How To Create A Big Dining Table For Holiday Gatherings

Tom Gaffey
by Tom Gaffey
Credit: Shutterstock / Andrey Sayfutdinov

Dining room tables can sometimes feel like a waste of space, especially if you don’t have a large family. If you aren’t constantly entertaining, then you most likely have a small dining table, or perhaps no dining table at all. For most of the year, this likely frees up space in your home, so you can use the room for other purposes. But when it comes to hosting a holiday gathering, you will be left having to find a creative and hopefully inexpensive way to create a large dining table for festive gatherings.

To create a large dining table for holiday gatherings, first try to extend the existing table if it has any extensions. Combine multiple tables by adjusting the height of the shorter one. Increase the size of a table by covering the existing table with plywood, and then covering it with a tablecloth. You can also opt to rent a table or sit guests at multiple tables.

There is no need to panic If you plan to host a large gathering over the holiday season, or at any time of year. There are many ways to create a large dining table in your home and even more ways to host a large gathering where a large table isn’t even required. Below are the top ways to create a large dining table for holiday gatherings, and also ways to host a gathering where you don’t need a giant table at all.

8 Ways To Host A Holiday Gathering When You Need A Big Dining Table

1. Add Sleeves Or Extensions To Existing Table

One of the simplest ways to make many dining tables larger is to use the features the table already has. A significant percentage of modern dining tables come with the ability to change its size.

Some tables have a sleeve or two that you can insert into the center of the table. These can usually be hidden elsewhere in the home when you want the table to be smaller and can be added during occasions like a family gathering. Other tables have sleeves that hide under the table and can swing up, creating additional space, and in turn, additional seating.

Using these already-existing table extension methods is a great way to add more space to your dining table this holiday season. If your current table does not have these features, there are plenty of other possibilities listed below, but you may want to think about purchasing this type of table the next time you are shopping for a dining table.

2. Combine Two Tables

Another way to create a big dining table for a holiday gathering is by combining two tables. The odds that you have two dining tables of the same height and width are slim, but there are still ways you can make this work.

In the end, a similar height is more important than the same width. After all, you can have a thinner table attached to a wider table as long as they are the same height without interrupting the flow or causing dishes or glasses to tip.

If you have two tables that can seat people, use small pieces of wood under the shorter table legs, or other firm materials to make the two tables the same height. To make the two tables seem like one (even if they are different widths), consider adding matching tablecloths to these tables. With matching tablecloths, these two different tables will give the appearance of one larger table.

3. Cover the Table With A Sheet Of Plywood And Tablecloth

One cheap and fairly easy way to significantly increase the size of your current dining table this holiday season is by purchasing a large and sturdy piece of wood. Find a piece of wood that is the size of the dining table you require.

Next, take this large slab of wood and use it to cover your existing table. The key is to secure the wood to the existing table. Using some good gripping material between the two helps, as does using duct tape.

Lastly, you need to cover the table with tablecloths so it looks presentable. Remember that cheap plywood has a bumpy grit to it, and has unforgiving edges that can cause splinters. The key to making your table softer to the touch and safe for guests is to add a thick sheet underneath a tablecloth. This extra cushioning will prevent splinters from popping through, and also make the edges softer.

4. Seat Guests At Multiple Tables

Another trick, one that has been used for generations within larger families, is to seat guests at multiple tables. Many people are familiar with “the kids’ table.” This is a table often in the kitchen or another room where kids eat their meal apart from the adults. There are other ways to break up a larger group, but this tends to be popular.

Regardless of how you break up the large group, remember that it is perfectly normal and acceptable to seat guests at multiple tables during a holiday gathering, especially if you are hosting a holiday party in a small apartment.

5. Place Food And Decorations Somewhere Other Than The Table

One way to make your dining room table appear larger is to remove some items from the table. Often it is not so much that a table needs to be larger, but that there needs to be far fewer items on the table itself. Removing the food and most decorations from the dining table will make the table appear bigger.

The best way to relocate food and decorations is by creating a lovely buffet-style setup on either a kitchen counter, bar top, or a different table. Placing food in one area outside the table frees up lots of space, and it also means you can create some fun and timely holiday decorations around the food, which makes for a nice photo.

6. Rent Or Borrow A Large Folding Table

If you are looking for a simple solution to your small dining table problem, then one easy and fast solution is to rent a large folding table for the holiday season. Folding tables often come in 6’ or 8’ lengths, and can even be combined. They are easy to transport in a home and simple to set up and break down.

You may even have a family member who has a table you can borrow, as they are popular for camping and barbecue events. Simply cover these tables like you would a plywood table, with multiple tablecloths, and your guests likely won’t even know they are eating on a folding table.

7. Opt For A Mix And Mingle Event Over A Sit-Down Dinner

One important fact to remember, is that there is no set rule as to how you must host a holiday party. Just because you are having guests over on Christmas or Thanksgiving, it does not mean everyone needs to sit at one giant table. They don’t even need to sit at a table at all.

If you don’t have space for a large dining table but have space for people to gather throughout your home and in outdoor spaces, then opt for a mix-and-mingle style event. Choose smaller plates, more appetizer-style foods, and an atmosphere of socialization.

8. Use This As A Chance To Upgrade Your Existing Dining Table

Lastly, if you have a small dining table and are frequently finding yourself in a situation where you need a larger one, then you might want to use this as an excuse to invest in a new dining table. You can find nice solid wood and vintage tables through online resellers, or at thrift stores if you are on a budget. Consider opting for a dining table that can expand or contract, so you can make the most of your space when you aren’t hosting an event.

Final Notes On Creating A Big Dining Table For The Holidays

Hosting a holiday party can sometimes require a large dining table that you might not have. There are many ways to create a larger dining table, including combining two similar-sized tables. You can also add a large piece of plywood over an existing dining table, secure it, and add tablecloths. You can rent or borrow a folding table, or even seat guests at more than one table for the big holiday meal. There are lots of great ways to host a large holiday dinner even when you don’t have a large dining table, so you can enjoy the party without any added stress.

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Tom Gaffey
Tom Gaffey

Tom Gaffey is an expert writer who currently resides in Washington D.C. Tom has a passion for real estate and home improvement writing, as well as travel and lifestyle writing. He lived the last twelve years in Hawaii where he worked closely with luxury resorts and event planners, mastering his knowledge of aesthetics and luxury products. This is where he found his passion for home improvement and a keen interest in DIY projects. Currently, Tom resides in Washington D.C, and also working on his debut fiction novel.

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