How to host a small party in a house or apartment

If you live in a ridiculously busy city or somewhere on the outskirts, you know too well the struggle of tiny apartments and cramped townhouses. However, learning how to host a party in a small house is a skill you can master easily. Consider space, food, ambiance, and entertainment first — everything a regular party entails but just with less room. Now, let’s get to planning.

Four friends at a party in small apartment
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Make parking convenient for guests

Street parking is a cinch when you ask neighbors for help. If you live closer to the suburbs than you do downtown, notify your neighbors you’re hosting a gathering well in advance.

This way, they can expect a strange car or two gracing their parkway for a few hours. If street parking is not feasible, point guests to trustworthy nearby garages. Send them direct map pins/links if possible. A little guidance saves them frustration trying to nab the right parking.

Leave heavy jackets or soiled shoes in the bathroom

During rainy or snow seasons, we all wear multiple layers outdoors, but they can quickly feel stuffy when we’re indoors. When guests enter your home, quickly let them know they should leave their coats, jackets, scarves, and other layers in your bathroom. This also goes for wet boots, especially if you have carpeting or delicate floors.

The bathroom will be easier to clean up if guests do indeed track in mud. You also save precious space near your entryway, making foot traffic less intense. If the bathroom is already taken, consider transforming a hallway closet into a coat-check station.

Designate separate food and drink stations

Two big party attractions are the food and beverage tables. At your typical event, you’d pile the food, drinks, and utensils onto one large table. Of course, entertaining in a small house is an entirely different story. If you have counter space, make this a drink and snack station.

Elsewhere, place finger-food platters guests can access quickly without crowding. In the same vein, consider serving foods that don’t require a plate, bowl, and eating utensils. There will be a quicker turnaround rate around your food and drink stations, and you don’t have to reserve more space for utensils.

Carve out spaces for adults and kids

Unless you’re planning on hosting a dinner or games that require everyone’s attention, designate separate areas for children and adults. Kids generally don’t need as much space (or don’t mind small spaces), so section off a part of your living room for games, toys, etc. You can also direct them to a separate room decked out with entertainment and other activities.

If weather and space permit, let children play outside. Alternatively, apartments with balconies or homes with a deck offer extra entertainment value. Set up a small table with drinks where adults can go out for a breath of fresh air or sip on a cocktail and chat.

Less is more with decoration

Since you’re already pressed for space, extravagant decoration may need to take a rain check. This also goes for your fluffy sofa pillows, freestanding statues, and your many potted plants. Clear off seating, nonfunctional decor, and other furniture that may get in the way. The more floor and sitting space you have, the better.

High ceilings and bare walls may offer some leeway, though. Put up banners, lights, and other hanging decorations to make up for traditional ornaments like table centerpieces.

Provide ample seating

Passing up on decoration and clearing off furniture helps ensure guests can sit when they want to. People standing around awkwardly or uncomfortably can dampen the party, so if needed, borrow ottomans, stools, benches, and other versatile seating options. Sprinkle these around the apartment or home to distribute foot traffic.

Monitor the AC or lack thereof

A group of people in a small apartment or house can be uncomfortable if you don’t have an AC or if it isn’t working. This is especially true for summer highs and winter lows. Purchase or borrow a space heater or air-conditioning unit to make sure guests stay comfortable no matter what. Keep an eye on the weather during the preceding days and plan as necessary.

Prepare for everything beforehand

Although you can’t prepare for everything that could happen, you can plan for almost every scenario and make sure you’re ready. Check off the most important party prep items on your list: Parking, seating, drinks and food, decor, entertainment, and room-temperature control. Cook any food you’ll be serving in advance and make enough for refills.

Woman sitting at a table with friends during party
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Stock up on your beverage cooler and mix any cocktail blends beforehand. Decorate the day before if possible, so even if you have some early birds coming in, you don’t have to rush.

So you’re thinking of hosting a party in your small apartment or house. This idea may seem laughable now, but it’s entirely possible. The secret is to prepare thoroughly, rethink traditional decor, serve up strategic food and drinks, and divvy up space in smart ways. Lastly, remember that not every party will be perfect, and the best thing you can do is to laugh off any hitches and enjoy your friends and family’s company.

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