The high holiday of summer entertaining is upon us, *wink! Who can resist an Independence Day party? If you are hosting this year, this guide is for you.
Fourth of July Decor & Table Setting
If you know me, you know I *love* any excuse to decorate! Red, white, blue, stars, and stripes are the mood of the day but that does not mean you have to go out and buy a whole set of 4th of July themed decor. Classic patterns such as gingham and stripes evoke a summer feeling without being too on-the-nose.
Your choice of flowers will bring your design together, too. For this table, I chose red anemones, courtesy of my dear Fairbanks Florist, for a pop of color. Plus, those bold centers feel a bit like fireworks to me!
Now on the subject of bunting… There is never enough! *wink
Outdoor Entertaining Tips for the Fourth of July
Chances are, when you picture a Fourth of July party, you are imagining an outdoor gathering. Independence Day is peak summer entertaining which means a few considerations should be made:
1. Avoid burns and bites.
Have sunscreen and bug spray on-hand and easily accessible to your guests. A cute basket filled with helpful products will go a long way in keeping guests safe and comfortable.
2. Keep Guests Dry.
Provide plenty of fresh, fluffy towels for guests to use if swimming is involved.
3. Prioritize *Cold* Beverages.
Coolers and ice buckets are a summer entertainer’s best friend. Pro Tip: an ice bucket is more effective when water is mixed in as it is a better conductor than ice alone. Adding a pinch or two of salt to the mix is even better!
4. Make Food Safety a Top Priority.
Take care with foods that can go bad in the heat. Keep cold foods cold, especially seafood and dairy-based dishes. Covering dishes to protect them from bugs is an additional precaution, primarily for guest comfort over contamination!
5. Comfort is Key.
If the party is going into the evening, have blankets available in case guests catch a chill. This is certainly not necessary here in Orlando, but more northern states will cool off when the evening comes.
6. Practice Mosquito Control.
Is your yard mosquito-proofed? No one wants to spend the evening being bit by hungry mosquitos. Treat your yard prior to the party and be sure to place some citronella candles or mosquito prevention tech around the yard.
7. Ask your guests about dietary requirements in advance.
And plan your menu accordingly. For example, thoughtful purchases such as veggie burgers and vegan cheese for your plant-based friend will help them to feel included and valued.
8. Avoid cross contamination when grilling.
When choosing what goes where on the barbecue, take care with allergens where possible. If a friend is allergic to shellfish, cook the shrimp after the burgers to avoid a medical emergency
9. Include non-alcoholic drink options.
For your friends who may choose not to imbibe, have plenty of fresh iced tea, soft drinks, or similar alcohol-free drink options on hand. If you are making a signature cocktail for the party, consider making an alcohol-free mocktail version too! Remember, it is never acceptable to ask why a person is not drinking.
10. Plan activities for children.
If you are hosting a child-friendly party, make sure to include games, activities, and kid-friendly foods to keep them happily occupied.
Independence Day and the American Flag are practically synonymous and you will surely want to include one in your 4th of July decorating. Keep these flag etiquette rules in mind to avoid a faux pas.
- The union (stars), should always be in the upper left, whether on a flagpole or hanging vertically.
- Ensure your flag is in good condition, not faded or tattered, as a sign of respect.
- The flag should never be flown after dark, unless illuminated by a light source.
- Never let the American flag touch the ground.
A Note On Fireworks…
First and foremost, respect the law. If fireworks are illegal within your city limits, do not use them. Often there is good reason for these rules, such as areas where brush fires are common or population density and safety concerns.
If fireworks are legal in your area, be considerate. Excessively loud fireworks can frighten pets, children, and adults who suffer from mental health concerns such as PTSD.
Sparklers are forever my preference as they are quiet and very safe when used correctly. Attending a fireworks display is the safest way to enjoy (and the fireworks themselves are much more impressive, anyway!)
If you do choose to light fireworks, do so with utmost safety in mind for yourself, others, and nearby property. Your window of acceptable time for lighting fireworks is the evening of July 4th. Fireworks should end between 9-10pm out of courtesy to your neighbors and should not be lit for days before or after the holiday. Be sure to clean up any debris caused by your fireworks. And remember, inebriation and pyrotechnics are certainly not friends.
Encourage guests to Uber to and from your party if you know it will be a big drinking day.
If children are present and using the pool, the best possible option is to hire a lifeguard. This will allow everyone to enjoy themselves with less worry. However, if this is not possible, consider having parents trade off with each other to monitor the children in the pool. Having a designated “watcher” is much safer than a joint effort where responsibility is shared.
Young children who are not strong or experienced swimmers should be in proper safety gear, including life vests and floaties.
Whether you are hosting or attending, holidays such as Thanksgiving should carry certain formalities and courtesies. Following good host and guest etiquette leaves a lasting impression and ensures that fun can be had by all.
