The winter holidays are approaching, and you know what that means! Dinners, cocktail parties, and gatherings galore. Throwing a party at home — even the most extravagant — can oftentimes be cheaper than going out to a restaurant or bar. And with the crowds and bustle of the season, having your gathering closer to home might be appealing. Home parties feel more cozy and intimate, perfect for the season. But what do you do when you’ve only got a small space? Does it mean waiting to host until you move into bigger digs? Not at all. Read on for tips for maximizing hosting space during the holidays, no matter how small your home.
Clean and declutter. It doesn’t sound very festive, but cleaning and decluttering your home before you get ready for a party really does help maximize space. Get rid of unnecessary items, stacks of books that are taking up precious table or floor space, and counter clutter. You can stash items in an out of the way place to deal with at the New Year, or you can use this as an opportunity to start your New Year’s decluttering goals early. Clean your place well and thoroughly — don’t be afraid to hire help! — and then survey the space. This will help you decide which steps to take next.
Open up the layout. You’ll want an open space for your guests to mix and mingle. Move furniture around to open up the layout and allow for traffic flow. Switch up groupings of chairs and other places to sit (such as ottomans). Pay special attention to the places where guests enter your home — is there a way to create a more free flow of traffic from the entryway? Also look at the places where people are likely to congregate and consider how you can create more space. Some hosts even clear off a bookshelf or two in these areas to serve as resting places for drinks and snacks.
Use all the space. As you plan your gathering, think about ways to use your entire space. Do you have a patio, yard, or balcony that can serve as an extension of the living room, and will the weather permit you to use it? Can you use counters or other flat surfaces as buffets and bars, rather than having everything centered in the kitchen? Think about ways to use as many spaces as possible. It may seem strange to think about using your bedroom as a hosting space, but can it be a place for guests to deposit coats and purses? Look at your space creatively and consider all the way you can use every square foot.
Decorate small. A major part of the winter holiday season is the decorations, no doubt. But full size trees and big displays take up precious hosting space. If you want to have a large tree in your home, consider waiting until after your party or event. Instead, decorate small to maximize space: small artificial or rosemary bush “trees” on end tables or counters, lots of small candles, garland swags or wreaths, even decorations hung from the ceiling. You can set the ambiance with lights, some evergreen, and candles. Decorating small also helps improve traffic flow through your space.
Keep food simple. Skip the plated dinner — it will free up prep space, and also allow you to use your dining table as a buffet rather than needing to sit people around it. Consider finger foods, appetizers, and other items that people can eat while standing or lounging. You can display these things attractively on a single buffet or different stations around the room, and you can also bring out different dishes at different times. Consider picking up platters from a supermarket to save yourself prep space and time. Disposable plates and cups are also an option, but if you want to be earth friendly, sticking to small plates helps maximize sink and dishwasher space.