7 tips for hosting a holiday party in a teeny-tiny condo or apartment

Photo: James Bombales

Just because you live in a near-shoebox doesn’t mean you can’t take on the challenge of hosting a holiday party. Between Friendsgiving, festive tree-trimmings, Yuletide potlucks and white elephant gift exchanges, there are plenty of reasons to celebrate this season. But if you’re working with a limited floorplan, you may need to do a bit of pre-party planning to accommodate a generous guestlist. Scroll on for seven tips on throwing a successful holiday party in your small space.

Clear the clutter

Photo: James Bombales

Take a critical eye to your space, removing in-the-way-furniture, breakable objects, unnecessary decor and other miscellaneous items that have accumulated on your surfaces. Put these things back where they belong, or store them in the faraway reaches of your home, like a walk-in closet or storage locker. If you’re having trouble editing, take a few photos of your space to pinpoint the areas that look messy or overcrowded.

Create space in your coat closet for guests

Photo: James Bombales

Every closet needs a good purge now and then. With cold weather fast approaching, think of this as an opportunity to switch out seasonal clothing and donate items that you no longer wear. Many community organizations hold annual winter coat drives, and donating your gently-used outerwear to those in need is a great way to give back during the holidays. Once you’ve pared down your winter wardrobe, steal a few hangers from the other closets in your apartment so it’s easy for guests to hang up their coats when they arrive. And if you’re really tight on space, or your entryway lacks a coat closet entirely, you can always stash coats and purses on the bed.

Encourage conversation with your furniture arrangement

Photo: James Bombales

In the age of Netflix marathons, most of us have designed our living rooms around the TV, not intimate conversations or a grand piano. To get your guests talking, place sofas or accents chairs facing one another. Add a coffee table or a plush ottoman in the center, so guests can nibble on appetizers or put down their wine glasses. Depending on the size and shape of your living room, you may opt for a round layout with four chairs facing inward, or a rectangular layout with a sofa opposite two chairs.

Spread out

Photo: James Bombales

The kitchen is a natural gathering spot for guests, but in a small condo or apartment, it can become crowded in a hurry. Let guests know that it’s okay to poke around, and encourage them to do so by leaving doors open, adding mood lighting, or throwing a classic holiday album on the record player in your bedroom. If you’ve got a bench in your hallway, turn it into a self-serve cocktail station or a charcuterie and cheese board. It’s important to establish semi-secluded areas where guests can go to have a one-on-one conversation or get away from the noise.

Rethink your dining area

Photo: James Bombales

If you’re hosting a dinner party and are unable to squeeze all your guests around the kitchen island or dining table, make use of your coffee table. Drape a tablecloth over it, throw down a plush area rug, add a few pillows or Moroccan poufs and you’ve got yourself a relaxed, boho-style gathering. Keep your tablescape decor to a minimum so there’s enough room for plates and utensils — a few sprigs of greenery, fresh flowers or glass votives will do.

Utilize all surfaces

Photo: James Bombales

In a cramped condo or apartment, space is at a premium, and that means you’ve got to get creative when it comes to utilizing flat surfaces. Even seemingly unusable surfaces, like a cushy ottoman or a padded bench, can become functional when you place a serving tray or a cutting board on top. If you have small drink tables, station them in high-traffic areas, or set down coasters on unusual surfaces, like a bookshelf, TV console or bar cart, so that guests know it’s okay to put down their beverage.

Come up with alternative seating solutions

Photo: James Bombales

With the exception of overly eager university students, no one likes to stand at a party for hours on end. To prevent your friends from pulling an Irish Exit, make sure you’ve got just enough seating, and by that we mean a few less than the number of guests. Of course, if you’re hosting a dinner party you’ll want to have enough seats for everyone, but if it’s a more casual affair this method will keep people mingling throughout the night. Repurpose furniture from other rooms — like a desk chair, the bench at the end of your bed, or even patio furniture. If you’re still short, consider milk crates, a stepladder or oversized floor cushions. Remember: it doesn’t have to look pretty, it just has to function well.

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