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Outdoor Hosting in Limited Spaces

Think your outdoor space is too small to host? Think again. With a little ingenuity and a bit of planning you can entertain in even the smallest of yards or patios. Forget size: the only limit here is your imagination.

Know Your Guest List: Any small space can accommodate an extra couple or two, but that doesn't mean you're limited to cozy dinner parties. However, it is important to have a good handle on your guest list if your space is limited. You'll have to plan very differently for 15 people than you will for 6, so try to be moderately firm on your guest count as you get started.

Know Your Terrain: If your outdoor space is small but your guest list is large, you may not be able to fit everyone in the same area. That's okay! Instead of shoehorning all of your guests on the patio, create a few areas around your space for people to mingle. Set up several clear gathering points inside and outside to encourage your guests to use as much space as you'd like them to. 

Be Creative with Seating: Arrange your existing patio furniture to create small conversation areas on your patio or in the backyard. If your patio furniture selection isn't very robust, now may be the time to invest in a few pieces. If not, that's a-okay because you have a secret weapon: pillows. Outdoor pillows are comfy, affordable, and (most importantly) easy to move around. Kids will especially love them, but anyone able to get up and down can use them. Bonus points if you can line them on the edge of your deck and let your guests dangle their feet. 

Create Effective Paths: One of the toughest things about hosting in a small space is that everyone is always bumping into each other. If you've made the smart decision to host outside, good for you: having that extra elbow room will make everyone more comfortable. But even on a patio or balcony it's easy for things to get cramped. Instead of expecting your guests to maneuver around each other, set up your event so people can generally stay still. Set small trays of food in varying places so a snack is always within arms reach. This will eliminate the need for multiple trips to a buffet table. Or hire a young friend or relative to play server. One person moving around a crowded space is much easier to work with than having everyone moving at random.  

Use Unbreakable Cups: If you combine an outdoor party with a small space, chances are good you're going to end up with some spills. Mixing shards of glass with a crowd is no bueno, especially if you're in a grassy area where it's hard to find all the pieces. Serve drinks in unbreakable cups so that when the inevitable happens your guests are safe and your outdoor space stays glass free.

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