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The Sorority Recruitment Experience

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A few short years ago, I found myself walking into an unknown building and entering a classroom that was full of unfamiliar faces. With no family members or friends that had “gone Greek” I had no idea what to expect on my first day of recruitment (informally often referred to as rush). While scheduling, numbers, and logistics can vary, the week is hectic, a little stressful, and exciting at any school.

If you’re rushing a sorority, read ahead to learn about my experience of rush, joining a sorority, and check out some tips for a successful week!

Before rush even begins, it is imperative to find the dates and requirements for your specific school. University websites should have this information posted months in advance, along with addresses for each sorority. These addresses should be used to send in resumes, pictures, and recommendation letters to each Greek organization. Although you are not required to send in resumes, pictures, and letters, these are easy ways to ensure that the sororities will recognize your face and know a little bit about you before you even walk in the door.

  • I recommend talking with family friends to find women who can write recommendation letters. It is also important to notify a sorority if you are a legacy. A legacy is a woman who is closely related to an active or alumni member of a given sorority; although each sorority has its own definition of “legacy”, typically a legacy means you have a sister, mother, or grandmother who is a member of said sorority. Being a legacy can have advantages during rush, but I was not a legacy of any sorority and that did not hinder my experience.

The first day of rush, we were required to wear Panhellenic t-shirts and plain shorts. I took this opportunity to wear my favorite gladiator sandals and a fabulous pair of earrings to stand out from the hundreds of girls wearing the exact same outfit.

  • Since every girl will wear the same thing on the first day, this is an excellent opportunity to wear jewelry or shoes that will make you stand out from the crowd. Make sure your accessories are classy and subtle.

I met my Rho Gammas and my rush group.

  • The Rho Gammas are disaffiliated from their sorority, so they are an excellent source of impartial advice if you are having trouble making decisions throughout the week; they are also often called Rho Chis or Recruitment Guides.

On the first day of rush I visited each sorority for twenty minutes. Active members of the sororities sat and talked to me about my hometown, my interests, and my experiences at my new school. Each sorority has a different system, so sometimes I talked to one girl for twenty minutes, and at other houses I talked to multiple girls for just a few moments each. 

  • Remember that the girls you are speaking with in each house are nervous too, so if there is a short lull in the conversation-don’t worry!

The time in each house was so brief on the first day; I used the provided booklets to jot down a few notes about each sorority so I could remember what I liked (and didn’t like) throughout the day. At the end of the day, I chose seven of the eleven houses I wanted to visit again the following day. That night, each sorority was selecting a list of girls that they wanted to meet again on the second day as well.

The second and third days of rush were similar; in the morning I met with my group and received my schedule for the day. The schedule is decided based on the selections made by PNMs (Potential New Members-that’s you!) and by the sororities. On the second day I wore a simple sundress and a pair of comfortable flats.

  • Depending on your school, you may be walking blocks between each house; stylish shoes that you are able to walk in are imperative (I know those Steven Madden pumps are adorable, but you will be miserable wobbling around all day)!

The second day I visited seven sororities, and the third day I went back to five sororities. On the third day I wore a nicer dress (think along the lines of a classy evening dinner or a graduation party) with comfortable heels. I loved these days of rush because each sorority performed songs and skits to teach PNMs about sisterhood, philanthropies, and social life. I continued to write my thoughts about the sororities; there were so many different songs and skits that it was hard to remember some specifics when it came time to select my preferences.

The final day is called Preference Round, and this round is significantly different than the previous days of rush. I wore a Michael Kors cocktail dress that I wore to my high school commencement dinner with a pair of brown wedges. 

  • While this day is certainly a little fancier, don’t wear a floor length prom gown or formal dress!

On Pref Round I returned to three houses and spent an hour in each house. There were no skits or songs performed on this day; some of the seniors in each house read poems and shared stories about their memories and experiences after joining the sororities; don’t be intimidated if many of the girls in the houses are crying!  I spoke with girls that I had already met on the previous days, and at some houses I was hotboxed, which means more than one girl was allowed to talk to me at the same time. After the rounds, I made my final selection!

  • This is the only day on which you will actually rank the houses you attended. On the first, second, and third days, I simply marked the sororities that I wanted to revisit in no specific order; however, after Pref Round I actually ranked the three sororities with a 1, 2, or 3 depending on my preference. Many girls are extremely overwhelmed and torn between sororities, so again, I recommend speaking with your Rho Gammas if you are confused or conflicted. 

