It’s time to shed our assumptions of what we really need to create a comfortable party for our friends and family. Small space living, especially for Millennials, is here to stay, and we need to embrace the cozy spaces where many of us live, work, and entertain in.
Small apartments, artist studios, mobile homes and other cozy spaces can be the absolute best settings in which to entertain your friends. There’s no reason you can’t have just as much fun throwing a party in a small apartment as you could hosting a bash at Buckingham Palace. With an open mind and some creativity and ingenuity, you can design the perfect space for entertaining with these tried and true small space entertaining hacks.
Before we walk through a simple etiquette course on how to throw a party in a small apartment with seating ideas fit for both casual events and sit-down dinner parties, it’s important to brush up on our party hosting basics.
The basic tricks for small space entertaining:
1. Listen to Marie about decluttering
No matter how big or small, fancy or humble your space is, the very first thing you do in creating your event is clean and declutter. There’s simply no way around this. When space is at a premium, your old broken vacuum, stained and ripped kitchen rags or piles of old bills simply aren’t getting an invite to your fantastic event.
Marie Kondo has a lot to say about how to make decluttering easy and inviting. While we’re not here to teach you her revered method step-by-step, you can use the simple idea of touching the objects you own and considering for a moment whether they “spark joy”. The things you have that no longer serve purpose or happiness in your home can be discarded, and the things you love can be displayed to create an even more inviting environment for your guests.
2. Create tiny seating areas in your small space for guests to chill
Finding what sparks joy is not just about decluttering. We invite you to use Marie’s philosophy when simply being in your small space. As you move around, take note of how each place in your home makes you feel - not just the main areas like your whole bedroom or the kitchen, but the smaller spots that you may never have noticed before.
Does the hall closet have a neat door handle? Does that small window in the bathroom cast a surprising amount of sunlight at certain times of the day? When you find what areas of your space spark joy, especially unexpected joy, use that inspiration to design smaller nooks and areas where guests can congregate.
3. Listen to Martha about lighting
As the queen of class, Martha Stewart says, “lighting is everything in small space entertaining”. The right kind of lighting not only creates an atmosphere, from cozy and intimate to bright and energized, it can also be used to highlight those small areas of your apartment you’ve decided to dress up as their own dedicated social spaces.
With a hundred different types of lighting decor out there, it’s up to you to choose what works best when throwing a party in a small apartment. It’s hard to go wrong with string lighting, which can be strung across rooms to broaden the space, or hung vertically to make your party area feel taller.
Being creative with lighting and carefully selected small space seating furniture like cushy ottomans will help bring everything together for an inviting social space your guests will enjoy.
The party is on! Here’s how to throw a party in a small apartment
There’s nothing like the rush of the first guest arriving at your door to make you deeply thankful you spent all that time decluttering, rearranging, and redesigning your space. Now you can relax and let the party unfold. But what’s the first step to entertaining in a small space?
1. Get people in the door quick as you can
A good host always greets their guests at the door - and that becomes even more important when you’re working with a small space, otherwise it might cause an awkward bottleneck.
2. Place food and drink strategically by getting creative with surfaces
If you don’t have enough table or counter space to hold all the food and drink for your guests, create it with what’s around you.
There’s no reason a bookshelf can’t be temporarily cleared of books to hold a makeshift bar, or your clothes rack can’t hold people’s coats if closet space is at a minimum. A bathtub is a perfect place for ice to keep bottles cool, and a microwave with a cloth flung overtop is indistinguishable from any other food serving space.
Also, by placing food and drink in different areas around your small space, your guests will have a reason to get up and move around, where a lack of floor space might otherwise keep them sitting or standing in one spot.
3. Pick the right party seating ideas for your small space
How you approach seating depends on one big factor, above all else: will there be a sit down meal? For small parties or low key events like a book club meeting where a prepared meal isn’t necessarily the focus, you can keep the seating a little more informal.
Stacked pillows on the ground, chairs placed against the wall (rather than around a central table), and even other unconventional seating pieces like an elegant and functional entryway storage unit, gives you plentiful small space seating for your guests that will make them forget the close quarters.
4. How to fit a dinner party seating arrangement in a small space
Ideally, if a prepared meal like dinner is the main focus of the party, it’s best to get your guests up off the floor when it’s time to eat. In places without dedicated dining areas, and kitchens too small to hold more than one or two people, it’s necessary to create your own dining area.
You can either get extra inventive with your existing furniture, appliances and so on, or you can choose a central piece of functional but compact dining furniture like a dining pub set to give you all the extra surface space you need. This set up works especially well when paired with a kitchen cart, which can bring food out from a miniscule kitchen, hide away dirty dishes, and be re-presented later on as a bartending area or a dessert tray.
Entertaining in a small space certainly has its challenges, but it’s also a great opportunity to reimagine what we really need to enjoy spending time with our family and friends. A little elbow grease, some creativity and often the exact right piece of small space seating furniture will give you everything you need to create a unique party space that’s perfect for you.