News flash, Norman Rockwell, not all of us live in suburban homes with big dining rooms. If you live in a small apartment, your dinner party space is probably more couch than kitchen table. Your lack of formal dining room—or dining room in general—isn’t a big deal most nights when it’s just you eating takeout at your kitchen counter, but what if you’re hosting Thanksgiving dinner?
If you’re picturing your grandmother’s house and the countless dishes, place settings and people that fit inside it around the holidays and you’re wondering how to cram the same amount of food and festivities into your small apartment this Thanksgiving, we’ve got you covered.
Relax (and maybe have a glass of spiked cider). Here are eight tips for hosting Thanksgiving dinner at your apartment, no matter how small your space is.
Substitute Chicken for Turkey
That’s right; we’re starting this list out as controversially as possible. Fewer traditions are more sacred than turkey on Thanksgiving, but hey, you’re a risk-taker. Live a little. A Thanksgiving turkey takes up an insane amount of space in your small apartment’s kitchen for storage, defrosting and cooking. And honestly, is it even the best part of the meal?
Your more traditional guests may gasp when they see that you’ve made one of these turkey alternatives but they’ll eat their words when they taste your incredible maple-braised pork belly. And thus, a new tradition is born.
Look, sharing is caring. Isn’t the whole point of Thanksgiving to express gratitude? With that in mind, make Thanksgiving a potluck affair and be sure to thank your friends and family in advance and afterwards for helping out.
Do the heavy lifting by cooking the turkey, but assign other items to the rest of your guests. Be specific enough so that you don’t end up with 15 sides of mashed potatoes (though TBH, that sounds pretty great).
Rent Fancy Table Settings
If you’re like most small apartment dwellers, your place settings aren’t going to make Martha Stewart jealous anytime soon. That doesn’t mean you have to spring for fine china. Use a service like Table and Teaspoon to rent Instagram-worthy table settings.
Just tell them the date of your event, how many guests you’ll be having and then choose from one of seven drool-worthy styles. Martha approved.
Does this year’s Thanksgiving forecast call for a monsoon of dishes after the big feast? Your small sink can’t handle the mess—and you shouldn’t have to either. Choose disposable plates and silverware, like these surprisingly luxurious gold table settings. They look expensive but they’re actually disposable.
Have a Plan
Your small apartment doesn’t have to induce claustrophobia on Thanksgiving. Think about the stuff that comes with a Thanksgiving dinner party: coats, dirty dishes, trash. Now make a plan.
Clean out a closet (or at least temporarily relocate its contents to under your bed) and use it for coats. Buy a bigger trash can. And for that pile of dirty dishes use this clever hiding spot: your bathtub. No one is going to look behind the shower curtain— or be weird enough to take a shower during your Thanksgiving dinner—we promise.
Invent New Tables
Think outside the table this year. You’ve got other flat surfaces in your home that people can eat off of. Buy a few tablecloths and turn your desk, ottoman, coffee table and any other table-like surfaces into places for people to eat.
Make a Picnic
Okay, so you hated our turn-the-ottoman-into-a-table idea. We’re only a little offended. Try this instead: host a picnic. You may not have enough seating for all of your Thanksgiving guests, but you’ve surely got enough floor space. Move extra furniture into your bedroom, lay down a red checkered picnic blanket and bring a quaint day at the park indoors.
Rent a Storage Unit
No, we’re not suggesting you host your Thanksgiving dinner inside a storage unit (please don't). We’re suggesting you rent one for that extra clutter and furniture that’s limiting the scope of your awesome dinner party. Storage units are cheap, they come in a variety of sizes and rent is typically on a month-to-month basis, so you can reserve one for the holiday season and have a place for to store your clutter on Thanksgiving and maybe even Christmas too.