Whether you serve your Thanksgiving meal family style, buffet, or plated, there is room to add some pizzazz to the table and, therefore, the event.  People notice when you take the time to make something special.  It lifts their spirits and enlivens conversation, making your time together more enjoyable.

Here are some simple ideas to get you started.

Flowers, pumpkins, and gourds, oh my! These are the staples of Thanksgiving decorating and are used several ways. A woven basket of small gourds makes a colorful centerpiece for your table. Just make sure your centerpiece is no higher than 7 inches so guests can still see each other.

Cut the top off a small pumpkin, scoop out the pulp and place flowers inside to create a unique table accessory. It is easier to arrange the flowers in a small jar that sits perfectly in the pumpkin. This also allows you to keep water in it so your arrangement lasts longer.

Tiny vases of baby mums are great to cluster in empty spaces on your table or buffet.  Spread them down the table amongst the pumpkins, gourds, Indian corn, or arrangements of larger flowers.

Consider creating a table runner of several small gourds, pumpkins, and flower arrangements.  Place a large cluster as the centerpiece of the table, then scatter the rest down the table in each direction.  Or, if your table is round, scatter them in a circular area around the centerpiece.

Size matters. As mentioned above, keep your table pieces 7 inches or shorter. This ensures that guests are able to make eye contact and keep their conversations going.  Very important if a fun, lively event is your goal.

Use any large pumpkins, gourds, or flower arrangements in other areas of your home.  On your coffee table, in your entryway, or on the front porch.

Get your family involved. Holiday decorating not only creates a pleasant, colorful atmosphere, it also provides a memorable bonding experience with your children.  Find ways to get them involved.  They might help arrange the items on the table.  If you have more than one child you may give each of them an assignment of decorating a specific area – the table, the living room, the entryway, etc.

Reap the rewards. Your guests and family members enjoy your efforts to make their holiday even more special.  Your children have their confidence bolstered from the compliments they receive on their decorations. Your Thanksgiving holiday is a success!
Pumpkins and Gourds
Pumpkins and gourds make colorful table arrangements
Flowers in a Pumpkin
Flowers arranged in a small pumpkin provide unique table decorations
Using baby mums
Tiny vases of baby mums make lovely space fillers
Roses
Large flower arrangements can be enjoyed in other areas of your home

Thanksgiving can be a joyful time with family and friends, or it can seem like you the host, have taken on too many responsibilities as the cook, server, and dishwasher. Whether having dinner with new in-laws, old friends, or close family members, there are certain tricks and tips that can make you look like a pro at hosting a thanksgiving feast.

Plan ahead. Make the turkey and side dishes in advance. Set a schedule and lay out exactly how much time you will need.

Accept help. If others offer to bring an item or come early to assist you, always welcome their kind gesture.

Set it pretty. Entertaining is the perfect excuse to pull out all the stops when it comes to your table setting. Use the china, crystal, and silver that you have. Place flowers, candles, and seasonal items down the center of the table to create ambiance. It is well worth the extra minutes and effort.

Shake up the seating arrangements. If possible, separate couples so that they are not sitting across from or next to each other. Seat people according to personality and interests.

Set the tone. Most guest will follow the host’s lead. Your mood is critical to set the tone of the dinner.  Always remain positive and keep a smile on your face.  Your attitude can put any guests at ease.

Get dressed and ready early. If you stayed up all night cooking and cleaning, never allow your guests to know you are tired or stressed. It is always best to plan ahead and make sure you are refreshed and ready for any small emergencies that may occur.

Families-Enjoying-Thanksgiving-Dinner-Family-Thanksgiving-Food-300x234Steer the conversation. Stay away from conversations about sex, religion, or politics. These topics have been known to put a damper on the evening. Do your best to direct the conversations so that they don’t lead down a dangerous path.

Have your 10 questions ready to go. If you are acting as host, consider the opposing views of dinner guests. Plan a list of appropriate discussion points ahead of time. Stick to topics suitable and appropriate for all audiences.  Pick 10 questions to get the conversation going – include the weather, pets, movies, books, travel and so on.  Pay attention to local and national news so that you are well informed about things happening around you.

Make it a game. Between courses, if there is a lull in the conversation and guests get that glazed-over look, pull out a game such as Table Topics. Have guests draw a card and answer questions that are posed. Boredom be gone!

Stay neutral. Try not to take sides. Make your guests comfortable by listening to different points of view.  The relationships between guests in your home are far more important than anyone being right or feeling superior.

Being a great host takes planning and patience. Good conversation is as important as good food, wine, and flowers to ensure that everyone will have a great time - including you, the host.

