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Your home's small square footage, awkward layout, or dual-purpose spaces shouldn't stop you from celebrating: Even the tiniest houses or apartments can play host to memorable fêtes with the right planning and coordination. "Hosting parties in smaller spaces can limit your guest list, planned activities, decorating, and entertainment—but you can create intimate impactful gatherings if you use those challenges to your advantage," says Michiel Perry, founder of Black Southern Belle. "With limited space, guests are more likely to engage with other attendees and the atmosphere you've created for them." Ahead, Perry and Shaolin Low of Studio Shaolin offer more advice for making the most of every inch.
Decorate with intention.
Get creative when deciding how to light your room and serve your meal. "When seating is limited, stick to one- or two-bite appetizers, such as mini crab cakes, deviled eggs, egg rolls, and shrimp," says Perry, who also likes single-serving ramekins for soup rice dishes instead of family style service. "Bar carts, tiered pedestals, and even a wall shelf are great ways to display and serve your food." Then, look to the ceiling: "Smaller spaces can feel more immersive, so take advantage of vertical and overhead space for decorations and lighting," says Perry.
Make it feel like home.
Hosts without basements, attics, or garages might not have space for storing specialty serving pieces, extra glassware, or enough forks for a crowd—but if disposable isn't your style, dress up your daily pieces with festive napkins or drink stirrers. "Double-duty is the most important tactic if you're short on storage," says Low. "Sure, you might not want people using your fine china, but you should feel comfortable handing out your everyday servingware, including plates, cups, and utensils." Perry suggests double-duty glassware: "As a Southerner, I love a good monogram," she says. "Personalized glassware is an excellent way for guests to keep track of their drinks in a small space—and makes for a lovely party gift."
Consider your seating.
"If you plan on hosting more than a cocktail hour, you need seating for everyone," says Low. "If your guests are forced to stand the entire time, it usually means a shorter party when people get tired." But seating for everyone doesn't mean a formal table and chairs. "Seating depends on the guests and their capabilities; it's ideal to have some proper chairs, but pillows, blankets, and cushions can be great alternatives for seating when space is limited," says Perry. Low also points out that your guests will often find a place to sit, whether you provide one or not: "If you have solid furniture, end tables, coffee tables, you'll be surprised at how many people will just plop down on those."
Switch up your space.
Rearranging furniture can give your guests a little more elbow room and improve the flow of your layout; try pushing your dining table against the wall to serve as a buffet or moving chairs away from the counter to keep guests out of your workspace. "The biggest challenge is making sure that the home flows well so that people don't feel like they are stacked on top of each other like sardines!" says Low. "Create vignettes where people will gather around and group together. When you're socializing, people want to be together, so make sure you have at least four seats for everyone to enjoy."
Be a thoughtful host.
Whether you're hosting in an apartment, studio, or backyard, your hosting duties don't change. "Do not neglect the atmosphere when hosting in small spaces, whether you create a theme through your glassware or set the mood with lighting and music," Perry says. "Be sure to engage all your guests and keep the space tidy from trash and empty dishes. If you don't have direct access to remove dishes, store them in a decorative lidded basket or container hidden underneath a tablecloth."