When planning and organizing informal gatherings, you might want to put people next to those they know, or you might want to split them up a little so that they can meet new people. There are many choices, and probably the best advice is to use your common sense. Here some tips that can be helpful:
- People are more likely to get on well if they are similar ages or have similar interests. It might not be a good idea to put the “alternative lifestyle” guest with the tattoos and piercings next to that 85-year-old lady.
- Avoid mixing age groups too much. Young children should be seated with their parents. Older children can be seated with their parents or at a table together.
- Generally, you should try to put families together. Put work colleagues together, too. But if you know people don’t get on, try to seat them at separate tables. It is worth breaking with tradition to have a stress-free event.
- Try to create balanced tables, with even numbers of males and females. In some cultures, it is traditional for guests to alternate: male, female, male, female. Some business dinners are seated male, male, female, female for variety.
- If a group of people know each other well, you could try splitting up married couples for extra variety.
- Try to avoid putting guests at the same table as ex-partners, unless you are sure this is OK. Remember that every room has four corners!
- Resist the temptation to have a “leftovers” table of all the people who don’t fit at the others. It is probably better to distribute such guests evenly.