Entertaining: Should You Consider Place Cards At Your Next Party?

Whether you plan to extend or accept invitations in the coming weeks, we are about to embark on a condensed time of entertaining - the holidays.  But, I am sure you don't need me to tell you that. After all, I was hearing Christmas music on the radio before Halloween!

photo of white napkin with place card in it for dinner party




Developing and deepening your relationships is important for leading a healthy lifestyle, and celebrations at the holidays can be an great time to reinforce your relationships, strike up new ones and take part in family traditions. If you are choosing to attend any events or hosting them soon, I ask: what's your reaction to assigned seating for dinner parties? Too stuffy? Too bossy? Too old-school? I think most people don't favor them.  But, I have learned to embrace them, and, in fact, I regret not creating them for some past hosting gigs, myself.  Here's why:






Benefits to Using Place Cards For Dinner Parties 

I do not suggest strong arming your guests into seating submission, but there are some good reasons to consider putting place cards on your next dinner party table:

Place cards show consideration.  Place cards can actually be quite welcoming.  They can even be a conversation starter if you get fun with it and use photos or other personal thought into making them for each individual.  The host took the time to think it through and place you where he or she thinks may work best for you.  Relax and trust your host's judgement.

Single guests or newcomers have a place.  Guests without a spouse or date or new friends sit right down and don't have to figure out where to sit and feel they are taking someone's spot.

Practice those conversation skills.  Being a mother, I love to watch my children as they get older engage and connect with family friends and family.  If they are seated next to someone they don't know as well or someone we know would be a great influence, they get one-on-one exposure to the guest they otherwise might not have had.


Give people a chance.   Preconceived ideas of who people are can really get in the way of connecting to others and family roles can go pretty deep as well. But, if you sit people next to each other they ordinarily do not gravitate towards, they may learn something new about each other and see that individual in a new light.

On occasions where I was assigned a seat at a table away from all the ones I knew, I ended up having some really interesting conversations and tossing my preconceived notions of some individuals right out the window.


Photo of white picket fence for mending fences


Create mended fences.   OK. This is a risk, but perhaps if you place two people that have a bit of a misguided grudge next to each other, they may be able to see the the situation differently and move on.

The food won't get cold.   I don't know about your family, but when we have a big crowd with open seating, people can really hem and haw over where they should sit and in the meantime, everyone's food gets cold.

Place cards are pretty.  Place cards can be a nice touch to your table decor. You can get really creative and have a lot of fun with place cards! Look at these clever ideas here or go with something more classic and simple and make place cards using a computer here.




How to Create Assigned Seating For A Dinner Party

If you decide on assigning those seats, consider this when creating those cards and where to place them:

Be the connector.  Help facilitate connections of both kinds: the business kind (a wealthy individual next to a brilliant creative mind with a great idea) as well as the romantic kind (two individuals you just know are meant for each other).

Seat talkers in the middle.  Talkative people are great to have in the middle of the table so they can engage in conversation on both sides of the table and keep the energy flowing.

Split up the pack.  Most etiquette books tell you to split girlfriends from boyfriends, husbands from wives, best friends from best friends so they can mingle and meet someone new.

Keep the sparks from flying. A good showdown might be entertaining for some, but certainly stressful for the host.  If two guests that have strong opinions (nothing wrong with that) but can't tolerate others' ideas too well (not so good), perhaps sit them next to someone who is less argumentative.

Have dessert elsewhere.  In case the seating did not go too well, cut your losses and plan a buffet for dessert and then everyone sits where they want.

So, what's your experience with assigned seating at parties? Thumbs up or down?

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photo credit: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/49494891@N07/4582480626/">Special invite</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/">cc</a>
fence: photo credit: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/vamcmag/4835276352/">MizGingerSnaps</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/">cc</a>









8 comments:

  1. Great tips and thoughts as usual, Lori - I particularly like the idea of having a dessert buffet afterwards. Usually I've had a great time at dinner parties, but occasionally I've been seated next to someone that didn't have much to say or I had nothing in common with and on those occasions you really wish you could get up and go and change places with someone. Once I got seated right at the end of a table at a wedding - right next to the pastor! (he was lovely, but still ...) :-)

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    1. Hmmm . . . perhaps the bride and groom placed you next to the pastor because of your clean living style ;) And, probably your fine-tuned conversation skills and not to mention your cooking secrets and great recipes!

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  2. I love place cards, especially when I was single. It helped me meet new people and gave me a spot whereas where out the cards, I would have just been scrambling to find a seat!!! They also look so elegant and make everyone feel included. I use them even at my kiddos birthday party and I totally agree - they encourage people to meet and talk to individuals they might not otherwise.

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    1. I like what you added here - your personal experience when you were single. And, especially if single people are on the shy side, it takes one more thing away from them to worry about - where to sit!! I also like how you said it makes everyone feel included. So true! I bet your kids birthday parties are precious!

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  3. Great tips!! This is so fun! What a fun time to celebrate :)

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    1. Hope you find the best way for you to celebrate the holidays, Cailee! Thanks for popping in!

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  4. I love these tips and will keep them in mind for Christmastime! I especially love "They can even be a conversation starter if you get fun with it and use photos or other personal thought into making them for each individual." <-- What a fun idea!!! I also love the idea of "splitting up the pack" I love getting the opportunity to meet someone knew but sometimes that is hindered if you come with somebody you know really well to a dinner party! :) Thanks for giving me a new perspective on place cards!

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    1. Happy you found my thoughts useful! Have a great time planning your holiday season at home or in Belgium, Ceara.

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