Bid Day is absolutely thrilling, nerve-wracking, and can be potentially heartbreaking. At my school, we sat in a big stadium with our rush groups and were instructed to physically sit on our bid card. All the Rho Gammas sang every sorority song, and each Rho Gamma jumped forward during the songs to reveal her sorority! After the ceremony, all the girls ripped open their bid cards and ran to the sorority house shown on their cards. Each sorority had painted signs and posters and held balloons to welcome their new pledge class. I was ecstatic to have received a bid to the house that I ranked #1 after Pref Round, but it is important to remember that some girls may be disappointed. 

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  • No matter the result, it is imperative to give any sorority a shot; you may think you were destined to be a member of one specific sorority, but you may find that you absolutely love the girls in another sorority. You always have the opportunity to drop out if you decide the sorority is not for you, so you might as well attend bid day activities and give your new sorority a chance no matter what.

Written by Real Life 101, Inc.

July 31, 2012 at 4:09 pm

Common Etiquette Mistakes

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The Real Life 101 team agrees that proper etiquette is an important aspect of every day life. We asked our etiquette expert, Jennifer Indyk, to share some of the most common mistakes she sees.   Here were her thoughts:

Many people make introductions in the wrong order:

  • The person of greater authority is mentioned first: “Mrs. President, may I present Mr. Vice President.”
  • Introductions should be done immediately and by whomever knows both parties.
  • When being introduced, offer right hand immediately for a handshake, make eye contact, smile and say something like “It’s nice to meet you” or “How do you do?”

It is a mistake to not leave your phone number on a voice mail message because you just know the other person has it.

Do not show up late to an appointment.  Be on time; arriving late shows a lack of respect.

At the table, it is important to understand which place setting is yours.

  • Your glassware will be on your right and your bread plate on your left.
  • Your fork will be on your left and spoon on the right.

Use cutlery with care.

  • Hold cutlery with fingers; not fists.
  • Do not gesture with your cutlery.
  • Once you pick up a piece of cutlery, it should never touch the table again.

Napkin use:

  • Do not tuck the napkin into shirt.
  • The napkin goes on your lap as soon as you sit down.
  • Dab the corners of your mouth with the napkin.

It is a mistake to pass the salt or pepper alone.

  • Always pass the two together, even if someone requests you to pass only one.
  • Just place both in front of the person requesting them.

Buttering Bread:

  • Do not take the butter directly from the dish and place it on your bread.
  • Rather, place a pat of butter on your bread plate first; then spread it on the bread.
  • Bread is to be torn, not cut.  Tear off a piece of a roll, butter and then eat, one piece at a time.

Do not put anything on table; this includes a cell phone or PDA.

Always pass food to the right.

Do not push away or stack your dishes.

Never blow on liquid to cool it.

Elbows are not permitted on the table when there is food on the table.

Remember these guidelines to avoid confusion and embarrassment when it really matters.

What We Wish We’d Known Before College

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By Jessica Bly

Before freshman year of college, it’s easy to be overwhelmed by every aspect of college: What should I pack? How will I make friends? Should I stay in a relationship with my boyfriend or girlfriend?

I consulted my friends from colleges across the country to compose a comprehensive list of all the things a freshman should know before moving on campus.

1. Pack lightly.

Whether you are traveling across the country or going to a school close to home, it’s important to be realistic when packing for college. Don’t pack every pair of shoes you own, because you will not only be cramped for space in your dorm, but you probably won’t wear half of what you bring.

  • Also keep in mind that you will probably borrow clothes from your roommate or other friends, so your wardrobe will most likely be expanded. One of my closest friends warns: “Don’t bring knick knacks!” –Emily Glaze, Elon, Class of 2013.
  • Be sure to buy certain necessities after you get a look at your room; for example, you may buy tons of storage containers and realize that your closet actually comes equipped with excellent shelving. 

2. It may take time to find close friends.

If you’ve had the same tight-knit group for years, it can be frustrating when you don’t find best friends immediately at your new school. It will take time to meet and get to know other individuals, so be patient!

