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Hosting a dinner party with humorless guests..

Hosted a lovely dinner party last night and the champagne and the app's were outstanding, the wine pairing with the meal was sublime...what's the problem you ask?
My guests were humorless idiots..

I had been in social situations with them before and they all seemed like they were worthy of being invited into my home..man, was I wrong!

I am the biggest Goofball known to man and still have the decorum to carry off any social faux pas with grace and elegance with lots of laughter and have fun, whatever life throws at me...obviously, the happy gene seems to be missing from their life..

Needless to say, I drank too much..but vowed never to have non-funny guests in my home again!

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  1. You just get through it and put them on the never again list. There is a couple I know and find rather grim, when I have to invite them I try to make sure the rest of the guests make up for the humorless couple. Safety in numbers I guess. They are very nice people but definitely belong in a more the merrier setting.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Candy

      While absolutely not an excuse to be friendly and grateful, I can certainly see how a dinner guest may be intimidated- not simply because of the intricately designed courses and wines (which look lovely by the way) but also because it appears to be expensive. While I love to entertain and cook for friends, I know that serving things like lobster is actually a waste of my money because my friends would actually be more comfortable eating things they know do not cost too much. I think it has to do with the expectation of reciprocity- which while annoying on one hand (I'm assuming the poster had no expectation of being entertained in return), is understandable. My suggestion is to know your guests- if you're very close, they probably won't mind if you "go all out" because they may not feel the pressure to reciprocate to the tee. If however it's people you're not so close with, you have to play it by ear.

      1. re: NicoleFriedman

        Nicole, that reminds me of a situation a long time ago. It was a business associate of my husband. The wife didn't work and loved to cook. I worked and hated to cook. She had made everything herself from the soup to elegant handmade chocolates with the coffee. I was dreading the dinner at our house in return. I decided I couldn't compete, so went the opposite direction. We had BBQ prime cut NYs, green salad with unusual things, and twice baked potatoes. We had fun at both homes. I don't think OP's menu was the reason for the discomfort.

        1. re: Gail

          NicoleFriedman and Gail, what absolutely great, insightful, and experience based answers! Thank you!

    2. whats even worse is having a themed party, and that one couple who decide to show up 'un-themed'... deeming themselves 'too old' to be acting 'so childish' ... those were the exact words i've had a couple say to me! it was a 'who-dunit 50's themed dinner party'. They showed up in casual jeans and tee shirts, while the rest of us were dressed for fun and murder, in dresses and suits! haha! ;) needless to say, they will be added to 'no invite' list this halloween!

      1 Reply
      1. re: CPunches

        If you're not going to participate in the theme, why accept the invitation to the party? Is their larder that bare?

        You can invite us instead.

      2. Some people just have different demeanors. I agree with the suggestion about keeping them in a group, and this is better than considering putting them on the Do Not Invite Again list if you like them at all. If you are reeling from this and just can't stand another minute of them, then put them on the list. If not, mix them with others who might have more in common with them. After all, how do you know what was on their minds? Maybe a parent was sick, maybe they are worried about losing their jobs, who knows. Even fun people can have bad days, and perhaps they felt that while they were interested in being your friend and coming to your dinner party, they just couldn't take on the roll of party starters once there. They may just be socially ackward, and need to be with people who draw them out.

        BTW, and I hate to mention this, but I also agree with the person who wondered what they thought about your dinner party. Not that either of you is "right" here, but perhaps they find people who drink too much and constantly make jokes tedious, so this might not be such a clear cut case of It Was Them. It may just be that you are all different.

        22 Replies
        1. re: RGC1982

          I'm a Goofball by nature but not while I am hosting a 5 course dinner party and I drank too much AFTER they left..
          I understand the dynamics of Psychology and how 'fun' people can have bad days.
          This was not the case.

          1. re: Beach Chick

            I would love to hear about your menu and the wine pairings. What did you serve?

            Sorry things didn't go as well as the food did!

            1. re: fern

              Hi fern..
              I started with a cold cucumber soup.
              Veuve Clicquot Rose.

