Dining rooms/areas during the holidays...

lavender_lassNovember 1, 2013

I was hoping people could share pictures or ideas about their dining rooms/areas, during the holidays. Do you decorate? Do you entertain lots of family/friends? Does you dining room always seat many people or do you move to another area for the holidays?

My mom just got a new dining table that seats 8! We've been pushing tables together for years and this is the first time we'll all be sitting down at one big table in at least a decade. She found a beautiful table on Craigslist and it came with 6 chairs.

So, we're looking for ideas how to use it for holidays and how to keep it from overwhelming the kitchen when there's not a need for seating 6-8. She has a big kitchen (12' x 20') and the table will be on one end, by the windows.

Thanks in advance! I'll try to take a picture, when she'll let me (LOL) since she's still moving furniture into other rooms to make enough space :)

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I am having Christmas Day for the rest of my life...well, until age 75 or so. I love decorating my house and setting the tables but don't especially enjoy preparing the big meal. I'm just too high stress... could be related to my TKO syndrome. My husband has 5 siblings, so we have between 25 -30 people. I set three tables with china, the whole works. Everybody says "do paper plates", but setting the tables is what I love doing.
Not having enough oven space has always been a struggle. Every year we also managed to completely fill the kitchen with smoke. We found out during our reno that our old exhaust fan was never connected to anything. That explains all the smoke. This year, we'll have more oven space & a real exhaust system.

    Bookmark   November 1, 2013 at 10:06PM
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In our current house everyone (of course) jams into the kitchen which makes me nuts. And the dining room has to have the table set up to cross the doorway to the kitchen so it's hard for them to get OUT of the kitchen if they even would. Last year when my nephew leaned his butt against the DW as I was trying to clean up, I gave up and and went and sat in the living room chair and fell asleep and left them all out there, lol. (after everything was over)

Don't know about Christmas this year but we are having T-day out at the new house because then I can set up table all the way into the living room with no furniture in the way, haha! Of course, no stove out there yet (which DH fears will "play hell with the pies") so it's a deep-fried turkey and crockpots of made ahead stuff. And pies.

Does your Mom's table have leaves that can be removed? Or is it a drop leaf table?

    Bookmark   November 1, 2013 at 10:15PM
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Hmmm...between me and my 2 sisters, I've always had the party house, but then I'm the only one who really cooks. In my case size doesn't matter, it's the food and drink that count. I host all the in laws, out laws, and friends.

I'm marginal at best with decorating - I never have time - and I never set the table. My dining table only seats 4, so people spread out on the sofa, chairs, use TV trays, sit on the floor, find a spot wherever there's room.

My demo starts next week, so I'm thinking I will be out of commission this year....I'd better warn my sister!!!

    Bookmark   November 1, 2013 at 10:42PM
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We travel every year for Xmas so don't decorate but do the full blown Tgiving for 15+ with the crystal and the china. DH is now the patriarch of his family so we have all the nephews and nieces who now have kids of their own. For a lot of them I think this might be their only exposure to crystal, china and slow food.

I've been cramming two tables crosswise in my DR, hence my excitement this year about my new size DR opening that will allow me to run the two tables as one long strip and my new oven which will allow me to have a turkey in it AND something else at the same time. Before it was 20+ lb turkey and nothing else.

    Bookmark   November 1, 2013 at 11:51PM
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One of the requirements for me in our new house was a large dining area off the kitchen. And a large kitchen that wasn't a walkway. We left our custom built dining room table and chairs at our old house when we sold, and found a really big table that can seat up to 20 for the new house. It's so wonderful when all the grandkids are here for a couple weeks in the summer, and when everyone is here for a holiday. The table is 54" round with no leaves, and has six 18" leaves. We take it down to 3 leaves when it's just us so that all eight matching chairs fit around the table. Decorating? Yes, but not as much as many others on this forum.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2013 at 9:47AM
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Joyce, where did you find your table? I'd love something like that. We seat 9 daily and could really use a table that big when we have company over. : )

When we have large groups over for dinner, we set up tables in 2 different rooms, or put all the kids at the big table and let the adults eat at the couches. Meals with guests are served buffet style at the island. Decorating is kept simple. I love seeing a decorated table, but can't stand peering through flowers or other decorative objects to talk with folks at the table! ; )

    Bookmark   November 2, 2013 at 10:00AM
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Hi Laughable. We purchased the table at Hom furniture. I was very skeptical of buying anything from them, guess I viewed them as low end. But it was the only place we could find a table the size I wanted. We have been very pleased with the purchase. It was affordable, finished nicely, and fit perfectly in our dining room. The dining room is 20.5 X 14, and with all the leaves in, there is still room to walk around all around the table. (the picture shown was taken when we moved in, with 2 leaves in the table.)

