So, you and your pal have decided to host Thanksgiving dinner for all your single friends who might otherwise be spending it alone. Very nice! But now comes the hard part - seating arrangements! Who sits where, when do you eat and how do you keep the conversation flowing? Here are some tips from Real Simple magazine.

  • Seating arrangements. Assigning seats can defuse awkward situations. You can put guests’ names on place cards for a more formal approach, or simply direct people to their places if you want to keep it casual. In every group, there are going to be a few key people. Like The Charmer, The Diva, The Introvert and The Gossiper. So, when it comes to seating, keep personalities in mind. For example, seat The Charmer in the middle because they can chat with ANYONE, put the Diva at the end of the table so they don’t monopolize the entire conversation, the Gossiper should be next to host since they’d probably annoy anyone else, and the Introvert should sit next to the Charmer – who’ll make sure they feel included.
  • How long should you wait for late guests? If cocktail hour is over and people still haven’t arrived, you can start dinner without them. When stragglers do finally show up, greet them graciously and serve them whichever course the rest of the group is eating. But don’t starve them as punishment. If you’re on desert and they’ve just battled 2 hours of traffic to get there, go ahead and bend the rules if they want dinner.
  • When it comes to keeping the conversation flowing. start by giving your guests an opportunity to get to know one another. A cute trick for doing this is to place a sticker at the bottom of everyone’s plate that has a tidbit about a neighbor – like, “The person to your left went to college with the host. Ask her to tell you a story about freshman year.” Then, as things warm up, try to draw everyone into a central conversation or two. Fragmented chit-chat can be noisy and distracting and often leaves people out. So, keep an eye on things from your seat and make sure everyone is being included.