  •  It is also important to understand that the first few friends you make at college might not be your closest friends in a few months: “It’s so important to branch out and not cling to the first people you meet or just people on your floor. Those people might be great acquaintances but you will probably find your close friends through common interests and activities.” –Allison Kipke, Connecticut College, Class of 2013

 3. It’s OK to be overwhelmed!

If you’ve lived at home for eighteen years and suddenly find yourself hours away from everyone you know, it’s normal and understandable to be homesick, and even scared! It is also important to realize that everyone feels this way.

  • Call up a friend from home or a relative if you’re feeling homesick. If you really feel down, it’s completely acceptable to speak with teacher or counselor; they can help you find a way to be less overwhelmed and more relaxed at your new school.

4. Be careful at college parties. 

College parties can be, in a word, insane. Even if you consider yourself party savvy, college parties aren’t comparable to other types of social functions. There will be plenty of strangers and alcohol surrounding you at every party, so our advice is to use your best judgment. My sorority requires each member to have a “party buddy” for each mixer or formal; party buddies are required to arrive and leave a party together. Although sometimes frustrating when you want to leave a party and your buddy is still on the dance floor, it’s best to stick together at all times to ensure everyone’s safety.

  • As for the alcohol*, “Don’t drink the punch!” –Audrey Taylor, TCU, Class of 2013. Sometimes referred to as “jungle juice” or “trashcan punch”, this particular drink is usually made of just about any type of alcohol, juice, and soda, mixed together in a large container. The concoction will end your night pretty quickly.
  •  Another important note about college parties is that, for the most part, they are all pretty similar. If you have a test on Friday morning and your friends are hitting up a fraternity party on Thursday night, know that you probably won’t miss much that you can’t experience the next night: “I wish I’d known how to stay in before tests and stuff. Showing up to my speech at 8am after Mardi Gras still drunk will go down in history-I completely failed that!” –Jill (name changed) Class of 2013.

 5. Consider all aspects of your long-distance relationship. 

It’s impossible to tell anyone to break-up or continue a relationship through college without knowing the individuals.

  • It is wise to have a conversation with your boyfriend or girlfriend to discuss both of your expectations for the relationship when you’re both away at school. One of my closest friends from college had a boyfriend for the first few months of our Freshman year, and she says: “No one can tell you to break up with your boyfriend or girlfriend when you come to college; that’s for you to decide. But just know you need to go to college with the open mind to meet new people so you can have new life experiences.” –Ashton Minter, TCU, Class of 2013

 6. Wait to buy your textbooks. 

  • Textbooks can be extremely expensive, so wait until after your first few classes to purchase any books. Sometimes professors are simply required to offer a textbook for the course, but they won’t end up using it at all!
  • For the textbooks you will end up needing for classes, don’t immediately run to the bookstore. Chegg.com, Half.com, and other websites and resources provide much better deals on books.

 7. It goes way too fast.

Everyone has heard that “college is the best time of your life”. It’s pretty tough to really understand and appreciate how wonderful and adventurous your college years will be before you even get there, so just keep in mind that it’s important to really soak up every moment of your time in college.  Academics and acquiring the skills needed for your future are, of course, the key elements of college, but remember to have fun!  “Sometimes it’s hard to notice it at the time because you’re stressed about being in a new environment, but freshman year is such a blast- you have to relax and enjoy it!” –Audrey Taylor, TCU, Class of 2013

*Real Life 101 does not support underage drinking, and reminds you to always drink responsibly.

Did we miss anything? Comment and tell us what you wish you would’ve known before you left for college!


Why Go Greek?

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Why Go Greek?


If you’re still trying to decide if joining a Greek organization is the right choice for you, there may be a few aspects of Greek life that just may entice you to give a sorority or fraternity a chance.

Improve your Grades: Being a member of a sorority or fraternity can improve your grades in a variety of ways. As a New Member, you may be required to complete a certain number of study hours each week. These study hours encourage New Members to begin their college careers successfully by practicing regular study habits from the beginning. Greek organizations also often have a minimum GPA required to remain an active member of the organization. This GPA varies by organization, but individuals who do not maintain this GPA are often placed on academic probation. Academic probation may prohibit individuals from participating in social events or intramural sports, and additional study hours may be required for these individuals. Greeks study hard so they can play hard! Finally, Greek organizations often keep test files that are full of old tests and study guides for many classes offered at the university. All members of the Greek organization have access to these files, and an individual may borrow tests, quizzes, and study guides in order to prepare for a class. Many Greek organizations even keep a list of each member’s major or minor, and members can contact one another to study or discuss specific classes or professors associated with each major. Greek organizations also provide access to tutors if an individual is struggling with a particular course.

