Monday, June 26, 2017

Hospitality in a Tiny House

Since our basement was finished a few years ago, our house isn't as tiny as it once was!  But we still have a small area for receiving guests and having dinner, and my kitchen is tiny.  The house my family lived in before my mother built my current home featured a galley kitchen, though, with almost no counter space, so when we moved in to this house we thought we were living in a palace!

It's all relative.

That being said, hospitality in a small home is a challenge.  I've lived as a married woman in this house for 16 years now and I still struggle from time to time with the best way to do things.  But here are my tips:

*Make everything you can ahead of time; in fact, plan your meal around things that keep well. I'm talking about sliced cheese and crackers for an appetizer, a big salad made in the morning, something easy to heat and serve (lasagna, curry, masala, baked pasta), and a dessert that can hang out nicely in the fridge (key lime or chocolate pies are favorites here).  My kitchen gets messy *very quickly* because it's so small, so I like to get everything made well in advance of the actual meal so that I can clean up without rushing.

*Make all that food, and clean the kitchen, particularly if you suffer from an open floor plan.  My kitchen is fully visible from the front door, the back door, the living room, and the dining area, so I like to have my kitchen nice and clean before anyone arrives.

*Try not to procrastinate.  Procrastination is never the housekeeper's friend.  If you're having dinner guests over on Friday, try to get some things done ahead of time.  Enlist the help of children if you need assistance cleaning house!

*Remember that only the main living areas and a bathroom need to be tidy. I do like having a tidy entry, too.  The layout of my house means that every single bedroom is visible from the living room or the guest bathroom. But I am not above closing bedroom doors if needed!

*Tidy doesn't mean perfect.

*Take time to set a nice table or put out flowers--just something to give it a pretty touch.  This time of year I usually have a small bouquet of lavender in the guest bath, a small bouquet of other flowers on our coffee table, and something on the dining table.  During the winter I might have an orchid in the bathroom, pinecones in a bowl on the coffee table, and candles on the dining table.  It doesn't have to be extravagant.

*Think about seating a few days beforehand and supplement if needed.

*For large parties, use the dining table as a buffet, serve finger foods, and provide lots of seating outdoors, if possible.

*Keep the house as tidy as you can on a regular basis, so you don't panic the day of an event. On the other hand, if you have young children or other difficult circumstances, cut yourself some slack. Most guests want to see you, not a perfectly decluttered home.

*Allow enough time to get ready yourself before guests come.  I like to reserve the last hour for my own grooming, lighting candles, choosing some music, and relaxing.

 I've learned all of this the hard way.  The event where we spent all day cleaning?  The birthday party where I was sitting on my bedroom floor embroidering a onesie for the baby as the guests arrived? The mad rush to get the food ready?  Yes, yes, yes.  But now that I've worked out my general guidelines, I find that hospitality in my tiny house gets easier and easier.  This month alone we've hosted a birthday party, overnight guests (twice. or maybe three times? one of these times we hosted four people we didn't know--but we loved!), my husband's co-worker and his wife for dinner (neither of whom I'd ever met), several tea + play dates, several drop-in visitors, a luncheon, and I forget what else.

And there was no panic or last-minute embroidering to be had on any of these occasions!!


  1. I always forget to leave myself time to clean up before guests arrive. There's nothing worse than having the doorbell ring and realizing I'm sweaty and still dressed in jeans and a t-shirt! Must work on this. :)

  2. These are some really goody tips. I "suffer" from an open floor plan, and preparing as much as possible the day before is a life saver, especially since my "dining room" is right next door to the kitchen, divided only by a ledge. I've been married 20 years and have only in the past couple of years felt like I've developed some amount of competency in this area. Your tips are great!