 

 

Summer is right around the corner which means June through October begins the biggest wedding season.  Here is a list of Do’s and Don’ts on how to be a great wedding guest.

?????1. Do RSVP: When you receive a wedding invitation, always respond by the deadline with whether or not you will attend. The RSVP’s are time sensitive because the bride and groom or their families plan catering and seating around the attendance. RSVP’s = Money.

2. Don’t Keep Your Phone On: Before the ceremony begins, do a quick check to make sure that your phone is on silent and will not cause any disruptions. You do not want to be the person responsible for having your phone ring as the bride walks down the aisle or the happy couple is saying their vows.

???????????????????????????????3. Do be Early: Arrive 20-30 minutes ahead of the scheduled start time to make sure that you have a seat.  Weddings are meant to start on time and it is rude to disrupt the festivities by coming in late.

4. Don’t Assume a Plus One: Some couples have a strict budget and it is not possible for them to let their attendees bring guests. You will always know whether you can bring a guest or your children by the way the invitation envelope is address.  Unless the invitation specifies that you may bring a date never assume that you can. Remember your envelope tells all.   Please don’t call the bride and groom and ask them if it’s ok for you to bring someone. That puts them on the spot.  Extra guests add to the party cost.

5. Do Follow Dress Code: If the invitation specifies black tie then a man wears a tuxedo and a woman may wear a long gown.  If the wedding is in the evening, and black tie is not specified, then a man wears a dark suit and a woman wears a cocktail dress or basic black, decorated with rhinestone earrings.  The location of the wedding (picnic, beach, bowling alley) will always add clues to what you need to wear.

????????????????????????????????????????????6. Don’t Get Wasted: Many weddings have a variety of cocktails and an open bar. Even though there is an endless amount of booze be careful and think before you drink in excess.  You do not want to do or say anything that you would regret the next day.  Have a great time and let loose but make sure that your thoughts and head are clear.

7. Don’t Talk Forever: This a very busy day for the wedding couple. Everyone at the wedding is there to celebrate them. Congratulate the wedding couple and then move on . . . they have many other guests and family members to attend to.

The next time you are an invited guest at a wedding, remember that even though the day is about the wedding party, YOU still play a vital role.

????????????????????????

Do you ever dream of having a dinner party that gets many compliments and has people clamoring to stay on your guest list?

This is how you can make it come true.

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Could you incorporate these suggestions at your next dinner gathering?  Let us know what you think.

Is there a part of you that is not anticipating a fun, memorable holiday next week?  Let that part of you get creative and decorate your Thanksgiving table!

Whether you serve your Thanksgiving meal family style, buffet, or plated, there is room to add some pizzazz to the table and, therefore, the event.  People notice when you take the time to make something special.  It lifts their spirits and enlivens conversation, making your time together more enjoyable.

Here are some simple ideas to get you started.

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Flowers, pumpkins, and gourds, oh my! These are the staples of Thanksgiving decorating and are used several ways. A woven basket of small gourds makes a colorful centerpiece for your table. Just make sure your centerpiece is no higher than 7 inches so guests can still see each other.

Cut the top off a small pumpkin, scoop out the pulp and place flowers inside to create a unique table accessory. It is easier to arrange the flowers in a small jar that sits perfectly in the pumpkin. This also allows you to keep water in it so your arrangement lasts longer.

Tiny vases of baby mums are great to cluster in empty spaces on your table or buffet.  Spread them down the table amongst the pumpkins, gourds, Indian corn, or arrangements of larger flowers.

Consider creating a table runner of several small gourds, pumpkins, and flower arrangements.  Place a large cluster as the centerpiece of the table, then scatter the rest down the table in each direction.  Or, if your table is round, scatter them in a circular area around the centerpiece.

Size matters. As mentioned above, keep your table pieces 7 inches or shorter. This ensures that guests are able to make eye contact and keep their conversations going.  Very important if a fun, lively event is your goal.

Use any large pumpkins, gourds, or flower arrangements in other areas of your home.  On your coffee table, in your entryway, or on the front porch.

Get your family involved. Holiday decorating not only creates a pleasant, colorful atmosphere, it also provides a memorable bonding experience with your children.  Find ways to get them involved.  They might help arrange the items on the table.  If you have more than one child you may give each of them an assignment of decorating a specific area – the table, the living room, the entryway, etc.

Reap the rewards. Your guests and family members enjoy your efforts to make their holiday even more special.  Your children have their confidence bolstered from the compliments they receive on their decorations.
Your Thanksgiving holiday is a success!
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Pumpkins and Gourds
Pumpkins and gourds make colorful table arrangements

 

Flowers in a Pumpkin
Flowers arranged in a small pumpkin provide unique table decorations

 

Using baby mums
Tiny vases of baby mums make lovely space fillers

 

Roses
Large flower arrangements can be enjoyed in other areas of your home
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I’ve always desired a greater knowledge of Etiquette.  I went online with an etiquette query and The American School of Protocol® popped up.  This was an answer to my prayers!

