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?
An elaborately decorated dinner table? It is strange that your guests believe that a dinner table would be used for dining. The stranger part here is that they believe chairs are used for sitting. Clearly, accessible parts of your house are off limits.
You mention you were taught to not sit without a meal served. Was this by the magic manners elves? I thought so. These elves come to each of us in our youth and teach us the universal standards of Not Rudeness. The first that each of us learn is to stay away from chairs and tables. Don’t they know to eat off of the branches of the Christmas tree like normals? What sad childhoods they must have suffered.
I imagine the elves also warned you that giving any explicit instructions as a host is terrible and will incur their wrath. If you ask them to sit where you deem appropriate, the elves will unleash horrifying pain magic that will torment you all. You are saving them! You must continue to hint with disapproval and hope they get the hint.
To prevent elven magic from destroying their fleshy bodies, you’d best proceed by decorating more of your house in increasingly fragile decor. Then make this museum off limits.
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