner, fresh soaps
  • Toothpaste, new toothbrush, fresh towels, fresh cloths
  • Magazines, short books, suntan lotion, snacks, sweets
  • Calendar, vase of flowers, lint roller, extra pillow
  • Headache medicine, stomach ache medicine, notepad, pens
Once again, just have fun with preparing your guest basket.

I don't purchase these things all at once.  When I'm out, I just keep my guest basket in the back of my mind in case I see a great deal on something.

Letting our children help prepare for guests teaches them a really valuable lesson.  The lesson is "it's the small things that count."  What a great opportunity to help your children experience the joy of giving and helping others to feel valued.

Have fun!

Monica Irvine