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Hosting a Large Thanksgiving Dinner in a Small Home

Published by Kendall Nowack

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Living in a small home is wonderful when it comes to cleaning, because you don’t have much to clean but when it comes to throwing a party it can pose a problem! A Thanksgiving dinner is one that is shared with friends and family and with these suggestions you should be able to successfully host this magnificent meal any small home.

Growing up every year we went to Mamaw’s house for Thanksgiving Dinner. There were twelve of us who had to find a place to sit in her tiny home. The kitchen was taken over by the women who were busy chopping, basting, stirring, and setting the table while catching up on their gossip. The men took to the living room to watch football or a movie while the kids played throughout the house. This always worked out well giving everyone space to do their own thing but when it came time to sit at the table to enjoy our Thanksgiving meal we all couldn’t fit around the tiny table in Mamaw’s eat-in kitchen.

Pappaw came up with one year to make a tabletop that he could fit overtop of the kitchen table so it extended the length of the table several feet making room for all of us to fit around the dinner table. When Thanksgiving dinner was over the men would simply pickup the tabletop and but it back into the basement until the next holiday dinner.

Now Pappaw’s idea might now suit your needs so you may want to consider buying a plastic folding table. The tables come in many lengths from three feet to six feet, they are rectangle and can be easily covered with a tablecloth. You can use the folding tables in addition to your existing kitchen table and put chairs around to provide everyone with a seat.

Sometimes in a small home you will need to rearrange a lot of your furniture to accommodate your hungry Thanksgiving dinner crowd. It is a little more work but it usually ends us to provide you with the most party area. You will need to remove all unnecessary items from your kitchen and living room and or dining room (depends on your house). If you have a buffet cabinet, end tables, coffee table, or any other cabinet with a nice wide surface area, you will want to set them up in different corners of the room. You will be putting the different Thanksgiving dishes on these scattered tables creating a sort of scattered buffet style service.

Move your living room seating so that it rests along the border of your room, creating an open space in the center of your room. Your guests can walk around and mingle as they get their food and this way nobody has to worry about spilling the mashed potatoes on someone’s head when the are reaching over them for a scoop of the creamy starch side.

If you don’t like the idea of your guests have to stand to eat their Thanksgiving dinner you could think about getting some folding TV trays. This was another trick that Mamaw and Pappaw used for holiday dinners. Our family would split up, the women and children would eat in the kitchen at the table and the men would come into the kitchen only long enough to load their plates full of food and then head back into the living room to sit in front of the TV to watch the game.

Another option for your Thanksgiving dinner seating arrangement is to create two rooms of seating. Set up two long folding tables in two rooms of your house and place folding chairs on both sides of both tables. Make sure to cover the folding tables with a Thanksgiving theme tablecloth to dress them up a bit. You can even purchase slipcovers for the folding chairs that will disguise the ugly cold metal chairs. Make sure to put a serving dish of each menu item on each table so that it can be serve family style in both rooms and nobody has to run from one room to another to get their Thanksgiving grub.

Add a Thanksgiving themed centerpiece and candles to each table and you are all set!

If you live in an area where the weather is rather warm on Thanksgiving Day you may consider having your feast outdoors. There are several ways that you can set up an outdoor Thanksgiving Day dinner. First you can use picnic tables and bales of straw for seating and set the food on a folding table near the seating area. Include a set of horseshoes and a pumpkin carving station in the yard and this will be a Thanksgiving Day dinner with a hint of summertime cookout. Keep the cooking in the kitchen and the people out of the house.

If you have room in your backyard you may want to consider renting a tent from a party rental company and setting that up in your backyard. Rent table and chairs along with catering equipment and set up your Thanksgiving Day dinner like a buffet line. You can even set up a TV under the tent to play the big game!

Another way to handle a Thanksgiving Day dinner in your small home is to let the children eat before the adults, or let the men eat before the women, or draw straws to see who eats first. You might have to face the fact that no matter what you do you can’t fit everyone at the same table at the same time so people might have to take turns eating. This probably isn’t what you wanted but your friends and family will understand.

There is one more room in the house that my friends and I have all used over the years when throwing big dinner parties. The basement! Normally a basement is a dull and dingy place with lack of natural sunlight, but you can easily transform your basement into an enjoyable dining room for your Thanksgiving Dinner guests. To bring color to the dark depths of the basement try hanging bed sheets around the walls of the basement creating a “room” within the curtains, this will take the focus off the ugliness of the basement and make the dining area feel like it’s a room. Make sure to add some overhead lighting, the brighter the better in the basement. Add a nice tablecloth and center piece and maybe even a few strands of white Christmas lights and a faux potted tree and you just easily created a Thanksgiving dining area in your basement.

I hope that these ideas have helped you to decide how to set up your Thanksgiving Day dinner in your small house!

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