The other day I went to a friend's home for dinner. After greeting me at the door, she took my jacket and lead me … straight to the dining room table. Within five minutes of arriving, I was eating the first course of our dinner. I have to confess, I found this a little disorientating. I'm not saying she was wrong, it's just that I'm used to being offered something to drink when I first arrive and then either sitting in the living room or at least hanging out in the kitchen for a few minutes. Heading straight to the dining room meant I hadn't been given a chance to make the transition from the hustle and bustle of arriving to the more contained and intimate activities of sitting around the table.
My friend's different hospitality style really highlighted to me how important that transition time is. Especially if you live in an urban area where the commute can be crowded, intense, and quite public, it helps to have a buffer zone where guests can shed that experience and relax into the more personal and private event of a dinner party.
How about you? Do you plan for at least a few minutes of drinks and chit-chat before serving dinner?