How to Properly Seat Dinner Guests

Former First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy is well known for her entertaining prowess. With a sophisticated eye, she infused the Washington Social Scene with a dose of modern refinement while staying true to White House traditions. She relished the opportunity to bring noted dignitaries, artists, literary figures, and other intellectuals together to mix and mingle, re-defining White House entertaining for the 20th century. As President John F. Kennedy famously noted at a dinner honoring Nobel prize winners of the Western Hemisphere in April of 1962,

I think this is the most extraordinary collection of talent, of human knowledge, that has ever been gathered together at the White House, with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone.


The seating chart for Kennedy Administration social luncheon.

Great pains were taken at even the smallest of events, as the above official seating chart demonstrates.

While setting placecards were once de rigeaur for any proper social gathering, such social protocols have become much more relaxed over the years. However, a resurgence among the younger generation looking to inject more elegance into home entertaining make placecard holders a must for any proper household.   Pre-arranged seating takes the guesswork out of a dinner party, and better encourages lively conversation.  What are some basic etiquette rules to follow?

  1. Ascertain each guests personality in order to seat complementary people together. An extrovert paired with an introvert can help encourage interaction, especially when conversation might be lagging.
  2. Avoid seating couples or best friends together; a dinner party is a chance to facilitate new connections and will allow people to widen their social network.  Placing acquaintances or even strangers next to one another will encourage such interaction more so than normal.
  3. Try to alternate men and women when possible.
  4. As host or hostess, sit yourself closest to the kitchen, allowing easy and unfettered access for serving and beverage requests.


Choose from a selection of elegant placecard holders at Scully & Scully for your next special event. They also make for perfect hostess gifts!

Leather Table Seating Arrangers
Leather Table Seating Arrangers
silverplate placecard holders
Silverplate Placecard Holders
sterling silver placard holders
Sterling Silver Animal Placard Holders