Small Space, Big Party

Small Space, Big Party

Small spaces aren’t always conducive to large meals, and most people mingle in the kitchen. Maureen Petrosky, entertaining and lifestyle expert, says to embrace the mingling style by serving different kinds of bruschetta in the kitchen start the meal.

When it comes to being the ultimate dinner-party host, the size of your home doesn’t matter. A successful dinner party is as simple as making clever choices about where you put the food, the furniture and the people. Here’s how to do it.

1. Declutter to create space

By moving furniture you don’t need for the party, you’ll open up the available space. “It’s so much easier to start with a clean slate,” says Maureen Petrosky, an entertaining and lifestyle expert. “In the long run it will actually save you a lot of time and frustration.” Store the unneeded pieces in other rooms and keep the doors closed.

2. Don’t think about place cards

You don’t need to formally seat guests at a dining table. “I find that people make do and move around more when there is less formal seating areas and this makes for a more lively and cozy environment,” says Petrosky, author of “The Cocktail Club: A Year of Recipes and Tips for Spirited Tasting Parties (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 2014).

3. Serve a menu you can prepare earlier

“The best menu for a small space is do-ahead items that can be served at room temperature or a one-pot comfort food simmering on the stovetop,” Petrosky says. If your crowd is the type to hover in the kitchen regardless of where the food and drinks are placed, embrace their choice. “Keep a big pot of meatballs warm on the back burner, or soup or curry, with a basket of small dinners rolls and let guests help themselves,” she says.

To create a more formal feel, place food on a three-tiered plate holder and serve different kinds of bruschetta or cheese and antipasto to start the meal.

4. Avoid a bottleneck

If your guests would rather hang out in the living or dining room, make it easy for them to reach the food and drinks. Put the beverages in one area and the nibbles on the opposite side of the room. Keep your home’s entrance clear to promote a clean flow of traffic. As guests walk further into the party space, have a premade or pre-poured cocktail and an appetizer they can grab.

5. Use things in new ways

Take advantage of unexpected “serving pieces,” like the kitchen sink, which can be turned into a mini bar filled with ice to house wine, beer and soft drinks.

6. Be selective about table décor

If you decide to seat people, a tall centerpiece would visually and spatially overwhelm the dining table so keep it low and simple. But if you’re using the table for food only – no seated guests – then a tall, dramatic centerpiece would make an attractive backdrop. “For instance, if your table is pushed up against a wall, place the arrangement against the wall and set up the rest of your food and drinks in front of it,” Petrosky says.

7. Set up the right lighting

It all depends on the ambiance you want to create. “If you’re hosting a family party with kids, avoid candles,” Petrosky says. “But if you want a more relaxed sophisticated feel, kill the overheads and light lots of scent-free candles.”

Turn on a few low-wattage lamps to create a softly lit setting.

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