Thanksgiving will be coming up soon, so we’re going to take a little blog side trip from repair, renovation, and painting into holiday planning – though building supplies may be involved!
Thanksgiving, even more than Christmas, is the time when families get together to share the feast. Many people invite friends over, too, particularly if it’s a year when some of the extended family will be dining with the in-laws. We know of one big family that, for years, could expect a gathering of fifty-plus people of all ages.
If you’re facing a big gathering like that for the first time, you might be thinking that this would be a good time to schedule a kitchen/dining room renovation. Unfortunately, you’d be too late. A project like that takes weeks of planning, preparation, and ordering of materials before the actual work can begin. When your deadline is Thanksgiving, you should get on the contractor’s schedule as soon as you start the planning, which should be no later than April. A completion date of mid October is not too early.
But it’s not too late to figure out the answer to the main question, which is:
How do you squeeze all of those people around the dinner table?
Now, the big family that does this every year will already have figured out a solution. But if you’re new to the hosting of feasts, you’ll need to improvise. Luckily, you have several good options here.
If you’re willing to seat the gang in groups, you can pull out every table you have, borrow some card tables from neighbors (or have the guests bring some), and arrange your living and dining rooms like a restaurant – preferably a buffet.
If you have a room big enough, you can put all the tables close together there, and maybe even arrange them side-by-side in a line. A friend we know had four separate square tables, all the same, that could be arranged in every possible combination to provide seating for groups of four up to sixteen.
If you can’t get a lot of tables, there’s still a solution that doesn’t involve buying an expensive banquet table just for one day a year. This happened to us when an aunt on Sandra’s side was having 35 people over. (It started out smaller, but the number just kept growing and growing.) She was determined to seat everyone in the same room and at the same table, even though her dining room table was nowhere near big enough, and she wouldn’t hear of us putting several smaller tables together. It had to be the same table.
On the day before Thanksgiving, she went to her local lumber supply store and had them deliver a huge sheet of plywood to the house. Needless to say, she had the table she needed to accommodate her guests. Folding chairs were easy to come by…but that takes some planning as well.
Don’t wait till the day before to go looking for your plywood banquet tabletop! The standard, easy-to-find size of plywood is 4 feet wide by 8 feet long. There are sheets up to 12 feet long, and some special purpose sheets that are 5 x 10 feet, but you won’t necessarily find them at Home Depot or even your local hardware store. And, unless you have a full-sized pickup truck at your disposal, you’ll have to allow for delivery time.
As to thickness, you might be able to get by with half-inch plywood, but three-quarter-inch will be less likely to sag at the edges, particularly if you have a lot of overhang.
Which brings us to the base. You can use two smaller tables as legs. Just be sure they’re sturdy, and figure out how to fasten the plywood. Rubber place mats should keep it from sliding, but a wide overhang may require clamping. You can screw blocks of 1-inch-thick boards to the plywood and clamp those to the skirts or legs of the underlying tables.
Now you’re probably wondering how to feed so many people. We’ll provide some recipes in our next article.