Thanksgiving Etiquette Tips for Hosts
Taking on the role of the host is quite the responsibility. Whether you are catering to a small group of four or a large extended family and friends, organization and firm boundaries are your friends here.
- Ask about dietary requirements in advance. It is crucial to check whether your guests have allergenic, religious, or personal dietary requirements. If a guest is vegan for example, and you plan to put pork in the green beans, you will need to take care to not only make a separate batch but ideally use separate cooking utensils to avoid cross-contamination too. Respecting a guest’s dietary requirements is a great courtesy that requires prior planning.
- Have your guests arrive an hour before you intend to serve the meal. This allows time for mingling and a cocktail while you put together final touches, and accounts for anyone who may be running behind.
- Ask for help if you need it to get dinner out on time. There is no award for martyrdom when it comes to hosting! No one wants to be the frantic, frazzled host (nor do guests want to experience this).
- If a guest refuses alcohol, do not pry or pressure them to partake. Likewise, apart from asking about dietary restrictions and accommodating them, do not ask for the “why” behind their personal choices.
- As a host, it is your role to guide table conversation when necessary. If a controversial topic comes up, be direct and change the subject before things get out of hand. Maintaining and communicating a rule of no politics at the holiday table will ensure everyone stays comfortable despite differing viewpoints.
- Apart from clearing the table, wait until after guests have left to begin cleaning up. Nothing spoils the fun faster than the clanging of dishes!
Thanksgiving Etiquette Tips for Guests
We all want to be good guests when attending an event or visiting a person’s home. Keeping these tips in mind for Thanksgiving and the holiday season alike will always leave a positive impression.
- Arrive on time. This goes for any occasion. As a guest, it is important to arrive on time for any event, but particularly when someone is cooking for you. Arrive early and you may catch your host during last-minute preparations. Arrive late and you may cause everyone to wait for you. Your host is working hard on multiple dishes and timing them so they are all ready at the same time. It is a balancing act in itself, try not to create added stress by arriving too early or late.
- Ask what you can bring. If your host declines, bring a small hostess gift such as a scented candle. If you opt to bring flowers, make sure they are in a vase. The last thing your hosts need as guests are arriving is to be finding a vase for flowers.
- Do not get into a conversation around politics or any other controversial topics. This is mentioned above but it applies to guests too! Leave the tricky subjects for another time (or never!)
- Know when to take your leave. Thanksgiving is a marathon for most hosts to prepare and after you leave they will have to clean up and likely do other chores. Do not overstay your welcome.
- Send a handwritten thank-you note within a few days of attending to show your gratitude to your host.
I hope you have found these Thanksgiving etiquette tips helpful. Wishing you all a wonderful holiday weekend full of good manners and good cheer!
With a wink and a smile,
Curious About Further Etiquette Education?
Get in touch today to learn more about my etiquette offerings, including in-person and virtual presentations and classes for your next event, team-building exercise, or function.
Not too long ago our Lisa Stoner Events team was asked to plan an Orlando wedding industry event for our colleagues at The Knot.
We chose a “White-Hot” theme and we loved every aspect of it. White really lends itself perfectly to Welcome Receptions and provides for a fun wedding weekend and also to summer events.
Start with a beautiful location; in this case the all-white tented space at the Waldorf Astoria Orlando was the perfect blank canvass for our design. We started with a dramatic entrance feature: a show-stopping white balloon arch combined with lush white greenery.
The next design element was the layout of the space itself. A beautiful white orchid chandelier hung over the dance floor area in the center of the tent. An abundance of modern lounge furniture was spread across the room, providing ample seating for guests.
Our design team incorporated multiple food stations, enticing the guests to sample delicious, lite, bite sized samplings while mingling and dancing. Speaking of dancing, we were sure to bring in an amazing DJ to keep the dance floor packed.
Another element not to be missed was a refreshing signature cocktail, uniquely presented from a feature bar, by our energetic bartenders. The mojitos were refreshing and plentiful.
For some interactive entertainment we drew guests into the party with a vibrant acapella flash mob and a fun photobooth with props.
Last, but certainly not least, we cannot forget about the sweet tooth. Guests were treated to some delicious, miniature sweet treats.
Remember to invite some stylishly dressed guests to help with the authenticity of the theme.
We know your family and friends will have as much fun with a fabulous White-Hot Party as our colleagues did.
Be sure to call our Lisa Stoner Events team to discuss designing your upcoming wedding, milestone family event or corporate gala.
. Venue, Catering & Bar: Waldorf Astoria Orlando
. Event Planner: Lisa Stoner Events
. Floral Décor: Raining Roses
. Photography: Wings of Glory Photography
. Videography: Jeffrey Stoner
. Draping: Swag Decor
. Furniture: AFR
. Linens: Wildflower Linens
. Flash Mob: The Vocal Company
. Balloon Company: Guy Rexford, Balloon World Orlando
. Lighting + Music: DJ Jacob Towe, LLC
. Photo Booth: Omarvelous Productions
. Stationery: Dogwood Blossom
. Beauty: LeJeune Artistry
It’s time to say goodbye to the Rosé and get ready to enjoy a fall-inspired libation!
