Too Many Friends and Tight on Space? Make It Work!

You never want to leave "that person" out of your party plans, but space can be the deciding factor

Are you hosting a big party in a small space? What to do?

After downsizing my life, I had to work with a somewhat outdated kitchen space, which presented a clear obstacle to having guests. The weather was not cooperating and the garden was not an option, but I decided that I would make it work. By making intimate "stations" in your small spaces, you can have a fun and creative affair no matter what the size of your home.

1. If the kitchen is small, no worries. If you don’t have an island, create one with a card table or several dinner trays (yes, the kind you may have used as a kid when you staked a place in front of the TV with your Spaghetti-O’s). Create a three-tiered centerpiece. You can do this using different size plates with small bowls between to separate. Place bowls, spoons, and napkins on the bottom tier; breadsticks, a baguette, and cornbread on the second tier; and condiments such as sea salt, ground pepper, and fresh spices of your choice on the top. I like to throw in a few low bud vases with flowers or fresh herbs. "Soups on!" — have a pot of soup or stew on the stove and you now have an appropriately cozy moment for entertaining right in your little kitchen.

2. In the dining room, cut many slices of cheese and arrange on a large cheeseboard. You can make this a real showstopper if you use cheeses, fruits (dried and fresh), and nuts. Make it the centerpiece and use height to create interest by having mounds of nuts and fruit. On one end of the table you can have a larger station with pasta, salad, and a large basket of chicken, for example.

3. The living room serves as a bar. It is typically the largest room in the house so that is a great area to linger in. Use a large copper tub and subdivide with wine buckets surrounded by other beverages and ice. Place trays along the side for glassware and slices of lemons and limes.

4. There is another small room where we congregate to watch sports. If there is a big game, leave it on and create another station, which could be a large crudité table. I use a large basket and line it on the bottom, then fill it with a variety of dips, including hummus, fruits and veggies, along with a basket of mixed chips with salsa and guacamole — common, but always a hit.

5. The entry way to your home is underrated and rarely used, which why it is a great place to stop and satisfy that sweet tooth. Create plates, baskets, or fun bowls with cookies, brownies, and cupcakes.

The stations throughout your small space solve the problem of where everyone will sit and keeps the flow moving. Your stress has now morphed to a fun and relaxed way to entertain.

Mersene Norbom, Conway Confidential