For city dwellers and homeowners with small spaces, hosting a party—especially around the holidays—can be overwhelming. These five tips will make small-space entertaining a breeze.
Curate the Menu
A feast can be fully decadent without serving a million dishes. For those with a small kitchen and few prep areas, serve only a handful of well-considered menu items, such as a filling main dish, a few delicious sides, and one show-stopping dessert. Also consider limiting your drink offerings to beer, wine, and a specialty cocktail, rather than putting out a full bar—this will save time, money, and space, as well.
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Divvy Up Your Space
If you’re lucky enough to have separate kitchen, dining, and living room spaces, try to establish different spots around your home for guests to enjoy the party. Place appetizers in one area (such as the living room coffee table, so guests can stand, mingle, or sit), set up the drinks in another, and arrange the main-event food in a third. Many guests will automatically drift toward the kitchen; if your space is small, however, you’ll want to make sure that anyone in the kitchen is actually helping, not standing around taking up valuable prep space. Creating separate (and inviting) entertainment spaces will keep guests mingling, having fun, and out of your tiny kitchen.
Move Furniture Around
If you’re planning a sit-down event, your small-scale dining table can be combined with a hall table, a vanity, or even a folding card table to make it longer and more comfortable for guests. Simply throw one or two neutral tablecloths over the whole thing, and layer colorful throws or scarves at an angle on top to make the space feel cohesive. For spaces lacking a formal dining area, set up the dining table against one wall, and spread your dining chairs around the periphery of the space until dinner. Think of this as a sideboard during the first half of the party, for serving apps and drinks; when it’s time to eat, move the table out to a more comfortable location (such as the middle of the living room) for your feast. Transfer any unnecessary furniture or floor-hogging pieces (houseplants, DVD towers, etc.) to your bedroom for the duration of the party.
Related: 26 Easy Outdoor Appetizers
Set the Mood
Bad lighting can kill the festive mood of a party; thus, avoid harsh overhead lighting in favor of candles (especially on the dining table) and lamps placed strategically around the room. If your party extends to a porch or patio, string up twinkle lights outside and offer cozy throw blankets to guest so they’ll feel comfortable taking advantage of your alfresco space.
Keep Things Casual
If all else fails—or if your space is truly one room-level tiny—go casual. Plan a finger-food feast, settling guests on living room furniture and floor pillows rather than at a formal dining table. As long as you offer a good party playlist, a delicious menu, and lively conversation, your guests will stay long into the night.