Whoever said good things come in small packages never lived in a tiny studio apartment, where hosting even the most intimate sit-down dinner party can feel like staging a coup. But with a little organization and some creative know-how, you can turn your humble abode into a more than adequate—dare we say ideal—place to throw a festive shindig that’ll go down in the books as one of the greatest of all time. All you need is a plan and our handy guide to dinner-party success in the smallest of spaces. Keep reading.
If you live in a small space, then chances are you know the value of multitasking furniture. Ideally, you’ve already got a console that can expand into a dining table, side tables that double as seating, or a kitchen island that can become a buffet or sideboard thanks to casters. At the very least you’ve got a folding table that tucks under your bed when not in use. If not, now’s the time to invest in or borrow these items from friends—or get creative. Remember the old bathtub as ice bucket trick?
Move non-essential furnishings to the perimeter of the room (or to a bedroom or closet when possible) to create a large open area at the center of the room, then situate your table where you have easy access to the kitchen. Also consider setting up a table in the corner to use as a dessert or make-your-own cocktail station.
Save the beef wellington and chocolate soufflés for your next, more spacious apartment. Instead, include easy-to-serve big-batch items like tacos (with fixings you can arrange on a counter or other table) or lasagna or one-pot pasta. The same goes for drinks: margaritas, rum or champagne punch, or sangria are universal crowd pleasers.
There’s more ways to stack a bookshelf than the traditional alphabetical file in. Create several short groups of four or five horizontally stacked books, arrange covers by ROYGBIV (Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet) color coding, or opt for a combination of all of the above for an unexpected look that adds visual interest in any room. You can also place bowls and other objects on top of the stacks to take that idea to the next level.
A little common sense goes a long way. Don’t invite 20 people to your 500-square-foot apartment and expect them to have a good time. Don’t have a dishwasher at your disposal? Choose paper over porcelain. And if you have your heart set on a sit-down dinner but don’t have a culinary bone in your body, don’t forget the number for your nearest pizza joint.
Ditch the over-the-top centerpieces and opt instead for small accessories, from cloth napkins and colored glassware to metallic votives and leafy garlands down the middle of the table. Why? They take up little surface area but make a big design impact, which is, after all, what every dinner party in a small apartment needs.