              Grilled Prawn cocktails with avocado and heirloom tomt's in a tangy cocktail sauce and fresh horseradish shavings.
              Rombauer Chardonnay

              Salad course was a wedge of iceberg with a maytag blue cheese crumbled, Trimbach Pinot Gris.

              mango sorbet

              Seared Diver Scallops with grilled aspargus on a bed of Israeli couscous and done in a shallot citrus beurre blanc..
              Chateauneuf du Pape.
              Had a couple of bottles of Insignia but did not open. : )

              Dessert was a Lemon-Ginger Creme Brulee...also, fresh blueberries in a French Vanilla Bean pudding topped with homemade whipped cream.
              Veuve Clicquot Rose.

              Espresso & French Press Coffee with 20 year old Sandeman Port to finish off the evening.

              It was over 100 degrees so I wanted things light and cool.

              1. re: Beach Chick

                y'know this has come up before ina different context, but considering how little people actually cook these days, they may have been a little intimidated.

                I'd go all passive//aggressive on them and get smashed before the meal and "forget" to cook. or even better slip out for a forgotten ingredient and not come back.

                1. re: Beach Chick

                  Beach Chick, this is my favorite part of your whole evening...

                  >>>Had a couple of bottles of Insignia but did not open. : )<<<

                  1. re: Beach Chick

                    What a lovely menu! Too bad your guests didn't loosen up and have fun with you. How frustrating! I say, lose the dolts and come party with us hillbillies. ;)

                    100+ degrees? Yikes.

                    Truly sorry it didn't go well but you certainly provided a wonderful meal.

                    1. re: Beach Chick

                      Wow. This menu sounds lovely. Do you suppose the guests were introverts? If I can talk about food with people, I can carry on long conversations, but I find that when I'm at parties or in social settings with people I don't know too well, I usually end up being the quietest one.

                      Like I was at a wedding, and sat next to some really nice gals who spent the bulk of the evening talking about their dogs and TV shows, and since I don't watch TV or own dogs, I listened appreciatively (though to be honest, I was a bit bored), but didn't have much to contribute to that conversation, much as I tried. But I'm really horrible at "ice breaker" and these casual conversations.

                      1. re: Beach Chick

                        Please invite me instead. Sounds wonderful.

                        1. re: Beach Chick

                          What a lovely menu...I'm funny, invite me over next time!

                          1. re: Beach Chick

                            To add to what everyone else is saying: it looks delicious.

                            My parents have a mental list of people they can invite to any party or dinner to round out the guestlist, add some humour, etc. for when they're not sure if the guestlist dynamic quite works. The people on the mental list tend to have a wide range of interests, and are charming, relaxed and friendly. And tend to get invited a lot as a result! But it does seem to help, especially when lots of the guests don't know each other.

                            1. re: Gooseberry

                              Gooseberry, my husband and I refer to such invitees as "buffers".

                              1. re: Gail

                                Buffers are a lifesaver. I am the party pooper in one of my social groups most of the time because they typically veer into what I find to be obtrusive personal questions and I refuse to participate in those discussions. However, if a buffer is around, he or she will easily change the topic.

                                  1. re: Janet from Richmond

                                    Careful, lest we offend our fellow poster, mrsbuffer!

                            2. re: Beach Chick

                              Great menu, Beach Chick! I love the cucumber soup/rose paring . . . sounds perfect for a summer meal. Shrimp and Rombauer is alway heaven. I liked the way you brought it down a notch with the wedge salad . . and I say that in a good, and admiring way. It's always a good idea to put a "comfort course" in the middle of a menu, so that the less sophisticated guests can get their bearings. Diver scallops (so hard to find here, even for a professional) sound like they were perfectly paired with the Chatauneuf (asparagus seems to bring out the best in that wine, I've found.)

                              If they're non-foodies, I can see the sorbet (while perfectly appropriate) as being a bit intimidating for them. A large percentage of the population would have thought that that was the end of the meal. I'm sure that you explained that it was a "palatte cleanser" but still, too many people too intimidated to know what that means.

                              Dessert sounds perfect -- and though I'm not a dessert-eater myself, I would probably have asked for a little of both. Or full portions of both.

                              Whatever went wrong with the evening, you already understand that it wasn't the menu. Would you mind terribly if I stole your ideas for nonprofessional purposes? I've got some friends coming over tomorrow . . .

