life in a tiny apartment

November 14, 2012

Tip #39: Set your table for two.

I get a lot of questions about dinner guests in this tiny apartment. With Thanksgiving just around the corner, we’re hurtling toward that time of year when invitations to people’s homes for dinner come fast and furious. I am not complaining. I love this time of year. I wish it lasted straight on through February. Anything to get me through winter.

Enthusiasm for dinner parties aside, dinner guests in our tiny apartment is tricky. It has mostly to do with the lack of counter space and my fear of a sink overflowing its dirty dishes directly onto our guests.

It’s not that we’ve never had people over for dinner, but we’ve always ordered in sushi, or picked up a pizza. Anything that doesn’t require the kitchen table to serve simultaneously as prep station and serving board. There’s nothing wrong with those nights, but sometimes it’s nice to host something where you actually serve something you’ve made. I think that instead of trying to have guests for a sit-down dinner, we need to stick to appetizer-y kinds of gatherings where guests can mostly stand. If they’re New Yorkers, I’m hoping rush hour subway rides will have at least partially prepared the company (all two of them) for the squeeze.

For seated dinners, I think we’ll stick to just the two of us. We have all sorts of lovely table trimmings that need more attention. When your best friend lives in India, you become the proud owner of very beautiful hand-blocked textiles. It’s not a rule or anything, but in my case it happens to be true. Only two placemats fit on our table at once and really, it’s better this way.  It wouldn’t be very polite to ask our guests to please refrain from spilling their food.

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  • Reply J+H @ Beyond The Stoop November 14, 2012 at 3:03 pm

    another thought, serve things in soup mugs! i mean, normally spaghetti goes on a plate, but who says you can't put it in a bowl with a handle so someone can sit anywhere and hold it comfortable? with that in mind, my rule for having guests for dinner is that we must make things that require 1 hand to eat (i.e. no knife). so, soup, stir-fry, pasta, it's all good in our books!

    cheers 🙂

    • Reply Erin November 15, 2012 at 2:44 pm

      yes! one pot meals, for sure!

  • Reply little kitchie November 14, 2012 at 4:04 pm

    loved reading this! my husband and i also live in the teeniest space, and having people over is always an adventure. we have a nice-sized porch so that helps with where to sit, but i have put serving dishes on the most random of surfaces… including, but not limited to: the top of our washer/dryer unit, a cutting board balanced ever so carefully on top of a dishwasher rack… the list goes on. but that's what makes it cozy and fun. thanks for your post!

  • Reply Allison November 14, 2012 at 5:01 pm

    Aw 🙂 Love.

  • Reply Victoria November 14, 2012 at 5:10 pm

    Who needs dinner parties anyway! 🙂

  • Reply Charlotte November 14, 2012 at 8:26 pm

    I love this post, the idea of only setting the table for two is so romantic. Even though your apartment does sound extremely tiny, these posts always make me want to live there.. it sounds so sweet and cosy (and i bet its much easier to keep clean than my 2 bed house!) x

    • Reply Erin November 15, 2012 at 2:44 pm

      Well, shucks. That's awfully sweet of you.

  • Reply Alice November 15, 2012 at 12:19 am

    I love setting the table properly – even if it just for two. It makes the most basic meal feel a little bit fancy. When we used to have dinner parties in my old home, we had people sitting around on cushions in the living room with a picnic-style spread of food. You have to work with the space you've got! x

    • Reply Erin November 15, 2012 at 2:43 pm

      Indoor picnics are the best! Fun-fact: my parents' wedding was a kind of indoor picnic! Everyone ate on their laps!

  • Reply Sarah November 15, 2012 at 2:39 pm

    I just hosted my first girls night dinner in my tiny studio in the East Village. Four girls enjoyed wine, a cheese plate and these butternut squash skillet shells: because they were easy to serve in little bowls. Can't wait to host more little get togethers in my place! xx

    • Reply Erin November 15, 2012 at 2:42 pm

      Yum! Those look delicious!


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