Expand your Social Life: If you’re worried about making friends at your new school, going Greek is an excellent way to meet new people! Chapter and pledge class retreats, sisterhood and brotherhood events, and volunteer work are just a few of the occasions when you can bond with other members in your Greek organization. You will also have a Big Sister or Brother and eventually a Little Sister or Brother; these relationships open new doors to spend time with members in other pledge classes. Not only will you meet individuals in your own sorority or fraternity, but Greek formals, themed mixers, date nights, philanthropies, and intramural sports will give you the opportunity to meet members of other organizations as well!

Advance your Networking: Individuals who actively participated in their Greek organizations throughout college often stay in touch with their chapters long after graduation. Joining a Greek organization may allow you to connect and establish relationships with these alumni. Alumni can offer excellent advice, and possibly even inform you of potential employment opportunities.

Increase your Volunteer Experience: It is estimated that Greeks volunteer over 850,000 hours of community service annually around the nation. Each Greek organization has a specific charitable organization to which the members donate volunteer hours, and the organization donates money (this is called philanthropy). Being involved with a Greek organization allows you to volunteer to help those in need. You’re not limited to volunteering your time towards one charity; by participating in other organization’s philanthropy events (which can be any activity, such as a dodge ball tournament or a soccer scrimmage) you can help other Greek organizations raise money for their charity of choice!

These are just a few aspects of Greek life that can enhance your success throughout college and provide you with friends and memories that extend far beyond graduation. GO GREEK!

The BEST Party Guest

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Lucky you!  You’ve been invited to a party.  Consider these traits of an ideal party guest before you attend your next celebration.

The best party guest…

1.  … always responds in a timely fashion.

RSVP means “Répondez S‘il Vous Plaît” in French, which translates to “Respond Please” in English.   If there is an RSVP line on the invitation, you must respond.  Your host is planning food and drink, and in many cases will be committed to certain payment deadlines with caterers or bartenders.  Usually these deadlines are at least one week in advance, so make sure you give him/her the courtesy of a response before then.  Even if caterers are not involved, the host will need to do the shopping and seating planning, so the rule still applies.

Regrets only means you should reply only if you are unable to attend.  Again, the decline of the invitation should be at least one week prior to the event if possible.

Note:  Sometimes we truly don’t know if we can attend close to the deadline.  In this case, speak with the host and let him/her know what the situation is.  For example, “I’d love to attend, but I may need to be in New York for work.  I should know for sure by Wednesday, and I will get back to you then if that’s acceptable.”

2.  … does what he says he will do.

If you have responded favorably, do not cancel at the last minute because you do not want to go.  While sometimes conflicts arise, do your best to find an alternative rather than canceling.   It is terribly rude to no-show, or even to call and cancel, especially less than 24 hours before the celebration.  Granted, we don’t feel like attending sometimes, but usually if we just go, we end up having a great time.

3.  … asks if he can bring something.

If you are attending a dinner party, the host may ask you to bring a bottle of wine or a side dish of some kind.  Try to match your contribution to the flavor of the party, and if possible, confirm your contribution with the host beforehand.

Note: If you are asked to bring a food item, place it in a nice serving dish, and have it assembled entirely before you arrive.

For instance, if you have something like a salad that needs to be assembled at the last minute, bring along a set of tongs, and place the lettuce in the serving bowl with each topping in plastic bags to combine at the last moment.  This way, you will require nothing of the host.  If your appetizer needs to bake, call ahead and make sure the host has space in his/her oven.  If so, bring the item in the pan needed to bake it as well as the serving dish used to serve the item.

If you have an item that requires more prep work than these examples, find something else to bring.  There is nothing more annoying than a guest who needs a serving dish or wants to make their dish in your kitchen needing pans, ingredients, time, oven space, burners, and so on.

Remember: The host has asked you to bring something in order to take some time and stress off of his/her hands, and it is your job to contribute to the party and make his/her life easier. 

