Entertaining in a small home

sandy523July 9, 2008

Our house is 1100 sq.ft. and I have not done any entertaining since we moved here. I was thinking of throwing a small gathering for some friends who have not seen the house. Just wondering how some of you entertain in a small home and how does it work out?

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Being able to move part of the party outdoors is a big plus. How many bedrooms is the house and how big is the main living area? That could vary a lot in a 1100 sq ft house.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2008 at 1:25PM
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We have a brick paver patio that is bigger than our entire house LOL We've had about 75 people there and it was comfortable. Inside, we have a large open plan living area and kitchen, so when we need to host a group, which we do regularly since my husband teaches a Bible study, we swap the living room furniture out and move in a couple of large sectional units that normally live in the guest room since they double as guest beds. We also move the coffee table out and some small side tables in. They look like little stools and are usually stacked together for storage, and can actually be used as seating in a pinch. With the smaller size tables, everyone can have a place to put their books and coffee. We turn the island stools around to face the living room and bring in some dining chairs for extra seating. We can comfortably seat 15 people with everyone having a nice seat and a bit of table space. It takes about 10 minutes since we have a furniture dolly to move the large pieces, and our floors are hardwood. We have recessed cans throughout the entire space so we don't need floor or table lamps, which makes it easier to move things around.

We realized it was easier to move the furniture around than to figure out how to cram everyone into the regular furniture arrangement, and it doesn't really take all that much time to change it around.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2008 at 1:45PM
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Sandy, our home is around 900 sq. ft. and we had thanksgiving dinner for 20 people. I agree that outside living space is a big plus. The only time everyone came inside at the same time was to eat a delicious meal on cloth-covered tables with china and silver. We moved all the furniture out of the living room/dining room and set up three big folding tables and folding chairs. The furniture was temporarily stored in the bedrooms. Everyone enjoyed it and can't understand why I don't do it again LOL

    Bookmark   July 9, 2008 at 10:19PM
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We only have parties in the Spring and Fall, when it's not too hot or cold to have the party outside. The party is outside and people just come in to go to the bathroom. We set up tables to serve the food outside. Our yard is very shady and pretty and people seem to enjoy it.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2008 at 10:46PM
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My house is 970 sf of 1st floor living space (this doesn't count the basement). Here are my thoughts:

1. I can easily have about 6 people over indoors without feeling crowded. I know I could do up to 10 people, but that would be pushing it. I limit my party size to 6-8. No massive crowds here.

2. Agree about using the outdoors as living space. I have a 12x20 screened porch overlooking my backyard. It's furnished and that gives people more options. Also, the way my driveway is situated, I can set up a large section of my driveway for entertaining space. I've got a lot of cute plants & stuff out there, so it doesn't feel like you're in a driveway. I haven't done it yet, but if I "staged" a party where the outside is mostly used, I could have about 20 people over.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2008 at 8:02AM
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My house is ~1100 sqft and main living/dining area is something like 330 sqft.

I have had parties for upto 30 people comfortably in this house. The key is to let indoor/outdoor movement easily (and have outdoors seating available). Also important is to open access to guest bedroom if you can share it. That makes families comfortable.

It also helps to keep it a casual affair. That way, people trickle in and out and you can manage with less seating.

We served food in the yard (it was July) -- and before we knew everyone was out in the yard. We are planning a birthday party in the same house shortly now; and plan to use our yard as well.

Hope this helps!

    Bookmark   July 21, 2008 at 12:48AM
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I did as Lexi7 describes for Thanksgiving every year. Worked great.

In our larger home that we have now (1675 sq ft) I had an indoor party for about 25 for my father-in-law's 90th birthday in June 2006. We had a buffet meal delivered hot from the restaurant just down the street. I had a banquet table and all of the kitchen counters to serve from. People could eat at the kitchen table, or sit in the family room or den. I also set a card table for four in the foyer. People ate at desks, on side tables, standing and talking. The one thing I wish I had done was to put the air conditioning down as low as it would go as soon as we got up that morning. It was warm when the day started and the air conditioner could never catch up once people started coming. It was the first hot spell since we moved into our house, and we had no idea how the air conditioning would work. It didn't. Work, I mean. It was 90 degrees inside and out, but everybody had a good time.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2008 at 12:11AM
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We entertain quite regularly in our small 1000 sq ft home.

We tend to do the vast majority of our entertaining outdoors as much as possible. Even on New Year's Eve (and we live in New England!)!

Yup. This past NYE we had a house party. We strung twinkle lights all around our back deck and yard. We shoveled out areas in the yard and we had three large cooper firepits going (two of which we borrowed from friends). We also utilized the garage (had the ping pong table set up in there), as well as the living room/kitchen.

It was a great hit w/ our friends.

That's the thing I've found about entertaining in a small house. Its doable, if you get creative.

I've also learned to be smart about furnishing. Our coffee table opens up for additional storage. We also have a leather bench that opens up for storage (and can be used for additional seating when we have company). Our kitchen table is standard size but flips up to extend the surface area. We took down a wall between the kitchen and living room to open up the space more, as well.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2008 at 3:01PM
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We've hosted Thanksgiving for 14 in our slighly-less-than 1500 sq.-ft.-but-poorly-laid-out house. We have no dining room, but an ample eat-in-kitchen. For Thanksgiving, we cleared out all but the large furniture (sofa and chair), opened up the center of the room, and set up 3 round folding tables (rented + folding chairs). Since we have a fireplace in the livingroom and the fire was lit, that set the mood for the day. Folks will overlook the size of the space if the ambiance of the space is welcoming, warm and inviting (and not too cramped). I find round tables work better in limited spaces better than square or rectangle. In the warmer months we entertain outside on our very big 16'x32' deck, which is partially covered by an overhang. If it gets a bit warm we can gather under the 2 patio unbrellas or the overhang.
One thing I always tell people is this...living a small house is like living on a boat because everything has to have a place and organization is the key.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2008 at 8:12PM
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I agree with mrsmarv about the ambiance--and I think it is easier to create that ambiance in a smaller space.

I used to have a rectangular table that sat 6--I replaced it with a 60" round that seats 8 adults comfortably. (The key is using round placemats!) I can also set up a small card table for the kids when the round table is full. This has worked very well for me.

In the warm weather (I'm in NE) we eat all meals out on the deck.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2008 at 9:49AM
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