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Put a Fork in It

Dinner parties are nervous-making events for many people—so many questions, so many rules! Here’s a short Q&A to help make your next dinner party fun for both you and your guests.

Should dinner guests be assigned seats?
When I’m the hostess, I always assign seats, for one very important reason: it’s human nature for us to gravitate to our comfort level, which means sitting next to people we already know, such as our spouse or good friends. A dinner party is an opportunity to mix things up a bit and make the evening more interesting.

What is the biggest faux pas people make when planning a dinner party?

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Make Peace, Not War, and Other Holiday Tips

The holidays are the most festive time of year, but they can also be the most tension-filled. Here are some tips on how to have a low-stress season.

• At the holidays, think merry and bright vs. serious and somber. Like eggnog, the conversation should be light.

• Agree that it’s okay to disagree with family, friends and party acquaintances, and then avoid the subjects you disagree on. Don’t discuss finances, health problems, politics, religion, marital secrets or office gossip.

• Be sure and RSVP to a party invitation. Your host will need a head count for food and beverages.

• Dress for success. Holiday time is a time to wear something special, and it’s always better to be overdressed than underdressed. If you’re unsure what to wear, ask your host.

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Let’s Give Thanks

If you’re nervous about hosting Thanksgiving dinner, follow my friends-and-family holiday guide. It’s failproof. Dress code: Thanksgiving is a casual, fun-filled day, so “smart casual” is the way to go: slacks, sweaters, comfortable clothes to allow for extra helpings...

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Wow, That Was Fast! — RSVP Etiquette

We are probably all guilty of failing to RSVP promptly or even at all. It’s one of those things we tend to put off, especially when we have to send regrets. I have yet to meet a friend, client, or caterer who does not complain about late or skipped RSVPs, when in...

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Judging a Book by Its Cover: Party Don’t-Forgets

‘Tis the season. September marked the opening of the San Francisco social season. First came the opera and then the symphony. Both were glamorous black-tie, see-and-be-seen events. Unfortunately, evening gowns and tuxedos don’t always equal good behavior. Great...

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