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Inspired Holidays {Day 29}:: Dining Rooms & Holiday Entertaining

by | Oct 29, 2011 | 31 Days: Inspired Holidays, Decorating Inspiration, Dining Rooms, Seasonal Decorating & Entertaining

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Inspired Holidays {Day 29}:: Dining Rooms & Holiday EntertainingSouthern Living


In just a few days we’ll be heading into the month of November! If you are in the United States, we are gearing up for Thanksgiving and of course, most of the world is getting ready for the Christmas season! WOW! Can you believe it?

I have served Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners in each of my houses over the years. Big dining rooms, teeny tiny dining rooms and potluck style in a living room. It doesn’t really matter what size of a dining room you have, or whether you host Thanksgiving or Christmas as a sit down meal or a potluck buffet.  You can have a fancy dining room or a kitchen table. A sofa or a card table and chairs.

While a gorgeous table in a beautiful large dining room would be a dreamy place to host your holiday meal what really matters is the conversation, the sense of family and community you build around that meal and table.

Inspired Holidays {Day 29}:: Dining Rooms & Holiday Entertaining

Southern Living

One of my favorite Thanksgiving dinners I hosted was for my sister and her fiance. They were getting married the next day, so we didn’t have time to prepare a full fancy Thanksgiving dinner.

That particular Thanksgiving my sister and I threw together a simple turkey breast, mashed potatoes, stove top stuffing and cranberries. We sat around the world’s smallest dining room table in the tiniest dining room of my English cottage style house in Eastmoreland and talked about their marriage and future. Even though it was a simple meal, I turned down the dimmer switch on our chandelier and lit candles on the table to create ambience and atmosphere. That was probably 12 years ago now, but we still remember that Thanksgiving as one of our favorite times.

We might have to adapt our sit down dining style or our preparations for the meal to the size of home we are in or the season of life. We might not always have the ideal circumstances or perfect dining room, but we can still create special memories with conversation, a little ambience and a simple meal!

Do you host a get together around the holidays?
Do you use a formal dining room or a kitchen table?
What are some ways you make a holiday meal feel special, in spite of limitations you might face?

Just click to share ideas in the comments!

I’d love to hear about your holiday plans involving your dining room or kitchen table! 

Here are some blogger dining rooms you might enjoy for inspiration!

Find the rest of my Fall and Christmas Decorating Series here!


  1. Mimi

    One Thanksgiving, I decided to make personal place cards for the dining table. I got childhood pictures of each family member, distressed them a bit and made unique deep red and purple tags for each. Each one was different. They all enjoyed looking at each other’s cards.I still put the tags for my husband and kids on the Christmas tree when my color scheme is red and purple.

    • melissa

      That is a lovely idea!!!

  2. Michelle Starling

    I have hosted both Thanksgiving and Christmas for many years. I’ve had both a large dining room and small. Right now, my dining room is a kitchen/dining combo. Not my favorite set-up but for now it works. We have a tradition of making a thankful list and sharing it before we eat. I have kept all of the lists and I cherish them.

    • melissa

      That is a great idea to make and save thankful lists!

  3. Vee

    Oh I enjoyed reading about that special Thanksgiving with your sister. Sometimes the simplest ones stand out the most. I fondly remember one Thanksgiving during my Mid-West years, far from home and family, when my friend and I decided to make our own Thanksgiving dinner — Cornish hens with all the fixin’s.

    No fancy dining room here and some losses in the past year meaning fewer chairs around the table. It does not diminish the love, however.

  4. Frances

    I really appreciate this post! I haven’t found a good balance yet for Thanksgiving dinner. At our house it looks like my dad cooking the turkey, me doing almost everything else, and a light wood table in a rather messy dining room but filled with Colorado sunshine and surrounded by my brothers, my sis in law, and usually a few college friends who needed a place to spend Thanksgiving.
    we have a wonderful time. It is hard to rebuild a holiday in the 4 years after my mom left, which is probably why I overdo it in the cooking department!
    This year I want to make the meal a little more simple.. more things made ahead of time.. maybe let others bake a few things if they want. I want to enjoy the time together and the relationships are what matter

  5. StephanieB (KickAssWife)

    I have never had a formal dining room in the four places we have lived. I honestly don’t mind. I like the cozy feeling of a small relaxed setting. I usually set out pretty cloth napkins and a country white water pitcher with candles. I liked the place card idea as well.

