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Lessons From a Dinner Party

I recently hosted a casual dinner party at my house, and I observed the same behavior from my guests as from many times before, which was that most wanted to help me do “something”. Being a good hostess, I try to have everything prepared ahead of time so that my guests can simply relax and enjoy the food, the wine, and the company. However, no matter how well prepared I am, things come up that need to be done.

Now, sometimes, offers to help are the output of reading Miss Manners Guide to Etiquette, or of being smacked by one’s mother, and the one extending the offer secretly hopes that you will not reply in the affirmative. But most of the time, volunteers genuinely desire to be of use. I have found that accepting assistance makes my guests feel valued and contributes to a greater sense of camaraderie. The “guest experience” is more fulfilling, and I, the hostess, am more roundly feted than if I were to decline all offers. I have turned acquaintances into friends over simple acts of slicing a tomato or setting dishes out on a table.

What do I take from this? When people want to help, let them! It can pay dividends in ways that you can’t even guess.

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