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How To Have A Successful Dinner Party

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As we approach the yuletide, social activities increase.  We are either hosting or being hosted at one social function or the other.  This therefore calls for proper manners at these functions.  Table manners play an important part in making a favorable impression. They are visible signals of the state of our manners and therefore are essential to social success.

The point here is to make you feel comfortable, when you host or accept an invitation to either dine in a home or at a restaurant.  Here are a few tips for a successful outing:

Making Restaurant Reservations:

Restaurant reservations are like any other appointment. If you make a reservation, stick to it. It is adviseable to call ahead if you’re going to be more than 15 minutes late, and cancel as far in advance as possible if your plans change so that someone else can get a table. Some restaurants take credit card numbers to hold reservations and charge no-show fees.

How to use napkins: 

In a restaurant:

As soon as you are seated, remove the napkin from your place setting, unfold it, and put it in your lap. Do not shake it open. At some very formal restaurants, the waiter may do this for the diners, but it is not inappropriate to place your own napkin in your lap, even when this is the case.

The napkin rests on the lap till the end of the meal. Don’t clean the cutlery or wipe your face with the napkin. Do not use it to wipe your nose!

If you excuse yourself from the table, loosely fold the napkin and place it to the left or right of your plate. Do not refold your napkin or wad it up on the table either. Never place your napkin on your chair.

At the end of the meal, leave the napkin semi-folded at the left side of the place setting. It should not be crumpled or twisted; nor should it be folded. The napkin must also not be left on the chair.

At a private dinner party:

The meal begins when the host or hostess unfolds his or her napkin. This is your signal to do the same. Place your napkin on your lap, completely unfolded if it is a small luncheon napkin or in half, lengthwise, if it is a large dinner napkin. Do not shake it open.

The napkin rests on the lap till the end of the meal. Place the napkin in loose folds to the left of your plate.

The host will signal the end of the meal by placing his or her napkin on the table. Once the meal is over, you too should place your napkin neatly on the table to the left of your dinner plate. (Do not refold your napkin, but don’t wad it up, either.)

When to start eating: 

In a restaurant: 

Wait until all are served at your table before beginning to eat.

At a private dinner party:

When your host or hostess picks up their fork to eat, then you may eat. Do not start before this unless the host or hostess insists that you start eating.

How to use your silverware and dinnerware: 

Use the silverware farthest from your plate first.

Tthe Silverware rule, is:

Eat to your left, drink to your right. Any food dish to the left is yours, and any glass to the right is yours.

Starting with the knife, fork, or spoon that is farthest from your plate, work your way in, using one utensil for each course. The salad fork is on your outermost left, followed by your dinner fork. Your soup spoon is on your outermost right, followed by your beverage spoon, salad knife and dinner knife. Your dessert spoon and fork are above your plate or brought out with dessert. If you remember the rule to work from the outside in, you’ll be fine.

Use one of two methods when using the fork and knife:

“American Style:  Knife in right hand, fork in left hand holding food. After a few bite-sized pieces of food are cut, place knife on edge of plate with blades facing in. Eat food by switching fork to right hand (unless you are left handed). A left hand, arm or elbow on the table is bad manners.

“Continental/European Style:  Knife in right hand, fork in left hand. Eat food with fork still in left hand. The difference is that you don’t switch hands-you eat with your fork in your left hand, with the prongs curving downward. Both utensils are kept in your hands with the tines pointed down throughout the entire eating process. If you take a drink, you do not just put your knife down, you put both utensils down into the resting position: cross the fork over the knife.

Once used, your utensils, including the handles, must not touch the table again. Always rest forks, knives, and spoons on the side of your plate or in the bowl.

For more formal dinners, from course to course, your tableware will be taken away and replaced as needed.

To signal that your are done with the course, rest your fork, tines up, and knife blade in, with the handles resting at five o’clock an tips pointing to ten o’clock on your plate.

Any unused silverware is simply left on the table.

