1. Remember, timing is everything.
The holiday season is a busy one, so it is important to send out - and respond to - invitations in a timely manner. When it comes to giving a dinner party, we need to know who is - and isn't - coming well before the event takes place, so be sure not to allow RSVPs to languish on your desk or in your inbox. Arriving promptly is important, too, since the timing of dinner parties can be very sensitive and we would not want to disrupt our hosts' careful plans. After all, they made those plans to honor us!
2. Demonstrate and encourage thoughtful gestures of respect and attention.
Task children with helping to set the table. It helps them to feel they are contributing to the special occasion. Wear something festive. Help grandma with her chair. Gentlemen remain standing until the ladies are seated. What sets important occasions apart is the extra care we take with all the details. We take the trouble to get out the special china and treat our family and friends as if they are the most important people in our world. Because they are.
3. Put the focus on fellowship and food - not on phones.
Once the group shots of guests seated around a festive table are completed, all phones should disappear in favor of attentive conversation and good table manners. Set up expectations ahead of time for children and adults alike, and provide a phone basket somewhere near the table for those who do best when phones are out of arms reach.
4. Notice details and voice your appreciation.
Compliment the cooks. Exclaim over the flowers and candles. Notice the small touches that your hosts have planned to enhance the experience for all of their guests. So much thought goes into party preparation, from the decorations to the food, to the table and the music. Oftentimes, while we notice these details internally, we forget to convey our admiration to those who would appreciate it most.
5. Send a thank you note or call your hosts to thank them - again!
Yes, you already gushed over the evening, but how long will it take to pen a short but appreciative note (or email, depending who it is), or call and leave a grateful message. Your hosts planned and worked for days on the special event you were privileged to attend. The day following a party can be a combination of great satisfaction and after-party weariness for the hosts. While cleaning up the remnants of a festive evening, an appreciative phone call can truly make their day!