Four Myths About Decorating for a Dinner Party in a Small Apartment

Decor, Entertaining, Home
Photo: Bethany Fritz, Maypole Studios

Photo: Bethany Fritz, Maypole Studios

Living in the city has so many perks, the view, the nightlife, the shopping…and of course easy access to some of the best restaurants in the world.

Of course, there is one downside to the fast-pace of city living: when you think of hosting a dinner party in a small apartment, do you begin to imagine your guests awkwardly crammed together around your coffee table?

A space limit is one downfall of city living, but hopefully, we can put your fears to rest.

You do not need an abundance of space or a huge dining area to bring elegance and to a table and create a welcoming environment for your guests. Doubts can arise when you think of bringing people into your home…but they shouldn’t!

Let’s address some potential misconceptions about throwing a dinner party in your apartment and turn those negatives into reasons to get your party started in no time.

I need to have matching or fancy place settings.

No, you don’t! Did your guests agree to attend because they heard you had some rocking plates and silverware?

We sure hope not, because if so, well, you might need to reevaluate how you choose your friends. Mismatched china can look chic and creates a sense of homeyness. Remember, you are hosting a party and a relaxed host brings a totally different ambience to one that is tense and worried about every minute detail.

Even though your mother and grandmother probably taught you that there are right and wrong ways to set a table for a dinner party, you earn the right to throw caution to the wind when you’re cooking friends or family dinner in an impossibly small space.

If you must set a proper table, keep in mind that there are different standards depending on the occasion and vibe of the event. tumblr_lvux22ZpvH1qztu65o1_500

I don’t have enough chairs to throw a dinner party.

Not all apartment dwellers are equipped up with a proper dining room setting. You are asking for trouble if you expect your guests to balance their plates on their knees and they are likely to have a conflict the next time you try to invite them over.

You could arrange two sittings for your party (…please don’t do that…) or you could get creative.

Have a Middle Eastern or Japanese themed night where your guests will sit on cushions and serve the food family style to match.

Keep in mind your audience though: if you’ve invited your new boyfriend’s parents along, this idea may not be advisable.

Of course, you could also try to borrow chairs for the evening, but where’s the fun in a BYO-chair party?

I can’t use a center piece because my table is too small.

No problem at all. Candles are always a great addition to a table.

If you’re budget conscious, head to a dollar store, where you’ll find candles, holders and vases, which you can mix and match for a whimsical look. If you’re entertaining in the winter, grab some fresh sprigs of holly and in the summer, try fresh herbs or flowers to add a fragrance and ambiance.

“Collections of small vases with seasonal floral are the way to go – especially on smaller tables. Right now, daffodils and tulips are in season and the perfect choice to add pops of color to your table,” said Joshua Yates, owner of Pure Kitchen Catering, Revolt Events and City View Loft.

If you’re too tight even for flowers, prep a pretty pitcher made with citrus ice cubes: fill your ice tray with fresh mint leaves and add a spritz or two of fresh lemon or orange juice to the cubes.

Freeze your cubes until just before dinner and serve in a pitcher of cold water. As your ice cubes defrost, you’ll wind up with a lovely pitcher of infused water for the table.

Photo: Bethany Fritz, Maypole Studios

Photo: Bethany Fritz, Maypole Studios

I will never set a dinner table that looks like Martha Stewart. 

This one is important. The main aspect of setting a table is to make sure you have everything you need.

A hostess or host who is constantly running back and forth to the kitchen will distract your guests and interrupt conversations.

Make sure anything you need is easy to grab and that your table is uncluttered and inviting.

“Dress up your table with a fun runner,” said Yates. “You can even make your own.  Choose coordinating napkins and fold them in the bookmark style, a simple fold in half, fold in half again and slip under the plate so it’s hanging off the edge of the table.”

To incorporate some rustic elegance to your table, tie some fresh flowers in your napkins with twine or ribbon.

Lavender will infuse the napkins, whilst lighter flowers will leave a delicate scent.

You could also place single flowers in the middle of lime with the top and bottom sliced off so it stands freely — a makeshift bud vase.

The bottom line? There is no need to stress about your decor.  Instead, have fun putting it together by keeping things as simple or as elegant as you’d like. Instead, customize your party to your own preferences…and then enjoy yourself and pour yourself a well earned glass of wine!

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1 Comment

  • Reply
    June 1, 2015 at 12:50 am

    Thanks for the tips and ideas. For someone living in an apartment, having a good dining set would pretty much use up a lot of space, regardless of the utensils as they can be placed on cabinets.

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