                              Seriously, BC, some people are just intimidated by the fact that they are getting better-than-fine-dining-restaurant-quality service in some one's home. Others are competitive and realize that they can't reciprocate, not getting the fact that people like you get pleasure from strutting your culinary stuff.

                              My ex-DH put the kibosh on five-course meals for that very reason. I loved doing it, but he felt uncomfortable by the fact that I out-classed our guests with my ability and dedication to perfection. I'm still pissed off at myself for caving in to his directive, but eventually even I had to agree that our guests were more comfortable with the (my words) "dumbed down food." I think some of them thought that they'd be presented with an outrageous bill -- which was never my intent, of course. I was just playing, and glad to have a captive audience.

                              1. re: chefbeth

                                I think you and BC are both missing something about the point of entertaining.

                                1. re: jlafler

                                  No kidding! Whatever happened to the term "gracious host" ?

                                  I don't get the sense that the OP tried to make the guests feel comfortable.

                                  1. re: jlbwendt

                                    Neither do I, but I do get the strong sense that (1) the host's self-conception and expectations and (2) some combination of the circumstances or the perceptions of the guests, missed each other. There has been no explanation of how the guests failed in their roles, just a reaction by the host. The fact that many commenters have asked for more information and been met by silence from the OP is what's keeping this thread in a vegetative but not quite dead state...(while it's not up with the the most infamous unresolved thread of them all, which I hope I need not identify, it's partaking of it in some repsects).

                                2. re: chefbeth

                                  The subtly tricky thing with wanting such an audience is that they don't owe you adoration for doing it. So you have to do it in a way that's detached from any need for that kind of reaction. It's seems much of the reaction to the OP in some way or another has picked up on a possible lack of detachment.

                          2. re: RGC1982

                            I really hate to be put on the defense. I did not mention alcohol or menus at all. I just find that the humorless couple only be invited when there are enough numbers of people to off set the grim-ness of the couple.

                            1. re: RGC1982

                              The demeanor of the "humorless" couple may have had absolutely nothing to do with you or the menu. They may even be fun sometimes. It's possible that they quarreled just before they came. They may have gotten some bad news that they didn't want to talk about. They may have not felt well. They may have been temporarily taken over by aliens. They may have thought someone at the table was a jerk.

                              There are literally dozens of "explanations" that you or I could make up about them. Maybe it would be a good idea to actually talk to them and find out how it went for them. At least you would find out if there was something that you did or said that was a problem -- or, more likely that it had nothing whatsoever to do with you.

                              1. re: chicgail

                                Indeed. When someone doesn't think you're funny, it's always possible that the reason they thought you weren't funny was that...you weren't funny. Of course, "Hey, I was only joking" is the classic defense for being offensive, but even if that's not the case, most people aren't as funny as they think.

                            2. In the absence of any detail of how they were humorless or idiotic, it's hard to read what was going on here. The menu is fantastic, but it is high concept for non-society home dining in the US these days, especially the several wines and unusual or pungent ingredients in a few courses that may be off-putting to a number of people (I only serve cold vegetable soups to people I know who like them; many people hate horseradish and blue cheese, et cet.). Were you aware if this group of people was accustomed to this? I can think of many people who would not be and who

                              6 Replies
                              1. re: Karl S

                                High concept for a non-society meal? I really don't see anything that would be considered "high society" in the meal - perhaps I personally wouldn't have chosen a cold cucumber soup, but otherwise, the meal looks absolutely lovely - nothing different than what could be served at a restaurant. The horseradish shavings and pungent blue cheese could always be moved aside if someone didn't like either; and I'd be all over the grilled prawns (essentially, a shrimp cocktail), the diver scallops and both desserts. :-)

                                I have a group of friends who regularly get together for dinners; one of us is a very good cook with some professional training/experience, so he's usually the EC, while I'm his vegetable bitch. (a.k.a. prep chef) The meals he puts out are usually simple (stuffed pork loins drizzled with a jus, seared duck on a salad, etc.) and other than wine pairings, I don't see a lot of difference in the meals. None of us are high society by any means; we all just appreciate food and each other's company.

                                But I agree - without more detail of how they were humorless, or how the evening was a dud conversation-wise, there's no way to really understand how it really was.