One last note: When the party is over, if the host hasn’t used the bottle of wine or the remainder of your dish, do not just grab what you brought and take it home (especially with wine).  Rather, ASK if the host would like to keep the remainder of the items. 

4.  … is on time.

It is important to consider the type of party you are attending when determining your arrival time.

If it is a dinner party, the host/hostess has planned the timing of the food, and you must arrive on time to the function.  On time means within 5-10 minutes of the time on the invitation; anything later is incredibly rude.

If it is an open house, you can most likely come and go between the times listed on the invitation, but do arrive within an hour of when the event is scheduled to conclude.

 

5.  … brings a host/hostess gift.

If you are asked to bring an item, you do not need to bring an additional gift, but it is always a nice gesture if you choose to do so.

The same rule applies to gifts as to side dishes.  Do not bring anything that will require effort on behalf of the host.  So, for example, do not bring flowers that are not already in a planter or in a vase.  If you do, the host has to go searching for the right vase and is taken away from the guests.

Here are a few gift ideas:

  • Send or deliver a bouquet of flowers the day before the party.  This way the host can plan how they will fit into the décor of the party.
  • Bring a decorative candle, votive candles, tea towels, hand soaps, cocktail napkins, serving utensils, or cocktail stirrers.  A favorite CD or board game can also be a fun offering.
  • Bring something edible (and pre-packaged) such as chocolates, pretzels, flavored salts, quality olive oil, baked goods, mixes in a jar, a bottle of wine, or some sort of alcohol.
  • Bring a small, indoor, potted plant that is easy to care for.  Herbs can also be a unique idea.
  • Get something personalized.  While this takes some advanced planning, everyone loves items with their name or monogram on it.  Examples would be note paper, soaps, hand towels, picture frames, and return-address stamps or stickers.

Make sure you attach a small card or label to the item with some kind words and your name.

6.  … compliments the host/hostess.

Rest assured, this party has taken a great deal of planning and effort.  Find something nice to say, and compliment the host/hostess during the evening.  Consider the home décor, party décor, food and drink, personal style, or anything else you can find.  Make sure you are genuine with your comments, and make the host/hostess feel appreciated for all the work he/she has done.

7.  … asks if he can help the host/hostess.

If you are at a dinner party, ask if there’s anything you can do to help in the kitchen or at the bar.  It is also nice to ask if you can assist with clearing the table, or cleaning up the kitchen after.  If the host/hostess declines your offer, respect the wishes, and re join the party.

 

8.  … minds his conversational p’s and q’s.

Take note of how the conversation is flowing.  Choose appropriate topics of conversation avoiding politics, sex, and religion; financial topics should also be treated with care.  Contribute to the conversation, but keep others in mind, and avoid rambling, monopolizing the conversation, or interrupting others.   Do ask questions (a great conversation starter), and make sure to listen to the answers.  Finally, try to be positive with whatever you say avoiding gossip or talking about others in a negative manner.

 

9.  … drinks responsibly. 

Keep your alcohol consumption in check.  Take note of the pace of others at the party, and make sure you are not ahead of it.  It’s okay to have fun and take part in libations, but do not get sloppy – or drive – when you should not.

10.  … is thankful.

Make sure to thank the host/hostess for their hospitality as you leave the party.  It is also nice to handwrite a brief “thank you” within a few days of the gathering.  In the note, show your appreciation for the invitation and their hospitality, comment on the party itself (décor, food, drink, fun etc.), and speak of the next time you will see the person.  If it was a small affair, or if you are particularly good friends with the host/hostess, it is also thoughtful to call and say what a wonderful time you had.

Written by Real Life 101, Inc.

December 14, 2010 at 11:33 am

Party “Hostess with the Mostess”

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It’s not always easy to be a “hostess with the mostess,” but here are some ideas for how you can leave your guests with a favorable impression of your gathering.

A “Hostess with the Mostess” always…

…considers her guests.

Whether she’s putting together the guest list, managing seating arrangements, or planning a menu, the ideal hostess is always looking to please her guests.

Guest List

When putting together the guest list, it is important to consider groupings.   If, for instance, you are inviting some friends who typically socialize in a group, it is best to include the whole group in your invitation in order to avoid hurt feelings.  This also ensures that the group will have fun and be able to socialize at the party.

