We’ve all been there before… the moment sheer terror sets in as you realize your intimate dinner party has magically morphed into Thanksgiving dinner for 20. Even Uncle Fred and the kids who have been notorious for skipping family gatherings have RSVP’d. A million questions are running through your mind, including where the heck are you going to put all these people?
Don’t panic quite yet. While it may not be possible to increase the size of your house before the holidays commence, there are some ways you can at least make it feel a little larger. Trust us, these tips will give your Thanksgiving guests more than one reason to be grateful.
Reinvent Your Table Top. Not all of us have the luxury of an extendable dining room table. Instead of frantically running to the closest furniture shop, opt for a more DIY approach. Head to your local home improvement store and buy a large piece of plywood to place over your regular dining table. Thanks to a handy piece of wood and a tablecloth, your small dining set will now be able to accommodate all of your guests. Learn how with this tutorial from In My Own Style.
Image via In My Own Style
You can also create one long banquet-style setting by combining different pieces from around your home (dining table, folding table, desk, cabinets, etc.). Any old table will look beautiful with the addition of a tablecloth. The best part is, your guests won’t be the wiser.
Shake Things Up. Mix up your traditional style recipe by moving your furniture and accessible seating towards the walls to make more space for guests to mingle. Think beyond just the traditional table and chairs set and take advantage of your sofas, chairs, ottomans, garden stools, patio sets, etc. Note, if it’s not essential to your party, you may need to temporarily relocate it to give people a little more space.
Functional Furniture. Look for functional pieces including folding chairs, ottomans, and benches (preferably armless) for additional seating options. A bar cart is perfect for holding all of your festive goodies, plus even some small bites. Remember, a kitchen cart, small bookcase multi-level sofa table, or mantel can always double as a beverage station.
Go Vertical. With so many people, place settings and serving dishes, you probably wont have room leftover for elaborate centerpieces. And if your bookcases, desks and shelves are doing double duty as serving stations, you may not have much space left for decor at all. So instead, think vertically. Utilize cake platters for tiered displays, add decorations to your walls or even hang them from light fixtures or the ceiling.
Image via Moss Eclectic
Opt for a Buffet. Instead of cluttering up the communal table with fixings galore, set up a buffet to free up tabletop space. Also try tiered serving trays and tall centerpieces and décor items to optimize your vertical space.
Use Rentals. You probably have service for 8, 10, 12 or maybe even 14, but certainly not 20-plus. Instead of using paper plates or blowing your holiday budget at Crate & Barrel, order some rentals. Consider renting the following: dinner and dessert plates, dinner forks and knives, dessert forks and spoons and perhaps glassware and coffee mugs. And the best part? You can send your rentals back dirty, which means you just saved yourself hours of dish washing! If you don’t want to spend the money on rentals, use what you have and borrow from friends or family for a mix-and-match approach. From stemware to seating, none of your guests are going to mind if their spot doesn’t match their neighbors.
Unconventional Spaces. Don’t be afraid to head outdoors or even to the garage for some additional conversation or dining areas—besides it’s always sunny in California so why not enjoy the weather? If you’re further north and worried about cooler temps, consider renting an outdoor tent and enclosing your outdoor space or bringing in outdoor heaters for extra warmth. The Kitchn has everything you need to know for hosting an outdoor Thanksgiving, while this garage, complete with soft touches like bulb lights and DIY curtains, rivals any dining room.
Declutter Your Space. A little fall cleaning will really go along way. Besides removing any unwanted furniture items, stash away all unnecessary accessories in your bedroom or office, including your guests’ hats, coats, and purses.
Mirror Mirror On the Wall. Strategically hung mirrors can be a small room’s best asset. Mirrors give the allusion of greater space by reflecting light, thus brightening the room. They also come in handy for quick touch ups throughout the night.
No matter how small your space, there is always room for a little creativity during the holidays.