More often than not, seating for holiday dinner is cramped. While less-than-ideal seating arrangements seem to be a rite of passage each and every year, it doesn’t have to be. In a perfect world, everyone around the table would have ample elbow room, but sometimes, less than perfect can be just as comfortable with a few tweaks. Here are 7 tips for maximizing table space during those fun-filled holiday dinners.
1. Clear the space
If you’re expecting a crowd, clear the dining space of non-essentials. If all that’s left is the table and chairs, then so be it. This, of course, is especially important if you have a small dining room. The less is more approach will give the appearance of a bigger space, which in turn makes the room feel more comfortable. It also lets you focus on the most important pieces of furniture in the room— the table and chairs.
2. Opt for a traditional seating arrangement
The ideal situation if you have the space is to keep everybody at one table. It may require a bit of squeezing, but if it’s bearable, then go for it. A little extra closeness can be endured for a simple meal.
3. Branch out of the designated dining space
If you have an open floor plan, this should be relatively easy. For instance, a kitchen island can serve as additional seating, and a living room table can easily be converted into a table for the kids. A couch or window seat can also provide extra seating as well. If you live in an area where weather permits, take advantage of your outdoor seating.
4. Set up a buffet
Rather than setting the food out on the dining table, consider setting up a buffet. Whether on a table in the kitchen, the countertop, or an island, a designated serving area will free up a lot of space at the table. This also allows guests to easily get up for seconds.
5. Use benches instead of chairs
Depending on the shape (angles) of your table, using benches, instead of chairs can make it much easier to squeeze in more people. With that said, even though a bench can fit more people, it can pose a challenge when those sitting in the middle need to get out. Other than that, though, a bench can be a really nice solution if you are in need of extra seating space.
6. Create a unified look with linens
When a dining room table just isn’t enough, a variety of tables even folding tables end up being the best option. To make it look unified and to dress it up, pick out some beautiful fabric and have tablecloths (or one long tablecloth) made. Add some napkins in coordinating colors and no one will know you have mix-matched or folding tables underneath.
7. Be boldly eclectic
As beautiful as a made-up tablespace can be, at the end of the day, the main goal was getting family and friends together under the same roof. If this means mix-matched table settings, then so be it. You can easily pull together the eclectic look and be completely comfortable doing so. Eclectic can be fun, so try not to worry about it.
8. Designate an area for the kids
Kids are a treasured part of the family, but when it comes to holiday gatherings an eating space just for them can be enjoyable— especially if the space you’ve designated for them is fun! How can you make their table one that they’ll have a hard time leaving? Consider festive goodie bags filled with treats. Or, have some paper and colored twig pencils on hand so they can keep busy while waiting for dinner. Another option is to have a holiday-appropriate craft they can put together. With some fun things on hand, the kids will enjoy each other’s company and you’ll have some extra space for adults at the bigger table(s).
9. Minimize the centerpiece
A festive centerpiece makes a dining table look extra special, but too many extras on the table can eat into the space you need for your guests. Minimize the centerpiece to something simple like a few candles or seasonal greenery in a small pot. One exquisite piece goes a long way. Instead, wow them with your linens, or simply with the meal you worked so hard to prepare.
10. Extend the table
Most rectangular tables come with a leaf for easy extension. Even some round tables come with a leaf, too. If it’s a rectangular table you have, though, pop in the leaf for some extra length. If your table doesn’t have a leaf, place a long piece of plyboard across the top and disguise it with a tablecloth. It’s likely no one will even know the difference!
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