Monday, June 14, 2010

Entertaining in Small Spaces

I've always been big on throwing parties. My parents are the complete opposite of me... I don't think they organized a party in my entire childhood. I don't know where my penchant for celebrations came from exactly, but around the time I became a teenager, I started planning elaborate parties... from sleepovers with carefully chosen snacks and movies, to my first ever boy/girl party in the Christmas of 1993, with my stero dragged out into the living room to play the mix tape I spent months working on, to the Hawaiian themed high school graduation party I threw myself in our backyard.
Once I moved out on my own, I became well-known in my social group for being the party planner... I threw fancy dinner parties, costume dance parties, game nights, wine and cheese tastings and cooking get togethers. There's nothing I enjoy more than gathering all the people I care about into my home, feeding them good food and fun drinks, and filling the air with good conversation and racuous laughter.
You don't need a large space to throw a good party. While I'd love to have a backyard for barbecues and bonfires, I've held plenty of great get togethers inside my small condo walls. In fact, I often think our parties are even better in our condo than if we had a big house - it forces people to stay in one space mingling instead of spreading out.
Here are some tips on how to throw a great party, even if you live in a small space:
-Before the party, clean, clean, clean! Yes, it will get messed up moments after your first guests arrive, but a clean space looks bigger and more inviting.
-Move some furniture for optimum party flow. I always put my coffee table in the bedroom (where coats and cats are also corraled) to open up the living room. Sometimes I push the dining room table against the bookcase in the dining room and use it as a buffet table for food (and that way fewer people will sit down at the table, and instead mingle and talk).
-Lighting at a party is important. Add a dimmer switch to lights to allow for adjustment. Or light candles and/or a fire in the fireplace if you have one.
-Know your limits. If a large group in your small space will stress you out, keep the guest list small. We had close to 40 people come to my son's birthday party, and that was about my limit for our condo. I have a great time and feel like the ultimate hostess with a group of 15-25.
-Set out food in multiple areas. People always congregate in the kitchen. So I try to put some foods out in the dining room, and sometimes drinks on our game cabinet in the dining room/entry to the living room. People STILL favor the kitchen, but it still forces them to move around a little bit.
-Make a playlist and keep the TV off. I hate it when people turn on the TV to play video games, or watch movies at a party. It usually divides up the party between the gamers/non-gamers and causes everyone to stare at the tube. So I do my best to have music playing so the TV stays off.
Thrown any good parties lately? What are some things that worked well, or not so well?

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