{Effortless entertaining} How to host in a small space

I grew up on a farm. A huge humongous farm. No idea how many hectares, just remember it being big. Although we didn’t have the biggest house, there was more than enough space for lots of people. And my parents loved entertaining. So much that there were people over every weekend. I remember going to school on Mondays as some of the friends or family left, and Fridays going home after school as the first people arrived. Every weekend was spend cooking and drinking and laughing, in summer or winter, the grownups would sit outside next to a huge bonfire, and the kids would ride bicycles or play ball or whatever we wanted to do.

I guess I inherited that gene because I also love entertaining. And I married a man who would also much rather have people over than going out. But we live in a normal house, with a smallish kitchen, cramped living room and postage stamp size yard. And we are not alone - Very few people still have space to comfortable and easily entertain. But it is possible, you just need a bit of planning. So before you sent out your invites, quickly go through my list of to-dos:

1.       Assess your space. How many seats can you comfortably accommodate? If the weather is nice you can plan for outside, just keep in mind the weather can change quickly and then you need a plan B. Should it start to rain or be ice cold, your guests must be able to go somewhere dry/warm/cool. Invite as many guests as you have seats.

2.       Ensure you have flow. Move your furniture to the edges of the room to free up as much space as possible. Place your chairs/seats also to the edges. Have your designated drinks area to the furthest point from the entrance. People always bundle together at the drinks area, and if this is close to the entrance your guests will have to fight their way in. Not cool.

3.       Set up a designated drinks area. I already touched on this in point 2. Set a table with glasses, ice bucket, wine opener and anything else you might need. Have everything ready before guests arrive to eliminate the need to walk up and down for things. It will also keep your guests in the “party space” and free up your kitchen for last minute cooking.

4.       Menu. Very very important. If you are giving all of the food, plan your menu to 1. Not force everyone to eat at the same time and 2. Not need to be enjoyed sitting down. For a truly South African experience, a braai is perfect. You can have small pieces of boerewors, steak, chicken kebabs, small potatoes in the coals, garlic bread, salad skewers, etc. and braai them throughout the evening or day. Guests can then have a bite as they get peckish and there is no need for plates, cutlery or tables. Just have enough serviettes (preferably cloth). For a “bring and braai” (potluck) ask everyone to help themselves when they want to eat. If you don’t have enough cutlery and crockery, ask guests to bring their own (for a waste-free party specify that it must be actual plates and cutlery, so no paper or plastic).

5.       Don’t be scared to ask for help. You don’t have to ask your guests to wash their own dishes, but if everyone can just take their own plates, glasses, etc. straight to the kitchen then cleaning becomes a breeze. If they can scrape their plates and stack them even better!

And there you have it. Although not groundbreaking I believe these tips are so commonsense and practical that everybody can master entertaining In a small space. Share with me your tried and tested tips!