Your Guide to Hosting Thanksgiving in a Small House

Evelyn Long

Nov 13, 2018


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You’ve invited your immediate family, your best friend who didn’t have anywhere else to go and the neighbor down the street to your Thanksgiving celebration. The more, the merrier, right? The only problem is hosting Thanksgiving in a small house — you aren’t quite sure how you’re going to fit everyone inside.

There are about 244 million commercial turkeys raised in the United States every year, so you shouldn’t have a problem finding one for your feast. Your only problem will be how to find the space in your tiny kitchen to prepare it and where to place it so everyone can enjoy it. Don’t worry, with some planning and creativity, you’ll still arrange a Thanksgiving meal to remember.

1. Plan the Meal

A variety of Thanksgiving dishes displayed on a black table

The average cost for a Thanksgiving meal for 10 people is $49.12, but that price can go up or down depending upon ingredients used and how many people share the costs of the food. Before you figure out how to set the table or how to store food, you have to decide who is cooking what. One option is to prepare the meat and bread and ask the guests to each bring a side dish.

If asking your guests to bring a side, it’s probably best to keep a list of what they are bringing or give out assignments. Otherwise, you may wind up with three types of green beans and no potatoes. Create a list and allow guests to choose an item no one else has selected yet. Common sides include:

  • Mashed potatoes
  • Green beans
  • Stuffing
  • Cheesecake
  • Pumpkin pie
  • Sweet potato casserole
  • Corn

If you know someone has a signature dish they like to bring, allow for that on your list. Having others bring some of the food cuts down on the space needed to prep the meal, too.

2. Declutter Like Crazy

A small decluttered apartment living room

Even the smallest of spaces tends to collect clutter over time. One of the best things you can do to make your small home seem larger is cut down on clutter.

  • Clear off countertops. Do you need that French coffee press you haven’t used in eight months?
  • Clean out closets. The weather may be cold on Thanksgiving, and you’ll need a place to locate guests’ coats.
  • Get rid of knick-knacks.

Not only do they take up valuable space, but you also have to dust them every week.

If you haven’t used an item in six months or more, then it is likely safe to donate it. Hosting Thanksgiving in a small house will be even more stressful if you’re crowding your home with unnecessary goods.

3. Rearrange Furniture

An orderly living room with a red and white couch and a red chair

Using straight-backed chairs allows you to fit more people into a smaller space. Think about how you can repurpose the space you currently have.

  • Move a couch and coffee table to a bedroom and put up folding chairs for seating.
  • Use the living room as your dining room by adding a table.
  • Repurpose side tables to hold desserts or eating utensils.

Draw out your space on a piece of paper and try arranging items in different ways. Pay attention to the flow of traffic between rooms, especially the dining area, kitchen, living room and bathroom.

4. Cook Items Ahead

A man and woman cooking dinner in the kitchen

There are some dishes you can cook ahead of time and save space needed to prep on the big day. Here are some things you can prepare well before your guests arrive.

  • Mashed potatoes. Place in a slow cooker with a thin layer of cream on top and keep on warm for a few hours. Stir the cream in before serving.
  • Pies. Most pies heat up quickly in the oven or taste yummy cold.
  • Deviled eggs. Cook a day ahead and keep in the fridge until ready to eat.

If there is something that doesn’t need to be served hot, you can likely cook it ahead of time. Doing so also cuts down on stress when it’s time to pull the meal together the day of Thanksgiving.

5. Limit Decorations

A faux fall garland and a candle on brown parchment paper with "give thanks" written on it

The beautiful centerpiece your mom always used for Thanksgiving might be tradition, but if it’s nearly as large as your table, it will have to wait for another year. Keep decorations, especially centerpieces, to a minimum. Minimalistic decorating allows more room for food.

  • Add a wreath to your front door to greet visitors.
  • Place a leaf garland across the edge of a countertop to add a hint of fall without taking up any space.
  • Add a beautiful fall-themed tablecloth to your table.

Hosting Thanksgiving in a small house means cutting out some of the trimmings. Keep your decor simple and make sure items don’t interfere with the space needed to present food.

6. Get Creative with Food Arrangements

A hosted Thanksgiving dinner spread in a small house

You don’t have to place all the food on a table, especially if you have minimal space. Here are some ideas for how to serve food buffet style:

  • Cover the stovetop burners and use the top of the stove to hold dishes of food.
  • Clear the counters and line up food there.
  • Place a cutting board over the open sink to add more space for food.

Use paper plates, and you’ll never miss your sink until the guests are long gone.

Hosting Thanksgiving in a Small House? No Problem

Look, you’ve got this.

It isn’t the size of your house that matters, but how people feel when they leave at the end of the day. Make the experience a fun and positive one and no one will notice they didn’t have much elbow room. Hosting Thanksgiving in a small house is certainly challenging, but you have the tools to make the meal possible and memorable.

hosting thanksgiving in a small house

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