Are you taking the challenge to host a holiday get-together this year… in your 600 square-foot apartment (or much smaller for some)? If you are like me, you have traded metropolitan living for tight quarters, lease after lease. Since your living situation is not changing anytime soon, here are some inspiring tips to turn your mouse-house into a practical space for a cookie decorating party, or bringing in the new year with at least a few more than yourself! Here are some tips:

1. A big communal table works great for dinner parties in small spaces. It might take up your whole living room, but in my experience, most like to stay-put where they eat. Also stick to armless chairs. If you do not have a large table, make one with a sheet of plywood set atop two end tables and seat your guests on some cozy floor pillows.

2. Utilize every square inch. This may mean moving furniture around, but do so to make your guests comfy. Any sturdy surface can be used as a table or a place to sit, so if you decide to forgo the communal table, make sure if your friends does not whack the leg lamp when they jump up for figgy pudding.

3. Do not buy disposable items. Buying disposable plates, napkins, and cups seems like the obvious option, especially since little kitchens don’t have dishwashers. However, it’s not the most environmentally-conscious decision, especially when there are always those few friends who would not mind being your dishwashing elves. Take out your cloth napkins too (or make some with recycled fabric), because they make an ordinary meal more jolly.

4. Going vertical is a great way to maximize the space on a buffet table. Cake stands, plates atop mugs, and tiered fruit baskets can be used to serve fruit, side dishes, hors d’oeuvres, and to place utensils.

5. Make sure you are not cooking when your guests arrive. Invite a friend over to help you prepare all the food in advance, and if you are hosting a home-cooked meal try roasting a big piece of meat or making a sumo-sized pot of chili (you can ask your guests to bring side dishes). Another option is to go with heavy appetizers that can be served at room temp, like crock-pot meatballs, artisan cheese and aged meat platter, spinach dip served with crudites, and grilled chicken tenders with dipping sauces. Or, hire a caterer!

6. A successful festive gathering is in the details. Label cupboards and drawers that contain ordinary items, like coffee mugs, silverware, garbage, and toilet paper to bypass the it’s-in-the-second-drawer-next-to-the-sink babble. Coasters are invitations to “place your beverage here, please”, so stick them on all your surfaces. Lighting candles in front of mirrors can make your apartment feel bigger and brighter. Turn the music down, but louder than crickets, just in case there is that one awkward moment. Simply decorate by keeping the tinsel and popcorn garlands to a minimum, and keeping your apartment tidy and organized can be beneficial for hosting a merry crowd.

7. Take your guests’ hats, coats, and purses at the door and put them in the bedroom. This frees up your entertaining area, while the back room can also be designated for taking phone calls when the Christmas caroling gets rowdy.

8. Have a designated beverage station. It should have ice, bottle openers, cocktail napkins, glasses… and eggnog. Keep a pitcher or bottles of water there too. A small trash can to throw away corks and bottle tops will help keep the rubbish at bay. All these item can be compiled on a kitchen cart, small bookcase, multi-level sofa table, or mantel.

9. Make your outdoor area inviting. Whether you have a door to a nice size balcony or landing on top of some stairs, keep that outdoor space accessible for a few to meander out to breathe in some cold winter air. Light candles and set out wool blankets, just in case they want to count the stars…or watch for Santa!

10. Let your conversation and story telling be the main event. Tiny living spaces lend to an intimate setting. If you wish to dance the night away, keep it simple with the two-step…