How to Enjoy Entertaining in a Small Home
With the holidays fast approaching, entertaining friends and family becomes much more common. Sometimes it can be intimidating and stressful inviting groups of people into your small home, but it doesn’t have to be. This month as part of the Small Family Home Blog Community we are focusing on hosting in a small home. Don’t forget to check out below the links to other great posts on this topic…
In our small 800ish square foot home, we entertain guests quite regularly, both small groups of 3-5 and large groups of 15-20. There have been a few times when we’ve had big family get togethers where we had over 20 people in our house. Opening our house up and sharing food with friends and family is something we really value as a family and we don’t let our tiny house stop us.
Today I wanted to share a few things which have helped us overcome the difficulties of hosting a gathering in a small house:
Change perspective…Living in Scotland, away from the bigger is better mentality that I had grown up with in America, has been so good for me. I have learned so much about living more abundantly with less. I have learned to simplify, change my expectations and really cherish the few things that I do have. The first thing I had to do to enjoy entertaining in a small space was change my perspective. Instead of looking at my house as cramped, I have learned to see it as cozy and intimate. By changing the way I view my house, I have become more comfortable inviting people over whether in large or small groups.
Instead of worrying whether or not my guests think my house is too small, too unfinished, doesn’t have enough furniture or is too dirty, I try to think about how best I can accommodate them when they are here. If I’ve got someone older coming over, I make sure to set out a chair just for them. If I know someone gets a little claustrophobic or uncomfortable in big groups, I ask them to help me in the kitchen and make sure they have a spot near a door while we are eating.
Changing my perspective has allowed me to develop amazing relationships with people when we invite them into our homes to enjoy a meal together.
Simplify things…Another thing I have learned when hosting in a small home is that it doesn’t take much to give your guests a great experience. Don’t get me wrong, I love Pinterest, but the parties I see on there are just not feasible (at least not for me) and I think that when we try to put on these Pinterest or Instagram worthy events we can easily set ourselves up for disappointment, overwhelm and possibly a less than intimate occasion with those we are trying to connect with.
I keep it super simple–the meal, the plates, everything. While I love the look of a nicely decorated tablescape, its just not practical for a dinner party of 20+ guests in a tiny house. The serving table may have a small vase with flowers, but probably not unless its a party without the kids. Its all about the simplicity. Less really is more.
When we drop all of the extras, we have more energy to devote to the people and we are more likely to do it on a regular basis. There are so many different ways to entertain. Sometimes it’s a spur of the moment thing. You have a bit extra food and you call up some friends and invite them to dinner. Other times it’s something you have planned for weeks. For us though, regardless of whether its been planned for weeks or it’s something more spontaneous, the event is very much the same. It involves friends or family, good food and good conversation.
Now when I say good food, I don’t mean anything different than something we’d eat together as a family. I don’t plan several courses and often we don’t even have dessert. I try to plan meals (especially for a big group) that don’t take up lots of space or are hard to eat. Some of our go to meals are spaghetti, chili, tacos, stir-fry and stroganoff (check out the links for the recipes). Like I said, we just keep it simple. If these parties are too hard to put together, we won’t have them as often and I value my community far too much to sacrifice that time with friends.
Clear the Space…When we have small groups over, we don’t have to do much to make space. With smaller groups we can all gather round the table and have a family (more formal) style dinner. But it gets much more complicated to have a formal dinner party with a large group in a small house. I used to try. I’d set up tables and chairs for everyone, but then we were cramped and it really limited the amount of people we could have over. After trying to squeeze 14+ people around our dining table and a fold out one in the small living room, I gave up.
So instead now we just clear the space and eat on our laps. We push the table to the wall and use it to serve the food. We keep furniture at a minimum at our house so there really is not much else to clear. But if you’ve got other furniture in the space, just try to clear it away or push it aside the best you can. If you want to know why we got rid of most of our furniture, check out this post.
Ask for help…Almost all of our gathering involve some kind of potluck aspect. Everyone loves getting involved and sharing their own food with each other. If its a small group for dinner, we usually ask them to bring the drinks, a salad or something like that. If its a big party, we usually all plan together that one or two people will do a main course, someone else will bring the sides, another will do the dessert or drinks. This really takes the burden of you trying to cook a huge meal in a very tiny kitchen. Also, its makes clean up so much easier.
Prepare to get Cozy…One thing I love about entertaining in a small home is the intimacy. Now maybe this isn’t for everyone and just thinking about getting cozy with a big group of people makes your heart pound. But generally, I find that most people don’t mind it. Having this small space means that everyone can be part of the conversation. Being in such close proximity to one another helps break the ice and allows for genuine interaction. It’s hard not to get to really know someone you are brushing shoulders with.
Some of my favorite memories include frequent and very cosy dinner/game nights we’d have with 2 families that totaled 17 people with children ranging from 2 months to 18 years. We would take turns hosting and we didn’t let our small houses stop us. The kids usually congregated together in the dining room or the kitchen and the adults in the living room on the floor, couches and chairs in whatever space they could find.
I hope that some of these tips helped you feel more positive or willing to try entertaining more in your small home. Or maybe it just inspired you to let go of some of your entertaining expectations so that you could entertain those you care about more frequently. We love to invite people we don’t know very well over to our house, especially those who are far from family like us or don’t have any. Through this we have developed great friendships that I cherish deeply. Opening your house and sharing food with those around us is such a great way to reach out to others during the holidays. Let’s do more of it!
Share in the comments below some tips you have for making entertaining others easier…