I’ve gotten a few questions about various “preparedness” items related to entertaining. These involve dishes, extra seating, and other things that are very tempting to over-purchase “just in case”. I’m going to talk about chairs in this post, and I’m going to begin with a story.
My First Office
I know all about not having seating. Over a decade ago, I rented an 8′x10′ office. If that sounds small, it’s because it was! I had two six-foot folding tables, and one office chair. Basically I had just enough space to work, in a commercial area where I could get a particular type of phone line that I needed.
I was meeting with two people at 9:00 AM one day, and at 8:30 AM it hit me – I didn’t have any extra chairs. Not only didn’t I have any extra chairs, I didn’t have anything that I could use for a chair. I had room for chairs, but no chairs – and half an hour until my meeting.
There was a small office store three blocks away. I ran over there, hoping like heck that they were open. I walked in, plunked down $40 for two cheap chairs without hardly looking at them, hoisted them over my head and carried them upside-down back to my office. I got back just in time for my meeting, and the day was saved – but a little planning on my part would’ve eliminated the emergency!
Let’s begin by asking a simple question – do you already have the chairs? If you have an extra loveseat in the living room, half a dozen folding chairs in the basement, or even a couple extra dining room chairs, I wouldn’t arbitrarily pitch them with the plan of “I’ll replace them later, if necessary” – that is, unless there’s some other compelling reason to get rid of them.
Chairs are expensive enough (even the cheap ones, in quantity) that it just doesn’t make sense to me to chuck them if there’s a reasonable possibility that you’ll need them.
On the flip side, chairs are expensive enough that if you don’t have extra chairs I wouldn’t rush out to buy them unless you know, for a fact, that you’re going to need them in the very near future. And even then there are some viable alternatives.
Some Alternatives To Owning Extra Chairs
If you’re shy on living room furniture and you don’t have outdoor chairs or folding chairs, you have a number of options:
- Children can sit on the floor or on pillows.
- Some guests may be willing and able to bring a chair or two of their own.
- Chairs can be brought out of offices, computer rooms, and other places in the house.
- Freestanding ottomans can frequently be used for seating.
- If this is an infrequent and/or large gathering, you could rent some chairs…
- …or maybe borrow them from your office or church.
- Outdoor chairs can be brought inside, assuming they’re clean, not waterlogged, etc.
- If you’re outdoors, people can sit on steps, lean against cars, sit on a tailgate, etc.
- Sometimes you don’t need seating for all guests simultaneously.
- Sometimes you don’t need seating for all guests at all!
The last two points warrant some explanation. I’ve been at family events where there were outdoor games being played and other things going on, and over a dozen people functionally shared less than a dozen chairs since they weren’t all trying to sit at once.
I’ve also been at family gatherings where we were a bit short on chairs, and the older cousins just stood against the wall or wandered around. We really didn’t think anything of it.
Don’t just assume that you need one chair per person – consider other options and alternative seating (or non-seating!) arrangements!
The Bottom Line
There isn’t a right or a wrong answer to questions like this, because your space is your space. Don’t let people tell you what you are and aren’t allowed to do in your own home!
When we had our small apartment, my wife and I each had a chair – plus one extra. Our space wasn’t designed for entertaining guests, and we didn’t pretend that it was.
But if you like entertaining a half-dozen friends on Saturday afternoons, there’s nothing wrong with stashing a few folding chairs in your basement to make that a realistic possibility. Keep in mind that minimalism is about removing the things we don’t love to make room for the things that we do. And who doesn’t love spending time with family and friends?
What about you? How do you handle seating for guests? Any creative tips to share?
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