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The holidays bring lots of joy, but they can also be a challenge when trying to entertain. This is especially true when you have a small space. For years I entertained in a small space, and it wasn’t always easy – until I really learned to implement these tips. Since then I’ve been known for gathering many more people than you would expect into a space that you wouldn’t expect would entertain a larger group. So now I’m sharing what I’ve learned and put together into my top 5 tips for holiday entertaining in a small space. You can do it – I did it for years!
TIP ONE: Prep Ahead
I say this all the time, and it doesn’t matter the size of the home you’re entertaining in. Prepping ahead of time is of the utmost importance. If you’re in a small space, the last thing you want to be doing is preparing food while guests are milling about your kitchen.
I have always had two crockpots. Slow cookers are a party staple, especially when in a small space. This allows for you to prep ahead two warm dishes (usually the day prior or the morning of), and keep them warm that day.
Additional food that you choose can be items that are served room temperature or cold. If most of your dishes will be hot when served, consider making them ahead and warming them in chafing dishes.
Prepping ahead also means putting out plates, napkins, and silverware. (All can be disposable if you prefer – just try to use something earth friendly like one of the options below). Place your serving dishes around the house the day prior with a post-it note on each piece naming what will be there. For example, a small crystal bowl for spiced nuts, or a basket for bread.
How does this tip help with holiday entertaining in a small space?
- You plan ahead of time what goes where.
- It’s clear what you have left to do.
- Cooking isn’t happening as guests are arriving.
- Filling appetizer bowls and plates is easier when you already know what goes where.
TIP TWO: Avoid the Party Bottleneck
I’d be remiss not to include this tip in my 5 Tips for Holiday Entertaining in a Small Space. When setting up your space, think of how people will congregate. If you have everything set up on one long table, that is where every guest will be drawn. Instead, set up stations around your home. For instance, use an existing sideboard, end table, or bar cart to set up beverages. Make sure that this area is set a distance away from where you will set up your food (I suggest chafing dishes on your kitchen counter if you have the room). Lastly, place appetizers on different tables throughout the space so guests can grab an app and chat. What this set up does is draw people into different areas to congregate and chat. People aren’t trying to reach around each other to grab an appetizer or a drink, and thats a plus.
TIP THREE: Set Aside a Space For Guest Belongings
When guests arrive, have an area ready to receive coats and purses. I’ll usually clean out a part of a main area closet and fill it with empty hangers for this purpose. If you don’t have a coat closet, simply put a sheet down on top of your bed and use that space to lay coats down. Have a couple of large baskets on the floor next to the bed to hold purses. There are two benefits to setting this up. First, you don’t have someone’s coat on your nice bedding, and two, guests know just where to find their things when it’s time to go, and you aren’t taken away from other guests to get it for them.
TIP FOUR: Clear Anything You Aren’t Using
My counters are always clear the day of a party. I use them to serve food, house different serving pieces, and that’s it.
- This includes any appliances that aren’t needed for your party. For example: toaster, stand mixer, or canisters holding flour and sugar. If you don’t need them for the party, they don’t need to be taking up any space in your kitchen! No matter how hard you try – people love to congregate there, and less is more when this happens!
- In your living areas, remove any decorations that take up additional space where guests could place their drinks or food.
- Clear out my bathroom counters of anything that doesn’t need to be used during the time of the party. I always set out guest towels like the ones below in a pretty basket, and soap.
- Remove any medications other than ibuprofen, and always put out extra toilet paper and a room spray.
- Spaces should all be free of additional clutter, and in common areas, coasters should be available on each surface.
TIP FIVE: Move Your Furniture
I can’t even tell you how many times friends would say that they didn’t have the room to host large gatherings in their small space. Also, I can’t tell you how many times they never even thought of moving things around just for a night.
Remove anything extra that you don’t need. Put the extra table in your bedroom, push the couch or dining table up against the wall. Bring dining chairs into the living room and serve only finger foods and dishes that can be placed on a smaller dish. You’d be amazed at how moving a few things around can completely open up a space.
Don’t worry – it can all go back tomorrow!
Use the 5 tips for holiday entertaining in a small space and you’ll be well on your way to a successful holiday party! Get that music going, light (or turn on) the candles, and get the tree lit up. You’re about to be known for your epic holiday entertaining talents!
If you’re looking for additional holiday entertaining inspiration, I’ve got you covered! Click on the links below for more!