                                But BeachChick - feel free to invite me over for dinner anytime. I'll be a scintillating conversationalist, I promise! :-)

                                1. re: LindaWhit

                                  You made my point - it's high concept in the sense that it is professional/restaurant type food, not the more usual home food served at dinner for friends in US homes. If this was a group of guests not accustomed to that, I can see why they might have turned introvert on the host. That's a speculative explanation, not a justification - the guest's basic jobs are to (1) be prompt, (2) be sociable, and (3) be gracious. The host has additional duties. It's still not clear what of ##2 and 3 the guests failed in here.

                                  1. re: Karl S

                                    Scallops with asparagus and couscous can hardly be considered just restaurant food. But that's just me, I guess.

                                    And yes - we'd need to know if the guests were more "down homey" type of people who might have been expecting a meatloaf; if they were outright rude, or if they were just bad conversationalists. Or perhaps they just didn't like the food and incapable of being able to have a conversation because they didn't like the food.

                                    1. re: LindaWhit

                                      On it's own, I grant your point. But that was a lovely but serious array of courses and multiple wines - it would strike me, a reasonably good home cook, as more of a restaurant than home. And I could do those dishes at home - I just wouldn't only serve that as an ensemble to people I know wouldn't be intimidated by it at home. Hey, I find people who are not cooks are intimidated by even homier things, so that's where I am coming from on this one - I've seen how being too refined can ruin the chemistry at a table if one or two guests are caught off guard - and I've learned to modulate what I do.

                                      1. re: Karl S

                                        I most certainly wouldn't make dishes like that for myself, but for a dinner party, unless it's specifically an ultra-casual affair, I would step it up a bit on the type of food served.

                                        I guess I'm taking the OP's subject line a bit too literally - "dinner party" - which to me, means a bit more upscale than just an ordinary meal. But until/if the OP clarifies how she's socialized with the dinner guests before, I guess we won't know what they might have expected. If it was in a country club setting, then I would expect they'd have had no problem with the menu. If it was at a child's Little League game, perhaps not. :-)

                                2. re: Karl S

                                  Agreed... the food all sounds lovely, but I would have been intimidated from the start by the Veuve Clicquot! I have a friend who was intimidated by the fact that her future in-laws served dinner in courses. As a chowhound, I know I would have enjoyed the lovely meal regardless, and I think my appreciation would shine through. But were these people chowhounds? Are they accustomed to this kind of "dinner party"? Were they dressed appropriately for the occasion? Did they bring something? I can see being just mortified if I wore jeans and brought cheap wine to something like this.
                                  In the future, if you invite people you don't know that well, I would suggest letting them know what to expect... "I love to cook and we go all out with our dinner parties! Champagne, caviar, the works!" OK maybe that sounds tacky but perhaps there is a gracious, jokey way to get the sentiment across.

                                3. Serving some lovely bottles with every course and no one giggled?
                                  That's surprising...or maybe you served too much alcohol and it overpowered your guests.

                                  I love your menu but it isn't typical home cooking :)

                                  1. 'Humorless idiots'-- so strong but no detail. Can you explain what made them so?

                                    1. If by "humorless idiots" you mean that the guests were opinionated, judgmental, and rude, then by all means put them on the Do Not Invite Again list. But if they were just unengaged and unengaging, at least consider the possibility that there's a reason you aren't aware of, and that they might be great guests under different circumstances.

                                      A few years ago DW and I hosted a dinner party for a small group of friends and acquaintences. The party SUCKED. We had no idea what we'd done wrong. We knew all of these people, and they all seemed pleasant enough, but there were bad vibes that you could cut with a knife.

                                      A couple of months later, all became clear. Turns out that the male half of one couple was stepping out with the female half of another couple, and his wife had just found out about it. And neither couple knew that the other was on the guest list. Two divorces later, we can still enjoy the company of these folks. Just not all together.

                                      We'd all like to be "on" whenever we're invited to an event, and it is really discouraging for a host when the guests are total lumps. But anybody who lives long enough is likely to be that lump at least once. Cut 'em a break. Guests who are jerks, on the other hand...

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: alanbarnes

                                        Funny story, Alan. But at least you know with absolute certainty that you and your wife were not the most uncomfortable people there!