While we may be out of the sweltering days of summer, for us here in sunny Florida, it’s still pretty warm and so this refreshing cocktail is the perfect choice for ushering in the Autumn season with some “spirit.” (see what I did there?!)
Here’s what you’ll need:
- 1 oz- Apple Cider
- 2 oz- Bénédectine liqueur (for that delicious honey-spice flavor)
- 2 apples sliced for garnish
- Fresh sprigs of thyme
- 1 bottle chilled Prosecco
This really is a quick, 5-minute cocktail that can also be quickly fashioned into a punch bowl and served for brunch. As a stand alone cocktail, however, this suits me just fine!
Grab your sweater, some friends and think of all the great reasons to mix your new favorite autumn cocktail!
With a wink and a smile–
Images: Abby Liga
Halloween is one of the most celebrated and party-hosted holidays of the year, which means it’s time to don that hostess hat!
Of course, preparation and presentation are key, and this recipe will yield plenty of deathly delicious cocktails that are sure to bite back!
I am always a proponent for greeting your guests at the door with a cocktail to set that proper party tone, and since you’ll have plenty on hand, pouring some in a lovely decanter will most certainly amp up your sinister presentation!
Don’t forget a saucy song-set! This Halloween playlist from Popsugar will keep your toes tapping and fancy tickled all night long! (Also available on Spotify!)
Cocktail Images: Abby Liga
Mirror Tray and Candelabra: Target
Martini Glasses, Decanter, and Skulls: Home Goods
While Marie Antoinette may have been the one to dub the famous phrase, “Let them eat cake,” by all means allow me to be the one to advocate the celebration of Bastille Day by way of cocktails! *wink
The Kir Royale is the perfect light and refreshing, classic French champagne cocktail, which is bound to draw out even the teensiest francophile in you!
Simply add 1/4 oz of Chambord to a flute or coup of champagne with a garnish of a raspberry or lemon twist, and you will be celebrating like a true French girl! Here, I garnished with blackberries because I loved the darker look with the Chambord, (it’s always okay to take a little creative license with your cocktails!) and I couldn’t forget the baguette and the cheese, of course.
Care to celebrate by way of brunch? This grapefruit infused and *tart* cocktail is elevated with the Eldeflower, and can certainly count as an effective way of getting your daily Vitamin C intake in, right?
Allow me to introduce you to The French Tart!
I love that The French Tart didn’t immediately jump to mind for a Bastille Day celebration, but it’s refreshing for the middle of July and so very French!
I found my inspiration from Emily and Matt Clifton with Nerds with Knives, and love their story behind it too!
- 2 oz vodka (gin would work too)
- 1 oz elderflower liquor (recommended: St. Germain)
- 1-2 oz fresh squeezed pink grapefruit juice, strained
- ¼ oz fresh squeezed lemon juice
- ¼ oz rosemary simple syrup*
- *For the rosemary syrup, add two medium sprigs of fresh rosemary along with 1 cup sugar and 1 cup water to a small saucepan. Bring to simmer and stir until sugar dissolves. Turn off heat and allow it to steep for 30 minutes until it cools. Remove rosemary and store in an airtight jar in refrigerator.
- In a mixing glass three-quarters filled with ice, combine all liquid ingredients. Stir until chilled, about 30 seconds. Strain into a chilled coupe glass. Garnish with a small slice of grapefruit or rosemary sprig.
Lastly, at the risk of being a *total girl,* how could I not include the ever-popular Frosé? It’s about as hot as I can take out there these days darlings, so anything that can reduce my core temp to under 110 degrees in the form of a cocktail will forever have my vote!
I took a *healthier* and simple apprach with this recipe and quite frankly, just winged it! In this case practice made perfect, and I certainly enjoyed the research!
I simply combined one bottle of Rosé wine and used my favorite, Whispering Angel. I combined 3 tbsp of Agave nectar and about a teaspoon of fresh lime juice. (You can certainly use lemon juice as a substitute!) I put this in a long baking pan in the freezer and simply scraped it with an ice cream scoop to serve. It couldn’t be any easier, and the simple mint and lime wheel garnish made this unbelievably effortless and chic.
Over the course of my adult life, I have become an avid fan of French fashion, lifestyle, and sophistication. That all being said, all I can do is humbly emulate and inspire, as I hope you will too! I’ll see you tomorrow, pinkies up and with my stripes on!
À votre santé
With a wink and a smile…
All Images: Abby Liga
Floral: Lana Faulkner Designs
Jewelry : Quest Stones
Linen: Lettermade Linen