How to throw a party in a small apartment, according to experts

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When it comes to celebrating, nothing beats a house party. Not only is it amazing being just feet from your bed when the last guest leaves, but there’s something special about letting your friends – and your friends of friends – see how you live, what you love, and how much of a dip you take seven layers. And that’s the case whether you live in a studio apartment or a sprawling house.

Hosting a party in a small space presents unique challenges, but that doesn’t mean you should skip the opportunity to have one. Here are some tips to make sure everyone has a wonderful time.

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Declutter and Clean

The first step in your pre-party prep is to get rid of anything that’s taking up space you’re not using, says Rachel Larraine, a San Diego-based interior designer who uses holistic strategies to help elevate and release the energy in the spaces. According to Larraine, good party vibes start with a clean slate.

“Visual clutter causes submersion and supports low vibration,” she explains. Also, once you’ve prepared your space for the party with all your clutter removed, you can gauge how many people your mat can comfortably accommodate. This may also be the time to do some quick DIY fixes. For example, let’s say you always leave your bike propped up by the door. Does it make sense to install a wall mount?

You may also want to invest in professional cleaning of your home if you can afford it. You’ll want to pay special attention to the bathrooms – even if you don’t plan on people spending time in your room, you may need to open your personal bathroom as an alternative if you only have one in the main living room. It all depends on your space’s floor plan, but if you’re cleaning up, putting away anything you don’t want guests to see, and making sure all valuables are safe, you’re on the right track.

Another place to prioritize your decluttering: the refrigerator. Not only will you be storing your own things, but guests will likely bring drinks and snacks that need to be kept cool before serving. Having a clean, empty refrigerator can make it easier to clear counters and other areas.

Set your intention

Before you even define the guest list, Larraine suggests sitting in the middle of your space and imagining what you want your party to look like. “Tune in to the feelings you want the room to invoke and the type of experience you want your guests to have,” says Larraine. “Once you have invoked the feeling and experiences you want them to feel, color the intention and visualize in your mind that energy and color filling the room. Once you visualize the whole room filled with this color, the intention is set and the energy has lifted.

Scale your guest list

“How you phrase your invitation is key,” says Melony Huber, a California-based exclusive interior design stylist. To stagger guests, consider using the phrase “drop by” rather than giving the impression that guests have to spend the entire evening at your home. You can also advise guests when to come.

For example, suppose you are planning an event on a Friday night. You can tell your work friends to drop by after they log off and let your neighborhood friends know they can end the night at your place. To ensure that there are no “dead” moments in the evening, it can also help to have a core group of friends who are committed to being there throughout the evening.

Call your neighbors

If you’re close — or even close — to your neighbors, let them know you’re having a party. Inviting them can help reduce the risk of noise complaints. They can come if they want; if not, they know it might be a good night for them to plan to go out for the evening. Neighbors can also be helpful by potentially providing supplies, like folding chairs, tables, or drink buckets.

If your walls are thin or you know your neighbors will be very sensitive to noise (for example, if they have young children), consider a second location. Let guests know you’ll want to continue the party at a bar around the corner, so people can plan accordingly.

Set some places to socialize

We’ve all been to parties where everyone is huddled in the kitchen, ignoring the entire living room around them. Avoid this by setting up plenty of stations where guests can eat, drink, and mingle. Set up drinks and snacks on a few different surfaces — even window sills and overhead shelves can be cleared and designated as snack areas, says Huber.

Make sure there are plenty of places to sit – cushions, pouffes and even cozy rugs can designate resting areas. “Strategically adding mirrors can make a small space feel bigger by giving the illusion that the room is going on,” Larraine notes. This includes areas like the entryway, on an accent wall, or on the door leading to private rooms, like the bedroom.

Don’t skip the details

Light and scent are essential for a party setting, says Larraine. Essential oil diffusers are safer than candles; room sprays can also help lift the mood and eliminate any “I forgot the deodorant” vibe. Sweet orange, cinnamon, vanilla, and pine—scents that linger—can be great before the party; As the party heats up, you might want to swap your scent profiles for scents like lemon and cedarwood — bright, invigorating, and sweet scents that lift the mood.

Lighting, too, can make a huge difference in creating ambiance. Add a few lamps if you only have ceiling lights; glittering curtains and fairy lights can also add to the overall mood. Flowers also add flair to surfaces, and you can easily turn your shelf into a drinks rack, says San Diego-based interior designer Chantelle Hartman Malarkey. Create multiple playlists; these can help guide the evening, and you can change them depending on the mood, says Malarkey. Pro tip: The more people attending the party, the smarter it may be to invest in a portable party speaker instead of the everyday one.

Prepare snacks in advance

Eating with utensils requires a lot of surfaces; if space is limited, stick to portable snacks. Also make sure you have enough cups, plates and napkins. And let people know what you need: Ask your guests if they’d be willing to pick up bulky party supplies like ice cream.

open outside

If you have an outdoor space, think of it as an extension of your party, says Huber. “A decorated and lit walkway encourages guests to use the outdoor space,” says Huber. Install LED lights for visibility, add blankets and throws, and light a fire pit, if you have one. With a mild climate, creating an inviting outdoor space can encourage people to mingle outdoors. Depending on the weather, keeping drinks outside can also minimize the need for ice.

Go outside opening hours

Grumpy neighbors or a distant pad don’t doom you to never host at home. Consider hosting events in more than one party. A bagel brunch, afternoon book swap, or wine tasting event are all ways to bring people to your home without being overwhelmed or “when will it be over” that some guests might have about an evening event.

Experts:

Rachel Larraine, holistic interior designer

Melony Huber, fashion and interior design expert, co-founder and design director of La Peony

Chantelle Hartman Malarkey, interior designer

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