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Dinner party seating conundrum

Tonight I'm having a few friends over for a dinner party. We're all good friends (plus one good friend's mom) and so it's quite casual.

So here's my problem - there are 9 people coming over, and I have two seating options in my small-ish apartment. I can put my computer table up against the kitchen table and use all kind of mis-matched chairs to seat everyone. I've done this before with the same amount of people, and while it's certainly nice to eat on a table, it's very cramped and there's not a lot of elbow room. Plus usually I run out of tall-enough chairs and someone has to sit on a stool and be shorter than everyone else.

Option 2 is to just have everyone eat in my living room on the floor or on the couch. I have a large coffee table that 5 or 6 people could eat at comfortably, plus a couch for two.

We're having chicken parmesan, so it's not exactly a finger food. Since we're all friends it's not a big deal, and it doesn't have to be fancy at all, but I'd love to hear any opinions on which is preferable - cramped seating at a table or relaxed seating on the floor?

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  1. You'll probably all end up in the living room for desserts/coffee/nightcaps, so why not give just a touch of formal and have the main at the table? I say this, even though we tend to have holiday get -togethers in the living room, but sometimes I miss the big table.

    No one minds the mismatched chairs, and find a couple of seat cushions for the stoolpidgeon. :)

    1. I think if you decide to have it in your livingroom tht you should change your menu. I can't think of a single thing that would be harder to eat with one hand than chicken parm.

      3 Replies
      1. re: runwestierun

        Chicken parm on a stick. I agree that it would be very difficult to eat chicken parm with it balanced on my lap while I sat on a couch. Cramped seating would be fine and if you want to spread out, have an easy to eat dessert in the living room.

        1. re: chowser

          I've done dinner parties around my coffe table with pillows, the couch, etc.. I loved it because I do not mind sitting on a pillow but I had a few friends who were uncomfortable on the pillows, could not get up...

          1. re: Alica

            I love sitting around on the floor but not if I have to eat a meal that requires a knife and fork. I think of sitting around a table with cushions and finger foods, or at least bite sized foods. Although, when we host my inlaws for formal meals, some have picked up their plates and plopped themselves down on the couch in front of the TV so it probably doesn't bother them. If they got stuck on the floor, I'd most likely leave them there floundering.

      2. Chicken Parm would be a nightmare to eat without a table. I am more prone to enjoy sitting at a table to eat even if cramed. I am a taller person and sitting indian style on a pillow on the floor is not a fun activity for me.

        Now you know this group more than us, but like suggested if you want to sit in living room change menu

        1. It sounds like you already had your party. In the future, let your surroundings dictate the kind of party you'll have and the kind of food you'll serve. If you only have dining space for 6, invite 6 for a sit-down party.If you want to invite more, have a cocktail party with a buffet of finger foods. If you want to do the whole pillow-and-coffee table thing, make the party a Middle Eastern or Japanese theme so at least people feel like the food is dictating the atmosphere, not the lack of dining chairs.

          1. At the table or elsewhere? I have been trying hard to understand why people would choose a couch/coffee table over sitting at a real table after my 60+ sister told me they always eat in front of the TV with trays or coffee table or lap. The TV part if fine, we do the same, but why you wouldn't set things up so you can sit at an actual dining table is beyond me. The same with parties. If you're serving knife and fork food, please give me a table and chair. Otherwise, make it finger food please. If you have to squeeze folks into a table, that's ok, it generally makes for a livelier evening.

            1 Reply
            1. re: escondido123

              As a guest trying to eat in a living room situation, I'm quite likely to ask the host if I can drag a straight chair from the dining room into the living room. It is difficult to eat while sitting / slumping on a soft couch; I always prefer a straight-backed chair, even if my plate is in my lap.