                                        1. re: alanbarnes

                                          Sounds like act I of a two act play.
                                          And there are lots of 30/40 something actors out there looking for meaty roles (puns intended)

                                        2. This is so ambiguous. Right now you've only revealed that your guests don't have the same sense of humor as you do. But they don't so they're not worthy of being invited to your home again? What happened? Were they critiical or mean? Did they not like the food? Did they not talk? What's up here?

                                          Your menu sounds lovely, by the way.

                                          1. I'd have taken my plate into the kitchen and ate alone. Then got up this morning and deleted all their names from my computer address/guest book.

                                            Your menu sounds fantastic. Invite me and I'll tell you funny stories all evening long in return! '-)

                                            1. I am not sure what the question or issue is. I guess I could by some, particularly a"goofball," be considered lacking humor. I personally think I am quite funny. In any event, your menu sounds lovely and, if invited, I would have been a "blast" had I known of the prerequisite.

                                              1. So what made them humorless idiots?

                                                1. In addition to all of the other things people said, perhaps they just have a different sense of humor. I was dating somebody with things going well. He once texted me out of the blue, "So how come you never return my calls? You're just going to use and throw me out like yesterday's trash?" btw, we just spoke the night before. I confronted him about it and said that it was a joke. Didn't see the humor in it at all, and he couldn't understand why I didn't think it was funny. And I've noticed cultural differences in humor as well.

                                                  3 Replies
                                                  1. re: Miss Needle

                                                    "And I've noticed cultural differences in humor as well."

                                                    absolutely Miss N. and chronological ones as well within a given culture.

                                                    1. re: Miss Needle

                                                      Hmmmm, my first reaction to hearing this is that he intended to text someone else, but when he found out he had texted to you, he tried to save the situation by saying it was a joke. Possible??

                                                      1. re: Bite Me

                                                        I don't think that was possible. I was actually the one juggling a bunch of men. As I got out of a really long relationship, I was in no hurry to commit to anybody until I knew it was really right -- and I ended up marrying one of those guys.

                                                        So there was a kernel of truth to that guy's bizarre statement as he was aware that he wasn't the only person I was seeing, which made it even less of a joke (to me). So, if anything, he was probably being serious and tried to save the situation by saying it was a joke. Then again, he thought his sense of humor was incredibly "deep" (code word for bizarre) -- and I just didn't get it.

                                                        Just goes to show you, like in the humorous article that MMRuth referred to in The New Yorker, that people have different senses of humor as not everybody found it amusing.

                                                    2. "I had been in social situations with them before and they all seemed like they were worthy of being invited into my home..man, was I wrong!"

                                                      Just a couple of observations:
                                                      1. They may have been having a bad day/night. As others have said, you don't really know what was going on in their lives.
                                                      2. You thought they were "worthy" at some point in other situations (plural). Did they change? Did YOU change? (btw, i think the term "worthy" indicates that you have some expectations that the guests must fulfill for you to be happy. Did you expect them to entertain you?)
                                                      3. Your menu sounds good. The wine pairings sound good. Do they drink at the same level as you and your husband? Some people are not "into" alcohol, and may take a few sips, but have "issues" with those who'll polish off a couple of bottles at dinner. Just an observation.
                                                      4. As suggested, have you talked to either one of them to just chat, and say hello, and see how things are going? If you felt they were worthy at one point, why don't you give it a shot and give them a little grace. They really might be worth it.

                                                      1. One of the (many) important lessons I learned at my late mother's knee is that planning a dinner party is an art. My parents entertained a great deal, and I can remember many times listening to them mull over whom to invite to a particular function. Mom tried as hard as she could to put together a congenial group where everyone would be comfortable. She was a great cook, but she put as much emphasis on whom to invite as she did on what to serve.

                                                        BTW, I'm quite sure that the concept of someone being "worthy" enough to be invited into her home would have struck Mom as extremely arrogant.

                                                        1. So seriously, the longer this thread lives on, the more curious I get. Lots of people have jumped to conclusions, made assumptions or tried to read between the lines as to what make them "humorless." Lots of others have outright asked, but there hasn't been a response. Please, please fill us in on the details: what, exactly, did they do to make you think they were "humorless idiots?"

                                                          1. I don't know...maybe a table seating chart (where people w/ similar interests or a connection are placed together) might have helped. If it wasn't seated, then it's helpful for the host to connect people.

