How to Make a Small Space Work for Holiday Entertaining

This is the week where serious planning has to take place for Thanksgiving.

My friend, Deb, who lives in a small house, has 14 coming to dinner next week. They have 6 adults with 4 kids coming, plus their family of 4.

Deb said: My house is SO cramped. But I hope they all come anyway.

When I asked her how her planning was going, I also asked her what “top 3 things” was she going to do to make it work? She told me that writing out her top 3 would really help her visualize what needed to get done.

Very few of us have the ideal situations, houses big enough, dining tables that stretch out long enough, beds for everybody in the house. We may have tiny living rooms, no family rooms, itsy-bitsy kitchens, no counter space.

Whatever we don’t like about our houses, we still can make it work.

I also told Deb, “I think you can do anything if you are prepared and you plan ahead!”

Isn’t it true that we actually look forward to being cozy with family and friends?

Her biggest problem: Main floor for ALL entertaining is 11 x 18. Currently holds table/chairs for 4 + sectional sofa, flat TV on wall, fireplace.

Deb’s Top 3 things TO DO by the end of this week:

1. Clear out basement. Move sectional and TV down so main floor is 100% for serving & eating. Budget 2 full days for Goodwill runs and consolidating storage down there. Set up outdoor firepit for teens and attic nook for games/crafting.

2. Delegate menu dishes among guests.

3. Plan/count/move/find: chairs/dishes/cloth-napkins.

Have you thought ahead enough to make a list and prioritize the top 3 things that you and your family can do to make the holidays easier? What method works for you for planning?

10 comments on “How to Make a Small Space Work for Holiday Entertaining”

  1. perfect tips for me. Spending this weekend cleaning out, taking inventory, preparations, etc… I have a tiny house and 15 (and counting) guests coming. But so thankful that everyone is making something!

  2. This is a great idea. I’m hosting this year so my top three things are:

    1. Prep dining room — iron linens, reorganize furniture to fit, get extra chairs, set table early.
    2. Make as many side dishes in advance as I can.
    3. Have small things in place and at the ready — firewood chopped, candleholders filled and ready to be lit, games out of storage in case we want to play,

    Thanks fo much for making me get this written down!

  3. My top three:

    1.Delegate who is bringing what for thanksgiving
    2.Shop early so I don’t have to fight the crowds the book “Cranberry Thanksgiving” to remember it’s not about what your house looks like but the warmth people feel when they are in your home =)

  4. I always make a list with a very specific timeline to make sure all my dishes are done at the same time and/or chores are complete. However, I never considered making a Top 3 list -especially regarding space! I’ve got room, but no matter how big the house – a ton of guests can get crowded! Thanks!

  5. We are going to my in-laws for TG but I am bringing a few dishes (rolls, appetizer and a broccoli dish). We will be hosting a few get togethers though in December and I really should start putting some plans down on paper. Thanks for the reminder

  6. What a great idea to list the top 3! I know my girlfriend is clearing out her garage and turning it into a dining space for the meal as she is hosting 25!! I thought it was a fantastic idea. We are going to my brother’s so this year I do not have to worry about Thanksgiving, but we will be hosting a graduation/holiday party for our oldest in early December. She and I made it a point to plan a party where we could prepare everything ahead…so we are going with desserts and a candy bar for the little ones! We should then be able to relax and enjoy visiting with our guests.

  7. I’m happy my sis is hosting this year, but I’m right down the street, ready to assist in anyway I can.

  8. Such great tips! My top three at this time:

    1) A trip to Goodwill/Salvation Army to drop off the bags of stuff I’ve been collecting.
    2) Gathering all the ingredients for my Thanksgiving menu
    3) Making a list of all those I need to shop for Christmas and crossing off those I’ve already purchased presents for.

    I am an organizing junky, so I try (TRY) to stay on top of things. So much to do, so very little time!

  9. Hi Sandy,

    I love the top 3 ideas. Putting a few things in priority status can really be calming. But I am getting off easy this year. My folks have invited us out to dinner this year! So like our Canadian friend who commented above, my focus is now on Christmas. :-)

    As of right now, my top 3 are:

    Buying a real Christmas tree
    Planning the Christmas Dinner menu
    Making a trip to Goodwill to unload all the bags I have been filling the last few weeks with stuff I don’t need



  10. Hi Sandy – I really like your “top 3” idea – it really prioritizes things and gives you a sense of “what needs to be done” to make things work. Given enough time to plan ahead, it CAN all get done.
    I’m so glad that we Canadians are done with Thanksgiving and that my top 3 can be centered on Christmas:

    1) Organize office/games area
    2) Get spare room organized
    3) Gather decorations and determine what’s going where and what’s going to Goodwill.

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