Tips for Hosting a Cocktail Party in a Studio

Tips for Hosting a Cocktail Party in a Studio

Carolyn Purnell
Dec 15, 2011

With the holidays just around the corner, it's certainly the season for merry-making with friends, and what better way to do it than with some seasonal cocktails? Many of us with small spaces are probably hesitant to host a soirée, given that entertaining in a studio can pose some serious logistical problems. But don't let those potential complications ruin your holiday fun!

Here are some basic tips to help minimize the snags that can accompany hosting a cocktail party in close quarters:

First and foremost, figure out a place to store guests' coats and bags. Closet space is usually at a premium in a studio, so you may need to rearrange some of your own items before the party to make ample space. It may seem like a simple point, but fifteen bulky winter coats could easily eat up much-needed room.

Types and Amount of Food and Drink:
It's best to pick one or two simple cocktails with no more than three or four ingredients each. This cuts down on the mess, expense, and time it takes to make each drink. Alternatively, you could serve drinks that can be made in advance and served in pitchers or punchbowls; mulled wine, egg nog, and apple cider are always good options. Keep the food limited to small bites, and if you don't have enough space to set everything out from the get-go, keep the extras in the kitchen and replenish them as the party continues.

For more on food quantities, check out these handy posts over at The Kitchn:
Cocktail Party Strategy: Make a Lot of Few Dishes
Entertaining: How Much to Serve at a Cocktail Party
How to Batch Cocktails to Serve a Crowd

Placement of Food and Drink:
At parties I've attended in the past, people have often crammed into the kitchen near the food and drinks. Given that the kitchen is usually one of the smallest spaces in a studio, it's best to keep food and drinks in the main living space in order to keep your guests localized in the most spacious areas of your apartment. Keeping your primary bar and food stations in the main room can help alleviate congestion. Also, if it's possible, try setting up the bar and food stations in separate parts of the room to promote even more circulation.

Seating and Other Furniture Needs:
Seating can be one of the largest issues in small spaces. If you need some cheap extra seating, I'm a fan of the Ikea Marius ($6). Small and stackable, these little guys can also double as side tables, and they are easily moved if they get in the way. Additionally, your bed may have to serve as a seating area, so you may want to rearrange or add extra pillows to make it seem more sofa-like to guests.

If you want to encourage movement or standing, then consider moving any pieces of furniture, like coffee tables or ottomans, that are in the center of the space. Provide plenty of open areas so that people can easily circulate.

Make sure that there is sufficient space for your guests to place their plates and beverages. If side tables are inadequate, clear some shelf edges or dresser-tops. Also, consider placing a recycling bin near the drink station so that surfaces stay clear of empty bottles. And don't forget to provide plenty of coasters!

Music, Lighting, Servingware, etc.:
If you live in a studio, chances are, you may not have matching servingware for sixteen. While wine needs a proper glass, cocktails can be served more creatively, so don't be afraid to mix and match glassware styles. Selecting mismatched pieces from thrift stores and antique shops is a great way to spice up your table decor on a budget, all while serving a practical need.

Music can really set the tone for your party, but in such a small space, be sure to keep it at a relatively low volume. Once people start talking, the volume level in the room will easily rise.

Rely on lighting from lamps, string lights, and candles rather than any harsh overhead lighting. If you plan on using candles, though, it's best to keep them away from the food and drink stations, since any clumsiness could result in burns or a waxy disaster.

And Most of All:
Have fun!

Image: Carolyn Purnell

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