When you live in a tiny apartment, hosting a party or dinner of any kind can be a bit of a challenge. We’ve written elsewhere on how to throw a great party in your tiny apartment, but hosting Thanksgiving is a whole other ball game, so we put together this list of 22 Tips for Hosting Thanksgiving in a Tiny Apartment that cater directly to this holiday’s unique requirements!
You’ll find a whole lot of really helpful ideas, tricks, hacks and products that can help you make the most out of your small space and host a fantastic Thanksgiving (or Friendsgiving) dinner that’ll totally change the way you view your space!
Let’s get started!
1. Less is More
Thanksgiving is beloved not only because it brings together friends and family (and football) but because of the classic foods traditionally served. It seems like everyone has their favorite main or side: stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, turkey, green beans, sweet potato casserole, rolls, cranberry sauce, Brussels sprouts – the list goes on!
Oh, and then there’s the pie of course – pumpkin, pecan, apple, cranberry, sweet potato – basically, everyone has their own “must haves” and when you put it all together the list will be completely out of control.
That’s why we counsel the “less is more” motto if you’re hosting Thanksgiving in a tiny apartment or small space. Limit your spread to the main attraction (turkey or veg alternative) a side or two, and dessert. Keep it rustic!
2. Make Thanksgiving a Potluck
Even if you limit your menu there’s still the matter of (a) finding enough space in your kitchen to cook the food, and (b) finding the right prep and serving utensils.
Here’s where your lovely guests come in! When you invite your friends and family to your tiny apartment for Thanksgiving, ask them to bring a dish – but, and here’s the real tip – be very specific when you ask them to bring something.
When space isn’t an issue, the host can afford to be more laid-back in the potluck designating task. But, if you don’t have any kitchen, fridge, or table space to spare – you’ll need to be strategic with what is being brought.
Of each friend, couple or household ask that they bring a side, salad, or a dessert depending on what you need. But again be specific or you’ll end up with 3 green bean casseroles and zero potatoes. Also ask them to bring serving spoons or utensils to combat that problem of small space dwellers everywhere.
3. BYOC (Bring Your Own Chair)
This is a great tip for those who not only have limited space but also limited seating. It might seem a bit weird to ask your friends and family to bring a spare chair along with that casserole, but trust us, it’s fun and a great way to make sure everyone is comfortable.
A bohemian BYOC policy also saves you from having to rent out folding chairs!
4. Invest in a Folding Table
Wondering how to fit everyone for Thanksgiving? Folding tables are great because they can be used again and again! Toss a cute table cloth over the table and you’ll instantly have a chic and spacious surface for your delicious Thanksgiving spread.
Small space entertaining would be nothing without the humble folding table. A folding table makes hosting for a big crowd way easier on you and more comfortable for your guests. Thanksgiving for a crowd can still be a success when you’re hosting Thanksgiving for the first time in a tiny apartment if you plan ahead and have fun!
5. Use Outdoor Spaces
If your small space or tiny apartment comes with access to a patio or fire escape, try using that outdoor area as extra storage for Thanksgiving food and supplies.
Depending on the weather, you might be able to store bulky food items like big bowls of salad or even a defrosting turkey outside your apartment to free up much needed real estate in your kitchen. Of course, make sure to securely wrap food items so they aren’t exposed to the elements or pests.
Consider storing unneeded furniture or kitchen appliances outdoors when you’re hosting a big party like Thanksgiving dinner. If you’ve added a folding table to accomodate guests, you might need to temporarily move bookcases or love-seats out of the way to make room.
6. Order Thanksgiving Groceries Online
Living in a tiny apartment means you probably have a pretty small fridge (and kitchen in general). It might be the case that buying a bunch of groceries for the Thanksgiving dinner and storing them alongside your regular food simply isn’t possible in your small space. Your Thanksgiving menu should also be planned in advance anyway, and ordering groceries forces you to think ahead!
Ordering your grocery delivery online means you can avoid storing your Thanksgiving supplies haphazardly in your fridge. Instead, you can simply have them delivered on the day you plan to cook them and save yourself several frustrating games of fridge-Tetris.
But be sure to book ahead of time to avoid the inevitable holiday delivery scheduling rush.
7. Prep for Time and Space
Most of us know that a big part of hosting a successful Thanksgiving dinner comes down to prep work that gets accomplished before the big day arrives. After-all, most people only have one oven and about 6 different dishes that need to be in there at some point. That means prepping and scheduling!
This common issue shared among Thanksgiving hosts and cooks is made even more complicated when oven and surface space is limited. One idea is to cook something other than turkey for the main course. Before you call sacrilege, consider that the main reason your guests are coming over is to partake in that singular pleasure of enjoying a home cooked meal among friends and loved ones – not just turkey.
