You absolutely love to host, but you live in a small space. What do you do? Fear not, urban condo dweller! We’re here for you.
If you’re feeling the pressure of hosting this Thanksgiving, owning a small home can cause some anxiety. It’s understandable, but we want you to know that your home, regardless of size, can be the perfect holiday venue. Often it’s just a matter of some strategic planning and creativity. Here are ten tips to boost your confidence this holiday season.
1. Plan, Plan And Plan Some More!
This may be the single most important tip on the list. If you read nothing more, at least finish this section! Planning well is guaranteed to make the process smoother - the trick is to keep things simple. Old fashioned “to do” lists are a great option.
Start with your menu. Are there ingredients you already have on hand? It might save you time and money if so. Do you have a grocery list ready? Where do you need to go, and when can you fit it into your schedule? Plot out your route if you need to go to more than one destination.
And last but not least, make a timeline. Mark down everything from food prep to guest arrival to course order and clean up. Add in any reminders you might need (i.e. pre-heat oven) along the way. This is your master itinerary. The more detailed the better!
2. Who’s In, Who’s Out?
Your next step is your guest list. Be realistic here. How many can you comfortably fit in your home? Too full and it becomes stressful for everyone. We understand it’s not always possible to pare down family gatherings, but if you’re having a “friendsgiving” this year – make sure your guest list is manageable.
Now that confirmations are rolling in it’s time to delegate. Hosting a holiday meal is a big undertaking. Don’t be afraid to ask for a little help, and be strategic when you do so. Do you have a friend or family member that champions a particular recipe? Add it to your menu and delegate. Who’s the decorator in your group? Might they be willing to join you a bit early and add some festive flair to your home? Most people enjoy lending a hand, especially when it’s something they’re comfortable with.
4. Food and Beverage Storage
Small kitchens are an added challenge when it comes to hosting, but some strategic storage can be a lifesaver. Ingredient packaging often takes up a lot more space than the ingredient itself. For example, it’s helpful to remove that plastic box packaging from lettuce, wash your leaves, and put them in your refrigerator in Ziploc bags. If you’re serving cold beverages, throw a couple bags of ice in a cooler or your bathtub to keep them cool before serving later in the evening. It will open up valuable fridge and counter space.
5. Ingredient Prep
Are there dishes that can be made in advance? Are there ingredients that can be prepped? There are several ways to speed up your dinner prep time. Potatoes and carrots can be peeled and stored in water. Bread for stuffing can be cubed in advance. Nuts can be toasted and placed in the freezer. If you’re baking from scratch, dry ingredients can be combined and stored in jars. There are lots of ways to get a head start. Think of as many as you can!
6. Moving Time
Some temporary adjustments here and there can go a long way when you have a full house. Pull out your extra chairs and shuffle your furniture around your living space. If you need to move a side table or coffee table into a bedroom to make more space, go for it. It’s only one night. Get creative with your table seating too. Stools, benches, step stools, even a five-gallon buckets can double as a chair.
This one’s pretty straightforward, and it might be more for your own peace of mind than anyone else’s. Move knick-knacks around to create space for guests to place their drinks. Sift through that pile of mail on your counter, file and recycle. Throw your outerwear on your bed to make room for your guests in your entrance closet. Line your footwear up neatly in your entranceway so your guests have space for their shoes.
8. Go Buffet Style
You’ve packed your dining table. Space is at a premium. And you’ve got a designated spot for your turkey – the main event – and your beverages of course. Why not leave a few of the hot side dishes on the stovetop or the island? Guests can come and go serving themselves as they please, it frees up surface space on your table, and it means there’s less to clear away as you transition from dinner to dessert.
9. Solicit A Clean-Up Crew
Many hands make light work, as the old saying goes. It’s true! You don’t want to fill your kitchen with people, but there’s nothing wrong with asking guests to pile their plates on the counter. Activate a mini-assembly line if need be, designate one to scrape plates and another to rinse. A few extra hands will ensure you aren’t stuck in the kitchen all night.
10. Defer Desert
After a big meal, everyone needs a little time to digest. Go ahead and defer dessert. It will take the pressure off of clean-up and it will give you some time to enjoy your company. You don’t want to be working the entire evening, after all.
Remember What’s Important...
Let’s be honest with ourselves. A little stress is natural, and to be expected. If it doesn’t surround dinner it will likely surround guests. But we hope these tips might help take a bit of the load off. Remember, the best part about holidays is bringing people together. Chances are, as the host, you’ll likely be worrying about things that your guests haven’t even noticed. So breathe deep, take it easy on yourself, and don’t forget to enjoy your company.