Anatomy of a Dinner Party: a day in the life of a hospitalityaholic

Etiquette browsing by category


Gifting Wine

Monday, November 7th, 2016

Good Morning Darlings,

Halloween is now behind us and Thanksgiving is a few weeks away. For me this means lots of dinner parties and when you are invited, I know you always want to arrive with a gift. You cannot go wrong with wine (unless, of course, your hosts are recovering alcoholics, allergic to grapes or are staunch beer drinkers who never drink wine – know your audience, darlings.)

EOD Cellars Wine is a charity wine that is made possible through a partnership with Tackitt Family Vineyards and the EOD Warrior Foundation. Profits from the wine sales go directly to the EOD Warrior Foundation, which are used to help current and past EOD warriors and their families. EOD stands for Explosive Ordnance Disposal, the disarming and disposal of bombs. EOD technicians are highly-trained military members serving in the Army, Marines, Navy and Air Force who are responsible for disarming, rendering safe and disposing bombs. The EOD profession is one of the most dangerous occupations in the military.


EOD Wines

EOD Wines

Over Black Friday weekend, Tackitt Family Vineyards will be offering free shipping on all of their fantastic and award winning wines, including those with the EOD Cellars label, making it even easier to give the gift of wine this holiday season. Enter ‘EOD’ for the promo code in the coupon block to get free shipping.

For those giving wine gifts this year, it’s a good idea to keep a few etiquette tips in mind, including:

  • If you are not familiar with specific taste preferences of those you are giving the wine to, it’s always best to stick with classic varieties. Giving someone a simple white or red wine is usually a safe bet.
  • Don’t expect the host to serve it that night or right when you give it to them. They may have other plans in mind, and it is your gift to them. They can stash it away and serve it when, and to whom, they wish.
  • It’s a good idea to stick a note on the bottle, letting them know you put some thought into the selection. If you are choosing an EOD Cellars Wine, for example, it’s a nice touch to write on there that you thought they would appreciate the selection and the mission.
  • You may want to give something with the wine, with good options being to consider pairing it with a good chocolate, cheese, Spanish olives, dried fruits, or almonds. Another nice option is to pair it with a special hand painted wine glass or small wine pairing book for their collection.
  • Wrapping it in a wine bag is optional, but if you choose not to use one, then it’s a nice touch to add the hand-written note and a ribbon or bow.

I love the idea of wine gifting with a purpose. Later this week, I’ll be discussing some of my favorite local Georgia wines.

Tis the season!

xoxo, Patti

Guest Post! Electronic vs Paper When is it Okay to Send an Online Invitation?

Thursday, November 15th, 2012

Electronic vs. Paper: When is it Okay to Send an Online Invitation?

An invitation serves one primary purpose: to lure the recipient to an event. These might include a business lunch, birthday party, board meeting, friendly brunch, or other sort of bash.

Inviting guests is achieved through a variety of factors, including a snappy design, catchy message and appropriate details. But before your well-produced invitation can deliver invitees to your doorstep, you’ve got to deliver the message. How you send your call for guests may just determine your event’s success.

In today’s technological world, the email invitation has become an inexpensive, easy-to-deliver, design-friendly, go-to greeting for both businesses and individuals. If used incorrectly, electronic invites can get lost in the inbox, mistaken for spam, deleted, or simply go unseen and, ultimately, lose their value (There’s nothing more frustrating than spending time and energy on party preparations only to have no one show up).

So when should you hit send and when should you hit the post office? Here are a few guidelines to help you choose the best method for sending your summons:

What type of event are you hosting?

If no other factors (i.e., budget, timeframe, and design requirements) play into your decision to print or press send, the formality of your event should dictate your direction. For formal and ceremonial affairs, such as weddings, showers, and awards dinners, stick with the traditional printed pieces. Offering guests personal, by-mail invitations not only makes them feel special, but it gives weight to the occasion. If your gathering is a frequent and regular occurrence, such as a monthly board meeting or a more easygoing affair — like a Saturday afternoon barbecue — then opt for the casual email invitation, which sets a comfortable, casual tone.

Who’s coming?

Your guest list can also be key in the decision to go digital. When invitees are young, modern-minded individuals who understand the ins and outs of online communication, then by all means — speak their language. Targeting seniors, retirees, children, or another group that probably isn’t on email regularly? Go postal. If you have a mixed audience, consider sending both; with a little bit of design skill, you can develop an invitation to be printed for the older crowd and packaged into an email for the younger set.