Seating

The same is true if you do assigned seating.  It’s best to seat people near others with common interests, so conversation will flow with ease.  For instance, avoid seating your outspoken, conservative aunt next to your young, liberal cousin.

Children

Choose whether you would like to include children in the invitation, and when doing so, consider how the children will play together.  It would be unfortunate to have only a baby and a thirteen-year-old at the party.  If you choose to include children, make sure there are enough children coming of similar age groups to play together.  Have organized activities for the kids, a special place for them to play, food they will enjoy, and if possible, a designated adult to supervise them.

Menu

When planning the food, consider the tastes of your guests.   It is helpful to keep a log of what you have offered at past gatherings as well as your friends’ likes and dislikes.  Here are some important foods to consider because there are often aversions to them:  cilantro, mushrooms, Brussels’ sprouts, seafood, shellfish, and peanuts.  If you offer any of these foods, make sure there are other options from which to choose.  This is particularly important if any guests have dietary restrictions (i.e.: food allergies or special diets).

 

…takes organization and preparation seriously.

Coats

No matter where you are having your party, preparation is the name of the game.  Know where coats are going to go, and who is going to take them.  Be sure to make space in the coat closet, have adequate hangers ready, and someone ready and waiting to take them at the door.  I recently saw a host take my husband’s coat and place mine over it to maximize room in the closet.  This was a great help in finding the coats at the end of the night and keeping the closet organized.

Pets

Consider what you will do with your pets during the event, and make sure they will not be in the way of your guests.  Sometimes it is best to keep them in an area away from the party, so all your guests are comfortable, and your pets won’t escape out the front door.

Serving Dishes

Carefully plan your menu and serving dishes, so everything is clean and ready to go in advance of the party.  It is helpful to place slips of paper with the name of the dish in each serving item so you can see where everything will be placed and how it all looks together.  This step also helps you avoid changing dishes several times because you have the wrong size.

Music

Make a playlist for your party in advance (either on CD or your portable music device), so you can be sure your explicit rap music doesn’t play while your grandma is drinking her coffee after dinner.  Consider your audience, and their tastes, when creating the list.  Live music can also be a lovely touch, but ask the musicians to be mindful of the volume, so conversation may flow without having to yell.

Timeline

Whether you are serving drinks, hors d’oeuvres, or dinner, a timeline is your best friend.  On your timeline, include preparation, oven temperature, cook time, and any other helpful items.  This keeps you from having to go between five different recipe books, and it will keep you counter cleaned off.  Also, if you have help, it will be easier to delegate tasks and keep everyone on the same page.

A sample timeline might look like this:

  • 6:15        Arrange antipasto plate and set on the coffee table.
  • 6:30        Stir together welcome beverage, and place with cocktail napkins on the bar.
  • 6:40        Turn on music, light candles, do any last-minute dish washing.
  • 6:50        Place beef tenderloin in the oven: 350 for 45 minutes.  Potatoes 350 for one hour.
  • 7:00        Greet and welcome guests.
  • 7:30        Fill water glasses and prepare wine for dinner.
  • 7:35        Remove beef tenderloin and let rest.
  • 7:50        Remove potatoes and slice beef tenderloin.
  • 7:55        Toss salad.
  • 8:00        Serve dinner.

A timeline is also helpful if you are hosting your party at another venue because it allows the kitchen, bar, and serving team to be aware of what your expectations are for the event.  If your venue doesn’t suggest a timeline, be sure to create one and ask them to approve it and then follow it.  The timeline will help avoid any unnecessary mishaps and serve as a document to keep everyone on the same page.

…makes the guests feel comfortable and welcome.

No matter what the occasion, it is most important to make the guests feel at ease.  Be sure to circulate around the room, speak with your guests, and welcome them to the party.  Help introduce strangers at the party in order to encourage the flow of conversation.

Always keep a lookout to make sure guests have whatever they need.   Have beverages readily available, and keep glasses full without over-serving – particularly with alcohol.   Be mindful of the flow of the party, the noise level, the temperature in the room, and anything else you can do to make everyone feel comfortable.

If you take all of these ideas into account, you will have a smashing success, and you will most undoubtedly be deemed the “hostess with the mostess!”

Written by Real Life 101, Inc.

December 13, 2010 at 1:12 pm