Seating arrangements at your dining room table

BlueridgerosesSeptember 5, 2002

Which is of the following 2 options is the correct ettiquette?

In YOUR OWN house, at a sit down dinner with your inlaws:

1) Do you and your SO sit at the heads of the table,

or

2) Does one of you (usually the wife) relinquish your chair at the head of the table to the father in law?

Just curious! :^)

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cookingrvc

Our seating is based on respect and comfort. If my Dad is here, him and Dh get the heads. If it's friends, DH is at the head and whichever friend needs the most room is at the other.

When we have only 4 for dinner, we don't use the heads, but rather sit facing eachother.

I rarely take the head, preferring to give it to the men who generally require more room.

Sue

    Bookmark   September 5, 2002 at 10:51AM
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lindac

Correct ettiquette is the first option. Host at one end and hostess at the other.
Linda C

    Bookmark   September 5, 2002 at 11:02AM
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prairie_rose

The way our kitchen is laid out, I sit at the head so I can easily get up and down to the counters and cupboards if needed. If we are in the dining room, I sit on the side, for the same reason. When my parents or SO is here, he or my dad get the other end. When it is just me and the kids, DS gets the head chair.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2002 at 11:05AM
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duckie

As host and hostess, we sit at the head and foot of the table. Although properly the most honored gentleman sits at the right of the hostess and the most honored lady sits at the right of the host and couples do not sit next to each other, we usually don't bother with that. We seat "mom" to the right of her child and "dad" on "mom's" right and our kids go on the other side of the table.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2002 at 1:12PM
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Sunny66

We sit on the couch usually. No reason to be all stuffy and formal.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2002 at 5:07PM
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chase_gw

My husband and I always sit at opposite ends of the table with one exception. When my Dad or FIL were at dinner with us I always relinquished my seat to them as a sign of respect. If they were both there my husband and I both relinquished our seats... maybe it wasn't protocol but it reinforced thier roles as head of the family and I know it made them happy and that's all that mattered to me. They are both gone now, wish I had the problem back.

Now, my SIL and her husband always sit at the heads of the table and all plates are stacked in front of him. He carves and/or serves the meat and she adds the sides! The plates go from him...all the way down the table to her...she asks the quests, in ranking order, what they would like, serves it and passes the plate to the person!

When all are served , we eat...never had a warm meal in her home in all these years!!!

    Bookmark   September 5, 2002 at 5:09PM
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jasper_austin

do you use place cards to wrangle all these guests to the right seats?

    Bookmark   September 6, 2002 at 6:34AM
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lindac

At my house, family and frequent guests have "assigned seats".....that is they customarily sit in one certain place. When I have a "new" guest, I say..."John, why don't you sit there, and Mary there"....
Occasionally at a holiday dinner if there is a "new" guest and somehow a "regular" gets moved out of their usual seat, they object and insist they can't eat in a different seat.
Think I have a bunch of anal rententive kids!!
Linda C

    Bookmark   September 6, 2002 at 12:12PM
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Blueridgeroses

I never had a real dining room until a couple of years ago, so I love using it. This is one thing I wasn't sure about, I appreciate all of your comments here, thanks!

    Bookmark   September 6, 2002 at 1:58PM
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duckie

My basic feeling is that sitting at the head of the table isn't so much a place of honor as a place of responsibility. I suppose it wouln't much matter with a small group of people. But if you have more than 6, a person on the side of the table cannot see the whole table. If you are sitting at the head, you CAN see the whole table. That means you are in a position to see if anyone might be in need of seconds, if everyone is ready for dessert, and see if there is a nearly empty serving platter which should be removed or filled. By sitting at the head of the table you can manage/direct the dinner.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2002 at 9:45AM
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Blueridgeroses

I agree with you Duckie, that it's a place of responsibility. It is much easier to attend your hostess duties from the head of the table. I like what you said about the most honored guests sitting to the right of the host and hostess.

This question came up when last year when I had my husband's family over for dinner. It was one of the first times I used my new dining room. My FIL pulled the chair out to sit at the head of the table and saw the placecard there with my husband's name on it. In his day, back on the farm in SD, only the men sat at the dining room table (so he says). The women and children ate in the kitchen, but not until the men were all done. Can you believe that? I never would have survived being a quiet, obedient housewife in those days! LOL

    Bookmark   September 7, 2002 at 10:51AM
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sudiepav

I,too, feel as though we can attend to our duties better at the head and foot of the table. I sit at the foot, closest to the kitchen, so I can get more coffee, etc. quickly when it's needed. We generally serve from a sideboard, near the head of the table, and my husband takes care of that end. I almost always use placecards when I entertain, because I have seating in mind and it's hard to tell 6-10 people where to sit. Last Christmas, I got those cute gingerbread men from Trader Joe's and intended to put everyone's name on for place cards, and of course ran out of time, so it was like a Chinese firedrill at meal time, and almost no one sat where I'd intended. My pregnant DIL whined about having a wine glass at her place...I wanted to point out that she was not sitting where I wanted her to, my DS's HUGE sister-in-law sat in a dainty chair (there were several sturdy ones available) and nearly wrecked it, but then I took a deep breath, remembered it was Christmas, was thankful for a house full of family and just dealt with it. Next year, place cards, for sure!!

    Bookmark   March 11, 2006 at 5:12AM
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gellchom

chase, that sounds HORRIBLE. I know it's a traditional way of serving, but as you pointed out, the food gets cold before anyone can eat. At least they could ask people to start eating, rather than force them to sit there watching them serve food. I would be sitting there fuming, thinking that this was a case of the guests' comfort being sacrificed to the hosts' ego and control issues.

I have always hated "ladies first" service for the same reason. IT's no big deal for 4-6 people, but where there are more, I believe there is some sort of etiquette rule that after a certain number or proportion of contiguously seated people at a round table (or any shape?) have been served, they can begin eating, because they aren't next to someone who will be waiting, I guess -- is that right? But if you serve the women first, then no one can start until everyone has been served, even if that means the waiter has to go back to the kitchen for another tray of plates. Meanwhile, the women's food gets ice cold. And this in the name of "courtesy" to the women!

    Bookmark   March 11, 2006 at 4:27PM
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michele_2006

Hey Ladies,

I found a book by Kimberly Kennedy at Books A Million, did not buy it but here is her website: http://kimberlykennedy.com/

Here is a link that might be useful: One Classy Entertainer!

    Bookmark   March 30, 2006 at 9:30PM
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michele_2006

Sudiepav,
This was soooo funny! Very animated, I could picture the whole thing in my head!

"My pregnant DIL whined about having a wine glass at her place...I wanted to point out that she was not sitting where I wanted her to, my DS's HUGE sister-in-law sat in a dainty chair (there were several sturdy ones available) and nearly wrecked it, but then I took a deep breath, remembered it was Christmas, was thankful for a house full of family and just dealt with it. Next year, place cards, for sure!!"

Here is a link that might be useful: ME & FAMILY

    Bookmark   March 30, 2006 at 9:53PM
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