One of the biggest challenges with get-togethers during this time is choosing a layout that allows for social distancing without making things awkward. Chef Greg Teal of Table 301, a restaurant group and catering business in Greenville, South Carolina, suggests using tables in assorted sizes—some that seat two to four guests and others with room for up to 10. “Everyone has different levels of comfort, and guests who don’t know each other may not want to take off their masks and share a table,” he says.
To remove any guesswork, Greg recommends asking guests about their seating preferences in advance and assigning spaces with place cards based on responses. You can also reserve more secluded areas for high-risk guests. Emily Painter, founder of Palm Beach-based Freshly Set, adds that round tables can help. “The diameter spreads you out but still makes conversation easy and fun,” she explains. Also, use fewer chairs than each table accommodates.