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Is It a Good Idea to Always Keep Your Dining Room Set for Dinner?


A collage of different types of dining room.

Short answer: Absolutely not!!!

In our current house, we have a formal dining room. In our new house that we are moving to shortly, we also have a formal dining room.  We have a terrific antique dining table and chairs. It comfortably seats 8.  We’ve squeezed in 12.  If we had narrower dining room chairs, 10 would be no problem. I digress.

Set formal dining table

Here are the reasons not to keep your dining table set for dinner all the time:

IMO, there are far more compelling reasons for not having your dining table set 24/7 than to keep it set.  Here they are.

1. In reality, it’s a convenient dumping ground

Dining table with a pile of junk on it

The main reason you do not want to keep your dining room table set for dinner all the time, especially if you have kids in the house, is in reality it’ll serve as a place to dump stuff.  You can try and resist all you like but when not in use, it’s a huge flat surface for putting things temporarily. I should mention that we eat our family meals on a small in-kitchen dining table.  It’s more convenient.  We reserve the dining room for when we have guests which is fairly often.

We get deliveries from Amazon, kids haul stuff home from school etc. etc. etc.  Stuff just piles in the house.  Eventually, it gets properly stored but until then it’s on the dining room table.

2. Avoid total destruction of all formal dishware and glassware

Smashed dishes

If you have kids in the house and/or a pet, you do not want to keep all your prized dishware and glassware on the table 24/7.  A kid or pet could get a corner of the tablecloth caught on them and run for it.  Your entire dining table setting will fly off the table and smash into thousands of pieces.  Why take the risk?

3. Nobody wants dust with their soup

If it’s a few months in between using the dining room, you’ll end up with a layer of dust on your dishware and glassware.  That’s gross. Your guests won’t be impressed. You won’t be either.  It’s more work dusting/cleaning them before the dinner than setting the table from scratch.

4. You might want it for casual meals

The other night our oldest son had a buddy over for dinner. We ate at our dining table for the room but it was a casual dinner.  Had it been set with all the formal dishware, it would have been a hassle moving it around for the casual meal.  By having it kept mostly bare, it was easy to quickly set it for a casual dinner.

5. Make-shift home office

These days with so many people working at home, the dining table is the home office.  If large enough, two can work there.  Again, there are many practical uses for a dining table in a dining room.

6. If not a dumping ground still a useful surface

If you’re tidier than us and never need a dumping ground, a dining table is still a very useful surface and table that has better uses than being set for formal dining 24/7.  If you have kids, it’s a place where they can draw, play board games, do puzzles, etc.

Now, if you have an 11,000 sq. ft. palace with umpteen rooms, by all means, keep your dining table set ready for service 24/7/365 but the reality is most people don’t have such a house.

Is there ever a situation where it’s worth keeping your dining room set for dinner?

Sure there is.

Host frequent dinner parties

Maybe you’ve planned and scheduled a series of dinner parties.  In this case, it could be worth setting the table after each washing of all the dishes and keeping the dining table set all the time.

If you happen to entertain frequently, as in weekly like clockwork, then it probably is worth keeping it set.  A dumping ground will probably be more hassle than it’s worth.

You absolutely love the look of a set dining table

If you love the look of a set dining table, by all means keep it set.  It’s certainly not a bad thing to do. I just approach it from more of a practical perspective than otherwise.

Keeping it dish free doesn’t mean you can dress it up

Bare dining table with table runner

While we don’t keep our formal dining room formally set 24/7 that doesn’t mean it’s bare.  We almost always have a table runner, centerpiece and some unlit candles on it just to make it look good and dress up the dining room. That gives the dining room a nice aesthetic while still offering practical use of the table.

Related: How to make a dining room look bigger | Dining Room Storage Ideas