Smart Solutions: Think ahead for maximum holiday hosting plans

Jeanine Matlow
Special to The Detroit News

 Whatever your plans may be for hosting others this holiday season and beyond, you might want to see what you have to make people feel at home, like occasional tables and chairs.

Flexible furniture like side tables and upholstered chairs on wheels ensure you have enough seating and surface space for guests.

We don’t always get much notice before guests arrive, which was the case when my daughter asked if her friends could come over that night to make stress balls from balloons filled with flour for a school project. Though their task sounded rather stressful to me even before I heard that our house would be the place for them to work their messy magic, I agreed.

Since we didn’t want our dog to get in the way, our lower level seemed to be the best location for their situation. Luckily, I knew I had a large folding table and some comfy folding chairs with cushions that could be set up without much effort.

Though their plans got derailed, I know I can be ready at a moment’s notice the next time.

This had me thinking about the parties and events I’ve attended that didn’t have enough seating available or surface space for food and drinks. Even a spacious coffee table might not be a viable option when it’s slightly out of reach.

Nesting tables that stack together when not in use and C-tables that can slide under a sofa are among my favorite flexible pieces that can adapt to any situation, whether you plan to have a small gathering or a big celebration.

Benches can also accommodate different scenarios. For instance, if you have one that typically sits in the entry or rests at the foot of the bed, it can be pulled up to a dining table to fit more people than individual seats.

In addition, stools with adjustable heights can become temporary side tables. Or, you can create an impromptu surface with a stack of hatboxes, old luggage or coffee table books.

Some chairs seem to be better suited as tables, such as vintage varieties with unique features that may look better than they feel.

Even a card table covered with a festive fabric comes in handy as a place to put gifts for a get-together like the Secret Santa exchange we may host at our home for my daughter and her friends.

Pieces on wheels can be transported from one room to the next as needed, whether it’s an upholstered chair, a bar cart or a kitchen island.

Patio furniture like a bistro set provides extra seating for others when placed inside your home. It might even serve as a wrapping station for all those holiday gifts.

Garden stools that can also go indoors and out are the perfect size for a beverage and a small plate of food. The fact that they add a decorative element without taking up much space makes them the perfect companion for a sofa or side chair.  

Lastly, for visitors who plan to spend the night, check your guest rooms to make sure there is enough seating and surface space to make them feel at home. Once again, you can pull pieces from other parts of the home to make the space feel cozy.

Jeanine Matlow is a Metro Detroit interior decorator turned freelance writer specializing in stories about interior design. You can reach her at