Tips for Maximizing Your Dining Room Space for a Dinner Party

A cake platter filled with pastries on a table next to chocolate-dipped pretzel sticks and other treats in jars or vases

Things can get crowded when you have the whole family over for dinner. How do you manage to fit everything on the table? Is there enough room for decorations, or do they start to feel like they’re in the way?

Here are a few tips to keep your party spread looking neat, attractive and uncluttered:

  • Use cake plates, instead of large dinner platters, to increase the surface area of your serving space. Cake plates can be plain or as ornate as you wish. Find some that match your décor, style and budget.
  • Tier your table service. Elevate your serving platters on small pedestals or wire dessert stands. It nearly doubles the table area you have because, now, there’s room underneath for regular plates. Lazy Susans can also help to consolidate dish space and give your guests more elbowroom.
  • Use your sideboard or credenza. If at present your sideboard or credenza is just an overly large display stand for your knick-knacks or decorative dishes, a large holiday dinner party presents you with the perfect opportunity to clear it off and let it function as intended.
  • Use built-in shelving or bookcases near the party area. Clear away books, trinkets and family photos. Replace them with plates, cups, napkins, a coffee station, all the desserts—anything that will fit and that wouldn’t be awkward for your guests to access.
  • Use jars or vases for items that can be served vertically. Biscotti, candy canes, chocolate-dipped pretzel sticks and other treats can easily fit in vases. So too can utensils, stir sticks, straws and rolled silverware. Want to match your table’s theme? Tie coordinating curling ribbon around each jar, or use decorative vases that complement your holiday décor.
  • Use pitchers instead of serving bowls for anything that can be poured. Every square inch of surface area that can be conserved by “serving up, instead of out” will add up. Serving pitchers even work for small candies, nuts, marshmallows and snack mixes – no scooping necessary!