How to Host Thanksgiving in a Tiny Apartment

You've decided to accept the challenge of being the host with the most this Thanksgiving, but there's just one tiny problem — your smaller-than-small apartment. Time to panic? Nah. Before you cancel the fete, feast on these ways to work with what you've got — and still deliver an incredible dinner. (See also: Simple Recipes for a Frugal Vegetarian Thanksgiving)

Clear the Clutter as Soon as You Decide to Host

All right, hoarders, it's time to get busy; you've let that junk pile up long enough. Take this opportunity to clear out all your clutter so you can have a beautiful, clean apartment with plenty of space for your guests to sit back and relax on the holiday. Do this far enough in advance — and use your money-saving savvy to make a few bucks on items you don't want anymore — and you could possibly pay for the entire dinner with the cash you earned and have a few dollars to spare.

Keep the Guest List Manageable Given Your Space Constraints

You know how many people your home can handle, so don't overdo it. Only invite enough people for whom you have proper seats at a table or wherever you decide to eat. I live in a condo that has a breakfast bar that seats four, and I have a sturdy coffee table that guests can use to eat while sitting on the couch. That setup works for my friends and me, but it may not make everyone in your life comfortable. Let your guests know in advance how the dining situation will be arranged so they can make their own decision on whether or not they want to attend.

Ensure That You Have Enough Diningware to Accommodate Everybody

If you live in a small apartment, you probably have limited cabinet space — which means that you probably have limited diningware. Do a count once the guest list is set to ensure that you have all the plates, utensils, glasses, napkins, serving dishes, and so on that you'll need to host this dinner without a hitch. If you've come up short, you can either choose to buy more legit diningware, or you can opt to go plastic (the high-end stuff for this special occasion, of course), one of the only times I will recommend these otherwise money traps.

Plan a Menu That's Appetizing But Not Overly Complicated

If you like to cook like I do, you'll want to show off your kitchen skills by making fancy dishes to impress your guests at Thanksgiving. Bad. Idea.

I've gone this route before and I've spent hours upon hours standing in the kitchen preparing a meal that has a million-and-one ingredients that turns out amazing but that I'm usually too exhausted to enjoy by the time it's ready to serve. And chances are, your guests would have been just as happy with Stovetop as they are with your from-scratch apple-sausage-sage cornbread stuffing. Trust me.

What this also means in a small apartment is piles and piles of dishes claiming valuable dining real estate. Are you gonna wash all of them before serving dinner? I didn't think so. Thus, today is a day to enjoy your friends and celebrate the things for which you're thankful; embark on a mission of culinary excess and you'll curse the day you ever heard of Bobby Flay.

Prepare What You Can Ahead of Time — Like Earlier in the Week

Some dishes can be prepared ahead of time — like stuffings and mashed potatoes, for instance, and especially desserts — take advantage of the extra time to keep the dirty dishes to a minimum and enjoy more of your company when the big day arrives instead of slaving over a hot stove.

Assign Certain Aspects of the Meal to Your Guests

Another good way to save time, money, and space this Thanksgiving is to host a potluck Thanksgiving. If you plan to make the turkey, you can farm out the sides to a couple guests and ask others to bring bread, dessert, or a bottle of wine. A collaborative effort can definitely be fun, mind you, but it should be planned as the purpose of your Thanksgiving. What I mean by that is when you extend the initial invitation inform your guests that this will be a potluck meal. It's terrible form to spring this on somebody after the fact.

Rearrange Furniture for Optimal and Maximum Seating Potential

You should, without a doubt, have enough seating for your guests at dinner, but they'll also want to sit down in other areas around your apartment before and perhaps after the meal. In my apartment I arrange the four breakfast bar seats to face outward into the living room, I roll in my two office chairs, and put our metal coffee table against a wall, which creates a circle of seating that allows everyone to converse conveniently while also having a good view of the TV. This particular situation probably won't work for you, but with a little creativity you can create your own game plan to optimize your own relaxation station.

Consider a Buffet Table to Free Up the Dining Table

When I serve dinner for more than four in my apartment, I set up a buffet-style table in the foyer. This keeps the actual dining space clear of serving dishes so everyone can spread out and enjoy their meal with a little breathing room. This table has turned out to be a great investment as I've used it as a buffet table for multiple gatherings, but also to display items at a yard sale, an extra dining table in some cases, and a game-night table with the boys.

Designate an Out-of-the-Way Space for Outerwear

Where, oh where, will all those coats go? You don't want to put them on the furniture because that's taking up much-needed seating, and you really shouldn't put them on your bed for sanitary reasons (you can judge me for this, but I don't want people's clothes on the bedding I sleep on; it's just… eww).

If you have a coat rack or hooks around your apartment, utilize those as well as extra closet space if you have it. Another practical solution is to put the outerwear on hangers and place them on your shower curtain if it's a very sturdy one. Your guests will use the restroom while they're there, but nobody should be showering unless y'all are really tight like that. Save time by pulling the hangers in advance of your guests' arrival so you can take their coats and hang them efficiently. It goes without saying that you should clean your bathroom beforehand so your guests will be comfortable with their coats in there — and so they don't call the health department on you after they leave.

Make Do and Have Fun

Don't sweat the small stuff. Literally. Just don't do it. Make the best of what you have using these tips and other suggestions in the comments section and around the Internet and you're good to go. Thanksgiving is special, and it only comes once a year. Enjoy it, my friends. Enjoy it hard because the evil that is January is on its way.

Do you have other tips on how to host Thanksgiving in a tiny apartment? Let me know in the comments below.

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Guest's picture

When we host the family for Thanksgiving I always make the turkey the day before and refrigerate it in broth to keep it moist. I make the broth by stripping the turkey bones and boiling the carcass, drippings, and neck for about three hours. (I do cheat and add chicken broth to the pan while the turkey is baking to start with.) I pour about half of the broth over the now cold turkey and will use the rest of the broth to make the gravy. I usually reduce the gravy broth a bit to make the broth a little stronger. The day of, I gently heat the turkey in the microwave and finish in a crock pot. Leaves the whole oven ready for the sides. I usually make a turkey breast in my little Nesco the morning of Thanksgiving as well because there are a ton of us.

It's a lot of work, clean up, and stress out of the way and nice to know that you have a turkey that's done, and a large quanity of good gravy ready to heat up at the last minute.