For the party-throwing urbanite, city living equals restricted space. The question of "how can I throw a party in a space that barely fits a couch" seems to stop potential party animals in their tracks -- opting to make a reservation instead. And while dining out, where someone else is responsible for the seating arrangement, cooking, service and clean up, is downright easier -- the fact of the matter is, if you have been invited to enough parties and want to stay on the permanent guest list, sooner or later you're going to have to reciprocate by throwing a party yourself -- and no, picking up the tab one night at dinner simply won't do!
With the holidays just around the corner this is the perfect time to start planning how you can open up your home and celebrate!
So before you start scouring the paper in search of a bigger pad -- take a look at my top 10 tips, easy solutions and reasons why entertaining in a small space should never cramp your style!
1. Work With What You've Got: small spaces typically mean small kitchens so instead of cooking a full meal pick a favorite course and skip the rest. Host a decadent holiday dessert party paired with wine or champagne - you can find scrumptious dessert kits at William Sonoma complete with perfect measurements and ingredients so there's no need to store a lot of extra groceries. If it weren't for the two chairs in your studio it would be standing room only? -- perfect -- a cocktail party it is! Push the chairs in the corners, turn the lights down low, string twinkle lights above and stock up on Wine & Dine plates so your guests can mingle freely with merry libations and morsels in tow (I like Crate & Barrel's Wine & Dine plates -- inexpensive enough to stock up). Create a holiday party playlist and your guests will never miss the buffet table!
2. Carve Out a Dedicated Space for Your Party: Guests follow the food and drinks, which is why everyone gathers in the kitchen. If your kitchen is the size of an elevator this can be a problem, if not claustrophobic. When planning your party select a space that will be most comfortable for you and your guests ahead of time. Focus your design, decorations, food and drinks in your designated party room and you will keep your celebration comfortably contained.
3. What's Your Style?: Formal, casual or plop? If you think of your small space as 'cozy' your party options increase. You will find that the suavest black tie affair can be brilliantly suited for an intimate at-home soiree -- where romantic flickering candle light encourages guests to connect. Load the table and surfaces with clusters of candle sticks and votives, get dressed up and cue your playlist. Elegance thrives in intimate spaces! If you're in more of the "let's hang out" groove then call it a "plop" party -- create seating clusters in your room with oversized pillows, floor cushions, and cozy throws that invite guests to plop down and get comfy. What ever you choose, stick with a style that makes you comfortable and you set yourself up to be a relaxed and confident host.
4. Move Out: Small spaces call for multi-use rooms, office, media, gym, and bedroom all in one. This however makes it difficult for guests to flow or move about. So for one night move as much out of the way as possible -- even if that means making your bedroom, hallway, next-door neighbors, a storage unit -- just stuff it in and shut the door! P.S. Whatever you do don't block the bathroom!
5. Invest in a Coatrack: It's amazing how much room a few winter coats can take up and always seems to leave the host/ess scanning the room for a place to considerately stash them, besides the floor. Best solution is an extra coatrack, so you don't end up as one. Pottery Barn has a stylish selection of coatracks from wal- mounted to door hooks complete with hardware.
6. Tray Service: No place for a table top, counter or bar? Think of trays as your portable party! Whether you're setting out a selection of festive appetizers, desserts or a DIY bar -- assorted serving trays are a chic alternative to fold out tables.
7. Winter White Goes a Long Way: Buy one set of all-white dishes and you won't need to buy dishes again! You can use them over and over anytime of year. Mix and match different shapes and sizes. Use your white dishes as a canvas -- accessorize with holiday touches like silver and gold napkin rings, sprigs of mistletoe or colored inens. You can find a caterers dinner set of 12 at Pottery Barn that even come in a wooden box for storage.
8. It Stars at the Door!: Decorating the front door with a simple wreath or beautiful Chanukah star lets the guest know the party is here! When working with small spaces you want to set the stage as soon as your guests arrive -- holiday touches at your front door get your guests in the spirit and creates anticipation for what's inside!
9. Three '3' Is the Magic Number: The advantage of having limited space is having less square footage to clean, decorate and fill. So don't knock yourself out by over doing it. Keep it simple -- elegance is knowing when to stop. When it comes to your menu, choose three things to eat -- an appetizer, main course and dessert. Three things to drink -- water, red and white wine. Stick to three design elements -- candles, garland and a color scheme. This rule makes for a stress-free and simply beautiful occasion!
10. Have Small Parties More Often: If you keep your parties small and frequent you won't feel so overwhelmed trying to invite everyone. Smaller parties means less work and time -- allowing more time to have fun and focus on your guests. These are the parties where the host/ess can shine!
Follow these tips and not only will the invitations keep coming, but you will want to throw more parties where the meaningful and quality connections you make with your friends, family and loved ones make your holidays that much more fun and memorable.
After all, that's what holidays are all about!
Liza Utter is an award winning celebrity restaurateur and beloved host. Her unique gift for making people feel welcome and bringing life to any party has earned her an expert reputation as being one of America's most sought-after hosts. Liza is dedicated to bringing her unique brand of "celebrating every day" to aspiring hosts across the country through her Life of the Party Tour. Guiding followers on the art of hosting and how to be the life of their own parties is her passion. Liza's Life of the Party exclusive holiday entertaining series is now live on Gilt City. Visit Liza America's Host for all of your hosting, entertaining and lifestyle needs and follow Liza on Twitter @LizaUtter and Facebook for her favorite tips, insider secrets and inspirations that help turn everyday into a celebration!
Follow Liza Utter on Twitter: www.twitter.com/LizaUtter