10 Tips on easy entertaining in a small home.

Today is my youngest grandchild’s first birthday. She will be arriving with her parents in a couple of hours to allow us to celebrate with her. My small apartment will host 4 adults and three children under the age of four (plus myself) today and tomorrow.

This isn’t the first time I’ve entertained, and it won’t be the last.

I get asked all the time why I downsized to such a small apartment when I have frequent company, especially when I have family from out-of-town that stays with me every few weeks.

It was an easy choice, I knew the larger home didn’t suit me. I also knew my children would be fine with any decision I made for myself, they are great that way.

Tonight my son, his wife, and their daughter will be coming for an overnight visit. For comfort I will sleep on the twin/day bed and let them have the larger bed. Baby girl has her own bed that will be set up near mom and dad.

For convenience, I have fruit for breakfast, and already prepared a nice lunch which will only need to be warmed tomorrow in the slow cooker. Taking the time to do this before guest arrive will give me more time to enjoy the company and keep chores to a minimum while they are here.

It’s a learning process.

Having filled my small space beyond its limit over Christmas, and being able to laugh about it, I learned a few things.  Here’s what I learned from that experience:

  1. Have what will be needed conveniently at hand. For example, my son and his wife leave a few things here to make visiting easier on them when packing. I keep these things put away, these are brought out and set up when I know they are coming. This includes sample size of deodorant, contact case and solution, toothbrushes etc.
  2. Have food prep as complete as possible before guests arrive. Also plan on simple meals. A pot of spaghetti and a loaf of bread are filling yet easy to prepare and make clean up a breeze. Any meal you can put together in a slow cooker and leave is perfect.
  3. Breakfasts work out best when they are simple. Put a pot of water on for tea, have a variety of fruits and if you want to spurge pick up a couple of muffins or bagels.
  4. Having several types of lighting can make all the difference.  I have a couple of lamps for specific tasks. One such lamp I picked up at Ikea for ten dollars. The light bulb is only 25 watts, but it’s perfect for reading, and won’t disturb guests if someone can’t sleep.The fixture can also be tipped upward towards the ceiling giving off just enough light if a diaper needed changed during the night without disturbing anyone. It also works well to use that light after baby goes to bed and the adults still want to visit.
  5. Have extra seating that folds up and can be stored under a bed or in a corner of the closet. Another idea is to use storage ottomans. I have one that holds everything for the grand children to play with and can be pulled out for an extra seat.
  6. When small children visit, as much open floor space as possible is best. When it comes time for eating a sheet or thin blanket work wonderfully to protect the carpeting. Any spills can be shaken outside then tossed in the washer. It’s much easier than having to scrub a carpet.
  7. Try to anticipate guests needs. While I don’t drink coffee, some guests do. Instead of buying a coffee pot that will need storage, Starbucks sells instant coffee that I’m told tastes just like it has been brewed. Keeping this on hand will save money and allow you to use just one pot of hot water for all guests. I also have a thermal carafe I fill with hot water to make serving easier for everyone.
  8. When planning meals, think buffet. Forget a sit-down-around-the-table type of meal. If you haven’t had a casual meal lately, give it a try it really does work better in a small space.
  9. Organization is key. Have you ever gone to a buffet-style restaurant and found it difficult to get a bowl of soup because the bowls aren’t anywhere near the soup. You need to get back in line, or ask someone to allow you to reach in, to get a bowl then back down to the soup.  Set the buffet where reaching silver and dishes is convenient. You don’t have room in a small space for people to wander searching for what they need.
  10. Allow someone to bring something you can’t make in your kitchen easily. Most guests will ask to bring something whether or not you are having a potluck dinner. Don’t be afraid to take them up on their offer.  My family figured out quickly that I had found a way to make most dishes without a stove. What I can’t do is bake cookies. My Christmas guests arrived bearing trays of cookies ensuring no one would miss an important tradition.

The main point here is that no matter how large or small your home may be, visiting with those you love will always be filled with good conversation and laughter. No home can be built to anticipate every need of every guest, so don’t try. Make your home fit your needs and your happiness in that space will be contagious to those who visit you.

UPDATE:  Here are a couple of pictures from the birthday:

We had lunch at a Chinese Buffet, baby girl loves her food

Entertaining does work in small homes. Here the adults use the beds for seating while the kids enjoy birthday cake on the floor with a blanket to protect the carpeting. Who knew an indoor picnic could be so fun.

Happy First Birthday baby girl!

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