Here is a link that might be useful: Mission Pointe Reunion Dining table

    Bookmark   November 2, 2013 at 6:26PM
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The rule in our family: One person volunteers her house for the gathering, and her job is limited to providing space and dishes. The other people do ALL the cooking (at home in their own kitchens, then take away the dirty serving dishes to wash in their own kitchens).

    Bookmark   November 2, 2013 at 7:55PM
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I inherited my parents Willett Cherry table which seats 8-10. (DM is still living but has no room for the large table)
I can take out the extensions but our house is large enough to support just leaving them in place.
For the holidays - I am hosting Thanksgiving this year - I will probably pick up some gourds and a few other items but not too much as I will be off on a consulting gig for the 2 weeks prior to Thanksgiving.

If we exceed the limits of the table (and shouldn't this year), I do have a folding table that I store in the basement.

MGoBlue - good luck!

    Bookmark   November 2, 2013 at 10:20PM
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We go all out in decorations for thanksgiving, christmas, new years and superbowl. we host huge gathetings for all 4 events provided we arent at the superbowl. Each event takes on a little different arrangement. Thanksgiving we seat 16 our dining table. Plus another 10 around a dropleaf gate leg table. We bring the chairs in from the library and basement. Everyone is served on china. Some years we are forced to bring the kitchen table into the living room and use the couch as a banquette to fit another 8. It works great. Noone is crowded or isolated. Christmas we only have 12 people and we all fit in the DR. New years day, we don't do the traditional formal dinner. Instead we set up a huge buffet in the kitchen. We have appetizer trays in the lr, music room, den, and game room. Cocktail bars are set up in the music room and there is a stocked beer fridge in the game room. Usually the guys congregate in front of the TV in the basement which has easy access to yard for impromptu football games. The children also tend to be in the game room playing pinball, pa man, ping pong, air hockey etc. upstairs we have another contingent if football fans in front of the TV in the den. While the non football fans mingle in the living room dining room or music room. Super Bowl is a chili/ soup/ stew and cornbread or roll cookoff. So both stoves upstairs and down will have 6 pots plus we usually have about 8 crockpots up and 8 down full of the years competition. And the DR table and buffet hold all the desserts as well as a scoreboard to cast votes. It's relaxed and fun. And we've had some voting scandals over the years!

    Bookmark   November 5, 2013 at 4:07AM
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Thanks for posting a picture and providing a link, Joyce. : ) That's a great table and it's nice to see how it fits into your space. (I'm teased by the bit of the kitchen peaking through...)

    Bookmark   November 5, 2013 at 10:25AM
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Funny you should ask! We finished our kitchen/DR right before Christmas 2 years ago, so many of my "after" photos just happen to have the Christmas stuff up. I stood in the kitchen for this one - that's the peninsula in the foreground.

We were having a Christmas party, so all the extensions were in the table. Normally, it's the size for 6 people. Here's the other end of the room heading out to the back patio.

And the other direction towards the LR:

One of the things about Christmas decorations is the memories. I can see an ornament made by a child for my teacher husband, a couple that are gifts from Mom, now passed away, the Noel angels that my husband's neighbors gave him as a teenagers when he mowed their avocado grove regularly, and a couple made by our children when they were small. Makes it worth getting all the stuff out.

    Bookmark   November 5, 2013 at 10:29AM
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This is a great thread, thanks!

I was wondering a bit about this. I'm trying to figure out how large a dining table I can fit into my space, and maybe if i can squeeze an extra table in if needed for the rare times we would need more seating.

Do you guys compromise on aisles and clearances sometimes to squeeze more people in if it's only on rare occasions?

    Bookmark   November 5, 2013 at 10:35AM
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Yes on the compromise. Do you see how my dining table makes anyone coming in the garage door make a big U around the table? Table extensions are great. Mostly they reside in a closet and the table fits snugly centered under the light and out of the way of traffic, but for occasions, they come out and accommodate the hordes.

    Bookmark   November 5, 2013 at 11:23AM
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With all its leaves in, my dining table can accommodate 16; with the top made for it many years ago, maybe 20. But my dining room can accommodate only 14, and the person at the far end is ensconced for the duration of the meal.

So in the living room we add tables. I string along a Target or BB&B folding banquet table and a card table (or two) and then we also have a card table in the foyer. Yeah, it's a big crowd. We serve buffet-style in the small family room.

