assigning seats for the holidays

I have a confession to make: I have always, always loved a seating chart. Seating charts give me a sense of security and order and put me at ease in group settings, particularly when I don't know everyone in the room. This dates back to my school days. I couldn't stand the "choose-your-seat" methodology in some of my high school classes. Too much pressure for a kid who was pretty reserved and painfully self-conscious.

I still use assigned seats for larger dinners and informal-ish holiday gatherings when we're sitting at the table to eat. Even though ours are jeans-and-sweaters kinds of parties, I still believe in just telling people where to sit so they don't have to worry about it. They don't have to take off their scarf to reserve a seat, they get to act surprised and pleased when they find out they're seated next to their mother-in-law (I'm talking to you, Tom - get excited!), and it splits up cliques and singing duos like the one my little sister and I form anytime we're in the same room. Trust me, no one wants to hear our rendition of "Bohemian Rhapsody" between the soup and the entree. It's happened before, and the crowd was not amused.

For a smaller group, like the one we're having this year for Thanksgiving, it's unnecessary to assign seats, but I'm doing it anyway. I like how place cards look on the table, even though it's sort of weird and old-fashioned. I hope seeing a little card with their name on it makes everyone feel appreciated and loved and excited about the meal.

If you're stuck, you can always do what our family does when we all get together: write everyone's names on scraps of paper, draw them out of a hat at random and place them around the table in the order they're pulled. We yell and scream as we figure out who's sitting next to Uncle Tony and who's at the political debate table. It's a lot of fun.

If you're up for a laugh today and have one minute to spare, then do yourself a favor and check out this little gem from College Humor.

Are you into assigned seats? Or do you prefer the seating free-for-all?