If you are like me and you live in a small home in Palo Alto, entertaining could be a bit of a challenge. But there’s no need for it to be so! Especially during the holidays, don’t let space become a setback to embrace your festive self and ring in the holiday with friends, loved ones, and a healthy dose of holiday cheer.
At my home in NY, entertaining during the holidays was something that I always looked forward to. With various rooms at my full disposal, entertaining was a breeze.
This year, I decided not to let space stand in my way! It took me 2 years to figure out how to entertain in a small space. Here are 10 useful tips (based on my own experience) that might help you organize a special holiday event that your guests will surely remember with pleasure.
1. Don’t overload your guest list
We all want to have as many friends as possible by our side, especially during the holidays. But you have to be realistic! Overloading your guest list will only make you and your guests feel uncomfortable and crowded. I have decided to host a few small gatherings to be able to extend an invitation to accommodate more people.
2. Add that personal touch
To help create a unique experience for your guests, you can opt for personalized napkins, place setting, or you can even pick a theme for your party. It’s a great opportunity for you to use your event as a creative outlet, and simultaneously adding personal, special touches along the way.
3. Set up different stations
Separating food stations helps spread your guests, making it easier to navigate around and not have everyone congregate over that one food station. You can have appetizers on the coffee table, drinks on a side cabinet, and dinner on your dining room table. It all comes down to using all your available space to offer your guests a pleasant experience without them feeling crowded.
4. Create great atmosphere by playing on all 5 senses
To help create great atmosphere, use candles for smell and ambiance lighting, fresh flowers and a beautiful table setting or attractive display platters to please the eye, great tasting foods to tantalize the palate, and great background music from your smartphone’s playlist with wireless speakers for the ear to enjoy. Touch you guests’ hearts with your kindness :- ) This is such a great recipe for entertaining.
5. Choose a food theme to help simplify your menu
Most times, it is easier for us to stick to our favorite dishes that we know how to prepare. But having a theme makes for a more focused menu. I recently hosted a dinner party for 6 and opted for a Mediterranean inspired theme and chose various dishes to help crystalize the theme: Couscous, Moroccan lamb, Falafel stew, rice rilaf, etc. This past Wednesday, I also hosted a special birthday dinner for my husband, and the kids wanted a seafood inspired menu. This made the cooking much easier, as many other options were easily eliminated in the name of maximizing space for this plated meal.
6. Rent it
Gone are the days when finding the right linen, glassware, table or chair for your event meant that you had to order an extra piece of furniture or accessory from the store, and then figure out a place to store it. You can rent dishes, tables, linen, glasses, and anything else you might consider necessary. I do not have a large table and I still have only 4 dining room chairs. So, to create a uniform look for an event, I rented 6 narrow ballroom chairs. They cost around $6 per chair and worked great in the space. There are many other options and prices. Check out Danny Thomas Party Rental.
7. Get help
There are many vendors out there who are just waiting for a sign to make your event memorable and wash away the stress of hosting a party! You can hire caterers, chefs, bartenders, or servers. I found this company on Craigslist who has servers to help out at events. They help keep things organized while you enjoy your party and the presence of your family and beloved friends.
8. Don’t forget the kids
If you have picky eaters, create a special menu for kids and then set them up in a bedroom or play room where they can have their own fun, and not be in the way of great adult conversation. If the children are older, there maybe no need for a babysitter. If they are younger, you may want to get some help. High school students are perfect for this role.
9. Bring out the China
Not every gathering may be fine china necessary. Nonetheless, I believe that china is always more special than papergoods. When you are catering to a very large group of people, it is easier to just use disposable. However, I find that any type of china, be it casual or elaborate, always makes a great impression, and at the same time helps protect the environment. I have collected quite a few china sets over the years, so I enjoy mixing it up a bit, although I enjoy using simple white.
10. Be a gracious host
No matter how big or small your party is, you will definitely want your guests to have a great time. It is extremely important to keep calm throughout the party and talk to each one of your guests. Make sure that they have everything they need: drinks, food, and, above all, pleasant company to enjoy.
I hope you will find these 10 tips useful. I’d love to hear about your experiences if you decide to use any of them while entertaining in your small or even large space! Happy Holidays! We will reconnect in the New Year.