Looking for other carnivore alternatives to turkey? Make pot pies in individuals ramekins (make ahead and freeze), a gorgeous roast chicken (smaller, easier, quicker than turkey), pork tenderloin, grilled salmon, honey-baked ham, or stunning brisket.
Even Martha Stewart agrees it’s time turkey got a makeover!
In addition to altering your actual menu according to time and space requirements, it’s a great idea to do as much prep work as you can before Thanksgiving day to cut back on dishes and counter space.
Chopping onions, celery, carrots, and other vegetables takes time and requires surfaces and utensils. Take care of all that so you just need to toss things in a dish or pot and put them in the oven or on the stove day of. To free up oven space day of, figure out which dishes can be baked in advance and reheated right before dinner.
8. Find No-Bake Thanksgiving Desserts
The great thing about many pies and autumnal desserts is that they don’t actually require baking in the oven! Wondering how to make delicious Thanksgiving desserts without an oven? There’s a surprising amount of no-bake pies and treats to consider making if you’re pressed for time or working with a toaster oven!
Plenty of pumpkin pies, key lime and even cheesecakes can be made without an oven. Buzzfeed put together a list of some awesome No-Bake Thanksgiving desserts, but take a gander online to see if your Thanksgiving favorite has a no-bake recipe!
9. Quality over Quantity
This tip actually applies to food, decorations and the guest list. It might seem rude to not invite your cousin’s roommates along with your cousin, but trust us – it’s not. Keep your guest list limited to your best and most cherished friends and family and their partners and/or children.
Of course, some may say the more the merrier and this is true to a certain extent! But you don’t want everyone completely squished and uncomfortable when you are hosting Thanksgiving in your tiny apartment, so be wise and yes, a little ruthless when it comes to your guest list.
But quality over quantity also refers to the food you serve! If you’re unable to prepare items with long lists of ingredients or requiring massive serving dishes, don’t worry! Instead, invest in some high quality ingredients and make simpler and equally delicious dishes for your guests to enjoy.
10. Do Some Fall Cleaning!
Take this as an opportunity do some Spring cleaning in the Fall! Why not? There’s a pretty good chance your tiny apartment or small space has accumulated more than its fair share of clutter. This is a great time to tackle the clutter and make some more space!
If you’re unsure how to get started decluttering your tiny apartment for Thanksgiving, take a look at some of our posts on Marie Kondo‘s KonMari Method, Swedish Death Cleaning or Zero Waste for some decluttering inspiration!
Donating unwanted items to charity is a great way to give thanks and be charitable this holiday season! Or store your out of season items with on-demand storage with Livible and schedule pickup and delivery on your schedule.
11. Go for a Signature Seasonal Drink
Thanksgiving often means football which can often mean beer. If you have a patio or fire escape, beer can be stored in a cooler outside to save space in your fridge and kitchen.
However, if your Thanksgiving hosting starts and ends with the big dinner, choose a signature drink for the evening and stick with that, rather than finding space for bottles of beer, wine and liquor.
Odds are high that your guests will bring a bottle or two as a gift to thank you for hosting them. With that, and your space constraints, a signature cocktail for the evening is a great idea. To make it even more festive, consider a seasonal drink like mulled wine or cider.
A signature drink like mulled wine or cider is also a great option that you can prep in batches beforehand. You wont need to worry about bottles and other cocktail prepping tools either!
12. Head to Ikea for Hosting Success
Sorry. We know. We know. Ikea is a mind-field that can test even the strongest of relationships. But we’re about to tell you something else you probably already know living in a tiny apartment. Sometimes, when you host a dinner or party for a lot of friends it can feel like you’re still in college.
If you are in college by all means ignore this tip because you should fully exploit the acceptability of using paper napkins and plates and eating on the floor and having a bowl of chips in place of a turkey.
If you’re not a college student, head to Ikea or just go online and invest in some not paper napkins and a tablecloth. These items have a near magical ability to elevate your Thanksgiving or other dinner party to an adult level instantly. And you can find some very cheaply!
Hosting Thanksgiving in a small space or tiny apartment doesn’t mean you have to celebrate like a bunch of undergrads! Friendsgiving in a tiny apartment deserves cloth napkins.
13. Decorate Strategically
Luckily, Thanksgiving isn’t as known for its decorations as other cold-weather holidays like Halloween or Christmas. You can pretty much get away with a few vaguely autumnal plants or accents and you’ve “decorated” for Thanksgiving.
