How to Host a Sit-Down
Dinner in a Small Space
Yes, you can throw a large dinner party in your apartment or studio! Here's how to get savvy with every room, nook and cranny.
DECIDE WHERE TO DINE
If you don’t have a proper dining area, you’ll need to create one for the night. Choose somewhere with the most breathing room – probably the center of your living room. (Or, if you’re in a studio, the center of your living space.) Make sure you have easy access to the kitchen and that guests have easy access to the bathroom, even while everyone is seated.
SET UP THE TABLE
Extendable rectangular dining tables are best, but work with what you have. Pull your desk out of the bedroom or utilize your media console – any surface at the right height will do. A folding table is a great solution, too (just slide it under your bed after the party). If you do have a dining table, invest in a folding table that’s similar in height, then cover them in matching tablecloths for a cohesive experience. For seating, benches optimize space and can be tucked under the table when not in use. If you don’t have enough spots for everyone, set up sturdy side tables as makeshift chairs (add throw pillows for softness) or ask your friendly neighbors to borrow a couple for the evening. If you don’t have access to any of the above, rent a table and stackable seats.
MAKE A SEATING CHART
Be thoughtful about who you invite and where you put them – once everyone is seated for dinner, there likely won’t be a lot of wiggle room. Let your tallest guests and left-handed friends sit at the end. As the host, sit nearest to the kitchen so you can grab dishes and second rounds, and so no one has to squeeze uncomfortably around the table.
FOREGO THE CENTERPIECE
You’re going to want all the table space you can get, so while stylish, an extravagant centerpiece may take up too much real estate. Instead, hang bistro lights across the ceiling for ambiance overhead, scatter a few votives down the middle of the table or decorate other places around the house, like the mantel or front door.
CREATE A SPACE FOR DRINKS
One of our favorite small-space party solutions? The bathtub ice chest. Keep beers, sparkling waters and rosé chilled by filling your bathtub with ice, or set up ice buckets in the shower, to free up precious fridge space. You could also set up coolers in your outdoor space, whether it's a patio or just a spot next to the door.
MAKE ROOM FOR FOOD
The oven is great for storage – keep it on warm if you're serving hotter dishes, or make sure it’s completely cool before the party starts to hold salad and room-temp sides. Once the food is served and enjoyed, start stacking dirty dishes in there – you can get to them once your guests leave. Set extra food or the desserts on your accent or coffee tables.
CREATE A DROP ZONE
In order to keep the entryway clear, designate a place for your guests to put their jackets, bags and other belongings. Since the dinner party won’t happen in your bedroom, it can be the go-to bag drop. Just remember to lay a sheet or blanket down to keep scuffs at bay.