How to Host in a Small Space

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Our top eight ways to simplify your hosting experience when you feel like you just don't have enough room. We get it—rent is high and we don't all have access to Texas-style size. Regardless of where you are, here are our expert tips on how to make the most of your space, no matter its size.

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1. Scrub-a-dub-dub! 

Time to slip on those rubber gloves! Clean your space from top to bottom, so that your guests won’t be wearing your dust bunnies home as parting gifts. And remove as much clutter as you can before your guests arrive. Stash it in another room, organize it into a few chic baskets, or stuff it in the back of a closet. The goal here is to make your home as inviting and comfortable as possible for everyone.

Check out how to embrace cleaning with ease, courtesy of Homecourt by Courteney Cox.

2. Get an early start.

Prep as much of the menu as possible in advance, so that you’re not darting around the house like a taxi in NYC rush hour traffic when the guests arrive. Once your home is filled with people, you want things to feel calm and under control.

3. If you got it, flaunt it.

Worry less about the space that you don’t have and focus on what you do have. For example – if, like us, you have pillows on every available surface in your home – use them to create additional (extra cozy) floor seating. Have a small credenza? Use that for your drink bar! Think outside the box!

4. Make space.

Consider rearranging your furniture! Often times, small homes don’t have a designated “dining room,” so think about pushing furniture against the walls to create space for a table. (Bonus Tip: drop-leaf tables can be a great investment – allowing you to expand your seating for special events.) And, remember, use all available spaces! If you’ve got a wide entryway or hall, think about setting the table up there! Creating a special layout for the evening will make it even more memorable.

5. Embrace the bohemian.

Short on dinner chairs? Repurpose what you’ve got to create additional seating. Mix and match stools, ottomans, benches, windowsills, bongo drums – it’s très bohemian!

6. Use stations.

If eating around a small table, set up a buffet station. This will leave more room at the table for wild hand gesturing and wine refilling. (If eating more casually on the couch, floor, or edge of the bed, just plan your menu accordingly and stick to finger foods.)

7. Use your wheels.

Create a mobile drink and snack station by using a bar cart. Wheel it in when you need it, and remove it from the room when you don’t! It’s like your very own magic trick.

8. Look up! 

Serve vertically! Tiered serving trays help to open up space. Don’t have any? Use a bookshelf! Everything in your home is just begging to be a part of the party.

9. Take things outside.

If you have one, use your fire escape, balcony, or patio. In the winter, you can use this space as an outdoor refrigerator to store drinks or food items that need to be kept cold. In the summer, you can store excess items outside to open up more space inside. And it goes without saying, if your outdoor space is large enough, consider having dinner al fresco!

10. Accessorize smartly.

Choose your dinnerware wisely. If you’re working with a small table, keep the table settings nice and compact – for example, consider stacking the napkin and utensils on top of the plate. We’re also big fans of using drink markers, so that guests aren’t constantly reaching for new glasses.

11. Create flow.

Be thoughtful about where you place drinks, appetizers, dinner, etc., so that you’re creating a logic flow in foot traffic. And consider airflow, as well – small spaces can heat up quickly with lots of body heat, so consider how to manage the temperature with windows, ceiling fans, etc.

12. Set the mood.

Kill the overhead lighting and create warm ambiance with lamps and candles. Incorporate different textiles – have some soft throw blankets on the couch for after dinner relaxation – and cue up some subtle background music. Lean into that whole “intimate gathering” vibe!

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