                                                            I know it can sound weird, stiff or superficial but I think everyone has been stuck at a party or event and people aren't talking but a seating chart really can help as well as the host doing an intros.

                                                            23 Replies
                                                            1. re: ML8000

                                                              ML, do you really recommend a seating chart for an at-home dinner party?

                                                              1. re: HillJ

                                                                the jfood 10-top couples usually do boy-girl and you are not allowed to sit next to your spouse. works very nicely.

                                                                1. re: jfood

                                                                  I think that's a great way to do it. But I find that some people have issues with seating arrangements based on some of the comments from this thread.


                                                                  1. re: Miss Needle

                                                                    There was also a huge NAF thread about seating spouses apart that got (not surprisingly!) quite controversial. I don't necessarily have a seating plan, but I do seat my guests at the table - please sit here, why don't you sit next to so and so b/c you have this in common, I think you'd enjoy talking to Mary, etc. And definitely alternate men and women.

                                                                  2. re: jfood

                                                                    But what do you do when you don't have an equal number of men and women? Or a same-sex couple?

                                                                    At dinner parties, I usually choose to sit next to my partner, but I'd consider it rude if I only talked to him, or touched him all the time at table in front of others. I'd never heard of the male-female-no-spouses-together rule in a modern i.e. post-Austen setting until I went to a formal wedding last year. I had no problem with it, but don't think I'd like to organize my guestlist - or table - by gender. I know too many metrosexuals and women engineers to be concerned about spas or ranches.

                                                                    1. re: Gooseberry

                                                                      I just adjust accordingly. The no spouses together thing is something I see all the time in Latin America, and I'd thought of the male/female thing as being pretty standard. I think, at the end of the day though, perhaps the more important idea is to seat people together who may enjoy one another's company, and to try to avoid seating together people who see one another all the time and may be a bit cliquish/chatty, to the detriment of other guests.

                                                                      1. re: MMRuth

                                                                        The only time I've ever assigned seating was at my wedding, and even then we only assigned people to tables. Having been to a number of weddings where I was at a table with a bunch of people who all knew each other and left me out of the conversation, I was determined to avoid that particular problem. We worked very hard to make sure that there were good mixes at every table -- everybody was seated with at least one person they knew well, and at least two people they didn't know. We also tried to group by interest. We had a table of bicyclists, a table of world travelers.... Even so, we made a couple of big blunders. In one case, we seated two friends together, having forgotten that they had had a major blow up a while back. The other was a lot worse: we seated one of my husband's cousins with another relative who, we found out about a year later, had molested her as a child. I felt awful when we found out, even though we had no way of knowing what had happened.

                                                                      2. re: Gooseberry

                                                                        Couples should generally not sit next to each other. It's a very old hard rule of dinner tables, and a very good one - it's normally what I've seen done even to this day and age (that is, most seating arrangements assume it's still operative, and most couples-guests I witness know better than to assume they will sit next to each other). The assumption underlying the rule is a good one - couples are not socializing firstly to be with each other but firstly to be with *other* people - it's a rule that helps build healthy relationships. The only good exception is for couples where one needs to assist the other (usually elderly couples, but not always).

                                                                        I would say, counter-intuitively for some, that the most important time to make sure the rule is followed is for new couples who are still enthralled with each other. Nothing can kill a table faster than couples in thrall who lack social discipline to suspend the thrall during the dinner....

                                                                        For couples where one (or both) partner(s) is/are shy, I would tend to sit them at least diagonally across (one seat apart, as it were) from each other. Actually, that's a better placement than directly across from each other - it's easier to communicate subtly without being noticed.

                                                                        The male-female rotation rule is still followed by many, but not nearly as much as formerly, and less so than the no-couples-next-to-each-other rule. It doesn't factor into my seating arrangements.

                                                                        And while formal turning of the table may also be a thing of the past, a good host makes sure that conversation is effectively rotated, and takes responsibility if the guests don't manage to do it themselves. I find it's a relatively infrequent problem, but you do need to be attentive.

                                                                        1. re: Gooseberry

                                                                          maybe jfood wasn;t clear. it's the same group either at a house or a resto. and unless one of the group is traveling, not an issue, but the group could probably figure out a solution for the odd-number situation (at least before the wine flows).

                                                                          1. re: jfood

                                                                            And after the wine flows, seating arrangements probably don't matter as much!