Dinner Table Dos

1.         Arrive at least 10 minutes early unless otherwise specified. 

2.         It is good dinner table etiquette to serve the lady sitting to the right of the host first, then the other ladies in a clockwise direction, and lastly the gentlemen.

3.         Whilst eating, you may if you wish rest the knife and fork on either side of the plate between mouthfuls.

4.         If the food presented to you is not to your liking, it is polite to at least make some attempt to eat a small amount of it. Or at the very least, cut it up a little, and move it around the plate!

5.         It is quite acceptable to leave some food to one side of your plate if you feel as though you have eaten enough, also don’t attempt to leave your plate so clean that it looks as though you haven’t eaten in days!

6.         Desserts may be eaten with both a spoon and fork, or alternatively a fork alone if it is a cake or pastry style sweet.

7.         Should a lady wish to be excused for the bathroom, it is polite for the gentlemen to stand up as she leaves the table, sit down again, and then stand once more when she returns.

8.         Always make a point of thanking the host and hostess for their hospitality before leaving.

9.         It is good dinner table etiquette to send a personal thank you note to the host and hostess shortly afterwards.

10.       Turn off your cell phone or switch it to silent or vibrate mode before sitting down to eat, and leave it in your pocket or purse. It is impolite to answer a phone during dinner. If you must make or take a call, excuse yourself from the table and step outside of the restaurant. 

11.       Keep elbows off the table. Keep your left hand in your lap unless you are using it. 

Dinner Table Don’ts!

1.         NEVER start eating before a signal from the host to do so.

2.         Forks should not be turned over unless being used for eating peas, sweetcorn kernels, rice or other similar foods. In which case, it should be transferred to the right hand. However, at a casual buffet, or barbecue it is quite acceptable to eat with just a fork.

3.         It is not generally regarded as good dinner table manner to use one’s bread for dipping into soups or mopping up sauces.

4.         Loud eating noises such as slurping and burping are very impolite. The number one sin of dinner table etiquette!

5.         Talking with one’s mouth full  is not only unpleasant to watch and could  lead to choking.

6.         Picking teeth (unless toothpicks are provided) or licking fingers are very unattractive! The only exception to the latter is when eating meat or poultry on the bone (such as chicken legs or ribs). In which case, a finger bowl should be provided.

7.         Don’t forget to make polite conversation with those guests around you. Dinner parties are not just about the food, they are intended to be a sociable occasion!

8.         Do not push your dishes away from you or stack them for the waiter when you are finished. Leave plates and glasses where they are.

9.         Don’t blow on your food to cool it off. If it is too hot to eat, take the hint and wait. 

10.       Never turn a wine glass upside down to decline wine. It is more polite to let the wine be poured and not draw attention. Otherwise, hold your hand over the wine glass to signal that you don’t want any wine. 

Complement of the season

 

Tonye Nria-Dappa

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Sunday Extra

Ways To Maintain Healthy Circle Around You

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The surprising thing is that all it takes to enhance your relationship with friends and neighbours is respect for their feelings, concern for their property and a helping hand when it’s needed.

Modern life is a lot less conducive to friendships and neighbourliness than it used to be. The average American moves every five years. People drive straight into their garages, hire lawn services, hang out in their backyards instead of their front porches. These days, neighbours don’t even know each other’s names.

Good neighbours and good friends are a lot alike electricity or running water: We don’t know how much we depend on them until we don’t have them. They make our lives more pleasant and give us sense of who we are, both as an individual and as a member of the community. In fact, the authors of a recent book, Refrigerator Rights, claim that refrigerators are gauges of intimate relationships; after all, you wouldn’t snatch a drumstick from the refrigerator of a stranger.

The surprising thing is that all it takes to enhance your relationship with friends and neighbours is respect for their feelings, concern for their property, and a helping hand when it’s needed. Here’s how to nurture your relationships with two types of vitally important people in your life.

Strikes up a conversation over the fence or on the sidewalk.

