seating etiquette: ammòdo’s tips to make it right
When it comes to dinner parties, we all know it’s best to be prepared – the more we do in advance, the more relaxed we can be on the night.
As well as the food prep and laying the table, take the time to create a seating plan to ensure your guests are happy and keeping the conversation flowing.
If you are the host:
1. Seat singles next to singles and couples apart to help conversation flow.
2. Put intellectuals opposite each other so they can start some debates across the table (should they feel the need).
3. Aim for a 50:50 male to female ratio.
4. Parents of young children will appreciate sitting next to another young mother/father to share their stories and let their hair down together for the evening.
5. The host should always sit nearest the exit so can easily get to the kitchen.
6. Place the most helpful member of the party next to the host for a helping hand.
7. Sit the friend who knows the most about wine in the middle and invite them to open, pour and educate if they wish.
The place of honor at the table is to the right side of the host because most people are right-handed.
Unless protocol is being observed, other guests should not be seated according to their importance.
Beyond these few guidelines, guests should be arranged in the way that the host feels will be most congenial for conversation.
If you are a guest:
1) Wait for the other guests to sit
Sit at the table when the other guests do. If you are invited to supper, wait for the host to invite guests to take their seats.
On formal occasions, seats will be preassigned. On informal occasions, seating may be free. Wait for the hosts to point guests to their seats. If this does not happen, it is polite to ask whether seats are free or assigned.
2) Ladies and senior guests sit first
It is good manners to help ladies and seniors to sit. When the guest is ready, hold their chair with both hands, and gently pull it back away from the table.
The hosts should be the last ones to sit at the table.
On formal occasions, men are supposed to stand up when ladies or senior guests join the table as a sign of respect.
3) Keep a graceful posture
Sit on the chair in the center of the seat.
Do not sit on a border or on a side of it.
The ideal position of the chair allows you to keep your legs under the table, but without your torso touching the table.
During the meal, keep your back straight and the elbows attached to the body. The idea is not to invade the space of the neighboring guests.