I actually have the folding tables collapsed in the laundry room with their covers on a tray. When it's dinner time a couple of cousins set them up, lay the cloths, napkins, and flatware, shift a tabletop decoration and a votive from somewhere else in the room, and weave a beaded garland (or mardi gras beads) around the centerpiece. It's all done in 2 minutes flat, and by the time the guests have filled their plates, they have a place to sit. They think Santa's elves did it :)

    Bookmark   November 5, 2013 at 3:15PM
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mama goose_gw zn6OH

I've posted these pics in the Smaller Homes forum--apologies to anyone who's seen them too many times. :]

We set up a buffet on the baking counter, and traffic flows into the playroom beyond. Drinks are served from the end of the marble island, and are set on the end of the sink counter, so that everyone can pick up his/her glass just before sitting down.

Play room is converted to family dining with 3 six-foot long folding tables. We can seat 20 easily, and can squeeze in a couple more if needed. This is a pic taken before the folding chairs were added:

(GS mugging for the camera :)

Dessert buffet is served from the dining room table. If we have more than 22 guests, leaves are added, and the dining room table is used for seating. Dessert is then served from the buffet counter in that room. This is set for six, but with all the leaves, we can seat eight:

We've also set up a drop-leaf table in the LR, to seat four more, but we have an extra 6-foot folding table, so with that we could seat eight instead, for a grand total of 38.

In reality, if there were 38 people seated for dinner, I think I'd be hiding on the front porch. ;)

    Bookmark   November 5, 2013 at 8:43PM
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Thank you for all the wonderful responses! Lovely pictures, too. I'll have to read them more carefully tomorrow, but I appreciate all your input :)

    Bookmark   November 5, 2013 at 10:11PM
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This has been such a helpful thread! We just volunteered to host Turkey Day in the newly renovated spaces. This will give us a kick in the seat to finish all the decorating details done.

I like the idea of temporary tables and tables combined together. Is it usually a hodgepodge of chairs? Do you use separate table cloths or have you sewn your own?

I remember growing up having a "kids table". Do people still have these?

    Bookmark   November 6, 2013 at 12:01AM
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mama goose_gw zn6OH

gooster, we use 18 old wooden folding chairs, that I bought when our church 'refreshed' their fellowship hall. Also have 2 more that I picked up at thrift stores, and 3 counter-height chairs that our little ones are still willing to use (left over from when my kids were small). Two of the closets in the play room were planned specifically to store the folding tables and chairs. If you have room for storage, watch craigslist--I often see the metal folding chairs listed.

The DR table has 4 chairs, and I have another set of 4 chairs that I can add. If another table is necessary, then we pull in all the chairs from desks, and from the front porch, so that is a hodgepodge.

My tablecloth for the 3 tables (18' total) is one of those panels that were made to loop over a window. I bought several for $5.00 each, at an outlet, but in the past, I've used clean white sheets, or bought 7 yards of inexpensive fabric (at the same outlet.) I also watch for nice tablecloths at yard sales and thrift stores--I recently found a pristine white linen one for $5.00. It fits the DR table, and I've had no problem getting out blueberry pie stains. Someone always makes a mess, so if I use the thrift store bargains, it's no big deal.

We've never had a designated kids' table--the kids usually go through the buffet with their parents' help, and sit together at whichever table they choose. OT, I've never used place cards--we're way too casual, but I think it would be interesting to try sometime. Does anyone else use place cards for family gatherings?

I forgot to address the decorating issue--we don't use many table decorations since the folding tables are narrow, but I love using my wedding china and crystal. I have heavy, inexpensive goblets for the little kids. They love using the 'fancy' glasses, along with their pastel, divided, picnic plates. :)

    Bookmark   November 6, 2013 at 11:42AM
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Adding pics. I do three tables, this one in the dining room (12-14 seats), one in the foyer (8 seats with two card tables put together) and one in the kitchen (10 seats). I put all the food buffet style on a big island in our kitchen. People take the plate from wherever they want to sit & serve themselves.
We send everyone down the basement for appetizers so my husband & I have the kitchen to ourselves for dinner prep.
I love setting the tables but I do remove any tall decorations during dinner so people can talk. After dinner we move back downstairs for dessert & a white elephant gift exchange.

This post was edited by romy718 on Wed, Nov 6, 13 at 12:41

    Bookmark   November 6, 2013 at 12:14PM
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Kitchen table.

    Bookmark   November 6, 2013 at 12:16PM
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Foyer table which is next to dining room.

    Bookmark   November 6, 2013 at 12:20PM
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QUESTION FROM OP: I was hoping people could share pictures or ideas about their dining rooms/areas, during the holidays. Do you decorate?
ANS: Yes, I decorate quite a bit. I have pictures, which I will have to post later if you want as I don't have the thumbdrive on me.

QUESTION: Do you entertain lots of family/friends?
No, not that many, my table can seat 6 in comfort (most of my family is in other states), this is with both leaves in, otherwise I don't have the leaves in unless entertaining.

