Dear ladies and gentlemen: we often have family dinners, or dinners with friends. How to create a proper table plan for this occasion? I propose you to discover here the etiquette rules for social occasions.
We use table plans to designate who will be seated where at the table. This is not done at random but by precedence: who is more important, more senior, than whom, and who has the right to be seated next to important people. Imagine for instance you have to do a table plan for these people for dinner at your home:
Complicated right? I will give you the answer after a few explanations.
How to create table plans
Step One: People
In our example, squares are men, rounds are women. Square 1 is the most important man, round 1 the most important woman, square 2 the 2nd most important man, round 2 the 2nd most important man etc.
Step Two:How to start?
You start to place the host and hostess at the extremity of the table.
This is the family style. Generally, the host faces the entrance of guests (so that he can guide late comers) and the hostess faces the kitchen door, in order to guide staff serving with eye contact. We use the same approach for round tables.
Step 3: How to place the people ranked 2nd?
Here you have to remember 2 rules:
The right is more important than the left.
We alternate the genders.
You will note it is actually the same for a round table:
The most important man (the host)has the 2nd most important womanon his right.
Then we place the 3rd most important lady on his left. Same for the hostess.
Mrs. 2 has the seniority ranking to receive Mr. 4 on her right.
Mr. 2 has the seniority ranking to receive Mrs. 4 on his right. We place the 5 then.
In reality, there is often not the same amount of ladies and gentlemen, sothen you have to be smart.
Let’s come back to our guests.
So, first of all, who will be the host with you? (we consider “you” as a lady, the table plan would be different if “you” is a gentleman). It has to be a man, as there is not your husband / boyfriend here. Then most important man here, and the only official, is Emmanuel Macron, as President of France.
On your right, the 2nd most important man could be either Ma Yun or Ma Huateng. I consider Ma Yun has been successful and famous before Ma Huateng, so he has the precedence.
Then, who is the 2nd most important lady seating on the right of Macron? Normally it should be Brigitte Macron, but spouses cannot be seated together. So I choose to place Angelina Jolie, as she is an UN embassador.
The 3rd most important man is of course Ma Huateng. On the left of Macron I choose to place Zhang Ziyi, as she has been famous before all the other ladies.
Now we can place Brigitte Macron on the right of Ma Yun. Ma Huateng deserves to have the next most important lady: Gao Yuanyuan (who has been famous before Lady Gaga)
Finally, on the side of Angelina Jolie we should have a man, but we only have women left. Shall we have Lady Gaga of your sister? In table plans, family members are “useful guests”: you can place them at the last rank they should not hate you too much (normally…), and you make feel your second to last guest good to have someone of your family below him/her. That’s why I place Gaga close to Angelina Jolie, and the sister close to Zhang Ziyi.
This was an example of simple complexity. Imagine now how difficult it can be if you have dozens of persons to place, and have to find out who is of higher importance than who! If you want to know more, please inform me in the comments!
This article was first published by Michelin