Dining Room Ideas for Holiday Gatherings

The holidays are right around the corner, and we’re just as excited as you are to start planning  for holiday gatherings this year. In addition to selecting dates, sending invites and planning out your festive meals, you’ll definitely want to refresh your dining space. Here are a few things to consider when updating your dining room for holiday gatherings including: whether it’s formal or casual, the number of guests you’re expecting, any home bar additions and decorations. 

Formal or Casual Gathering

One of the first things you should decide on is whether you would like to have a formal gathering or a casual one. This will help set the tone for all other dining room updates you make. It is completely up to you and your family’s preferences on how formal or informal you’d like your holiday gatherings to be. 

Formal Holiday Gatherings

For formal gatherings, you’ll want to select a dining room table large enough to accommodate guests while having plenty of space for a formal table setting complete with silverware, dinner plate, dessert plate, water glass and wine glass. Depending on how formal you would like to be, you may decide to place one course on the table at a time or keep all the food in the kitchen until it’s ready to be served individually. Either way is great, just plan accordingly when picking out your dining room table.  

Casual Holiday Gatherings 

If you’re choosing a more laid-back approach to holiday entertainment, you may opt to have everyone sit down at the table together with all the food placed at the center of the dining table. This is a very easy and traditional way of enjoying a holiday meal together.

If you have a large amount of food and your table simply isn’t large enough to accommodate, there are a few different things you can do. You may choose to make your dining room table a designated palace for all food, appetizers, entrees, side dishes, salads, rolls and desserts. Guests could then make a plate and sit freely around the home wherever they are more comfortable. This could include the living room, kitchen and any other space with extra seating. This method is very relaxed, making it feel more like a party than a sit-down dinner. If you’re looking for something in between the two, consider adding a side buffet table to the dining room. You can place all the food on buffet tables so they are out of the way but still easy to get to, while everyone sits at the same table together. 

Number of Expected Guests

Who’s invited?! This is the second most important question you’ll need to answer in order to determine what dining room updates you’ll want to make this holiday season. Between family and friends, get a rough idea of how many people will be attending your gathering and keep in mind that this number may change before the party, so always be prepared for a few additions  or no-shows. 

Small Group (Four to Six Guests)

Smaller groups between four to six people can fit nicely at an average-size dining room table. This number of people also works well in some of the larger round tables, giving you more room to spread out. If you plan on having all of your food at your table or plan on doing large centerpieces, you may still want to opt for a larger table. 

Large Group (More Than Six Guests)

Groups with more than six guests will need a larger table and, in some cases, multiple tables. If you’re expecting several guests this holiday season, select an extendable dining room table. Extendable tables provide the extra space you need while entertaining guests and are more compact when you don’t. Most extendable table pieces are easy to pop in and out. Consider a table with some bench seating as well. Benches provide more versatile seating space, you may be able to fit three or four people on one side where with chairs you could only fit two. 

Kid Guests 

You can also set up a kids table if your guest list includes younger children. This not only frees up some room at the main dining table but also gives the kids their own conversation space. Depending on the age of your young guests, you may also want to place a tablecloth under the table to catch any food that drops on the floor, making for an easier cleanup. 

Holiday Home Bar Additions

It’s not a party without a few cocktails & drinks, so don’t forget to set up a bar station in the dining room. If you’re working with limited space, choose a bar cart that can be wheeled around or a bar tray that can be set on top of a nearby buffet or side table. There are so many home bar options to choose from, depending on your layout and interior design style. Learn more about the options you have and which setup will work best for you. 

Holiday Dining Room & Table Decorations

Once you’ve figured out your table and chair configurations, it’s time to accessorize the room! There are plenty of ways to create a more fun and festive gathering space for your friends and family during the holidays. 

Dress the Windows

Change out your curtains altogether or opt to add decorative touches to your curtains like tassels, extra top draping and decorative curtain tie backs for a traditional holiday spin. 

Update Your Lightning

Refresh your lighting fixture or add extra lightning to transform the entire look and feel of your entertaining space. Consider changing out light bulbs for a softer warm glow or adding tapered candles around the room during fall and winter holidays. 

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Theme Your Centerpieces

Have fun with your centerpiece! This is one area of your décor that you can really go all out and express yourself. Whether you choose to do one large piece at the center of the table or divide your centerpiece into smaller grouped pieces, it’s up to you! 

Centerpieces should be eclectic and include several colors, textures, heights and shapes. Holiday gathering centerpieces are usually the main decorative focus for your guests. 

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Add Area Rugs

Add a festive area rug under your dining room table. Even if your dining room is carpeted, an area rug can help bring your color scheme together and provide more warmth and depth to the room. 

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Bring the Outside in

No matter the season, bringing elements of nature inside your home works all year round. Opt for holly, pine or juniper branches to transport your guests to a cozy winter cabin. 

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Be Creative with Your Table Settings

  • Add textured chargers
  • Use colorful plates
  • Use cloth napkins
  • Use metallic silverware 

Now’s the time to start prepping for this season’s gatherings. El Dorado Furniture offers a wide range of dining table sets to suit any entertaining occasion, plus dining chairs to accommodate parties of all sizes!

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