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With so many dishes and serving utensils, not to mention the number of guests, Thanksgiving puts your dining room to the true test. Here are eight ways to get more out of the space, maximizing your enjoyment of the meal and the day’s family joys.
1. Clear the space. If the dining room is filled with non-essentials—in a small dining room that could mean everything but table and chairs—clear it out for the holiday. This “less is more” approach will make the room seem more spacious, and a spacious room is more comfortable. Also, removing unnecessary furniture will place emphasis on the table, which seems only right.
2. Set up a buffet. Take the burden off your dining room by serving food in the kitchen on a table, countertop, or island. For second helpings, guests can simply return to the kitchen, or hosts might take a mid-meal lap around the table.
3. Ride the bench. If big, bulky chairs are occupying more than their fair share of space in your dining room, consider using a bench along one side of the table to accommodate one or two additional guests. It’s a family holiday, after all; closeness is fitting. You might also think about renting chairs that are more compact than your existing furniture.
4. Extend the table. Most dining tables are made in standard sizes of 36″W x 72″L with one leaf. You can extend the width one foot and the length an extra 24 inches by simply placing a sheet of standard plywood on top. With a tablecloth draped over the surface, you won’t know the difference.
5. Limit table decor. As tempting as it may be to adorn your table with an elaborate centerpiece or grouping of candles, decor can quickly become clutter if space is short. Opt for minimal ornament and make the most of your table’s total surface area.
6. Establish a kids table. It’s been done before, and usually youngsters prefer to be on their own anyway. If your guest list overwhelms your dining room’s capacity, consider creating a satellite table even for adults.
7. Take it outside. If you are fortunate enough to live in a warmer climate, why not move the feast outdoors? You can always use the dining room table as a buffet station, then enjoy the meal on a deck or patio—even by the pool.
8. Rethink the space. If your extended table is a tight fit for your dining room, brainstorm ways to position it differently. If you position the table diagonally, it might give guests on the end a little more breathing room, or even free up space for a couple more chairs.
For more on entertaining at home, consider: