I consider a table with chairs mandatory for a good dinner party.  It is impossible to have a relaxed meal while balancing a plate on your lap and trying to find a place to put your drink where it won’t leave a mark.  Conversations are difficult when people are scattered around a room, sometimes all over the house.  At my house, small though it is, we have three tables where people can dine.  The kitchen table seats four, five in a pinch, and one of our friends considers that the best spot in the house.  For larger groups, we have a table with leaves that can seat 10 people in the living room, though we have squeezed in an extra.  Our third table, for warm summer nights, is in our walled courtyard.  It can seat nine, with half the chairs coming from in the house.  With everyone at the table, dinner becomes a true communal event, with dishes being passed, people reminiscing about dinners in their past and hopefully deep discussions about the issues that affect our lives.  By the end of a great dinner party, you know more about the people you have spent an evening with and it gives each guest a chance to have the others to their own home, developing that sense of community that I believe we all long for.  If in doubt about how many people you can seat at your table, always make room for an extra.  The tighter you squeeze, the warmer the experience.

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