Is It OK to Rearrange Seating Cards?

What to do when you’ve been assigned a seat next to someone you can’t stand


Every week, our resident experts Mindy Lockard and Coryanne Ettiene answer etiquette questions from modern day hosts, offering advice from both traditional and contemporary perspectives.

Have a question you want answered? Send us an email with your dilemma, and then check back every week for new tips and advice.

This week’s question:

Seats are assigned at the annual family dinner. Is it OK for me to sneak in the room and switch my place card, unbeknownst to the host?

Coryanne: This would be one of those times when I would wave my finger back and forth, raise an eyebrow, and maybe even add in a "tisk-tisk" for good measure.  The host will have no doubt spent hours fretting over the seating arrangement and will know the plan inside and out. Any slight adjustments without consulting the host will only lead to drama later.  

If the seating is really problematic, find a moment before the meal to confide in the host and share your concerns with them.  Chances are, they are more than happy to make a change and will be grateful that you confided in them rather than sneaking around undoing hours of work with one simple move. 

Mindy: Um, no! One skill to really hone in life is the ability to get along with anyone, anywhere. So if you are seated next to the family funny guy, or the Aunt-Betty-who-can’t-hear, make it your challenge to have a great time and engage. Manners are about getting over ourselves for the sake of others... our host and where they seat us. Yep, even then.

About Our Experts: Mindy Lockard is The Gracious Girl and offers traditional etiquette advice with a modern, gracious twist. Coryanne Ettiene believes entertaining at home should be an everyday affair; she shares contemporary advice for modern living at Housewife Bliss.

Click here to see more tips and advice from our experts. 


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1 Comments

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Really, gals? The choices are to zip it and be miserable during the meal or harass the host? Really?
This unfortunate situation happened to my husband and me once. We knew everyone invited, so scanning the seating cards at a neighboring table at lightning speed, I realized a switch wouldn't cause a problem. It didn't.
Of course, this has to be done quickly with no histrionics. And don't forget to put a pen in your bag! Lol.

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