12 Ways Your Small Party Space Can Pack a Punch

You may be living in a shoebox but that doesn’t mean you have to be a closet host. Even if you’re an entertainer extraordinaire, getting guests in a party mood can be tricky when the threat of claustrophobia is hanging like a noose. Here are tips on how your apartment can be the place to be… even if it’s small.

At those times when breaking down a wall may not be a viable option, you have no choice but to work with what you have. Besides, who said small parties can’t pack a punch? Don’t think “cramped”—think “cozy.” It’s all about maximizing space and adapting to your surroundings. Breathe deeply and repeat to self: “I control the space, it does not control me…” Fine, it controls you a little bit. We can work with that.

1. Move it or Lose It

How to squeeze 10 people where your couch could barely fit? Push the bulky stuff against the wall or stuff them in a room you won’t be using. Party planners have won this floor space battle by following one simple rule: If you don’t need it, get it out of the way! If the chairs take up more space than necessary, hide them in the back closet. Throw pillows over a blanket spread give you more seating space and can be just as charming with that laidback vibe.

2. Make It Multipurpose

A cutting board, if big enough, can be the serving tray itself. Double your sink as an ice bucket for the wine to have more space in the fridge for dessert. If you can’t move it, repurpose it! Turn your bookshelf into the bar or a bag rack so only warm bodies occupy the seats.

3. Vertical vs. Horizontal

The walls and ceilings are your friends. Hang the décor instead of adding to the clutter. Drape some buntings on the wall and stick a few streamers on the ceiling. Easy to make, yet not so easily messed up. That exotic scarf you rarely wear? Instant backdrop! It’s the same principle with food. Tiered trays and risers are oh-so-instagrammable and definitely area-efficient. Stack on those cupcakes!

4. No to Color Noise

Too much color makes a room feel more crowded than it already is. Stick to two or three. Lighter shades can give a spacious, airy feel, while darker ones do the opposite. Balance your deep hues with more neutral ones.

5. Label It!

Hang up a sign on designated areas so you can go about your host duties instead of hovering in one place telling people what to do. Dedicate one glass per guest with wine charms, stirrer tags, and color-coded coasters. Remind them whose is whose and you won’t be needing another glass. If you’re using disposable cups, put their names on them with a marker.

6. Less Dishcrowding, More Sharing

Mix a variety of nibbles on a bowl and distribute in key areas. This way, your mates won’t need to “uproot” themselves to scout other options. Go casual with finger food and skewers. Limited prep and storage area is best with a simpler menu. No need for a wide variety as long as the food is good and the drinks are flowing. Do away with the beer bottles and pour them a signature cocktail!

7. Crowdsource Your Sounds

What’s great about small spaces is you don’t have to rent a big ol’ sound system. A mobile phone speaker will do! Crowdsource and invite your friends to play a sample from their own audio libraries.

9. All About Flow

Not everything needs to be in the living room. Be a traffic enforcer by putting drinks and munchies where you want people to be. Encourage guests to spread out and wander. You’re not only avoiding a bottleneck to the buffet table, you’re also helping the squad wallflowers to be up and about.

10. Keep Your Cool

Literally: Bodies mean body heat. Watch out, small spaces can get stuffy, and fast. Air conditioning and fans should be working perfectly. And please, cook in advance. One, because you’ll probably burn whatever it is in the middle of a party. Two, stove heat will make your space hotter. Three, unpleasant food smells can cling to clothes and linger longer than you’d like.