When we purchased our dining room table several years ago, my husband and I had a bit of an argument about how many chairs we needed to buy. I felt strongly that even though we were a family of four, 10-12 chairs were required. He insisted that eight was more than enough. Our budget settled the issue, and we purchased only eight chairs. Four years and one more child later, I resist the urge to gloat when we can't host even a family of four for Christmas dinner. Instead, we've had to focus on practical solutions to the extra seating situation for holiday dinners and parties.
Of course, the first place we look for extra seating during holiday gatherings is around the house. Our desk chair, for instance, is usually the first chair we grab when we need an extra seat. Don't forget to look outside, too. If you've got patio furniture or deck chairs, move them inside to provide the additional seating needed. We've also turned to our fold-up soccer chairs in moments of seating desperation.
If you've got a kitchen counter with stools, look no farther for a practical seating solution. Don't own some? Consider purchasing several unfinished wooden stools and storing them in the basement for occasions such as this. I'll admit that I prefer this option to metal folding chairs since you can use them when you need to place seating around the house for parties, too. They're often less expensive and if you want to get creative you can purchase fitted seat cushions to coordinate with the season or occasion! When you're done with them they'll re-sell well at garage and yard sales.
If you're short on seating without much notice, get creative with tools you have on hand. Two cinder blocks and a board can create a practical (if not industrial-chic) bench to seat a whole row of guests at your holiday meal. If you've got the tools on hand and aren't afraid to get to work, consider building your own bench with wood and materials from the home improvement store. You can use it inside, outside, and anytime you need extra seating.
Break the rules
Don't feel restricted by traditional seating options when you're running short on room for holiday gatherings. Ottomans, coffee tables/end tables, bean bag chairs, and even plastic storage totes can all serve your seating needs when you're in a bind. Do you live in a rural area? Consider hay bales by your dining table when you need a few more seats. Don't be afraid to think outside the box - a seat for every guest is more important than a dining set, even on holidays!
Don't be fools
If you are expecting a houseful of guests and your chair situation just can't cope, don't be afraid to call in help. Party rental companies can help you with your extra seating needs. Or, contact your local church or community center and ask to borrow a few folding chairs for your holiday gathering. You'll be glad that you saved yourself the holiday stress!