Entertaining in a Small Space

Dec 13, 2022 | Holidays

Do you love to entertain? We’ve seen that many would-be downsizers put off their move because they don’t want to give up their ability to throw a big party.  We get it!  You spent years accumulating and storing everything you need to carry off impressive supper clubs, holiday meals, cocktail parties, and backyard BBQs.  But don’t worry! If you truly love to entertain, a smaller residence should not deter you from having people over!  Just plan ahead and incorporate these pro tips for entertaining in a small space.

Entertaining in a Small Space

Guest List and Invitations

  • Invite a manageable number of guests based on the standing room or seating you envision for your event.
  • An open house or drop-by event allows you to invite more guests and spread their visit out over time.
  • If you truly want to host a big party, go ahead and do it!  You can always arrange for an outdoor area or event venue. 
  • Be sure your invitations and/or instructions are very clear about any parking restrictions or recommendations. 
  • Going pot-luck?  You  may want to request that guests bring their dish ready-to-serve to save activity and space in the kitchen.

Party Set Up

  • Your guests may need a little instruction to help them navigate the smaller space.  If it’s appropriate, consider putting a sign on the door to “come on in!”
  • Designate an out-of-the-way place for your guests to stow their coats and bags.
  • Designate a place for hostess gifts to keep them off counters and tables.
  • People love to stand around the bar! Place the beverage service in the largest space available. Outdoors can be a good option.
  • Remove chairs from around tables to increase flow.
  • Provide a clear path to outdoor areas and encourage people to make use of outdoor space as appropriate.

Menu and Presentation

  • Yes, your kitchen is smaller.  You may not have the equipment to make everything yourself, or all at once on the day of the party.  Plan your menu accordingly.
  • Look for small tasks that you can do in advance of your guests’ arrival, such as finding serving dishes and serving utensils, cutting lemons or slicing bread.
  • Choose compact dishes!  Oval or square serving dishes take up less space on a table, and small plates for finger foods or desserts will take up less space.
  • If you’re serving appetizers and dinner, consider setting the first course out on a large tray that can be easily removed to clear the way for dinner.
  • Consider serving a buffet-style menu and arrange seating that is conducive to eating. Clear surfaces to hold drinks, plates, etc.


  • In a smaller space, you’ll need to clean up before, during and after the event.
  • It always helps to start the party with an empty dishwasher, trash can and recycling bin.  
  • Provide trash receptacles within easy reach of your guests.

The best hosts know that the most important thing about entertaining is that people feel comfortable and welcome.  While your traditions may not be exactly the same as they were in your old place, you don’t have to stifle your impulse to have people over! You’ll develop new routines and master the art of entertaining in a small space.