What To Do When Your Party Size Is Bigger Than Your House

Bit off more than you can chew?

black and white vintage photo of couple entertaining friends / southern hostess
Photo: Getty Images

As we head into the fall and winter months, it's time to start planning tailgates, Thanksgiving dinners, holiday parties, and other gatherings. There's something special about hosting all of the people you love in your home. But what do you do when you realize that your guest list is larger than your space? These experts have tips on throwing a party that's festive and comfortable for everyone, regardless of the size of your home.

Get Creative with Seating

When you're planning a party in your home, Samantha Radandt, owner of B&R Events, says a general rule of thumb is to make sure that 50 percent of your guests have a place to sit.

"Some people might perch, some might lean and be okay with not sitting, whereas the other half may definitely need a seat," she says.

If seating is more limited than you'd like, this doesn't necessarily mean you'll need to rent chairs. Shay Brown, founder and owner of Shay Brown Events Management says, "Taking your basic seating and adding to it with oversized cushions or soft ottomans can be part of a very comfortable and beautiful design."

Consider Tents When Necessary

If your guest list is still larger than your home can comfortably accommodate, you might consider expanding the party out into the backyard and renting a tent. For a cold weather event, Vivian Schneider, owner of Weddings & Events By Vivian, advises adding heaters and sides for the tent.

"There's nothing worse than when it rains so hard it comes in sideways and there are no tent sides!" she says.

Remember Not Everyone Will Attend

"The typical return on RSVPs is 80 percent. If you invite 50, expect 40," Brown says.

Schneider adds that you should keep in mind that you can expect between two and four people to cancel the week of the event due to sick children, work conflicts, and other unexpected issues.

Spread Out Refreshments To Encourage Movement

We've all been to a party where everyone hovers in the kitchen the whole night. To prevent this kind of bottleneck when you've got a large guest list and a small space, Brown suggests setting up stations in different rooms of the home.

"You want to create different experiences throughout the rooms of your home so guests can explore and keep the flow going. Think appetizers on the dining room credenza, bar on the patio, the main dish in the kitchen, and sweets in the living room," she says.

Remember Small Details

If you're hosting a party in a smaller space, you'll want to think about the bathroom situation.

"If you have fewer than two bathrooms and more than 50 guests, renting a bathroom is a great idea," Brown says.

Don't forget to think about parking, too. Will you direct guests to park on the street? Do you have an open field or other space that you'd like to use? If you're expecting an influx of cars, you'll want to make your neighbors aware of this.

Radandt also recommends considering where you'll have guests store their coats.

"This issue always reminds me of the television shows where it's like, 'Here's the bed that the coats have to go on.' Of course, you can have the bed that the coats can go on. But I think it's even nicer if you can clear out your coat closet. I know this sounds silly, but don't have a mishmash of hangers in there. Invest a little bit of money and get some nice wooden hangers from Amazon," she says.

These little touches will help your guests feel comfortable and welcome in your home, regardless of the occasion.

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