Where Should I Seat My Dinner Guests?

First, let's get one thing clear. Even though there's a weak economic recovery out there, please do not forego entertaining altogether. Have a few friends over for potluck, serve simple homemade or funky takeout fare, keep the group small and intimate, and make the evening "cheap and cheerful."

One night we filled a beautiful china serving dish with four paper cartons of pad thai from the local Thai restaurant and added some beautiful parsley and sliced lemons for garnish; we made something convenient and inexpensive look like a million bucks.

The worst thing you could do is drop a Cone of Silence over your home and shut yourselves off from others. Be sociable. It attracts good energy and warmth into your home and makes for happy memories. And that's the best way to decorate!

If you've always wondered whether or not there are any specific do's or don'ts regarding how to seat your dinner guests, just consult a few books on entertaining and you'll get diverse opinions. Advice will range from putting out cards by each place setting with the names of your guests - that way you'll tell people precisely where to sit - or keep the seating completely at your guests' discretion. We dislike the boy-girl-boy-girl rule intensely or feeling the need to break up couples in order to spread the conversation around.

But we found an alternative way to plan seating. We wondered what feng shui might advise, so we shot a video after consulting some guide books and applying what we learned to a dining setup with a small table and four chairs.

Note that many feng shui advocates prefer for family members to sit with their backs against a wall; this is auspicious and the wall serves as sheltering "mountain energy." In the following video, however, we're not observing that advice since the wall-based seat doesn't allow access to the kitchen for easy serving and clean up. That's a practical consideration we like to see, giving a host the option of first claiming the handiest getting-up-and-down seat, then inviting everyone else either to sit where they'd like or follow the host's seating assignments.

Jay JohnsonComment