What Do You Do If...
O, The Oprah Magazine | From the December 2006 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine
How do you seat people at a dinner party?
"Seating arrangements should be handled with the care of a UN summit meeting. The old code of protocol is boy-girl, boy-girl. If sexes are uneven, try to ensure that each woman is seated next to at least one man, and vice versa—a seasoned hostess will sketch this on a pad ahead of time. A hostess with real finesse will take it one step further: She'll try different drafts to figure out who will have the best time near whom."
— Samantha von Sperling
"I think it's worth taking the time to seat people. I put people together with common interests, I separate couples, and I try to seat a shy person with someone outgoing. I'll say to that outgoing friend, 'Tonight you'll have to work a bit because this person is very quiet, but because you're so wonderful, I'm giving you that task.'"
— Carolyne Roehm, author of A Passion for Parties (Broadway)
"We've all seen movies with very formal dinner parties, but the rules have loosened up quite a bit. It's entirely up to the hostess whether or not she wants to be the one to seat people.
— Rose Murdock, founder of The Development and Finishing Institute Inc. and author of The 411 on Manners and Fashion for Teen