DEAR MISS MANNERS: I have a shared living room/dining space, and a separate breakfast table off my kitchen. However, my formal dining table is always set, but rarely used.
I was always taught to never seat yourselves at a formal set table if the meal is not being served there. Every Christmas, I elaborately decorate this table with fancy china, glassware and fragile decorations, only to have guests pull out a chair and put down their libations, keys, etc.
Is it proper for guests to sit there?
GENTLE READER: Are you under the impression that it is proper to set your table and then sneer at your guests for not realizing that you don't consider them important enough to sit there? What on earth is this display supposed to be for?
Now why they feel it necessary to put their keys on the table is another question. Miss Manners supposes that your inhospitable attitude is sufficiently apparent that they want to be able to make a quick getaway. Merry Christmas.