How to Entertain in a Small Space

by Tammy Strobel on November 15, 2011

I was sitting in the window seat and out of the corner of my eye, I saw my neighbor. So I poked my head out of the picture window to say hi.

K asked, “Are you cooking bacon in there?”

“Yup, bacon and paella. We’re having a tiny party tonight.”

On Saturday night we squeezed four friends and the two of us into the little house for dinner. It was our first time cooking for such a large group of people in our tiny dwelling. Everyone seemed to feel at home and happy in our little house.

We used a few simple strategies to entertain guests in our tiny space. Even if you don’t live in a super small space, these tips might come in handy.

1. Cook before your guests arrive. Since we have a tiny kitchen space, it can be difficult to entertain and cook at the same time. To get around this Logan started dinner about an hour before everyone arrived, so it would be ready on time. He cooked the vegetables, rice, and meat, and when the paella was ready he kept it in the oven so it wouldn’t get cold.

We’re both impressed with our tiny range. Initially when Logan found the used range on craigslist, I balked at the price. But it was worth the investment. It’s nice having a small oven to keep food warm and to bake yummy treats like cornbread.

2. Improvise. We have limited seating, so Logan brought in a few bike buckets for folks to sit on and Laura and I hung out in the loft for a while.

Our guests biked to the tiny house and it was raining really hard on Saturday night. So everyone had to take off layers of clothing and we used our ladder and the shelf above our french doors to hang up wet bike clothes. Unfortunately, some of the bike gear didn’t dry out on the ladder.

3. Set expectations. Tell your friends what you plan to cook and about the size of your space. For example, we don’t have a table yet so our guests ate camping style with plates on their lap.

4. Ask. Don’t be afraid to ask people to contribute to the meal. For instance, we asked our friends to bring over beer and we had plenty of yummy drinks for the evening. Most of the beer was from Portland based breweries.

It was a fun evening and we’re looking forward to entertaining more often! Over the years, we’ve learned that you don’t need a huge living space to entertain guests. With a little bit of preparation, good food, beer and engaging conversation your event should be a blast!

Do you have any tips to add? Share in the comments section.

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Micro-action: Check out Leo and Courtney’s new project Clutterfree. I was very happy to be interviewed for the book!

Want to see more photos of our evening? Go to The Path Less Pedaled fan page.

Photo by Russ Roca.

1 eagergridlessbeaver November 15, 2011

..another tip might be: keep guests glasses full if they are drinking alcohol…the place will seem twice as large if they are seeing double. hehe..looks like fun..someday I hope to do this myself..until then I will live vicariously through blogs like yours.

2 Sherri Dunham | The Budding Lotus November 15, 2011

Glad to hear your first go at entertaining went well! I have found that whether or not we live in a large or small space, people tend to gravitate towards one room. It’s about being close to people you care about, not the space in which you spend with them. Looking forward to more small space living tips!

3 Alicia November 15, 2011

Wow, I love your tiny home!!! There is something very “large” and “open” about its feel, despite the physical size.

4 Sunday November 15, 2011

I find that just having doors/windows open makes a space seem larger and you’ve got those gorgeous french doors!

5 Gretchen November 15, 2011

We like to get take out and bring it home and invite friends over and make an extra yummy homemade dessert with extra good coffee or tea.

We live in 1098 square feet and my family spends all our time in the same room, usually the dining room reading and studying. Love your tiny house!

6 Holli November 15, 2011

We have a similar sized house, and find ourselves congregating too – but our 2 kids are young:)

We have hosted up to 23 people in our main living space, about 300sqft – encompassing the kitchen and living room. Basically, food was served buffet style, and folks sat wherever they could: floor, couch, pillows, etc. As Tammy suggested, I usually cook before everyone arrives.

7 Lindy November 16, 2011

I think it is great that you don’t let your small space stop you having friends over and entertaining. It sounds like you had a great night. Best wishes for many more.

8 Natalie November 16, 2011

What a cozy feeling picture. Looks like fun :) Great tips as well.

9 liz n. November 16, 2011

Looks fun! Tammy – it would be interesting to see a post/pictures of all your kitchen stuff. What equipment and tools did you keep; what did you toss? I’m wondering what was truly necessary for a tiny home.

10 Mike | Homeless On Wheels November 16, 2011

It was fun reading about your Tiny Party in your Tiny House, Tammy. In the RVing community, most social gatherings occur outdoors, weather permitting. Each person brings his or her own chair and setups (dish, utensils, drinking vessel). Guests may or may not contribute (beverage, side dish, etc.). Even indoors isn’t too bad for small groups, if everyone finds a seat and stays put. It can get tricky if more than one or two people are trying to more around at the same time.

11 my honest answer November 17, 2011

We have a small place (admittedly not as small as yours!) and entertaining always gets me. I feel like I’m putting people out all the time because we have to pull our table out and use fold up chairs, so there’s a lot of asking people to move, standing up, shifting things about. But like you I always cook first. Mainly because I want to chat to my guests! Like you said, good food and conversation make up for a lot, I should stop worrying about it.

12 Jay Eagle November 17, 2011

I love your tiny house and that you go to prove that you can even entertain in a small space…I adore cooking and it’s great to see it wouldn’t need to be given up if I moved to smaller space. Many many good vibes and wishes to you in your home :)

13 Terry in the Keys November 18, 2011

It’s nice to hear you’re enjoying your new home! I have a question – what’s a bike bucket?

14 Tammy Strobel November 18, 2011
15 Lindsey November 20, 2011

We don’t live in a “tiny” house but we do live in a smallish house. We once had 100 people here for a Halloween party. We were cozy and packed in, but it was fun. Everyone did BYOB and we provided the music. Costumes optional. We hung out in the backyard and made a bonfire. There was absolutely very little “special” about this party but even years later our friends ask us to please do it again :) The only issue? Parking.

16 Nina Nelson November 20, 2011

Your tiny house looks so cozy! Ours is not so tiny (we’ve got 4 little kids and ~1200 sq ft home) but your suggestions definitely apply. Cooking before guests arrive is much easier with so many kids running around. They get super excited when people come over, so we’ve learned that the best thing to do is serve food as soon as we can. And asking friends to bring over some tasty micro brews is always a good thing. :)

My husband had an idea for a Portlandia sketch where the two main characters walk around to Portland breweries, asking for the wrong beer – going to Deschutes and asking for a Terminator. I thought it was hilarious, but he said only Oregonians would get it. :)

17 Rose Byrd November 29, 2011

The photo says why my hubbie and I consider a loft in one of these “tiny houses” essential. My friends in their MacMansions can just curl up like this, if they are real friends, huh?

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