Small-Apartment Party Tips

Author Jenna Mahoney helps you soiree in a cramped space

small apartment hacks party tips!

You’re itching to throw a holiday shindig. Sadly, your kitchen doubles as your closet.

Rather than Scrooge it through December, heed author Jenna Mahoney’s advice. In her new book, Small Apartment Hacks, she dishes out genius ideas for optimizing tiny spaces. We asked Mahoney for tips for throwing big parties in mini apartments. Let’s get hacking.

Limit Your Bar
A signature cocktail translates well for an apartment party. It takes way less prep and space than a full bar. My favorite holiday event of the year is my friend’s champagne party. She has everyone bring a bottle (or two), and she sets up a bar buffet on her kitchen counter. It feels very bespoke and personalized, but in reality it is only one drink. You can do the same thing with whiskey. Don’t forget to have alt bevs (nonalcoholic drinks) on hand, not only for mixing but for consuming.

Choose a Theme
Having a vision of your vibe makes it easier to plan and execute. Are you going for a down-home Yankee Swap? (Serve cozy party treats like scones and mulled cider.) Or is it more of a Mad Men holiday cocktail party? (Hello, whiskey cocktails and deviled eggs.)

You want enough space for people to move around freely. Move your coffee table to a corner to display decor items, sweet treats, and, if you require them, coasters. Situate your easy/wing chairs in a way that invites conversation. In general, you should have fewer seats than people, to get [people] interacting.

Welcome Wagon
Many buildings have rules against putting stuff in the hallway, but for one night you probably won’t get fined. A doormat not only encourages guests to wipe their feet but also identifies your home as the place to be. Consider hanging a wreath or other festive decoration on your door to further fest up the place.

Hang It Up
Baby, it’s cold outside and every single one of your guests has a coat to store. A foldable rolling rack provides the storage you need. And bags can be placed on the top shelf. Small space studio bonus: Position the rack in front of your bed to create a barrier to the private area. Store under your bed when not in use.

small apartment hacks party tips!

Go for the Green
Just because you don’t have room for a tree doesn’t mean you should eschew the feeling of the season. Consider hanging a wreath on a window. Or pick up some of those boughs on sale at the Christmas tree sidewalk outposts and place them on your coffee table with ribbon or small votive candles. Pick up a bunch of roses for $10 at your local deli, cut them super short, and put in juice glasses or repurposed candle jars.

Create a Reveal
I’m a big fan of unveiling a hot dish midparty. It reinvigorates interest in the food and is a welcome way to circulate among guests. The trick with this tip is to prep and place the dish in the oven preparty (think baked Brie).

Clean as You Go
Nothing makes a hangover worse than dealing with last night’s remnants. Make occasional sweeps of the area for errant food, plates, and drinks. Edit platters when supplies get low. If you let your guests know where the trash and recycling [bins are] when you first welcome them, you’ll avoid too much of a mess.

Buffet Is Best
Even if you are hosting a more formal sit-down dinner, it’s best to buffet it — you’ll have more table space for proper place settings and festive decor. Display food on your kitchen countertop or a credenza topped with a festive tablecloth (it’ll be easier to clean up serving spills postparty).

Enhance Your Space
Chances are your table is more of a cafe setup than formal dining size. Increase surface space with a piece of plywood. Balance over your table and secure with barstools at the ends. Dress with a tablecloth and set for six to eight guests — the perfect number for flowing conversation. Store the wood under your mattress when not in use.

For more tips and tricks for entertaining, organizing, and decorating, pick up a copy of Small Apartment Hacks, available at amazon.com, $10.

Photos: Grace Clementine; Comstock Images / Getty Images