Saturday, July 15, 2017

Table Seating Etiquette

The reason seating arrangements is worth thinking about in advance, is that you'll be asked the question, "Is there any place in particular you'd like us to sit?" and your mind will have a hard time switching gears. 


Diplomatic careers have foundered on bad decisions about who should sit where, but with six people you've got nothing to worry about. Because couples often go through life welded together at the hip, it might make for a more interesting dynamic not to have the same two people who breakfast together every morning of their mortal lives seated together at a dinner, as well. 


Convention likes to have a man seated next to a woman seated next to a man seated next to a woman. But since couples no longer come exclusively in those pairings and since your table might not conform to three of one, three of the other, best to seat people for conversational possibility rather than atavistic allegiance.

The reason it's worth thinking about in advance, is that you'll be asked the question, "Is there any place in particular you'd like us to sit?" just as you're draining the pasta or taking the muffins out of there tin, and your mind will have a hard time switching gears.

You want the talkers and the listeners fairly evenly distributed around the table. You probably don't want the three men who were college roommates absorbed in a tête to tête to tête, at one end of the table. Nor do you want the shy cousin who invited you to dinner when you first moved to town, to have only you to talk to throughout the meal, the cocktail hour having pretty much exhausted your news of the family. So say firmly, "Yes, I'd like Marjorie on my right, Fritz on my left, and if Betty would go to the other end of the table, the rest of you can sit where you like." — From 1993's "Rising to the Occasion"

Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J Graber, is the Site Editor for the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia