22 Dec2008


The nuances of seating your guests at a formal dinner at home is more complicated than it seems. It appears to be a throwback to a previous century, but table assignments do often make a difference to the conversation at the dinner table. While we often tell our guests to come dressed casually, even for a sit-down meal, we often tell them where to sit at the table. The purpose for this vestige of the Victorian era? You want to mix the guests up, you want to avoid good friends grouping together and only chatting amongst themselves. You want to mix up husbands and wives, friends and partners, males and females, bankers and artists and teachers and writers. You want guests to be comfortable with someone nearby, but also possibly strike a new friendship with a less familiar guest on the other side. You need to spread out the very lively guests and sprinkle in the more reserved ones. I sound old, but it is IMPORTANT. :) To add a bit of levity, this year we used placecards with the names of Santa, Rudolph and the eight reindeer: Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner (or Donder) and Blitzen.


We bought these cute place cards at a 70% off sale in New York the day after Christmas 2007 and stored them in a drawer for a year. I decided to look up some information about Santa’s reindeer and learned quite a bit… Like the fact that most interpret the poem by Clement Clarke Moore from 1823 as referring to four pairs of reindeer with Dasher being male while Dancer being female. Oddly, by that analysis, Cupid would be a female, though otherwise he is depicted as a boy or male. As for placement, the web sources suggest all the males were on the left side pulling the sleigh, while the females were all on the right side… Rudolph only came into the picture in the early 1900’s after an American department store owner embellished the story…


If you do a little googling, you will find several suggested meanings for the names of each of the reindeer, and this made attaching names of our dinner guests to names on the place cards an amusing task. I mean, who would we give “Vixen” cards to (heehee, two guests got these), and who would be called “Santa” for the evening? When all was said and done, we had to use a few duplicate cards, but the names and placement at the table were set. At the start of the meal, we explained why we gave particular guests particular cards and it was a nice way to get some trivia about the holidays (and the reindeer in particular) before we started the meal.


As for Marketman, I got the Rudolph card, probably because I was seated at the head of the table…



  1. dragon says:

    What interesting trivia about the reindeer!

    Happy holidays from Melbourne!

    Dec 22, 2008 | 10:48 am


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  3. Beth says:

    Reading this post I couldnt help but smile, as a few days ago my hubby was asking me what the names of the other reindeers were and I started to enumerate and he said ” you forgot OLAF!” OLAF who??? then he started singing …”OLAF the other reindeers use to laugh and call him names…..” :) Merry Xmas!

    Dec 22, 2008 | 1:33 pm

  4. ichabod's hubby says:

    Weren’t there 8 other reindeers by the names of Crasher, Flasher, Prankster, and Nixon, Vomit, Stupid, Goner, and Blister? 8)

    Okay. Okay. Please don’t hit me with the fish pan.

    Dec 22, 2008 | 2:24 pm

  5. jamezu says:

    Sounds complicated hehehe.. I like the reindeer part :)

    Dec 22, 2008 | 2:46 pm

  6. ragamuffin girl says:

    MM, what a beautiful table set up.

    Dec 22, 2008 | 6:22 pm

  7. aggy says:

    love the green floral napkin and pinkish(?) ribbon, goes with the hydrangeas beautifully

    Dec 22, 2008 | 9:43 pm

  8. Marketman says:

    aggy, they are green floral napkins with reindeer, now that I think about it… ichabod’s hubby… hahaha.

    Dec 22, 2008 | 10:54 pm

  9. Maria Clara says:

    Thanks for naming all the Santa’s reindeers which completely slipped off my mind. I know only Rudolph which is the famous of them all. I’m impressed with your settings and your attention to details especially your plating you even have a blueprint for it!

    Dec 24, 2008 | 2:42 am

  10. Martine says:

    Lovely dinner party, MM. The pictures are simply delightful! I myself threw two parties recently, one for my birthday and the other a pre-Christmas potluck. I always love inspiring table settings!

    Jan 1, 2009 | 3:17 am


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