  6. Dana

    Each year my sister hosts Thanksgiving and it’s a wonderful tradition. In recent years I travel early so I can be there a couple of days in advance to lend a hand and enjoy the preparations.

    The food is always very tasty – but it’s the community that I love most. About an hour before everyone arrives my sis and I usually spend some quiet moments together.

    After dinner people split off to different rooms – to watch TV, to have coffee and some sweets, go play pool or foosball.

    Usually I can be found napping in a favorite chair for a few moments.

    Thinking back, I remember my sis making cornish hens when I was small. I’m sure she went to great lengths to make a fancy T-day – and I bet most of us didn’t really appreciate the effort. To me, it’s so much more about the relationships.

  7. shelley.

    Love this post. It’s really about the time spent with the ones you love that makes a holiday special. All the rest is just bonus, and sometimes even gets in the way of just enjoying each other’s presence.

  8. Diane

    My most favorite Thanksgivings were the last two. A good friend wasn’t feeling good…so I offered to host dinner (her menu) for her immediate and extended family. She took me up on it and also invited another family as well. It was so fun…we did it again last year with another family joining in too. In addition to the dining room table, I set up 2 more tables in the adjoining living room. It was so much fun, setting each table differently. Everyone loved it! This year I’m in a new town. I’m hopeful that we’ll get to host again and savor all the memories made again. We have soooo much for which to be thankful!

  9. Cindy Doll

    Being a recent widow, I will have my kids around for Thanksgiving. I have always enjoyed all the wonderful smells coming from the kitchen. The turkey as it cooks. Pies as they bake. The comaradirie we have. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. It’s just too bad that we are already having to have Christmas shoved down our throats. And the trick n treaters haven’t even been out!

  10. Sunny

    My dining “room” is open to my kitchen. I hate having to see the mess of cooking while I am eating. Someday I will have a formal dining room, until then it is nice to be reminded that it is the time with the family and friends that is important. Not the space you share it in. Thanks for the reminder!

  11. Karen

    I agree, it doesn’t have to be a fancy, large dining room with a gourmet meal to be memorable. We’re hosting our youngest son’s future in-laws this Thanksgiving and are thankful to do so.
    Your sister’s pre-wedding Thanksgiving meal sounds perfect!

  12. Karen

    My husband and I have hosted family dinners and birthday celebrations everywhere from the garage, to the basement, to the kitchen, the backporch, and moving all of the furniture out of our small livingroom to fit two eight-foot banquet tables and two six-foot banquet tables set in a huge square with a pretty centerpeice in the center! Then there is the last minute “oh-I-invited-so-and-so-hope-you-don’t-mind” as they are coming through the door! There really IS room for “one more”! With the size of our livingroom, I prayed everyone went to the bathroom BEFORE sitting down-it was THAT closed in! But it was beautiful and I just wanted to make the surroundings match the wonderful feelings of having everyone together (which doesn’t happen often enough with everyone living so far away!). I think it’s appreciated when you go through the effort to treat people special! It makes a visiual memory for them long after they have gone back to their everyday lives….and that’s what it’s all about, right? Sharing memory-making times with loved ones? Just found this site tonight from Between Naps On The Porch…love it!

  13. Elizabeth

    A great post! We usually host my family’s dinners, with the help of my sister who lives two streets away. The numbers range from 11 to 35 depending on who is in town. We have both sit down and buffet style depending on the numbers.

  14. Rick Shaver, PleasantLivingHome

    Gives new mean to The Bold and The Beautiful. Every thing is so perfect and light and at night I know that brown dining room is so intimate and inviting.

  15. Becky

    I would really really like to host a full thanksgiving dinner, preferably sit down with little name cards, cloth napkins and multiple forks. Instead I just bounce between my parents and in-laws (one family a year, the other gets Christmas).

    Although my sister did host last year, but that year was my in-law’s year, and I was really bummed to miss my little sister’s first thanksgiving. They didn’t even take pics like I requested. :(


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