Entertaining 101: How To Make A Dinner Party Seating Chart
Never underestimate the importance of a well thought-out seating chart when planning a dinner party. After all, the last thing you need is for two people with fundamentally different political views arguing all night and putting a dark cloud over the festivities. Okay, so perhaps that’s a wee bit dramatic, but many will agree where you place people has an impact on how the evening’s conversation flows, and consequently the overall mood.
That said, there’s no reason why you can’t have fun while deciding on the seating arrangements. And to help ensure the process is anything but painful, we’ve compiled a step-by-step guide to assist you in your your planning. Happy hosting!
1. Think About How Many Tables You Will Have.
The destination for all things entertaining related, Real Simple, recommends seating no more than eight people at a single table to ensure everyone can participate in the conversation. If your space is large enough to accomadate more guests, then it’s wise to have an extra table to avoid yelling or having anyone straining to hear.
As the host, just be sure to make your way to both tables to make all of your guests feel equally important. Similarly, the evening likely won’t go well if diners realize they’ve been seated at the “loser table” with those you care less about. So, spread people out wisely.
2. Do You Need Place Cards?
The general consensus seems to be yes if you’re having more than six people over. This way, you’re able to exude more control over who sits next to whom which helps you set the tone of your soirée — part of the reason you decided to throw the party in the first place. Don’t worry about using fancy paper or pen, and don’t be afraid to get creative—cards aren’t the only option.
3. Decide Which Guests Will Sit Where.
There are many views on the best way to seat people to stir up good conversations, but at the end of the day you know your companions best. Some guidelines to consider: Place chatty people at the center of the table, and on opposite sides. This way, the conversation won’t be constricted to one part of the table. Seat close friends apart to encourage new connections and to make everyone feel equally included. Focus on finding links between people. For instance, does your best friend and your boss have similar taste in music? If so, they might thoroughly enjoy each other’s company if they’re sitting side by side, or across from one another if the table isn’t too wide. Play matchmaker by seating individuals you think might have a spark together.
4. Where Will You, The Host, Sit?
If there are two hosts, they shouldn’t sit next to each other because part of the reason guests showed up is to interact with both of them. Further, by being separated, they can help keep the conversation flowing at different parts of the table(s). Also, if there’s a guest of honor at your party, like say an elderly relative, place them next to you or your fellow host.
5. Consider Separating Couples.
Writing for the Washington Post, Miss Manners thinks couples shouldn’t be seated together as they can easily start talking about issues at home, get too touchy-feely, or only talk to each other simply because it’s easier. “If they have no social interests or skills, they can always stay home,” she wrote. Again, this might not be true at all in the case of your guests. Think about the dynamic between the couple you’re inviting and how they might (or do) interact with the other couples attending before deciding whether to separate them.