                                                                            1. re: nofunlatte

                                                                              For those of us who can't drink, that's when the seating arrangements matter the most. I have some friends I don't want to have any contact with while they are drinking.

                                                                              1. re: queencru

                                                                                jfood is in your "clean" bucket so he understands completely.

                                                                                1. re: queencru

                                                                                  Indeed. That is one of the most important considerations in arranging seating. And not having spouses sit next to each other can save marriages in this regard.

                                                                        2. re: HillJ

                                                                          If there's many people that don't know each other, yes. I know a seating chart sounds over the top but if you want conversation, consider it. If you don't care, sure leave people to their own devices.

                                                                          Okay, so you don't do the seating chart, then at least the host should connect people. Simple stuff like, "Hey Joe, Jack's a fly fisherman too." Or "Hey Jane, Jackie just got back from Hawaii too." Either way, it's the hosts responsibility to help conversation along, seating or quick intros.

                                                                          The boy-girl and no sitting next to the spouse is a good idea. People sitting next to their spouse sometimes crawl into a comfort zone and don't come out...or all boys or girls get stuck in "the dude ranch" or "the spa".

                                                                          1. re: ML8000

                                                                            ML8, jfood...interesting. I have never tried it...and ML I love the "dude ranch" and "the spa" visual...so true!

                                                                            1. re: ML8000

                                                                              "stuck in "the dude ranch" or "the spa"."

                                                                              That is a brilliant depiction. You are correct there is lot's of hetero-dude-spa discussions at the 10-top.

                                                                            2. re: HillJ

                                                                              I normally assign seating for my dinner parties. It's essential for their enjoyment, and people welcome it. It's part of the host's duties.

                                                                              1. re: Karl S

                                                                                I'm finding this sub-thread discussion about assigned seating so interesting. My dh and I have never been separated at a sit down affair or home-based dinner party. When hosting a dinner party at our home, we've never even considered assigned seating. I would have to go back to my own wedding (eons ago) to recollect a time when assigned seats were made in order for the wedding planner to plan the reception. This really is a foreign concept for me. Don't get me wrong, we mingle all night long with fellow guests/party-goers...but am I missing something?

                                                                                1. re: HillJ

                                                                                  Try separating yourselves for a change and see what it's like. You don't mingle as much when you are beside each other. For the same reason it might feel strange to be apart from each other, you are proportionally not mingling as much when you aren't....

                                                                                  I guess I find it interesting that a very old social rule that people around me (several different social circles) seem to know still obtains has fallen into disuse in other social circles. I don't come from any privilege whatsover - I'm perfectly and boringly bourgeois. Even when I don't assign seating, people seem to know that couples should not sit beside each other. The only times people tend to not observe it is when newly in love, when it is especially important for them to learn how not to cling to each other.

                                                                                  1. re: Karl S

                                                                                    Karl, this really is interesting! When dh & I host a dinner party (of late its been 6 couples and 4 singles) we spend a good deal of time introducing everyone so conversation btwn guests flows. Even with assigned seating wouldn't it be of equal importance as hosts to help guests connect. Meaning, just assigning seats and mingling the group doesn't necessarily equal fun conversation. Easier to accomplish at home, at your own party than attending one.

                                                                                    I can recall countless parties where dh & I are seated next to each other but the people sitting on either side of us weren't necessarily fun dinner companions. Sometimes, that's the moment we get up and head to the bar, the dance floor, the exit sign (bg).

                                                                                    For those of you confident about assigned seating, you must have it down to an art!

                                                                                    1. re: HillJ

                                                                                      I don't find it takes that much effort. It just takes observation and good intuition.

                                                                                      But I would say unhesitatingly that gatherings where couples are not seated next to each other tend to be better than those where they are.

                                                                                  2. re: HillJ


                                                                                    This was sort of interesting - the bit about spouses is at the bottom. Love the "warning" at the end!

                                                                                    This is the old thread about it to which I referred above:


                                                                                    1. re: MMRuth

                                                                                      MMR, interesting thread; the warning is a hoot. I remember the older thread quite well. Great illustration for how tricky assigned seating and those who have been assigned a seat separate from their "mate" flies at a party.

                                                                                      Seeing all the different perspectives is great fun!