Entertaining: How To Seat Your Thanksgiving Guests

It's holiday season again, so we've enlisted a "lady friend," Laura House of the Good House Guest blog, to school us on all matters of being the host with the most.

So, you've stepped-up to host a holiday dinner. You've got the menu, music and drinks covered no problem. However, figuring out where to seat your mix of friends and family requires some intense diplomacy and military mapping skills. How can you keep Aunt Betty and Uncle Ed at a safe distance to avoid a blow-up this year? What's a less obvious way to set up your best friend and your cousin? As with all the other details, a little planning will help keep guests comfortable and the evening moving along smoothly. Not to worry, if your seating schemes falter, just keep the wine flowing.

Table It. If you have the space to accommodate guests at one (or more) table in the same room, make it a proper sit down meal. Approximately eight to a table is a manageable number.

Assigned Seats. Add order and a little formality to your table with place cards to orchestrate where guests sit. These cheeky food snob cards also double as conversation starters. Hosts or guests of honor should be seated at the head of the table.

Break it Up. Avoid the same old conversation (or arguments) by moving people around. Separate couples, pair up friends you think might hit it off, mix and match family members and age groups. Warning: grandma might get hip to Twitter and start following you.

Kiddie Corner. If enough younger children are coming it's a good idea to set up a kids' table. Have a movie cued up or art project at the ready for the kids following their dinner so the adults can linger over their meal.

Buffet Style. If you don't have room to seat all your guests at a table, opt for more casual seating and let guests land where they will. Serve buffet style and arrange smaller tables. Dress up coffee and end tables with candles or a bottle of wine for dinner to elevate furniture that otherwise holds magazines and remote controls.

This holiday entertaining guide is presented by our friends at Rioja Wines.