Welcome to my ClassyTip for this week which focuses on:
- Please Be Seated– Tip #25
When we host a dinner in a restaurant, or give a dinner party, we want our guests to be comfortable and enjoy themselves. One of the ways to ensure this will happen is to use both protocol and common sense when we seat our guests.
Do you recall in my ClassyTip #6 "Making Good Introductions"; we talked about the importance of rank when making an introduction? We identified who the ‘most important’ person was, and mentally gave him or her a crown to wear. And, by identifying who will "wear the crown" at our dinner we’re aided in the task of correctly seating our guests.
Traditionally, the Guest of Honor is seated to the right of the Host or Hostess. So a simple rule to remember is "the crown is on the right".
-- This simple rule
works when we have a specific Guest of Honor at the dinner, and it
also works when we don’t.
- Now we are hosting a special dinner for friends and acquaintances. Again we will identify who’s wearing the crown. In a social setting it may be the eldest person – this is an honor given especially within family gatherings, or when family and friends are included in the dinner. When the group consists of friends, it can be a friend from out of town or a friend you haven’t seen in a while.
- When you have a group of friends you entertain on a regular basis, alternate who will ‘wear the crown’. And again, the ‘crown’ will be seated to your right.
This seating arrangement not only shows respect for the Guest of Honor and his or her position; but it places this guest next to the Host/Hostess so he/she can ensure the guest is comfortable and having an enjoyable time.
If, at some point, you will be arranging a dining function in another country, it is always best to check with someone locally to insure that the customs and manners for the area are followed.
Host and Hostess Seating –
A business dinner may only have one Host or Hostess. However, at most social dinners, and many business events, there will be a Host and Hostess. On these occasions, they will sit opposite each other at the table.
When there is a Host and Hostess at the table:
- If the one ‘wearing the crown’ is female, she sits to the right of the Host; and her spouse or date will sit to the right of the Hostess.
- If the one ‘wearing the crown’ is male, he sits to the right of the Hostess; and his spouse or date will sit to the right of the Host.
Second in Importance and Remaining Guests –
If the dinner involves military and government officials or foreign dignitaries, the rules of protocol will dictate the seating, which is based on the ranking order of everyone attending.
For business and social dinners, the person second in importance will be seated to the left of the Host or Hostess. A female guest is to the left of the Host, and a male guest is to the left of the Hostess.
Then the remaining guests are seated according to the Host’s ability to place people next to each other to create interesting table conversation. When the dinner includes men and women, seating is done alternating a man and a woman.
Pre-plan your seating (Place Cards) –
Place Cards are the perfect tool to use to help guide guests to their chairs at the dinner table. It’s not mandatory but they can make the seating go smoothly. And, if you’re a guest at a dinner where Place Cards are used, always sit where you have been placed. It is very poor manners to rearrange the seating that has been planned by the Host or Hostess.
Keeping in mind the reason for the dinner and the guests who will be attending, spend time planning where you want everyone to sit. Not only do you want the Guest of Honor seated to your right, but you also want to ensure that seat has the best view.
When I host a dinner at a new restaurant, I’ll go to that restaurant a few days before the party so I can see exactly where our table will be. For an important dinner, I’ll even make a special trip to a favorite restaurant, just so I can plan my seating arrangement while I’m actually standing in the room where the dinner will take place. I want my Guest of Honor to have the best seat and to enjoy the best ‘view’ the room has to offer, in addition to enjoying everyone’s company. When I say ‘view’, it can be as simple as having the Guest of Honor’s back to the wall and looking into the room, rather than facing a wall across the table, six feet away.
The classy person wants to be a good Host or Hostess, who plans a dinner that recognizes the reason for the dinner and celebrates the special qualities of each guest. By planning the seating for the Guest of Honor, as well as all the other guests, the result will be a dinner enjoyed by all and filled with good conversation.
I'm Looking forward to sending you another of my ClassyTips next week. Until then, have a great week, and don't forget to visit my Forum where you can ask your questions on 'Becoming the Best You Can Be'.
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