Be strategic about food prep
Ruben notes that “the number one most important thing is the ease of the food.” That is especially true when space is limited. The last thing a host or hostess should be doing is moving back and forth to the kitchen to prepare food and drinks. “If you’re constantly preparing food to put out and it’s a small space, everyone can see you doing it and that you’re not a part of the party. When people see you doing that, they start to worry and when people start worrying about the hostess, they’re not having a good time.”
There’s a simple fix for this: Have everything ready to go before guests arrive. Choose foods that simply need minor finishing touches. Ruben suggests a stew or pizzas -- something that can be strategically placed on the stove, an ideal space-saving spot to serve up the goods. Self-contained meals are the best, Needle says, like “individual beef wellingtons or pot pies... fork food that you don’t need to cut with a knife.”
Lack of space also leaves little room for dirty silverware and dishes. Ruben says in this case, disposables aren’t necessarily a bad thing. They allow for quick self-service and an easy clean up, which leaves more time to eat, drink, and be merry (and drink some more).
When it comes to actually putting out the disposables, Needle suggests that you “display your dishes vertically. Have them up on risers, use a pedestal; a high and low display,” so you can fit more in a small space.
Needle also advises hosts to “make small arrangements and put them around the apartment so people aren’t clumped around one food area.” Set separate appetizer platters, chips, and cheeseboards in the hallway, next to the couch, and on a table in the kitchen.