Entertaining in a Small Home

Entertaining in a small space can be daunting but with a some thought and preparation it is both manageable and enjoyable!


As my family grew and changed and let’s face it, as I grew and changed we stopped having people over to our house.  We aren’t hoarders and we have electricity.  I know how to clean the bathroom and I can even cook a decent assortment of appetiziers.  And while I do declare myself an introvert I also enjoy getting together with friends.


I kept putting off hosting a party until we had a larger house and a backyard.  I would daydream of the parties we could host.  After nearly ten years of us being in the same small house, I was done waiting.  I was done always being guests to the party and never the host.


And after spending ten months in a foreign country with little understanding of the language and no friends I was ready to gather our friends together for an evening of food, drink and laughter this past holiday season.


And I’m embracing our small home.  I don’t have 2,000 square feet of space to fill with stuff and then try to clean and keep organized.  I have 900 square feet of space for my family of five.  It is exactly 129,600 inches of space to be covered in Lego’s, Polly Pockets and socks.  I’m not sure I want another inch.

In the weeks leading up to our Winter Solstice Party, my husband would look around our home and ask “How many people are coming?”  “How many people have you invited?”  He was nervous about it, as was my oldest who picked up on his vibe of wondering how we would fit 35 people into our home.


Okay, I’ll admit that sometimes I overestimate my abilities to pull something off or to have something work well.  I didn’t care.  I was hosting a party and wasn’t going to be swayed by the naysayers in my family.


Hosting a party warmed my heart and home.  


I gave a lot of thought to how I could best host a party that was enjoyable for myself and for my guests in a small space.


Spread the guests out throughout your home.  Make space in every room.  I had the kids clean their room so that our small guests had a place to play.  I set up our small travel DVD player in the master bedroom with continous stream of Christmas movies for anyone who needed to have a calmer space (like my middle child or the two teenagers that came).   The dining room table was pushed to the side for food and the kitchen buffet housed Apple Cider, Wine and Lemonade.  Extra chairs were brought by friends.  And even though it was 35 degrees, I even had camp chairs out on the deck along with the beer.


I filled the trunk of my car with the “stuff” I couldn’t find a hiding place in our home for.


Spread the guests out over a longer period of time.  I planned the party to be more of an open house style by serving Appetizers at 4pm and Soup at 7pm.  I wanted guests to feel free to come for as little or as long as they wanted but I also wanted guests to be spread out over time as well as throughout our home.


Host a party on a weeknight.  I choose Winter Solstice as the theme for several reasons.  One of which was that it was a weeknight.  While I wondered if a weeknight party would be well attended but I knew that weekends in December can be busy and I also knew that several of our friends are teachers on Christmas break.


Hosting a weeknight party worked well for us living in a condo as we weren’t in danger of upsetting the neighbors by being loud past the 10pm quiet hours.  Visitor parking was also easier on a weeknight as well!


Choose food that can be prepared ahead of time, as well as food that doesn’t require a lot of monitoring.  I choose appetizers that could be served cold.  Various cheeses, crackers, vegetables and dips, fruit and dips, and cookies.  The soups we made we prepared ahead of time and then kept warm in crock pots.


Have an activity for the kids.  In going with the theme of Winter Solstice, I had a nature craft at the coffee table in the living room set up in addition to the kids bedroom being available for free play.  While the craft was geared towards kids, I wanted something that an introverted adult like myself or a shy child like my daughter could focus on while they got comfortable.  And really, I loved seeing the kids free create with sticks, glue, yarn and glitter.


Host a party at a local park.   If pulling off hosting in your home is simply too daunting or won’t work, host a party at a local park.  We hosted a going away party at a local park two summers ago and it worked quite well.  My criteria for choosing a park was: not too crowded, easy parking, something for the kids to do but that also didn’t require constant supervision (like swimming), picnic tables, grill and a water source.  Luckily, we live in an area with many wonderful parks.


Enjoy!  Enjoy the friendships, conversation and warmth of being together with those who hold a special place in your heart.