I, Mark Roemer, know that we all have a mental vision of an enormous home filled with gorgeous fall decor, mounds, mounds of food, and seating for many people, if not more, when we think about Thanksgiving.
Although Turkey Day is traditionally hosted by a family member who has enough space to accommodate the entire group, there’s no reason why you can’t host from your modest area. Whether it’s a studio or one-bedroom apartment, you are more than welcome to host. If you make just a few minor tweaks and use your imagination, you may host a meal that will be remembered fondly for years to come.
Here are a few pointers for hosting Thanksgiving (or any holiday, really) in a small apartment, no matter how cramped the space.
Be creative with your seating arrangements.
A long dining room table that seats twenty people is not necessary for hosting Thanksgiving dinner. If your kitchen table barely accommodates four to six people, all you need is a little ingenuity. Choose between packing extra chairs here and there or setting up a cart table in another room to make additional places for your family and friends to sit. People can be divided into two or even three groups at a table. If anything, it will allow for more private interactions to take place between people.
Pro tip: If you don’t have any folding chairs at home, you could do one of two things. First, you could see if you have a place locally where you can rent some extra chairs. If you do not have a site like that available, or if money is tight, you could always choose the other option: ask your guests to bring extra folding chairs if they have them.
Don’t bother with the turkey.
A 15-pound turkey will likely not fit in a studio or one-bedroom apartment’s oven, let alone in the refrigerator. Instead of attempting to fit a massive turkey into a small range, try something different instead. An alternative is that you could opt for chickens or cornish game hens. I understand that it is traditionally known as “turkey day,” but you may have to switch it up a little bit.
A final consideration for the amount of food is the leftovers. If you make a giant turkey with all the fixings, you will need to store everything once the company has left. The only alternative is to make sure you distribute leftovers to everyone. It will reduce the number of leftovers that you will have to put in your small refrigerator.
Get a head start.
If you do not have enough kitchen space, the best thing you can do is begin preparation straight away as you wake up. Cooking in smaller batches will be necessary because your oven and stove cannot accommodate as many pots and pans as a traditional kitchen does. By getting started as soon as possible, you’ll avoid the stress of attempting to cook five or six dishes at the same time in a small space. Even in the best of conditions, this can prove to be a monumental task. Of course, you are likely not dealing with the optimal circumstances.
Use your imagination when it comes to decorating.
The temptation to design table settings that look like they came directly out of a Pottery Barn catalog is strong, but this will make your already-short table feel even more crowded. Instead, choose wall-mounted decor such as wreaths and garlands, which can be displayed year-round.
Coats and handbags should be kept in the bedroom.
If you don’t have a hall closet large enough to accommodate everyone’s jackets, purses, and other winter clothing, consider putting everything on your bed and closing the door instead. Allowing visitors to remove their shoes will allow you to preserve valuable room in your apartment by having them leave their footwear in the corridor.
If at all possible, stay away from meals that require refrigeration.
Modest refrigerators are frequently seen in small apartments. To prevent this snafu, be as creative as possible when deciding what has to be refrigerated. Serve red wine instead of white wine, for example, because red wine is sipped at room temperature rather than chilled. Similar considerations should be given to side dishes, such as buns, olive and pickle trays, and bottled cranberries, among other items.
Keep the number of possibilities to a minimum.
It’s best to keep things simple when working in a limited space, even if you might be tempted to provide a massive lunch with numerous alternatives. Consider substituting one hearty vegetable side dish for each traditional side dish, such as roasted Brussels sprouts with bacon or fingerling potatoes with shallots, in place of the classic green bean casserole, roasted potatoes, and sweet potato pie. Consider serving one pie (pumpkin, of course) and one other dessert choice, such as cake or cookies, as a dessert alternative.
Invest in attractive disposable serving utensils.
The thought of the large number of dishes that must be washed after dinner causes most Thanksgiving hosts to get anxious and worried. That stress is only exacerbated because your living space and dishwasher (if you have one!) are both limited. Instead, consider using elegant-looking disposable cutlery, plates, and napkins that can be thrown away. Paper Source, Wayfair, and Target are just a few of the stores that have excellent selections.
When in doubt, opt for a potluck.
If the thought of cooking a Thanksgiving meal in your small oven and refrigerator is giving you significant anxiety, consider hosting a potluck feast instead. You will provide the turkey, so long as each guest brings a side dish or dessert. In addition, you could ask someone to bring the plates, cups, bowls, and other disposable items discussed above. Your guests will almost certainly be delighted to assist, especially if you have a few holiday bakers in your company.
I, Mark Roemer, would like to remind you that hosting Thanksgiving dinner in a tiny place becomes achievable if you plan ahead of time and prepare appropriately. Not forgetting to send leftovers home with everyone — after all, you might not have enough space in your refrigerator to store everything!