Entertaining

How to Write a Seating Chart for a Dinner Party

Your guide to seating etiquette 101
Dinner Party Seating Guide
Photo: Hero Images/Getty Images

Anyone who's hosted a sit-down dinner knows that selecting a seating plan can be a daunting task. There are many factors to be considered: Who isn't talking to whom, who voted for the wrong candidate and who is most likely to launch an embarrassing conversation grenade?

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Thanks to a few lessons learned over the years (some the hard way), we've pulled together a list of tips to guarantee your event goes off without a hitch.

① Seat Yourself First

You're going to be running in and out of the kitchen, schmoozing with guests and minding the playlist, so place yourself at one end of the table. This way, you aren't disturbing your guests while engaging in your host duties. 

② Spread Out Your Talkers

If you have guests who can hold a conversation with just about anyone, place them in the middle and at the ends of the table. This will help the flow of conversation and help avoid those awkward silences. Also, if you have a shy guest who knows absolutely no one besides the host, seat them next to you so they have a familiar face to help break the ice.

③ Disperse Friends Evenly

Friends will sit near each other if they get to pick their own seats, so dispersing them among the group ensures no one is commandeering the conversation. This also means guests have the opportunity to meet new people.

④ Split Up Couples

To help with conversation and flow of the evening, it's a good idea to sit significant others a few seats away from one another. You don't have to sit them on opposite sides of the table, but by splitting them up, you reduce the risk of them talking to only each other and not engaging with the group.

⑤ Your Wine Guru Goes in the Middle

If you're inviting a guest who knows a lot about wine, place them at the center of the table. Encourage them to introduce, open and pour the wine that's being served for the evening. It gives the host one less thing to worry about, and your guests might learn a little something along the way. 

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