It’s okay to be the one to break the ice, even if you’ve lived next door for years. Most neighbours enjoy making small talk with the folks on the other side of the fence. So as you see them at work, in their yards or at play in their pool, smile, wave, and say hello. Ask how their kids are, (whether they’re toddlers or in college), whether they could use an extra zucchini from your garden, or what they think of the prices at the local supermarket.

Extend yourself to the new family down the block.

These days, the old Welcome Wagon is a thing of the past. But your new neighbours may be feeling lonely and unsure, especially if they’re far from home, and might appreciate a friendly face bearing fresh baked brownies. If they have kids, tell them where the children in the neighbourhood live. Clue them in to the best places to eat and shop. Invite them over for coffee when they get settled, give them your number and point to your house as you say goodbye.

Be considerate, especially of elderly neighbours.

Return anything that you borrow from a neighbour, such as tools, in good repair and as soon as you’re finished with them. Replace anything that belongs to your neigbour that you, your children, or your pets break or soil. If your neighbour hasn’t brought in his garbage cans yet, roll them back into his yard. Random acts of consideration will have your neighbours talking and the talk will be good.

Invite your neighbours to your next bash or throw one in their honour.

What better way to meet your neighbours than to invite them to an informal barbecue, pool party, or holiday open house.

Better yet, you might even consider throwing a get-to-gether just for them. Deliver the invitations in person to everyone who lives on your street and chat with each for five minutes before moving on to the next house. This way, you will get an idea of what your neighbours are like so that you can plan for appropriate food and music. Be a better friend.

On your computer, at home or at work, make “call friends” a standing appointment. Don’t have a computer? Keep a post it note on the phone, the bathroom mirror, the car dashboard, anywhere you’re likely to see it. Also make sure your friends’ phone numbers are programmed into your cell phone. Then call that friend when you’re stuck in traffic or waiting in line and chat for 10 minutes. Alternatively, schedule a standing once-a-month lunch, same time, same place.

Make time for friendships. Nothing makes closeness fade away than never talking with or seeing each other. While some bonds or friendships may be strong enough to span long silences, most aren’t. If you cherish a person’s friendship, make time for him or her, whether it’s just the occasional phone call or a weekly get-together.

Remember: a true friend doesn’t flee when changes occur. Nothing is sadder for new parents than to find that their single friends have abandoned them because of the baby. The sign of a good friend is one who stays true through it all, marriage, parenthood, new jobs, new homes, the losses. Just because situations change doesn’t mean the person has.

Make sure you aren’t being a burden to a friend.

Friendships fade away if there isn’t equilibrium between the give and the take. Be sensitive to how much your friend can and can’t offer you, be it time, energy, or help, and don’t step over the line and vice versa. Friendships that drain you will not last. If a friendship is out of balance in this way, you’ll need to talk the situation through.

Sweat the small stuff. Yes, there are times when it doesn’t pay to sweat the details, but in a friendship, it’s the little things that count. Notice her new hair-cut. Remember to ask about her mother’s surgery or her daughter’s new baby. And if you’re truly a good friend, you’ll know when she needs some cheering up, a simple arrangement of flowers if you can afford it, a simple card or e-mail if you can’t, it really is the thought that counts.

Be a good listener. It can be the hardest thing in the world to do, to simply listen as he or she pours it all out or is seeking your advice or opinion. To be a better listener, follow this advice:

Maintain eye contact. Offer nods and murmurs that indicate you understand her point of view.

Don’t finish your friend’s sentences. If you catch yourself planning your response while your friend is still talking, gently remind yourself to focus on him.

Minimize distracting, don’t type, open mail, or watch television while you’re on the phone with your friend. Your friend will undoubtedly hear your dis-interest in your responses.

Be careful with advice.

Assume your friend wants vent, not necessarily ask for a plan of action.

Be in her corner if she’s not there to defend herself.

If you’re at a gathering at which someone mentions your friend disparagingly, defend her against gossip or criticism. Say, “Mary is my friend, and it makes me feel bad to hear you talk this way.” Sooner or later, news of your loyalty will travel back to her and it will deepen your friendship.

