The students always recline on triclinia, as was the Roman way! We use mats from the gym and cover them with sheets (or animal print fabric shower curtains as you can see in the picture above) to make them look more Roman. We arrange the mats like this:
We always have rotisserie chicken that we pretend is a Roman delicacy... peacock! Some strategically placed tail feathers help with this illusion, and it would have been historically appropriate for the birds to be "dressed up" before being presented at a Roman feast!
In fact, the food should always be arranged in a visually interesting way, and putting all the foods for a course on a single platter makes sense for the course names of "mensa prima" and "mensa secunda" or "first table" and "second table," because the table "tops" or platters are switched out with each course!
Some years the students wear tunics to the feast. I find that this is a good idea for a few reasons. First, it helps the students put themselves in a Roman frame of mind for the feast. They are no longer 3rd graders, but Roman nobles, and should act differently than they would at their usual lunch period. Second, it protects the students' school uniforms from the food messes that may result from reclining while dining. It's harder than it looks to eat and drink while laying down! Since the students will return to regular classes in the afternoon, it's probably best if their uniforms are not sticky with honey.
Some years I've had entertainment for the students during the feast, as would have been customary for the Romans. Older students have played instruments for the 3rd graders, as their schedules have allowed.
Parent help is ALWAYS necessary. I would not be able to pull off this event every year if not for the parents who help with set up, food preparation, serving, and clean up.
This year I gave students the opportunity to make an authentic Roman recipe for extra credit and it was AMAZING! Quite a few of my students jumped on the opportunity and made recipes, which resulted in a greater variety of Roman dishes than our previous feasts! Because the students made the dishes themselves, they were more excited to try these "strange" dishes and encouraged their friends to do so as well!
Each year I have a few documents that help me stay organized through the process of putting on this feast. You can find these documents here if you're hosting your own feast and think they might help you, too!