If we are entertaining in a smaller space, numbers matter...especially as the temperature dip making outdoor spaces uninhabitable. Consider saving larger scale get-togethers for warmer weather, when they can be held potluck style at a park. Each family can bring their own table service, lawn chairs, and a dish + dessert to pass. At a certain point in my extended family's growth, we started gathering in a park on Labor Day for my grandma's birthday rather than at one family's home for Christmas. This had the added benefits of taking the focus off gifts (except for Grandma) + taking some stress off of the holiday season. Another option might be to get together with far away friends/family at a third location + camp or rent an Airbnb together...whether at the holidays or at another time of year.
Ok, so now we may be thinking about less people as well as less extra entertaining "stuff". This "stuff" mostly pertains to eating...and if there are overnight guests, also to sleeping + grooming.
When it comes to food, consider ::
-borrowing :: any extra plates, silverware, or serving ware needed :: alternatively keep 12 (or appropriate number) salad sized plates + make do (no paper plates)
-using jars as drink ware :: Bonne Mama or Mason jars work well for us + we always have plenty on hand (no plastic cups)
-serving what is easy to serve :: if we don't want to keep 12 mugs, maybe serve apple cider instead of coffee :: if we don't want to keep 12 bowls, maybe don't serve soup...or serve it in wide-mouthed Weck or Ball jars that can serve other purposes in daily life :: if we don't want to keep a roasting pan just to use it once a year, maybe make shepherd's pie or lasagna the new tradition
-potluck :: not only does this decrease prep work, but the amount of dishes + platters needed :: decreases costs + allows everyone to contribute + participate
-using the counter or dining table as a buffet :: (no extra long table or extra dining chairs necessary)
-doing a dessert buffet, hors d'ouerves, cheese board, or some combination to decrease whole meal expectations + preparation
-thrifting a table cloth + ripping it into a bunch of reusable napkins :: pull the loose strands + leave the fringed edges (or sew the edges, if you like) (no paper napkins)
-stackable stools, if extra seating is necessary :: they can be used as bedside or coffee tables in daily life (or can be packed away compactly) (folding chairs can be compact too)
-bringing an outdoor table in for extra seating + covering both tables with table cloths for a more uniform look
Simplifying + improvising may be more about space than stuff in this area. Many of us don't have the desire to heat, cool, clean, maintain, + pay for the extra square footage of a guest bedroom...but it may make sense to dedicate a portion of a closet to a thoughtfully curated collection of guest "stuff" (if we have frequent overnight guests). A few options + alternatives can be found below.
When it comes to bedding, consider ::
-letting camping equipment double as guest bedding...a tent set up on carpet could even offer a little extra privacy or be fun for kids
-borrowing/sharing with family or friends (although this could get complicated around the holidays)
-letting the guest bring their own air mattress + bedding
-air mattress (es) :: they pack away compactly
-japanese mattress or folding cushions (can be stored in a closet)
-fold up bed frame (above) for those who need a raised bed or for college kids who come home more often
-a folding screen or tension rod + curtain to put up in a doorway without a door :: for privacy
-throw sized pillows :: take up less space + could be used in daily life
-turkish towels :: take up less space + could be used as a beach towel or throw in daily life
I truly believe that a simple home can offer a lovely, relaxed invitation to come be a part of our uncluttered, relaxed, calm lives. Entertaining, after all, is about enjoying the company of those we love + sharing our most precious gifts of time + presence. Whether we are offering tea + a store bought cookie or a holiday meal, simplicity is beautiful.
Do you have any tips for entertaining with less? Please share!! :)