10 Sneaky Seating Arrangements for Holiday Parties
Make the best use of your space by adding alternative seating.
Is one of your goals this year to be less stressed and enjoy yourself more during the holiday season? If the answer is yes, consider getting as much prep out of the way now as possible — so when it's your turn to host a party or have the whole family over for a holiday meal, you can feel calm. Join us as we tackle a different key area of holiday prep each week, starting with these 10 solutions to that ever-present problem … where all of those extra guests will sit. Let's get started.
1. Floor cushions. No, Great-Grandma probably won't want to sit on the floor, but younger guests at a crowded gathering won't mind plunking down one bit — provided you have some nice, cushy floor pillows on hand. Before the party you can store your cushions under the coffee table, stacked on a shelf or in a closet; pull them out and toss them on the floor before your guests arrive.
2. Stacked stools. These are great because they take up practically no space yet can unstack to provide you with two, three or more extra seats in a snap. Just keep it to two or three if you plan to leave them out all the time — more than that can look cluttered.
The Design Atelier, original photo on Houzz
3. Low seating in front of the fire. People tend to avoid putting seats in front of the fireplace for fear of blocking the view — but you can easily tuck in a few low stools or ottomans, or even a bench, while keeping sight lines open.
4. Stools tucked under a table. This is a classic decorator trick for good reason — filling that blank space beneath a console makes a room look more complete, and the stools can be pulled in to join the seating arrangement during parties. A pair is nearly always better than just one.
Traditional Living Room, original photo on Houzz
5. A coffee table alternative. Why go with just a coffee table when a trio of petite, sculptural stools is so much more functional? Use them clustered together between parties, then divvy them up when guests arrive to be used as extra side tables and seats. A cushy, upholstered ottoman will also work splendidly and will provide more space for spreading out or putting feet on — perfect if you prefer a larger coffee table.
6. Entryway seating. Make the most of your space by positioning a stool, chair or portable bench in your entry — it's useful for those putting on shoes and can do double duty as extra party seating when needed. Even petite apartment entryways have room for a teensy little garden stool, so don't write off this option just because your place is small.
JayJeffers, original photo on Houzz
7. An extra table and chairs in the entryway. If you are lucky enough to have a large foyer, put it to work by placing a dashing round table there. If you tuck short stools beneath, you will have an extra table and chairs ready to fill a seating gap at dinnertime.
8. Folding chairs. Stashing a stack of slender folding chairs in the coat closet or under the guest bed is smart for anyone (you would be amazed how often you reach for them), but it's especially useful if you have a dining table with extension leaves. It's so much easier to store a few spare folding chairs than the full-size versions. If you are concerned about comfort, invest a few extra dollars in tie-on seat cushions — they make a world of difference.
Studio Frank, original photo on Houzz
9. Bedroom bench. Another option for sneaking in extra room at the dining table (or elsewhere) is the bench usually kept at the foot of your bed. In the market for a bedroom bench? Choose one that will also work at your dining table and you will always have seating to spare.
10. A bench beneath a console. Rather than go for the more typical pair of stools under your hallway console table, try placing a spare bench for your dining table there instead. Since a bench mirrors the lines of a console, it will be hardly noticeable until you pull it out to use at your next big gathering.