QUESTION: Does you dining room always seat many people or do you move to another area for the holidays?
ANS: I never have overflow (thank goodness) :)

OP: So, we're looking for ideas how to use it for holidays and how to keep it from overwhelming the kitchen when there's not a need for seating 6-8. She has a big kitchen (12' x 20') and the table will be on one end, by the windows.
ANS: Keep from being overwhelming?...well, if the table has leaves in it, take them out so the footprint is less. Overwhelming as in decor?....that is subjective, I guess I would say just keep the decor on the table simple as possible, maybe only a centerpiece. I tend to love things really decked out, but still have practicality to the "look", so I probably can't give the best advice...

    Bookmark   November 6, 2013 at 3:16PM
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Like romy, I also love setting the table. Our DR table came with 10 chairs (it has 3 leaves when fully extended) and it can fit 12. For holiday family dinners I usually have 20-25, so I set up extra tables in the living room. Our LR and DR are connected with a large opening so we all feel together. I know formal living rooms have fallen out of favor, but I love that I can have a large dinner party and we're all in basically the same space.

I really enjoy pulling out the china and crystal and making the tables look so pretty. I'll do that for smaller groups too, like when I have friends over for dinner, because it's pretty and a shame that it's hidden away so much of the time.

romy your tables look lovely! I especially love the red.

Table cloths can be a challenge for me, as my DR table is 120" long when fully extended and it's wider than typical. I'll have to try some of mamagoose's ideas! Linens can get wicked expensive when they're full price.

We don't do a separate "kids' table", especially since many of our younger generation are in their 20's. So I call the extra tables "the young adult tables" and we all want to sit there as the conversation is lively!

Sometimes I mix everyone up by having people pick a number out of a bowl (for Thanksgiving, 25 mini pumpkins that I write numbers on; for Christmas I have 25 little carved Santas with numbers.) Then everyone sits where their number is. Funny thing - the first time I did this EVERY married person ended up next to their spouse! So much for mixing us up!

    Bookmark   November 6, 2013 at 4:28PM
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robo (z6a)

New Years Eve in our little condo, Dec. 31 2010 - I think we had 15 for dinner and had to bust out folding chairs and table. I decorate every year but am pretty minimal/lazy about it. Now we have a nice big house but I'm in school (on top of work) and our kitchen and dining areas stink so dinner parties are less fun. Here's to finishing school! And the new kitchen!

This post was edited by robotropolis on Wed, Nov 6, 13 at 21:04

    Bookmark   November 6, 2013 at 9:00PM
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50 yrs ago I bought one of these expandable tables - finally got rid of it a couple of years ago; no, it isn't 'real' wood, but I had a nice oak table that had been in the family for smaller needs (it seated six or eight), plus a small oak table that seated four.

Then I also purchased three wood folding (card) tables. In addition, I added wooden folding chairs. Holidays I was usually feeding 14 to 26 folks.

Only the card tables used a normal size table cloth; I sew so I purchased table cloth material (which normally is wider than regular fabric) and made my own table cloths. The larger oak table was oval and 54' wide yet I never could find a tablecloth to fit it in the stores.

Food was placed on the peninsula, and other kitchen counters. I hauled out my good china, sterling, glassware, etc. Sorry no pictures available - sold that house 2 yrs ago and down-sized drastically - holidays are now at a daughter's home.

Here is a link that might be useful: table that expands

    Bookmark   November 6, 2013 at 9:00PM
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robo (z6a)

Here's another fun pic I found ... food prep went WAY beyond our little kitchen, here's our friend (head chef for the evening) directing operations. DH is making dumplings out of sight on the right and chef's boyfriend is applying bacon to beef ribs out of sight on the left. I was on wine duty--drinking it, I mean! A woman's place definitely wasn't in the kitchen that night!

I swear there were decorations in this place somewhere...

This post was edited by robotropolis on Wed, Nov 6, 13 at 22:43

    Bookmark   November 6, 2013 at 9:10PM
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Oh, chairs and tables are a hodgepodge. Throw festive cloths on them and they all look fine. I used to borrow Dad's wood-and-leatherette card table and chairs; one year I just didn't return them and he never missed them so now they're mine hee hee (yes, I did finally ask for them). Borrowed Auntie's identical set, and a cousin's folding banquet table to match mine. I've also used my plastic outdoor chairs with a cushion and chair covers.

But now I have two mystery chairs that no one is claiming. Maybe Santa dropped them off? Every year I ask who they belong to. It's our new tradition!

    Bookmark   November 6, 2013 at 11:11PM
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Lovely pictures of all those decorated table settings, I'm loving this-

    Bookmark   November 7, 2013 at 10:27AM
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