If you think you need a big house to host a major holiday meal, you’re mistaken. The spirit of the holidays is about being together with the people you love, and no amount of square footage can create that magic. You can host a Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, or Christmas meal, even in a small house or apartment. You just need to get creative. These out-of-the-holiday-gift-box ideas will get you ready for a truly enjoyable event, regardless of the size of your home.
1. Create space
You have limited room in an apartment or small home, but you can make the most of what you have. Rearrange the furniture to maximize floor space. Pack it all into the corner of a bedroom if you have to. Rent or borrow folding chairs, which can be easily whipped out, moved around, and stored away again. Bring small side tables out of bedrooms to make a resting place for drinks and plates. Then, designate a single room, like a bedroom or office, where guests can leave their things, so your entertaining space won’t get cluttered with coats and bags as guests arrive.
2. Serving alternatives in small homes
Not everyone has room to serve 20 at their dining table. Who cares! There are plenty of alternatives to the Norman Rockwell depiction of a holiday meal. Dispense with the table completely if you need to. Most people won’t mind sitting on the couch with a plate in their lap, catching up with a relative they rarely see. Plan to serve buffet style, and release any anxiety you have about your upholstery. There are wonderful stain removers on the market, and the Internet is loaded with tips to remove gravy from anything. Got a gang of kids coming? Pull out an extra tablecloth and let them picnic on the floor! While you’re at it, seriously consider disposable plates, napkins and flatware. A heaping mound of dirty dishes in a small kitchen sink is overwhelming. If the food and company are memorable, few are likely to focus on the plates and cutlery.
3. Keep meal-prep simple
Chopping, mixing, and all the other cooking what-not takes up a lot of space. As much as you can, pick recipes that you can prep and cook ahead, to keep the kitchen less crowded and give you more time to enjoy your guests. When it comes to beverages, forget about offering every option. Create a small station with a signature drink where guests can serve themselves.
4. Get outside your small house
Find opportunities to get outdoors. In many parts of the country, the weather can be nice enough to enjoy a fire pit, hiking or snow-shoeing and lawn games like corn hole and horse shoes. Take an after dinner walk through the neighborhood to check out the holiday lights. Live in an apartment building with no yard? Plan a scavenger hunt, and get your neighbors involved. Then, invite them back for a piece of pie, and get to know them better. Connecting with your community can make life more fulfilling all year long, not just during the holidays.
5. Ask for help!
No matter the size of your home, if you’re hosting a holiday, you should absolutely ask for help. Most guests want to contribute, and it’s more fun to work as a team. Ask some guests to arrive early to help with parts of meal preparation and table-setting. Ask other guests to bring an appetizer or dessert to eliminate some of your cooking chores. Enlist a teenager or grandparent to help entertain little kids. In entertaining and in life, when everybody pitches in, it brings us closer together.
With some planning, you can pull off a wonderful holiday celebration no matter the size of your space. It’s the time you spend together that makes the memories — not the table settings and other trappings. Now, find your favorite recipes, and ask your Mom to bring Grandma’s famous casserole. Happy Holidays to one and all!