While space probably isn’t an issue for Giada De Laurentiis these days, she hasn’t forgotten what it is like to play host in a small living space. But whether she is hosting a packed party in a big space or an intimate gathering in closer quarters, she always has a few tricks up her sleeve to make the atmosphere comfortable for all.
"I like to bring out a record player and lay out all my records — people can look through them and put on their favorites," De Laurentiis said . "It’s a great way to let the guests feel involved, and it’s not as intimidating as going through someone’s iPod!"
To help us throw a better more intimate party, we asked De Laurentiis to dish on some of her key tips and tricks that she uses when hosting!
What do people find most challenging about entertaining in a small space that really isn’t a big deal at all?
People love to talk with each other, and a small space is a good way to be sure everyone is chatting.
Do you have any entertaining touchstones you can’t live without?
Music is super important to me and is key to any good party. I like to design a playlist based on the theme and who I’ve invited. It really sets the mood!
What can you do to make the most of a small space?
Have a coat rack! Using lots of mirrors — not just on the walls but mirrored furniture is great as well — and painting your space a light or pastel color to make it feel more open. Put your serving tray on your ottoman or lay a mirror down and use that as a drinks tray. Also, happy music will keep the room feeling larger.
Are there any definite no-no’s of small-space entertaining?
Don’t have a seating plan. Let people sit where they’re cozy!
How can you get creative with your food spread in a small space? Any tiered tabletop products you love?
Have people eat in their laps! Don’t serve very messy food or food that will run off your plate. Use stacked books and turn over bowls or your cake stand to hold trays of food — this will create a variety of heights and helps you build your display upward, rather than taking up more table space.
What are some decorative centerpieces that you can use without overpowering the table?
Put flowers of the same color all over the space — the entryway, the bathroom — to make it bright and warm. Use mini succulents in small glass candle holders for your table settings — they are small, unique, and make a great party favors for your guests!
What some great "furniture hacks" you can do to make the most of your space?
Ditch standard table seating and get some great floor pillows. Have your guests circle up around the coffee table and eat in their lap!
How do you manage a get-together with kids in a small space?
I always consider the kids in what I select for the media — what’s playing on TV and for music. I like to roll up silverware in coloring book pages and tie them up with crayons and colorful ribbon. Kids are guests just like their parents, so I always like to involve them, whether it’s by giving them an activity like the coloring book pages, or asking them to help me serve.
For more of Giada's tips, download her app Giada: A Digital Weekly. New issues come out every Thursday!