Tips for Hosting in a Small Space

Hosting a party, or even a small gathering, can feel overwhelming when your home is tight on space. Perhaps you’re living in a tiny apartment, working around roommates, or you’re planning to invite more bodies than your place can hold comfortably. In any scenario, don’t let your small space prevent you from thinking big. It’s taken me a few tries and a few different living situations, but I’ve come to establish a bit of a routine for hosting in a small space. In this blog post, I’ll share a list of tips that I follow to maximize space, reduce clutter, reinvent and repurpose the use of everyday furniture to create an open environment for guests to flow freely. Welcome friends, family and neighbors into your home with confidence, by implementing these tips for hosting in a small space.

Tip No. 1

Establish party zones. Chances are, you aren’t planning to open up your bedroom to guests. Or your linen closet, or any other storage areas that are tucked away behind closed doors. Think of these spaces as the crown jewels of your party. They offer entirely open and usable space to conceal any clunky home furnishings, hide personal belongings, and temporarily store unneeded items that take up too much surface area or floor space.

Determine which rooms you’ll invite guests into, and which rooms will be the main areas dedicated to the party, AKA, the party zones. The majority of house parties tend to rely on kitchens and living rooms as dedicated party zones, especially when hosting in a small space.

Apartment Decor

Tip No. 2

Walk into your party zone with a fresh perspective, as if you’re seeing that space for the first time. What impression do you get from your home? Consider how it makes you feel, where your eyes are drawn to, and what words you would use to describe it.

Pay extra attention to any clutter, piles of empty boxes, overstuffed shelves, unused dinnerware / kitchenware / home decor. You don’t need to tackle these areas right away, but do make a mental (or physical) note of the obvious stuff.

Decor

Allow yourself a healthy dose of criticism, and identify any spaces that aren’t serving their full potential. Untapped potential is going to be your biggest waste of space, so don’t let it rob your party of that coveted square footage!

Evaluate how you could better capitalize on those areas. Do a massive clean out, donate unused or unwanted items, or rearrange any sections of your home that stand out as an eye-sore. Remember, the changes you make don’t have to be permanent. You could always rely on those crown jewels spaces to temporarily store your things.

Apartment Decor

Tip No. 3

Reconfigure the floor plan. Before you roll your eyes at this tip, consider the possibilities. The way you use your space to live your day-to-day life isn’t very harmonious with the way your space is used during a party.

The top changes that will make the biggest difference in opening up your space include:

  • Relocating furniture to the perimeter of the room to develop an open floor plan.
  • Remove extra seating, especially if you’re planning a cocktail style event. Leave enough seats for guests to rest comfortably, but not enough for the same guests to remain seated the entire time. You want to encourage a version of musical chairs 🙂
  • Shift chairs and ottomans around to create vignettes. In a small space, you could use two ottomans and a side table, two chairs, or a couch and coffee table to make your vignettes. These furniture pairings will give guests a designated space to have a more intimate conversation.

Pro-Tip: Use software like AllSeated or Merri to generate a floorplan of your space that’s completely to scale. Or use the Houzz app to upload photos of your space and test out different remodeling options.

Stools

Tip No. 4

Get granular about the dinnerware, platters and glassware that you intend to use. The more that you limit these items, the more minimalistic and streamlined it will feel when guests are actually in the room.

Take your food and beverage presentation for a test run, by setting aside some time to put together a mock table sample. In events, we call call this a design presentation. Though, it doesn’t need to be as elaborate to be as effective.

Plates

Pull all of the items that you plan to use and arrange them strategically on your kitchen table, island, or countertop. Play around with the placement until it’s as concise as possible. Remember that less is more, because once your gathering rolls around, each of those dishes will have food on them and will look much more abundant than empty serving trays.

When your final few trays are left standing, use post-it notes to label those trays with how you plan to use them (i.e. “Crudités,” or “Petit Fours”). Take a photo of the full set up and revert back to it on the event day. This will reduce clutter by keeping you from grabbing more dishes than you need.

Plates with cards ontop

Tip No. 5

Use vertical space!

Consider your closet, for example. If you’re hosting an event in the winter, folks will likely arrive at your home wearing heavy coats, hats, gloves and scarves, and will inevitably leave them all over the place. If you can clear out any seasonal items from your closet (either in your entryway or bedroom) and temporarily lay those clothes under your bed, you can use the closet space as a coat check of sorts.

Woman holding fur coat

Get that recognition as hostess with the mostess by offering to take your guests’ jackets when they first arrive. Stuff the scarf into the sleeve, the hat into one pocket and the gloves into the other pocket, and hang up the coat in your closet. It’ll stay out of sight during the event, and mitigate one major reason why small spaces fill up so quickly.

More vertical space hacks:

  • Tiered serving trays and risers to optimize food stations.
  • Decorative ceiling or wall installations to maximize standing room.
  • Eliminate curtains or open blinds entirely to draw the eye up and create a sense of more space.
Vanilla frosted donuts with gold sprinkles on tiered stand

Tip No. 6

Don’t go crazy with decor. Negative space is important at any gathering, but especially when hosted in a small space.

Clean, untouched areas give the eye a place to rest. These open areas will help your guests feel calmer, less confined, and eager to keep the party going rather than feel overstimulated and uncomfortable.

Champagne glasses against neutral background

Choose a neutral color palette that evokes a fresh, light and airy vibe. Try to stay away from patterns and stick with solids.

Utilize pre-existing decor in your home, instead of bringing more materials. Think: greenery, white candles, and transparent materials like glass instead of heavy materials like gold. Again, bear in mind that less is more. The perk to this tip, is that it’s really budget friendly!


Tip No. 7

Make friends with the neighbors, but do it authentically! Relationships with your neighbors are everything, and if you buddy up early on, you can often lean on them for a helping hand when you’re hosting.

The favor could be as simple as storing a few bottles of wine in their fridge, or keeping desserts on their table until after dinner. A note on etiquette; if the gathering lends itself to it, invite your neighbor as a guest. It’s the polite thing to do, especially if you’re hosting a more casual affair.

Women popping champagne bottle

Tip No. 8

Do away with the conventional bar or buffet. Instead, disperse drinks, appetizers and desserts throughout the home to prevent heavy foot traffic in the kitchen. Serve a charcuterie board from a coffee table, or a coffee station from the entry table, to help alleviate congestion caused by serving all of the food and beverage from one central location.

Coffee on table near flowers

There you have it! Now go own that tiny space and make something beautiful.


Have a question about something specific? Ask it on my Q&A page!

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