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Creating a Conversation at Your Next Dinner Party
So you're hosting a large formal dinner party and you have everyone seated around the table, plates are served and now the dreaded silence. Now what?
Silence around the dinner table happens to even the most experienced and prepared hostesses. Avoid disappointment and anxiety and plan a few conversation starters ahead of time. It's not that your guests think your party is terribly boring or are uncomfortable at the table-they may simply be too focused on your fantastic meal or just not sure what to say or who to speak with. As the hostess, it is your duty to make all of the guests feel comfortable and entertained. Although this might sound like a very big task, with a little preparation and practice you will have a table full of chatter in no time.
Begin your party conversation preparations at least a few days before your dinner party is to take place. Start by composing a list of all your party guests. For this to be accurate, you may want to wait until all of your RSVPs have come in and you know exactly who will be attending. Once you have all of your guests listed you can create a seating chart. Sketch it out on a piece of paper so you can create an accurate visual of where everyone will be seated during the meal.
Deciding where everyone will sit can be crucial to creating a dinner atmosphere that will be conducive to easy flowing conversation. Now every hostess will have her own opinion on just how a seating chart this should be created. Some choose to seat married and coupled guests separately in hopes that they will be more inclined to start a conversation with the person seated next to them. Others believe that their guests will feel more comfortable sitting next to their spouse but may choose to sit unacquainted couples near one another. Plan your seating chart with how you most feel comfortable. As a rule of thumb simply think how you would like the arrangement if you were the party guests.
Once your seating chart is drawn, take a moment to review all of the individual guests you are expecting. Write notes and create labels directly onto the seating chart including any information you believe will be relevant in helping encourage a conversation. For example, if one of your guests works in the green energy field and he is seated near other guests who you happen know just installed solar paneling in his home-make a note of that. Any little bit of information that will help you naturally introduce a topic should be noted. Doing this ahead of time will give you a chance to glance over it and review a bit about each guest before they actually arrive. With all the running around that typically takes place right before a nice dinner party, this will be handy to have on hand a few days before for you to review and think about.
During your dinner party feel free to randomly go around the table and strike up a bit of conversation with your guests. This will help set the tone for what type of conversation would be appropriate. Being conscious not to shout to guests seated too far away, speak up and speak clearly so that the other guests will be able to hear as well. Most likely, your behavior of striking up conversations will both inspire others to do the same and also provide topics of interests engaging multiple dinner party guests. After your dinner party has come to an end, be sure to reflect on what appeared to work and what didn't. This will make your next party planning easier and hopefully produce even a more spectacular dinner party with plentiful conversation.
Anne Martin is a freelance writer who loves to entertain. When entertaining she likes to use Noritake Colorwave dinnerware.