life in a tiny apartment.

January 29, 2014

Tip #90: Host dinner parties.

My best friend growing up had a penchant for reading Emily Post’s Etiquette. It was fuel in the private war she waged against loud gum chewers and clumsy utensil wielders everywhere. While I could certainly pass a good hour with her, lying on my stomach, flipping through the fusty pages of her vintage edition, I admit that my level of enthusiasm for the rigid rules were somewhat less fervent than hers. So much fussiness, so little time.
But if you live in a tiny apartment and you’d like to maintain your sanity and still have friends for dinner, some advance planning, if not rigid rule abiding, can really help. I’ve suggested before that meals with guests should consist of simple fare: pizza or sushi, or something easy to clean. And that sit-down dinners should only happen en couple. My position on both points remains, but lately I’ve gotten a little bit braver about actually making a meal to serve guests. 
Here, a few more tips for entertaining in a closet tiny apartment:
1. Make the meal in advance. Or at least most of it. I find meal prep to be pleasingly cathartic. Chop your kale, get your sauce simmering, hell, bake a cake. But try to do it before the guests descend. This is probably something that people living in large houses do too, but some of us are slow to catch on.
2. Serve a one dish wonder. Tart, anyone?
3. Set out the dishes and utensils early. Asking a guest to please excuse you 15 times while you try to squeeze yourself into a blocked cabinet isn’t really pleasant for anyone, and the poor dear doesn’t have anywhere else to stand.
4. Shunt coats and hats and tiny puffer jackets to the bed, or otherwise away from the “kitchen.” Guests love to hang coats on the backs of chairs and dear lord if that doesn’t make things crowded, fast.
5. Cover your couch with a discreet sheet (especially if one of your dinner guests is a year old and flinging penne across the room…). I know it sounds grandmotherly (although in the case of my grandmother, the sheet was plastic and anything but discreet), but upholstery is a beast to clean and no one one wants to spend the night looking at your pursed lips and tense shoulders.

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  • Reply Linda Zimmerman January 29, 2014 at 2:26 pm

    : ))))))))))))))))))))))))))))

  • Reply Debs January 29, 2014 at 3:32 pm

    May I have an invite please?

  • Reply Kristen Y January 29, 2014 at 5:19 pm

    I love the idea of throwing dinner parties, but I always get so nervous people won't have a good time! Haha, definitely something I'm learning to get over though. Great post!

  • Reply Meghan January 29, 2014 at 5:37 pm

    some of the best dinner parties i've hosted and attended have been in tiny apartments. the coziness creates instant camaraderie even among friends who don't already know each other!

  • Reply Brooke January 29, 2014 at 5:55 pm

    I love this and especially the bit about the sheet haha! It's true. Even I always go to out my coat on the backs of chairs. I clearly need to break that habit!

  • Reply Katharine Swanson January 29, 2014 at 6:10 pm

    We love inviting people over for dinner because it forces a level of consistent cleanliness and organization 🙂 One thing we always try and do is wash, dry and put away all the dishes, utensils and pans we used for cooking before guests arrived. It makes everything look more spacious!

  • Reply Kari January 29, 2014 at 6:16 pm

    Great advice. As was Katharine's, above, about doing the dishes beforehand.

  • Reply HappilySmitten January 29, 2014 at 6:20 pm

    recently discovered your blog and it's so cute!

  • Reply Allison January 30, 2014 at 6:08 am

    Somehow it had no effect. The gum chewers and utensil wielders live on, joined by paan spitters and chai slurpers in an ever more global battle. Sigh.

  • Reply paula January 30, 2014 at 3:14 pm

    i like the posts. having guests is fun if you are organized. when not organized, a stressful nightmare (for me).

    i was wondering if you could share what company your white bowls are made by? they look lovely.

    • Reply Anonymous October 18, 2014 at 11:15 pm

      Did you ever figure out where the bowls are from? I need to invest in a few …

    • Reply Erin October 20, 2014 at 11:58 am

      Hi there! Sorry I missed the note about the bowls the first time around! These are from Brook Farm General Store!

  • Reply shylebrandi January 31, 2014 at 4:35 pm

    I love this series! It makes me want to pack up and move into a tiny apartment. It has actually inspired me to live so much more simply, to get rid of unnecessaries. Thank you for keeping this series up! It is one of my favourites to peek at every day 🙂 (I may have started reading backwards in time to see more posts and gone through two years worth!!)

  • Reply Meg February 2, 2014 at 8:17 pm

    hmm… i think i can guess who you're referring to! 🙂

  • Reply Teagan Kahla February 12, 2014 at 3:00 am

    Thanks for sharing this Erin. As I read your tips, I wander why I didn't think of them earlier!! Looking forward to hosting my next dinner now!

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