Whether you plan to extend or accept invitations in the coming weeks, we are about to embark on a condensed time of entertaining – the holidays. But, I am sure you don’t need me to tell you that. After all, I was hearing Christmas music on the radio before Halloween!
Developing and deepening your relationships is important for leading a healthy lifestyle, and celebrations at the holidays can be a great time to reinforce your relationships, strike up new ones and take part in family traditions. If you are choosing to attend any events or hosting them soon, I ask: what’s your reaction to assigned seating for dinner parties? Too stuffy? Too bossy? Too old-school? I think most people don’t favor them. But, I have learned to embrace them, and, in fact, I regret not creating them for some past hosting gigs, myself. Here’s why:
HOW PLACE CARDS MAY MAKE YOUR PARTY MUCH BETTER
I do not suggest strong-arming your guests into seating submission, but there are some good reasons to consider putting place cards on your next dinner party table:
Place cards show consideration. Place cards can actually be quite welcoming. They can even be a conversation starter if you get fun with it and use photos or other personal thought into making them for each individual. The host took the time to think it through and place you where he or she thinks may work best for you. Relax and trust your host’s judgment.
Single guests or newcomers have a place. Guests without a spouse or date or new friends sit right down and don’t have to figure out where to sit and feel they are taking someone’s spot.
Practice those conversation skills. Being a mother, I love to watch my children as they get older engage and connect with family friends and family. If they are seated next to someone they don’t know as well or someone we know would be a great influence, they get one-on-one exposure to the guest they otherwise might not have had.
Give people a chance. Preconceived ideas of who people are can really get in the way of connecting to others and family roles can go pretty deep as well. But, if you sit people next to each other they ordinarily do not gravitate towards, they may learn something new about each other and see that individual in a new light.
On occasions where I was assigned a seat at a table away from all the ones I knew, I ended up having some really interesting conversations and tossing my preconceived notions of some individuals right out the window.
Create mended fences. OK. This is a risk, but perhaps if you place two people that have a bit of a misguided grudge next to each other, they may be able to see the situation differently and move on.
The food won’t get cold. I don’t know about your family, but when we have a big crowd with open seating, people can really hem and haw over where they should sit and in the meantime, everyone’s food gets cold.
Place cards are pretty. Place cards can be a nice touch to your table decor. You can get really creative and have a lot of fun with place cards! Look at these clever ideas here or go with something more classic and simple and make place cards using a computer here.
HOW TO EASILY CREATE ASSIGNED SEATING AT YOUR NEXT PARTY
If you decide on assigning those seats, consider this when creating those cards and where to place them:
Be the connector. Help facilitate connections of both kinds: the business kind (a wealthy individual next to a brilliant creative mind with a great idea) as well as the romantic kind (two individuals you just know are meant for each other).
Seat talkers in the middle. Talkative people are great to have in the middle of the table so they can engage in conversation on both sides of the table and keep the energy flowing.
Split up the pack. Most etiquette books tell you to split girlfriends from boyfriends, husbands from wives, best friends from best friends so they can mingle and meet someone new.
Keep the sparks from flying. A good showdown might be entertaining for some, but certainly stressful for the host. If two guests that have strong opinions (nothing wrong with that) but can’t tolerate others’ ideas too well (not so good), perhaps sit them next to someone who is less argumentative.
Have dessert elsewhere. In case the seating did not go too well, cut your losses and plan a buffet for dessert and then everyone sits where they want.
So, what’s your experience with assigned seating at parties? Thumbs up or down?
- If you are seeking an easy-going attitude to entertaining, here is how to entertain on the fly.
- Need a great hostess gift idea? You may want to check these out.