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It’s prime holiday entertaining season. Brush up on simple tips to ensure your guests leave blissful and hosts keep you at the top of their must-invite lists.


You set the mood for your gathering by how you act and interact with guests.

  • Hello & Welcome | Set the right tone by warmly greeting each guest as they arrive. Guests can become tense if they sense the host is frazzled. Prior to everyone’s arrival, determine a plan for coats and belongings.

  • Menu | Stick to dishes you’re familiar with and aren’t too involved. Testing new recipes for a party could be disastrous, and you don’t want to be a slave to the stove.

  • Ambiance | Create a pleasant environment with candles, music and lighting. My favorite candles are Thymes Frasier Fur candles (see page 12). Regarding music, I like to stick to the classics such as Frank Sinatra for dinner parties.

  • Make it an occasion | Details show your guests how much you appreciate them. Set a beautiful table, use name cards and select a festive centerpiece. If you don’t have enough service to accommodate your entire party, mix it up. Use multiple patterns and pieces.

  • Leave it be | Enjoy your guests and save the dishes and clean up until the next day.


Equally important as hostess etiquette is being a courteous dinner guest.

  • RSVP | It’s difficult to plan accordingly if you don’t know how many guests to anticipate.

  • Arrival | Never arrive early and try not to arrive more than 15 minutes after a party is scheduled to start.

  • Hostess gift | A small gift is always a nice gesture. I typically opt to bring my favorite candle or a specialty food item. If you want to bring flowers, bring them already in a vase so it doesn’t create additional work for the host. For some unique gifts options, check out Conner Prairie’s gift shop. It has an entire section dedicated to Indiana-made products.

  • Be engaged | An excellent guest shows excitement about the evening, the food and your host.

  • Give thanks | Planning a party can be a big undertaking. Proper etiquette encourages a thank you note be sent as soon as possible after to express appreciation for their hospitality. At the very least, send an email or text message expressing gratitude.


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