Modern Etiquette: Dinner-Party Seating

While the seating schemes of decades past have become mere suggestions, modern dinner-party etiquette still has a few tricks up its sleeve. Read on for some tips on how to seamlessly seat guests, and revive the (commonly thought “lost”) art of the dinner party.

Dinner Party Seating

It’s all about balance. When assembling your invite list, aim for an equal number of men and women. It’s not a strict rule – the more important goal is to have guests who offer lively discussion and pleasant company. As Amy Vanderbilt wrote, “It’s far better to have an extra man or woman than to ask someone on the dull side just to make the number even.” 

Divide and converse. One age-old rule still applies: separate couples. Romantically involved people may talk only to each other, get too touchy-feely, or bring at-home arguments to the table. Concerned that someone will be too shy? Listen to Miss Manners: “If they have no social interests or skills, they can always stay home.” Harsh, but true.

Lay the (place) cards. Use a chart to keep everything organized, and decide on the final seating based on everyone’s personality traits. Put a super-chatty person at the end of the table to avoid a conversation monopoly, and seat a more introverted friend near her. Offer that guy everyone likes a seat near the middle. And if you know two people disagree on a topic, don’t place them beside each other – especially if either is prone to starting arguments.

Once you’re finished with the seating chart, move on to planning your menu and setting the table. Then prepare for a lovely, stylish evening.

By Jess Huckins, Staff Writer 

Do you have any tried-and-true seating strategies? Let us know in the comments below, or tweet us at @ruelala

Not a Member and like The (Style) Guide? You’ll love Rue La La. Join now.


Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookies Combine Our Two Favorite Things