But if you’re looking to up your Thanksgiving decorating game a bit, focus on space-saving touches like seasonal cloth napkins, placemats or candles. Items like these are necessary regardless of the occasion, so making them seasonal adds decorative flair without using space!
Honestly we’re not entirely sure which Thanksgiving decorations would need a whole lot of space… do people decorate with life-size turkeys? They shouldn’t. Anyway, don’t stress too much on this one! If you have the time, you could collect and gently clean off some gorgeous maple leaves and use those as decoration.
Don’t buy (aka spend money on) anything you’ll only use once. You simply don’t have the space!
14. Serve & Stock Reds Rather Than Whites
If you’ve chosen to serve wine while hosting Thanksgiving in your small space, it’s a good idea to stock reds instead of whites for the big event.
Unlike white wines, which generally need to be chilled, red wines can be stored in available non-refrigerated spaces. Above the fridge, in your bedroom closet, or wherever else you have a few spare bits of available space.
15. Rearrange Tiny Apartment Furniture
Think outside the box on this one. Could anything you wouldn’t normally dream of moving be moved aside or pushed against something else? If it frees up space, push the sofa against the bookcase – no one’s reaching for a novel at Thanksgiving anyway!
16. Scatter Thanksgiving Dining Areas
Turns out the “Kid’s Table” isn’t a bad idea for Friendsgiving in a tiny apartment, even if everyone is decidedly 21+.
Unless you need to seat everyone around the same table, scattering guests around your space for dinner is an easy way to tackle small-table crises. You can cluster groups around coffee tables and sofas, while several diners can be accommodated by work desks.
When guests are scattered the trick is making the meal feel cohesive. Accomplish this by engaging everyone in toasts and fun dinner games. Also, routinely making the rounds as host to be sure everyone has what they need brings the dinner together.
17. Do a pre-Thanksgiving Deep Clean
The night before Thanksgiving, after you’ve finished all your prep work in the kitchen, give your tiny apartment a thorough clean. We don’t just mean the decluttering you accomplished a few steps back. We’re talking broom, mop, Swiffer – whatever. Just get in there!
Odds are no one will be paying attention to the cleanliness factor. But, when your space is small it should be as clean and tidy as possible. All available surfaces need to be super clean for a food-focused event like Thanksgiving.
18. Remember Anything Can Be a Chair
It’s true. If you end up needing an extra seat, pretty much any item can be made into a chair. Stools, storage bins, crates, ottomans – hey, you’d rather have a seat, right?
If all else fails and despite your best efforts someone ends up without a seat, obviously make that person yourself. Anyway, you’ll be so busy hosting Thanksgiving you’ll barely be sitting at all!
19. Get Rid of Any Excess Packaging
During food prep and grocery delivery, keep in mind that most food has unnecessarily bulky packaging. This packaging takes up fridge, pantry and counter space that you desperately need.
Lettuce tends to come in those big plastic boxes, and crackers and chips often have 2x the packaging they need. Wash and pat dry lettuce before wrapping it in paper towel and sealing it in a Ziploc bag for space-saving fridge storage.
Empty chips (from the bottom to avoid crumbs on the top) in bowls or in Ziplocs.
20. Start Early on Thanksgiving Day
Even if you’ve prepped like mad and have mountains of chopped onions at your disposal, you’ll want to start your cooking early on Thanksgiving morning. No matter how prepared you are, experts agree an early start is central to successfully hosting Thanksgiving – in a tiny apartment or a mansion.
21. Plan for Hosting Kids
Even if you don’t have kids, one of your guests might! They aren’t going to leave their kids at home on a holiday centered around friends and family!
Kids don’t tend to enjoy hanging out with grown-ups and drinking. To save space and sanity, put out paper cups with crayons and lots of butcher paper in a corner for the kids to go crazy with. When the place is packed, tiny apartments have only a few options for kid-friendly activities. If you have one, a yard is a fantastic choice too!
Parents are generally great at bringing along snacks for picky eaters. But, just in case they forget, grab a few bags of kid-friendly snacks like Goldfish or slice up some apples.
22. Celebrate Your Space!
Above all, remember that you don’t need to apologize for having a tiny apartment. Friends and family will be grateful for the effort you’ve made by hosting Thanksgiving in your tiny apartment. And that’s that!
Bonus Tip: Use Livible for Seasonal Storage
If you like entertaining in your tiny apartment, try an on-demand storage service like Livible to store space-hogging items seasonally. Clothes, sporting gear, decorations and kitchen supplies are often season-specific and don’t need to be taking up space year-round.
Make hosting Thanksgiving in your tiny apartment a breeze by using Livible and scheduling pickup and delivery on your schedule!