Before bothering you all, I did a little Web searching, but most sites seem to focus on weddings and large receptions.
My problem lies with dinners for just 6 or 8 people and how to seat people at a rectangular table.
A case in point is the following: next month I am planning a special meal and there are two guests of honor. One is a diplomat, the other a well-known wine producer. Both are men.
There are 3 couples altogether and there may end up being 4.
Normally speaking, I should sit at one end of the table with the two guests of honor sitting to my right and to my left.
However, that means that all the men are at one end of the table and all the women at the other....
In your opinion, would it be a slight to the guests of honor to seat them further down the table?
In this way, I could alternate men and women, which is always much more interesting
Of course, this goes on the old-fashioned and relatively sexist assumption that the man is the head of the household and that everything radiates from him....
The way we usually work it in my house is that I sit at one end of the table and my wife sits at the other.
However, sometimes she complains that she feels "left out" because the most interesting conversation often seems to come from my end of the table where the guest(s) of honor are sat...
This is not that the sort of thing that keeps me up at night, but I wonder how other people work things and, most of all, if you feel, or your guests feel that, even in 2008, seating arrangements matter and are indicative of the esteem with which people are held...
Do your guests usually just grab any chair when it comes time to sit down?
Do you generally try to mix men and women?
Is the tradition that the guest of honor sits to the right of the host still operative today?
Do you agree that there is a "far end" of the table, and can sitting there seeem like banishment?
I'd be really interested in your feedback.
The issue is further complicated for me because not everyone has the same foreign language skills, but that is very much of a secondary consideration.