If your apartment is tight for storage space, let alone additional people, hosting a holiday gathering might feel out of the question. However, with the right preparation, creativity and willpower, we can turn your small apartment into a holiday-themed masterpiece. From the food you serve to the number of guests you invite, we'll help you curate a successful holiday gathering in however many square feet your apartment is by following these simple time- and space-saving tips.
Prep as Much as You Can
Start by making a list of food you want to serve. Many dishes can be fully or partially prepared (and some even cooked) before the big day, so you can spread out the work. Foods like casseroles and cranberry sauce can be easily reheated, so prepare these a few days ahead. Gravy can also be made ahead of time, from previous stock or a store-bought mix, and you can always add in cooking juices the day of for extra flavour.
If your dishes require vegetables, wash, chop and store these ahead of time. You can also prepare or bake any desserts days before and serve them cold or warm them in an oven set to a low temperature, while you eat dinner.
Hit the Grocery Store
Once you know what you're making and when, it's time to hit the store. You may need two grocery trips, depending how far in advance you're prepping and if you need fresh food the day of. Don't be afraid to buy some ready-made items to alleviate stress. Things like gravy mix, bagged salads, and fresh buns make great additions to any meal.
And don't forget to grab some drink options, holiday punch is a great choice when you have several guests. Sparkling cider or wine also make for an elegant option.
Ask Others to Help Out
Simply because you volunteered to host the gathering doesn't mean you have to provide everything. Pick a few main dishes to make yourself and then ask your guests to bring accompanying items. Side dishes, vegetables, appetizers, and desserts are a great way for guests to contribute without feeling the overwhelm of planning an entire meal.
If you have more guests than the amount of food needed, ask some people to bring themed beverages, as well as recyclable plates, cups, and cutlery if you plan to go the no-dishes route.
Make a Guest List
When planning your holiday gathering, you probably want to invite all your friends and family, but it's important to remember your space limitations. Before you send out the invites, estimate how many people can realistically move around, sit, and eat comfortably. If you're tight on space, consider inviting some guests virtually.
While sending out the invitations, ask your guests if they have any dietary restrictions and then share those with anyone contributing food to the meal. This way, everyone can enjoy your feast and not worry about an allergy popping up in the middle of the festivities.
Make sure you consider your neighbours while planning your gathering. Before your guests arrive, let them know areas where they are allowed to park. During your event, keep your entertainment at reasonable levels, and be mindful of how late your event goes.
In a world of constant notifications, upcoming events often slip people's minds, so asking for an RSVP on your event invite doesn't mean your guests will reply. Follow up a week or so after your invitations go out and make a list of those committed to attending your event.
Some people may not know yet, and that's ok. It's best to have approximate numbers so you can prepare your space accordingly.
Match Your List to Your Inventory
Once you know roughly how many people will be joining you in your apartment, you can start counting everything you own and everything you'll need. From plates, cups, and cutlery to chairs, coat hooks, and rolls of toilet paper, make sure your home is fully equipped to host the group for the evening.
If you're short on some items, consider borrowing from a close friend or head to the store and bulk up your inventory. Check out thrift stores for fun, vintage items or perhaps you're ready to spring for new dishes anyways. There are lots of compostable options these days, so consider the disposable route if you want to skip the dishes after your big meal.
Do a Deep Clean
It's official — people are coming to your home, so you need to start cleaning. This is your chance to do all those chores that never seem worth it when you're the only one home: wipe the windows, dust the baseboards, wash your throw blankets, vacuum the rug, sanitize the bathroom…. The list goes on.
You'll also want to clean the kitchen and clear the countertops. Your guests will need somewhere to put their contributions, so if you don't want them cluttering your beautifully set table, it's best to make a space for them.
Rearrange Your Furniture
Once you know how many people will be attending your event, you can focus on making the most of your space and arrange your furniture accordingly. You'll need standing room before the meal, sitting room to eat, as well as room to hang out afterwards. Push tables and chairs up against the wall and remove any bulky pieces from the common space so your guests can move around freely.
And don't forget to have a plan for your guests' coats, shoes, and purses. There's nothing like a beautifully clean entryway with nowhere for your guests to put their belongings. Consider picking up a coat rack, clean out your front closet or volunteer your bed for people to throw their coats on.
Decorate Your Space
Now it's time to have some fun! Whether you're decorating your apartment in twine and orange pumpkins or stockings and red bows, this is your chance to make your space come alive. You can go big and buy all the decorations, or check out Pinterest for cute DIY projects and spruce up your apartment that way. The sky's the limit when it comes to decorating, from themed napkins and table accents to wall hangings and festive centre pieces.
Whether your apartment is 500 or 1000 square feet, these simple tips and tricks will help you host the perfect holiday gathering for your space. If you're tired of your apartment and you're looking for something new, check out our Canada-wide rental selection here.