I immediately requested information and Peggy Newfield personally called me.  How often in this day and age does one receive an actual phone call from the business owner, and promptly I might add?  This was very impressive.  Within one week, I was committed to attending The American School of Protocol®.

Each day during the Training, we had an opportunity to watch Peggy teach the curriculum to children.  That alone is worth the price of the tuition.  Also, attention to detail from the staff was unsurpassed.

Brenda’s Tablescape Class taught us how to create a beautiful table.  C.P.R Training and Certification with Rebecca showed us how to handle an emergency. Mary Donne’s Corporate Legal guidance opened my eyes to important areas that need to be addressed when owning a business. Dolores made sure our extensive Dining knowledge was perfect. Jessica’s enlightening Social Media Session was full of ways to build our business presence and Martha’s healthy and delicious lunches each day added an extra five pounds.

I would highly recommend The American School of Protocol® to anyone that is interested in starting their own children’s Etiquette career.  The class prepares you with everything you need to start your business.  What you take away is a life changing experience.

Anne Lord - Florida

 

Upon requesting information, Peggy called me immediately; I believe all the business in this arena should do that.  I thought I was going to get an e-mail response and certainly not the same day.  I was impressed with Peggy and how she ran her business.

Having children come in each day was the bonus that made the class better than I could have imagined when I selected ASP.

Brenda’s table scape design class was incredible.  I never thought I could make flower arrangements like we did with Brenda.  She planted exciting ideas about how to make the tables beautiful for the children.  Cheap, effective, very live and so easy.

Thank you, Brenda.

Gena Homan, Georgia

"Formal Five Course Dinner Table Setting"

During our children's etiquette certification classes, we stress to our participants the need to create innovative and fun table scape designs when teaching dining lessons. Children's attention spans are short, so the more colorful and interesting you can dress your table, the better. Here are a few suggestions:

Choose a Theme: look around your home for interesting items (sea shells, souvenirs from your travels, etc.) and use those items to design a daily theme. In Peggy's travels abroad, she has collected several items to keep the child's interest on the table. One example is a collection of hand painted clowns from Mexico combined with porcelain containers from the United Kingdom.  These items stir conversation at the table and can provide several teachable moments with the children.

"Coral Table Scape"

"clowns up close"

Use FRESH as much as possible: Fresh flowers bring life to a table so much more than artificial. You can easily arrange a beautiful table by selecting fresh greenery and flowers from your garden. Using wholesale markets such as Costco or Sam's Club will bring costs down if you plan to buy your flowers. We recommend flowers that will last well for a week, such as carnations, chrysanthemums, alstroemeria , and statice. You can mix/match your arrangements each day to give a new look to each table setting.

"Manequins and fresh flowers"

Bright and Bold colors work best to catch a child's attention. Colorful ribbon is a cheap and easy way to bring movement and life to your table scape.

Remember to have fun when creating your place settings! Parents will be so appreciative of the effort you put forth in making their child feel special!

"Girl with Almond Basket"

"May 2011 Class" 

Our May Children's Etiquette Certification Class was a huge success!  Working together with our twelve children participants, each trainee watched the students grow tremendously in their social skills - from learning proper introductions to engaging in a five course dinner - the children were an inspiration for our graduates.

The participants had a jam-packed week of instruction - learning how to speak with power, marketing their business, incorporating social media, legal consultation, and one-on-one sessions with Peggy on developing their business, dining instruction, CPR training, and floral design. By the end of the week, the participants of this session truly bonded.

Congratulations to our graduates on becoming a part of growing community at The American School of Protocol®.

"Jungle Tablescape" 

What a treat to be welcomed each day with a unique and beautiful tablescape for our children's class!  The tables were draped with gorgeous flower arrangements mixed with fun and interesting items to encourage conversation.

"Clowns"

"Dolls"

Experienced flower show judge, Brenda Brettschneider, met with  us during our breakout sessions to discuss simple ways to create lovely floral arrangements in our own homes.  Using greenery from the yard as well as flowers from discount warehouse stores (i.e. CostCo, Sam's Club, etc), Brenda shared with us ways to create unique table arrangements at a low cost.  Add a few items of children's interest, such as items from our travels (seashells, coral, or even children's toys - puppets, clowns, etc.) and these tablescapes will make a lasting impression.

~ Martha Davis,  February 2011 Children's Certification Graduate

"Martha Grad"