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5 Holiday hosting tips for little living spaces

5 Holiday hosting tips for little living spaces

You may not live in a multi-level penthouse or expansive country estate, but don’t let the lack of square footage stop you from entertaining during the holidays! You might have to tighten up your guest list and repurpose some furniture, but with a little bit of planning and some imaginative problem solving, your small party can have an enormous impact!

Inspired to throw a festive get-together, but worried your petite palace isn’t up to the task? With a little strategizing, some creativity and a dash of magic, you can host a holiday bash makes a huge impression despite its pocket-sized venue. Here are five tips to help you be the” hostess with the most-ess” regardless of your square footage.

Go Vertical

It’s a tried and true trick for every interior designer faced with minimal floor space: when the hardwood is crowded, move it on up. In this case, your best bet is to relegate decorations to your walls and ceiling and surrender the floor to merrymaking visitors.

Hanging mistletoe is old school, so why not dangle some tinsel or tree ornaments from your rafters. When it comes to walls, floating bud vases or candle wall-sconces are a great start. You can also replace framed photos with seasonal “printables” easily found on Pinterest.

Another option is to use lighting for décor. Get imaginative by stringing colored lights around a banister or behind your bookcase. Place white lights along your floorboards for a subtle glow that adds romance and atmosphere.

If you’re dealing with limited countertops, cake stands and tiered trays can help you consolidate food service. Stacking glasses and using a mug or sturdy tumbler to hold utensils can also tighten up your drink station. Displaying food at different heights focuses your guests’ attention on your display rather than your crowded living quarters.

Take it Outside

If you’ve got a balcony, modest yard or charming stoop, you can make the most of this extra leg-room by encouraging guests to mingle outdoors. If the weather’s too severe, use it your advantage by setting up a fancy bar cart full of chilled drinks and mixers.

Setting out candles and a blanket or two creates a comfy nook where partygoers can snuggle and star gaze. A rustic lantern or string of white lights can create an evocative environment that’ll encourage your guests to grab some fresh air and maybe a cold drink or two.


This is the time for all your furniture to pull its own weight. Whether it’s seating or serving, with a little resourceful thinking you’ll suddenly see there are plenty of options.

If side tables and counters are cramped or nonexistent, pull in other furniture for double duty. You can use an ottoman to hold food trays for last-minute coffee table. If you’re looking for a place to put those wine glasses and whiskey bottles, why not empty out your bookshelves for a cheery cocktail corner. If you happen to have an ironing board, throw a colorful piece of fabric over it and turn it into a drink station or cheese board.

Within the confines of your “cozy cottage”, it’s likely seating options are minimal. If you can, borrow a chair or two from a neighbor  – just make sure you’re prepared to pass along a courtesy invite in return for the favor! You can also reconfigure furniture into ad-hoc seating by pushing a sturdy coffee table against a wall or stacking large pillows into piles on the floor.

In the end, don’t let your lack of winged armchairs and velvet couches get your down. Encourage your guests to perch on stairs or sit cross-legged on your (imitation) bearskin rug. Get bohemian! Get wild! That’s what parties are for!

Go With the Flow

While you may have your heart set on a Norman Rockwell  seven-course meal, you’ll be better off if you skip the sit-down dinner and opt for a looser gathering. Crowding guests around a table will only emphasize your tiny homestead.

Instead of conglomerating around a tabletop, encourage your guests to stand, walk and mingle by placing appetizer stations places throughout your home. With a more casual vibe, you can create movement and inspire lively conversation that will create a warm, homey atmosphere perfectly in line with your humble abode.

Pick a Theme

When your options are limited and your guests won’t get the chance to move from the formal dining room to the study for brandy and cigars, it makes sense to consolidate and pick a single theme. Whether it’s your run-of-the-mill wine and cheese sampler or a brandy tasting, focus on one item and build from there in order to simplify food and drink options and add a touch of holiday whimsy.

There are so many options when deciding on a motif for your soiree. Check Pinterest for ideas, or just snag a standard like a throwback fondue fête or Christmas cookie exchange. Just make sure you’ve provided options for folks with dietary restrictions and make it clear on the invitation that it’ll be snacks and sips rather than seven courses and a dessert tray.

Don’t Forget to Smile!

In the end, it’s who you’re with not where you are that counts, so embrace the chaos! Enjoy the chance to catch up with friends and family over eggnog, pumpkin pie, or whatever fanciful fare you choose, and be confident that any shindig, big or small, is a success when the guests are laughing and the host is smiling!