The Thanksgiving menu is set, the ingredient lists written. The house is on its way to presentable.
But where oh where will everyone sit?
At a folding card table? Maybe the living room coffee table, with the ensuing plate-balancing act?
Or, the fabulous piece of art decorating a prominent wall.
After confronting their own space conundrums last Thanksgiving, a South Jersey brother and sister have created tables that morph into wall art - ready to serve one moment, on display the next. And way too nice to be shoved into storage.
Sibs Gwen Kunkel, 45, and Paul Randall, 41, founders of a 20-year-old concrete resurfacing company, had specialized in surfaces for driveways and other outdoor areas, and provided indoor counter surfaces for bars and restaurants.
But not for home sweet home.
Then came a eureka last year when Kunkel, the family's Thanksgiving host, looked around her Washington Township home and lamented - yet again - the lack of table space. Lightbulb! Why not, with the same tried and true materials their business uses, create a table-art hybrid?
Randall of Swedesboro, the family artist, got busy creating a prototype. Kunkel provided ideas and critiques. And within weeks, Tables on the Move (ToTm) was born in October.
Their concept is tied to practicality. Many younger couples don't use what builders designate as dining room space for that purpose, instead turning those areas into playrooms or offices. And although dining room sets still exist, and are sometimes handed down through the generations, many modern families don't have use for such formal furniture.
In the Tables on the Move scenario, the table top lives its days in the dining room on the wall, in the bedroom as a headboard, outside on the patio until extra seating is needed. A variety of legs can be screwed on and off in two minutes.
"It definitely doesn't take any skill," assures Randall. Not to mention brawn. No table weighs more than 77 pounds.
For Kim Redvanly and Gavin Hartman, who recently moved into their first home together in Fishtown, the concept is a good fit. "We don't actually have a real dining room, but when we saw the pieces at the Home Show last year, we knew it would be perfect for us," says Redvanly, 27. "It was our first original art purchase, and we're very proud of it. It hangs on the wall of what would be our dining room, and people are blown away by it."
The seven-foot piece is coming off the wall this Thanksgiving, when Redvanly and Hartman are hosting their first holiday dinner.
The tables, which take several weeks to create, use a hard wood as a base, but are layered with cementlike coatings of paints, crushed stones, and minerals that create patterns resembling marble.
The result is a virtually indestructible and artistic table, so no tablecloth needed. The tables come in various lengths - from 96 inches (for 10 to 12) to 72 inches (for six to eight) - and widths. The most popular size was based on observation.
"Tables that are too wide leave people shouting across a distance, and obviously take up more space," Kunkel said. "From our own family experience - and we're talkers - 40-inch widths work well."
So far, the company has sold 16 tables, which range in price from $1,299 to $2,999 and cost about $350 more for the higher-end line with more intricate art. The trick now is to find the appropriate outlet, a challenge with a product that doesn't fit a traditional mold. Is it furniture, or is it art?
Kunkel and Randall are showing the tables in a few boutiques, including Urban Princess in Queen Village, and hope to reach markets in New York and northern New Jersey. The company recently sold one table to corporate jet provider Legacy Aviation Group for its conference table at Teterboro Airport in northern New Jersey - and the company is spreading the word to its clients.
The company will be showing its wares at the 2013 Philadelphia Home Show, hoping to build on the success at this year's show, when the tables won the designation "new and innovative product."
Innovation isn't limited to the siblings in this family; their mother, Heide Sorkin of Mount Laurel, discovered her children had no protective way to transport the sample tables and legs they were carting to clients' homes. So Sorkin created a practical and sleek carrying case.
This Thanksgiving, Kunkel will use a table for 12 in her dining room - it's her brother's first creation, and one that usually hangs on her living room wall. No one will be cramped. No shouting required.
As for clearing the heaps of holiday dishes, there's still no invention for that.