Entertaining can be enjoyed in any sized space, with whatever furniture and resources you have available.
Hosting a dinner party in a small apartment is possible and there are plenty of tips that can help you make the most of your small apartment.
- Planning, planning and (you guessed it) more planning
The most important tip we can give you about pulling off a successful dinner party in a small apartment is to plan.
Things to think about include:
- How much oven space you have
- Cookware that’s available to you
- How many you can seat
- Refrigerator/freezer space
- Ingredients you will need vs. what you can find
The list of things to plan for prior to a dinner party is virtually inexhaustible. That’s why planning is so important — it gives you time to think about the things you’d normally rush over.
Could you imagine getting to the end of cooking an elaborate feast only to realize you don’t have any serving utensils? Plan for every step of the process and you will ultimately save yourself from a lot of stress.
- Think about timing
Since a small apartment most often has a small kitchen, you really need to evaluate your resources in terms of kitchen appliances. How big is your oven? How many stove burners do you have? What about refrigerator space?
You’ll only have so many hours to prepare. If you need more time, you might consider cooking some dishes ahead of time. There are plenty of dishes that taste fantastic reheated a day later.
- Decide on a guest list and seating
The first step here is to set the guest list. Who you invite is up to you, so you’ll know how many people to plan for. But be realistic about how many people you can actually accommodate.
Clinton Kelly of TV’s What Not to Wear suggests a mathematical approach – divide the square footage of your apartment by five to get the number of guests that can comfortably fit in your space. Regardless, it’s probably best if you decide how many guests you’re actually comfortable with inviting.
When you know how many people to plan for, check that you have available seating. Depending on the mood of your event, you may want a table setting and chair for every guest or you may be fine with sitting on the couch and eating at the coffee table. Whatever you need that you don’t have can be borrowed from a friend or rented from a party supply company.
- Don’t be afraid to rearrange the furniture
When you have guests over to your home, it’s no longer a space for living — it becomes a space for entertaining. As such, you shouldn’t be afraid to arrange the furniture in a different variation than you normally do.
Slide the couches back, move lamps around or move tables together to create the perfect space for Thanksgiving dinner. It might seem silly to rearrange the furniture for just one dinner but it can really help create a space that’s conducive to entertaining.
On that note, if you can’t make it happen, you shouldn’t worry about being able to seat all of your guests together. People will mingle and move about regardless of whether or not you have a centralized dining space.
- Match the scale of your decor with the size of your apartment
Keep scale in mind. Don’t overload your guests with huge decorations at a small table. Keep centerpieces small and color palettes simple. Small spaces can become cluttered quite easily.
- Keep it light and bright
Bringing natural light into a small space is one of the quickest ways to make the space feel larger. Open all of the shades and turn on your lamps to make your space feel roomier for dinner party. Adding in decorative pieces like mirrors can accentuate this effect.
- Guest-proof and clean your apartment
Before your guests arrive, you should guest-proof your apartment. If your party brings a larger crowd than you’ve previously had in your apartment, you need to make some preparations.
There’s potential for items to become broken, especially if you’ll have children over. Remove anything that’s low to the ground, valuable or personally-important. You should also keep in mind that your guests might snoop. If anything private like medication, mail or other personal items is easily accessible, you may want to hide it away.
- Have your guests bring food
There’s nothing wrong with a potluck style dinner. If you’re not comfortable taking on all of the food preparation yourself, ask your guests to bring a dish. Even if you end up having to prepare a few dishes, you’ll likely feel a lot less stressed.
It’s also totally acceptable to ask your guests to bring a specific dish. It might be tempting to have a “bring whatever” plan but requesting a specific dish or type of dish will make the meal more cohesive in the end.
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