Party Pointer: Size Up Your Seating

Sixe Up Your Seating!Determining how and if guests will be seated is an important step in planning your party. Be sure to avoid inviting more guests than your table or location can comfortably handle.

• How many guests will be attending your party?
• How many guests will your current dining table seat comfortably?
• Is there enough extra space in the room for guests be able to move comfortably to socialize?
• Does it make more sense to seat your guests at several smaller tables rather than one large table?
• Is there enough space for drink or hors d’oeuvre stations?
• Can you do a buffet in place of a seated affair?
• Do you have an outdoor living area such as a patio that could be utilized, weather permitting?

There are some occasions where people expect and don’t mind being crowded, like a Christmas or family birthday dinner. It’s part of the whole tradition to squeeze in at every corner. Limiting dinner parties to about six people, occasionally eight, is appropriate when you don’t have servers. At other times, if you want to have more people than your table fits comfortably, consider having a buffet.

Here’s what table sellers tell us about how many people your table accommodates comfortably. Remember this is only a guideline, so don’t get hung up if your table is slightly different in size.

  • A rectangular 6’ by 30” table seats up to 8 people
  • A 60” round table seats 8 to 10 people.
  • A rectangular 8’ by 30” table seats up to 10 people
  • A 48 “ round table seats 6-8 people

Set your table with basic colors for the most versatility. With a white tablecloth and napkins, and white or pale colors for everything else, you can create a serene, elegant table-setting. Start with simple white flowers and unscented candles. Just make sure your flower arrangements are low so that guests can see each other across the table. Aim for an arrangement that is not higher than about five inches. Change the napkins and flowers to a deep color, and you can create a dramatic table-setting with hardly any added expense or effort.

Placement guidelines for placing your silverware, plates, and glasses
• Place the silverware and dinner plate about an inch or a thumb’s width in from the edge
• Remember the rule of “eat to your left and drink to your right.” This tells you that little dishes like a bread or salad plate go to the left of the dinner plate, and water and wine glass or glasses go to the right
• Place the silverware in the order that you are eating the courses. If you serve salad before the main course, put the salad fork outside the dinner fork. If you serve soup, the soup spoon goes to the right of the dinner knife.
• Place the water glass above the knife; place the wine glass or glasses to the right.

Timing is everything – try to set your table in advance! Setting a beautiful table is a task you can organize and finish well ahead of time. Leaving it until the last minute is stressful, and it sets you up for problems – like discovering that two of your dinner plates are in the fridge with leftovers on them.

It’s easy to set your table fast when you have a system and some basic table ideas. Besides, you have other last-minute tasks that should be claiming your attention. You need to fill the water glasses, light the candles, and put final dishes on the table. (Luckily, these are great tasks for helpful guests who ask you what they can do.)

Convinced? You will be, when you pass a beautifully set table you got ready 24 hours in advance!

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