Monday, November 12, 2012

Extra Seating Ideas for your Holiday Table

Did you have a kids table at your house when you were little? We did. I remember one year in particular when there were some really little cousins and I had to sit with them as a teenager! The horror! The rickety old card table! There just wasn’t enough room for me at the “grown-ups” table. And, here I was, the oldest cousin at 14 thinking I was going on 34.

Now that I’m grown up, my perspective has changed. But my dining table seats only six and I host dinners for 10 or 12. My dining room is small, so I have to get creative to accommodate everyone. Extra seating always comes in handy especially around the holidays.

Holidays, great food and lots of company seem to go together, and can be a great time. Plus, you actually get to use your dining room.

So how can you manage to seat everyone? This is always a fun challenge, and, remember, everyone is a guest so the chances of anyone complaining is usually pretty minimal. Here are some fun tips:

1. Plan ahead as much as possible. When you’re shopping for a dining table (or even a house) keep in mind your holidays. How many people are there at your gatherings? Are your dinners a one-a-year deal, or more often? A once-a-year party may not warrant a big house with a dedicated dining room and a table that seats 12, but might be great if you entertain more often.

2. Get creative with folding tables. I often pull out my small dining table, move it to the garage and set up two 72 inch long folding tables (like these from Office Depot) side by side to make one really big table. And, I use a king-sized sheet as a table cloth, over a thin blanket to help disguise the joint between the tables!

What’s great about this is that the folding tables are cheaper than an expanding table with leaves. Plus, there is a lot of room in the middle for a beautiful centerpiece, or, my favorite… lots of food!

Wider is better than longer for groups of 10-12. Everyone can still see each other. For bigger groups, space allowing, longer may be better since the conversations will split up to smaller groups of 6 or so.

3. Keep it to one big table if at all possible. Separate tables imply a hierarchy and unless you have lots of tables, banquet style. Even if they’re kids, the people at the secondary table always feels shortchanged. If there is space, even if you have to turn the table sideways and let it run out into the hallway, one big table feels better than two.

Ideally, the tables would be at the same level, but, what the heck if it isn’t. For many years I added the rickety card table to the end of my regular dining table, but the card table was lower. I had two matching table cloths I ran end to end, so at least the table was all the same color. Until I had my folding table brainstorm, this did just fine until our family grew to more than that setup could accommodate.

4. Not enough room on the table for the food? Set up a buffet in the kitchen or nook. It’s better to seat everyone at the same table than have room for the food. Keep centerpieces simple, just some candles or a few ornaments or leaves so as not to take up space.

5. Dining room too small for your big table? Rethink the rooms in your house! Swap the living room furniture with the dining room, or let the table straddle the two rooms. Set up in the garage, draping dark colored sheets or fabric over the shelving and work benches. Add some electric space heaters (NOT propane or anything with a real fire!!!) and holiday décor for a memorable experience. If you’re in a temperate climate, set your tables up outdoors!

6. What to do with all those mismatched chairs? Relax! Don’t worry about it. But, if you can’t help yourself, disguise them with matching standard pillowcases! Chances are really good that some cheap, pretty, crisp pillow cases will slide right over the backs of your folding card table chairs, office chairs, wood dining chairs, outdoor chairs… and the sharp corners will ensure a more consistent look. Buy them in sets, or at least iron them for the nicest look.

If your chairs are too big for pillow cases, or if you want a more elegant look, drape each chair with some fabric. Experiment with a sheet first, so you know how much to buy. Most bolts of fabric come in around 53 inches wide, so you’ll just need to figure out how log of a piece you’ll need for each chair. For a really classy DIY effect, buy a matching or coordinating fabric and make your own table cloth, too.

For more centerpiece and tabletop decorating ideas, see this Better Homes and Gardens’ website article… I love the ideas of writing your guests’ names on leaves, and newspaper as a tablecloth!

Until next time!
--Elaine Bothe

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posted by Jennifer Adams Design Group Blog @ 12:01 AM 


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