Secrets to Small-Space Entertaining

Just because you have a small home or apartment doesn't mean you don't have room to entertain.

Entertaining in small spaces can be done with a little ingenuity and some planning ahead. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Set the Table

Getting more seats around your dining room table is probably the biggest problem when entertaining in small spaces. I don't have a dining room, so our small kitchen table transforms into a dining room table by simple adding a leaf to it.

If that doesn't work for your dining table, then go to your local hardware store and buy a sheet of plywood to expand your existing table. The plywood should be 3/4 of an inch thick for sturdiness. Center it on top of the table and put a large tablecloth over it. After the party, the plywood can be stored under a bed until the next party.

Try a Buffet

If you don't have room to expand the dining table, consider a buffet as a casual way to serve guests without everyone having to sit around the same table. People can sit where they like and the dining room table can be used to hold the main courses and side dishes. The kitchen counter can also hold some of the food and drinks.

A buffet also requires less work for the host, since everyone can grab their own plate and utensils. It's the perfect way to entertain in a small space while having more time to spend with your guests.

Room to Mingle

An offshoot of the buffet is to put main courses, appetizers and desserts in different living areas, which will encourage guests to mingle more and take advantage of the limited space.

To make entertaining easier, try just serving appetizers and spreading them throughout the living areas, causing guests to get up and roam for more food and more opportunities to mingle.

After all, that's the point of a party: To mingle and have a good time. Getting people out of their seats is a great way to encourage mingling and make your party a success. Besides, a crowded party is always more fun than a sparse one.

Aaron Crowe has lived in at least five rental properties in the San Francisco Bay Area. Reach him at
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