How to Entertain Big in a Small Space

How to Entertain Big in a Small Space

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Taryn Williford
Aug 29, 2015

It is possible to entertain like Martha Stewart, minus the sprawling vineyard estate. All it takes is a little ingenuity and a few cake stands. Here are five foolproof, actionable ideas to help you make the most of your small space for entertaining friends and family for the holidays or anytime.

Move Furniture Around

In a cocktail party setting, flow is important. You have total license to re-arrange your furniture for one night to suit the party. Move furniture against the walls, get the breakfast bar stools out of the place for the evening. Stash extra pieces in a bedroom or closet, or see if a neighbor will let you bring them over for the night of the party (just as long as they're invited).

You can also play around with swapping furniture in and out of rooms. That's what The Kitchn's Cambria Bold did when she hosted a dinner party in her small apartment:

By swapping my dining and living areas, i.e. I moved my dining table into my living room, and shifted a few living room lounge chairs to where my dining table used to be, I made my table the focus of my apartment. Would I normally keep my dining table there? No. On a day to day basis it sits pushed up against a wall, but for a party it made sense to move everything around to create more space and a better flow.

(Image credit: Gabriela Herman)

Entertain Everywhere

If you want to invite eight but your dining table seats four, dress up the coffee table with place settings, too. Seat dinner party guests in both areas to max out what you've got. Same goes for whatever outdoor space is available.

Your New Motto: Mix Over Match

"Mix over Match" was Leah Moss' advice as she recalled how she entertained 20 for Thanksgiving in her home a few years back. If you don't have enough chairs, or plates, or forks, make it work! Mix your everyday-ware in with the good plates, work good-looking disposables in where you can. Borrow extras from friends, family and neighbors to make a complete–if a bit eclectic– set.

(Image credit: Rue Magazine)

Get Creative With Food & Drink Stations

You don't need a kitchen island the size of a queen mattress to put out a spread. Any surface is fair game. Grab an ice bucket and a few bottles to set a bar up on the windowsill, then clear off a counter-height shelf on the bookshelf for an appetizer station. Serve food from shelves, coffee tables, fireplace mantels, even the top of the washer or dryer (a cute tablecloth goes a long way).

The photo above is from Dru Ortega's Long Island studio apartment. The One Kings Lane PR pro uses his windowsill as a permanent bar (just one of the many ideas we wanted to steal from Rue Magazine's small space issue).

Tiered Trays are Your Friend

You'd be surprised how big your countertops feel once you know how to maximize vertical space. Tiered trays and cake stands can get a lot of party nosh into a small space for serving. If you don't have any on hand, borrow! If you can't borrow, make your own.

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