Culled from Stealth Health.

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Sunday Extra

Ten Mistakes Women Make With Men

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Mothers must remember to praise those family members who are consistently helping out. Husbands and children love to hear that their contributions are making a difference.

A client asked me recently, “What do you believe are the most common reasons that mothers are overwhelmed?” I thought about this great question and decided to share with you my response. I’m giving you my top three here. Enjoy!

Mothers are overwhelmed and over scheduled due to the variety of extra-curricular activities that they find themselves in this time of the school year as well as the regular obligations of work, home and volunteer commitments. Today, mothers are no longer multi tasking but instead mega tasking.

If we follow the pattern backwards, it often points directly to the fact that moms never learn how to stop the “Mom-Me” rollercoaster. Here are some common mistakes made by mothers and another course of action they could be taking.

1. Mothers accept unrealistic workloads and allow guilt to drive them to create schedules that don’t work. They fail to delegate family chores effectively and find themselves exhausted by trying to do it all, and then blame themselves when it doesn’t work out.

Action: Mothers need to learn to delegate properly. The reason for delegating work is to get the family to help with. the needs of the family. Delegated projects should always be appropriate to the ability of the child to whom it is given. If the mom is washing dishes after dinner, she has to learn to ask her spouse for help with other nighttime tasks such as bath, bed time or planning for the next day.

2. Mothers fail to create a family culture of support. Children often have chores and have no idea of the value their task has on family living. As a result, family members don’t come to understand that everyone has a vital role of supporting the family this community.

Action: Mothers need to make sure that children understand not only what they are doing but why they are doing it. This builds the esteem of children and teaches them the importance of accountability. Parents need to explain to their children that active families members to lighten the responsibilities to make time for these extra-curicular responsibilities. Often children have no idea of the cost of baseball practice on the family’s schedule.

3. Mothers can be very picky, and rigid in family ex-open to having things approached differently if they want help from the family. The process of involving the family meeting to discuss weekly task and allowing each family member to share their best alternatives for helping. Mothers must remember to praise those family members who             are consistently helping out. Husbands and children love to hear that their contributions are making a difference.          In a nutshell, the happiest mothers are those who learn how to articulate their needs clearly, get help when needed and set realistic boundaries of what they can and can not do. As a “coached mom,” the “mother” has a deep understanding of the five essential strategies for personal self care and these replace the old methods of “Mommy Martyrdom”.

The Essential Strategies for a mother’s Self-Care, discuss the following five tenets of self-Care for moms. They are:

Finding Time

Creating a personal schedule that honors the mother’s values, allowing the mother to set realistic boundaries and allow her to fully enjoy what he commits too.

Finding Meaning

In order for a mother to truly help someone else she must begin by helping herself in order to truly be a wonderful contributor, you must help your self first. Mothers who commit to a reduced life load find that they get more enjoy-ment out of life.

Finding Connection

Motherhood does not completely define us but enhances what already is. This involves understanding that while mothers create the lives of our children they must remember that it is their life too. When mothers establish viable supportive networks to assist them they recognize that they become stronger at parenting.

Finding Solutions

Anytime a mother wants make a change in your life she must begin by raising her standards. She has to decide that she wants more out of her life. Next, a mother must understand she must change what she believes is possible and be willing to try new strategies. She must be open to learning from non-judgmental sources like “mom-coaches” about techniques, solutions and real strategies on creating ways to incorporate what she wants into her life.

Personal Growth

This strategy is aimed at helping mothers make shifts in their lives that leave them changed for the better. Personal growth is recognizing that mothers have the capacity to be more of who they are .

. In short, mothers have to find time for the “Me” in Mom and learn the Five Essential Strategies for a Mother’s Self-care.

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Sunday Extra

Internal Causes Of Stress

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Not all stress is caused by external pressures and demands. Your stress  also be self-generated. Internal causes of stress include: uncertainty or worries, pessimistic attitude, self criticism, unrealistic expectations or belief, perfectionism, low self-esteem, excessive or unexpressed anger, lack of assertiveness.

