For most families, the main highlight of the Thanksgiving holiday is the big, sit-down meal of turkey, stuffing, potatoes, green bean casserole, pie, and more. And for many, it’s not really Thanksgiving unless you’re surrounded by a crowd of family and friends.
However, if you live in a small house, condo, or apartment, you may think that hosting a big Thanksgiving dinner is out of the question. But with some really smart planning and creative solutions, you can host a meal to remember no matter how much space you do or don’t have! Here are some smart strategies for how to host Thanksgiving in a small space.
Tip #1: Plan for your space
Instead of pining for the space you don’t have, embrace the space you do. When deciding what kind of dinner to host, consider your actual space and let it dictate your dining style.
Do you have space to setup a large table? If so, maybe you can pull off a sit-down dinner. If a large table won’t fit anywhere, consider smaller tables or even buffet style and encourage guests to sit on chairs, couches, and benches to eat.
In the same way, also consider the size and amenities in your kitchen when you plan your menu. Can you fit a turkey in your oven? Do you have enough burners and counter space to prepare and cook everything you want to serve? Don’t hesitate to buy and serve pre-made items or cook ahead of time to accommodate a tight cooking schedule in your tiny kitchen.
Get a head start on your Thanksgiving prep and maximize your space with these 11 make-ahead Thanksgiving dishes.
Tip #2: Rearrange
You may think you have no room for a large table for your family or friends to gather, but take a step back and really look at the space you have. Can you remove furniture or swap spaces to temporarily create more room?
Consider pushing furniture against walls, removing side tables, ottomans, and other small furniture items, and/or repurposing items to hold food, drinks, coats/bags, and more.
Move in-the-way furniture to bedrooms, storage closets, or patios so that guests have more space to move around and socialize. Close doors, hang curtains, and use task lighting to hide cluttered areas and focus guests’ attention on the main entertaining spaces.
Tip #3: Get creative with furniture
When it comes to hosting a dinner party, there are two main items you need: serving/eating surfaces and places to sit. If you don’t have either in ample supply, don’t fret, just get creative.
Put several smaller tables together to create a larger gathering spot. Place a piece of inexpensive plywood across saw horses, end tables, or small dressers — just be sure to cover the plywood with a tablecloth for a more elegant soiree. Even sturdy boxes and accent tables can be used as dining surfaces in a pinch. If you really have nothing that can work for a large table, consider renting. Tables can often be found easily and inexpensively!
The same holds true for chairs. Renting chairs is certainly an option, but don’t overlook poofs, benches, couches, stools, step-stools, camp chairs, and large buckets. As long as guests have a place to sit, they will often overlook whatever it may be!
Tip #4: Use your whole home strategically
Although you’ll likely have dedicated cooking and dining spaces, use the rest of your home strategically, as well. Don’t have a front entryway? Use a bedroom or office to hold jackets, purses, and shoes so they remain out of the way. A patio is ideal for storing coolers for cold food and beverages. When arranging what will go where, be sure to dedicate space for the items guests will bring like wine, desserts, and appetizers!
Don’t forget to create a space for the kids with these clever ideas!
Tip #5: De-clutter your kitchen
If you have a small kitchen space, it will begin to feel even smaller once you start preparing the multitude of dishes in a Thanksgiving meal. To maximize your counter, prep, cooking, and cleaning spaces, spend some time de-cluttering the kitchen.
Remove and store (in closets, on the patio, or in the garage) small appliances, cookbook collections, decorative accessories, and anything else you won’t need to prepare the big dinner. In addition to de-cluttering countertops, be sure to make room in your freezer and refrigerator for cold ingredients as well as leftovers!
Tip #6: Keep tables clear for eating
If you’re short on tables, be sure to keep what table space you do have free and clear for serving and eating. Make table centerpieces and décor as minimal as possible. Instead, use wall and overhead space for décor.
By utilizing a buffet serving style, your main table will remain clear for more people to crowd around and eat. If your buffet/counter space is tight, utilize vertical and multi-tiered serving trays to present a lot of food on a small footprint.
Get great fall decorating ideas for your tablescape here!
Tip #7: Ask for help
At the end of the day, you and your guests want to have a good meal and a good time, no matter how it’s prepared or delivered. If you simply don’t have the space to prepare certain aspects of the traditional meal, don’t hesitate to ask for help.
Whether it’s via store-bought items or a potluck, spreading the cooking around means better results and less stress for everyone! If you go the potluck route, consider assigning dishes to your guests in order to ensure all aspects of the meal are thoroughly covered. And lastly, asking for help doesn’t only have to be for food items. Don’t hesitate to ask guests to bring their own chairs or even extra tables if they have them.
A small space doesn’t have to mean a small party. To accommodate your long guest list in your small home, don’t hesitate to re-arrange your space (completely!), break traditional dining rules, and ask for help.
With some good space planning, creative thinking, and setting realistic expectations for your home, you can still host a fantastic Thanksgiving meal your guests will be sure to remember!
If you’re hosting this year, be sure to check out our top 10 tips for being the hostess with the mostess here!