How much time before the big day?

Sometimes the decision simply comes down to timing. If you’ve put off sending invitations because you couldn’t make up your mind or you’re pulling together a last-minute fete, then an email invitation can be created and delivered in mere minutes. Given the growing prevalence of smart phones with email applications, you might begin receiving RSVPs just as quickly. Snail mail invitations obviously take a bit more time to reach their destinations.

The typical rule of thumb here is to notify recipients of an event three weeks to a month in advance. This allows for any return-to-senders to filter back through the mail stream and gives guests sufficient time to confirm their attendance. Remember, no matter which route you select, if you need a firm head count, then be sure to budget time to track down non-responders. That means sending a reminder email (if you go digital, many online programs will do this for you automatically) or making phone calls.

Do you have the money?

As postage costs continue to rise, so do the potential savings associated with sending an online invite. But stamps aside, the cost to send a paper invite doesn’t have to break the bank. While the Internet certainly provides a free vehicle for carrying your message, it also widens your resources for inexpensive printing. If your budget has some wiggle room, then weigh the remaining factors on this list and go with your top option. If, however, you are pinching every penny to cover the cost of the actual event, then a no-cost email is warranted. There are many free e-invitation tools available; try,, or

Do you have a specific vision for the design?

In the end, deciding between dropping an invitation in a person’s mailbox versus their inbox may come down to design. How do you picture your invitation? Is it something tangible, with various textures and a bit of heft? Will you opt to send an offbeat object that hints at a theme? Do you need to provide lots of important information (directions, menus, hotel options, business background, etc.)? An actual envelope might be the best way to package your presentation. (Send critical extras as part of an email invitation and you risk recipients not opening the attachments.) If your message can be delivered with some perfectly placed pixels and a bit of on-screen color, then save time and money with a well-designed email invite.

No matter which method you choose, remember that the best way to send a successful invitation is to think outside the box for something unique that will stand out inside the box — whether it’s an inbox or a mailbox!

Senior executive Anita Brady is the President of, a leading provider of a high variety of quality items like wedding invitations, fancy letterhead and other materials for small businesses and solo practitioners.

Rantings of A Serial Party Hostess

Tuesday, November 6th, 2012

Good Morning Darlings!

My business partner, Carrie and I just threw our first annual Haunted Hollywood party for Atlanta Movie Tours. In this installment, I will share photos and talk about the evening.

As we are essentially in holiday party mode as of NOW (really, Target, couldn’t you wait to put out those Christmas decorations?), I am going to let you know my true feelings about party giving, and those guests…..

This is something that is rarely seen (or read) here. I try to be sweet and dear, but sometimes a girl just has to rant.

Come on in.

How to Survive The Holidays

Friday, December 23rd, 2011

Good Morning Darlings!

The lovely people at Deep South Magazine have allowed me to write a holiday etiquette column for them.

Do you need a few tips? Maybe a little giggle?

Office Party Etiquette – Guest Post!

Tuesday, November 29th, 2011

Good Morning Darlings!

No one likes to discuss parties and etiquette as much as I do, but it’s fun to get a fresh perspective now and again.

About our guest

Monstrous Dinner Party Fun!

Thursday, November 10th, 2011

Good Morning Darlings!

As many of you know, I have started a business teaching etiquette called Dazzling Manners. It’s tons of fun, and every once in a while I like to bust out and have a little more fun. Sometimes not in the best of taste, but I can’t always be sitting around with my elbows off the table.

What could I possibly be talking about?

The Dazzling Side of Etiquette

Thursday, September 1st, 2011

Good Morning Darlings!

Today is a very big day for me.

Would you like to know why?

Are You A Mr. Bumble?

Tuesday, August 16th, 2011

Good Morning Darlings!

Yesterday I unveiled the website for my new venture, Dazzling Manners. Since I will be teaching etiquette lessons this fall, I thought it might be fun to discuss the 5 top table manner bumbles.

Are you a Mr. Bumble?

Manners First

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2011

Good Morning Darlings!

Etiquette has always been a hobby of mine. One day, Eric asked me, “what would you do if there were no boundaries?” I answered, “teach etiquette.” Only then did it dawn on me that I could do just that. My “aha moment.”

Come see what I have planned for you

A Stylish Evening With Stephanie Johnson

Tuesday, July 19th, 2011

Good Morning Darlings!

Oh, how I love a good dinner party. I love every aspect of it. The planning, the menu, the cooking, and especially the guest list.

How did this one come together?