Risk factors for stress

The presence of a stressor does not automatically result in disabling stress symptoms. The degree to which any stressful situation or event impacts your daily functioning depends partly on the nature of the stressor itself and partly on your own personal and external resources.

Stress : How vulnerable are you? 

The nature of the stressors Stressors that involve central aspects of your life (your marriage, your job) or  chronic issues (a physical handicap, living from pay cheque to pay  cheque are more likely to cause severe distress.

A crisis experience

Sudden intense crisis situations (being raped, robbed at gunpoint, or attacked by a dog) are understandably over-whelming. Without immediate intervention and  treatment, debilitating stress symptoms are common.

Multiple stressors or life changes stressors are cumulative, so the more life changes or daily hassles you’re dealing with at any one time, the more intense the symptoms of stress.

Your perception of the stressor

The same stressor can have very different effects on different people. For example, public speaking stresses many out, but others thrive on it. Additionally, if you’re able to see some benefit to the situation the silver lining or a hard lesson lesson learned-the stressor is easier to swallow.

Your knowledge and preparation

The more you know about a stressful situation, including how long it will last and what to expect, the better able you’ll be to face it. For example, if you go into surgery with a realistic picture of what to expect post-up, a painful recovery will be less traumatic than if you were expecting to bounce back immediately.

Your stress tolerance

Some people roll with the punches, while others crumble at the slightest obstacle or frustration. The more confidence you have in yourself  and your ability to persevere, the better able you’ll be to take a stressful situation in stride.

Your support network

As strong network of supportive friends and family members is an enormous buffer against life’s stressors. But the more lonely or isolated you are, the higher your risk to of  stress.

Effects of  chronic stress

Chronic stress wears you down day after day and year after year, with no visible escape. Under sustained or severe stress, even the most well-adjusted person loses the ability to adapt. When stress overwhelms our coping resources, our bodies and minds suffer.

Health effects

Recent research suggests that anywhere from 60 to 90 per cent of illness is stress-related. The physical wear and tear of stress includes damage to the cardiovascular system and immune system suppression. Stress compromises your ability to fight off disease and infection, throws your digestive system off balance, makes it difficult to conceive a baby, and can even stunt growth in children.

Stress and your health

Many medical conditions are caused or exacerbated by stress, including:

Chronic pain, migraines, ulcers, heartburn, high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, asthma, PMS, obesity, infertility, autoimmune, disease, irritable bowel syndrome, skin problems and emotional effects.

Chronic stress grinds away at your mental health, causing emotional damage in addition to physical ailments. Long-term stress can even rewire the brain, leaving you more vulnerable to everyday pressures and less able to cope. Over time, stress can lead to mental health problems such as anxiety depression eating disorders, and substance abuse.

Severe stress and trauma

Severe stress reactions can result from sudden, catastrophic events or traumatic experiences such as a natural disaster, sexual assault, life threatening accident, or participation in combat. After the initial shock and emotional fallout, many trauma victims gradually begin to recover from its effects. But for some people, the stress symptoms don’t go away, the body doesn’t regain its equilibrium, and life doesn’t return to normal. This severe and persisting reaction to trauma is known as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Common symptoms of PTSD include:

Flashbacks, intrusive thoughts, nightmare about the trauma, avoidance of places and things associated with the trauma,  hypervigilance for signs of danger, chronic irritability and tension, depression. PTSD is a serious disorder that requires professional intervention.

For more information on traumatic experience and how to recover, see Emotional and Psychological Trauma and Posttrumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Managing stress and its symptoms

While unchecked stress is undeniably damaging, there are many things you can do to control it and reduce its effects.

Coping with stress

Following a few simple stress management tips can help you minimize stressors in your life, deal with your stress symptoms in a healthy way, and buffer yourself from its negative effects.

Relaxation techniques for stress relief

Not all stress can be avoided; but when it hits, relaxation techniques such as mediation, deep breathing, and yoga can provide relief.

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