Monday, December 8, 2014

Manners Monday – #DareToBePolite – Dining & Entertaining: Assembling the Elements

It takes a village to assemble just the right elements to masterfully pull off any special occasion.  Any expert entertainer knows that whether creating a casual or an elaborate affair, a perfect balance of ingredients must be carefully orchestrated in order to present an appearance of calm and create an atmosphere of enjoyment.

The small details dictated by the host ranging from the meticulously selected guest list to the decidedly imaginative invitation, the inventive menu, and the desired setting, all play an equal part in the party’s ultimate success.  While some hosts get a thrill in taking on the task themselves, there is no shame in enlisting help.  A good host knows their limitations and has a list of professionals ready to dive in and tackle any task.  Food may be homemade, catered or brought in from a favorite restaurant as long as it is transferred onto serving platters and made to look presentable on the table.  Most important on the list is a happy host who puts their guest’s needs first and is willing to make any concession to ensure they have a positive experience.

The gracious guest is an integral player in the party’s triumphant outcome. After all, they have been carefully selected and vouched for by the host and they should perform accordingly.  Grateful to be a part of the festivities, an exemplary guest puts effort into appearance, arrives on time with a thoughtful gift in hand, is geared up to make witty repartee with both hosts and guests alike, and follows up with a grateful note of thanks.

Step 2/Week 2: Dining & Entertaining: Assembling the Elements. This week’s challenge is highly applicable as we head closer to the Chanukah and Christmas holidays where endless opportunities for entertaining and dining abound. In these next seven days, if you are hosting a party, take a few extra minutes to pay attention to the particulars. Add fresh flowers to your table, light candles, pipe in a little mood music.  Go the extra mile to check in with your guests to make sure there are no severe allergies or other dietary restrictions. Set the table with the fancy dishes and glassware you keep locked in a cabinet for most of the year. Add a few new guests to your list and arrange place cards to encourage interesting conversation.  If you are attending a party, be sure to RSVP right away as the holiday social calendars tend to become quite full. Find the perfect host gift and write a little note to present upon your arrival. Offer to bring a holiday dish or bottle of wine to accompany the meal. Perhaps the host needs a bit of help with the dishes or taking out the trash? Step up and you’ll guarantee future invitations.

Notice your strengths as well as your pitfalls.  Do you prefer to host or attend a party?  Are you a happy or harried host?  Are you a gracious or impolite guest?  Which elements do you enjoy and which feel like torture?  Share with us what you observe in yourself and in others over the course of the week. Join us now! Make the vow to #daretobepolite!  

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