How to host Christmas in a small space —7 tips from design pros

It's tricky, but possible — here's exactly how to host Christmas in a small space, according to the experts

We wanted to know how to host Christmas in a small space like this cozy kitchen with a christmas tree and tiny table set for dinner and our 7 expert tips delivered
(Image credit: Getty Images/mixetto)

Wondering how to host Christmas in a small space? It's going to require a little prep, but rest easy because there's a way to make room for everyone — parents, siblings, friends, and even nosy aunts who want to delve into your love life. 

We spoke to interior designers about their go-to rules for holiday hosting, and there are some pretty clever ways to make things run smoothly, even when square footage is not in ample supply. 

Now that your Christmas decor is in place, it's time to think ahead and have a look at the hosting essentials you need to check off your list. Our team of experts are raring to with these seven tips.

7 tips on how to host Christmas in a small space

When it comes to Christmas in tight quarters, less is more and we have just the ticket to help you nail it. From space-saving hacks to must-try kitchen rules, our seven expert tips tackle a little bit of everything to make for easy-going holiday celebration. 

Let these seven steps from our knowledgeable interior designers guide you as you barrel towards special times with loved ones.

1. Don't overdecorate

Cozy living room winter interior with fireplace and a cottage vibe

(Image credit: Getty Images/svetikd)

While you might be keen on the North Pole's busy and festive aesthetic, you're probably going to have to scale back in terms of decor if you're hosting lots of guests in a small space. 

Fortunately, we've tackled the biggest conundrum first and asked the experts how to fit a Christmas tree in a small space. And yes, it is doable without going making your nerves jangle like Christmas bells.

From there, assess whether your holiday tchotchkes — trinkets — are taking up prime real estate where you'd otherwise be able to seat a guest, or make use of valuable table space. 

When discussing neutral Christmas decor, the founder and CEO of Blythe Interiors, Jennifer Verruto, suggests opting for durable, long-lasting, versatile pieces that will last beyond the holidays.

"By incorporating decor with longevity, you'll save time, space, and money," Jennifer previously told Real Homes. "Invest in decor that isn't just for a specific holiday, but rather will last you from fall through winter and into the new year."

A picture of Jennifer Verruto in a neutral living room
Jennifer Verruto

Jennifer Verruto is the founder and CEO of Blythe Interiors, a West Coast-based interiors that caters directly to clients: "From modern, to transitional, to coastal and anything in between, [Blythe Interiors] tailors designs to suit your preferences and needs, ensuring a space that's uniquely yours!"

2. Dine informally

Cottagecore dining room with warm lighting and christmas decorations and French doors into garden, pictured at night

(Image credit: Getty Images/svetikd)

One of the best Christmas hosting hacks? Doing away with a formal living room setup for dinner. 

"An informal dining experience can be just as special and in a small space, it can feel more cozy and intimate," says Jen Nash, head of design at Magnet. "Set up food in a buffet style, using the kitchen countertops as a serving surface and then dot chairs around the space where guests can sit."

And, speaking of chairs, it's OK to get creative with seating, whether it's a storage ottoman or a pouf from the living room. If you need to bring in foldable chairs and tables, why not? 

Jen Nash
Jen Nash

Jen Nash is the head of design at Magnet, a renowned kitchen brand. She has expertise in countertops and cabinetry and is an industry expert.

3. Rearrange the room

a living room cozy decorated for christmas includes an orange couch

(Image credit: Getty Images/mihailomilovanovic)

If you truly have a sit-down dinner in mind, there's a way to make it happen, but it'll require some rearranging and decluttering your living room and possibly your dining room or studio space. 

"Rearranging furniture and placing it at the perimeter of the room will open up a central space where the dining table and chairs can go," Jen says. "You may want to consider diagonal dining, positioning your table at an angle to run diagonally across the room. This clever trick maximizes floor space and allows for more seating."

4. Spread out the serving areas

Two red Christmas cocktails with candy canes on a red plate

(Image credit: Getty Images/Anna Janecka)

Find your favorite bar cart, set aside a spot for the appetizers, and leave the dessert on the table. It's all about divvying things up to create more room for all of your guests.

"Not putting everything in one spot is key," Jen says. "By scattering a few serving areas throughout a small home, you’ll keep foot traffic moving and make your small space seem less crowded. For example, put your bar or drinks station on a small table in one corner of the room, your meal on the main table and the dessert in the kitchen."

5. Ask for help

Roasted chicken and vegetables in a pan being pulled out of the oven from someone in beige oven mitts

(Image credit: Getty Images/nerudol)

When discussing ways to make hosting dinners a little less stressful, designer Chantelle Hartman Malarkey suggests going the potluck route to free up time, space, and headaches. There's a reason why there isn't an 'i' in team, folks.

"Instead of putting all the pressure on you to come up with so much food in a small kitchen, have everyone bring a dish so you are not overwhelming your oven," she previously told us. "Most guests ask what they can bring so take them up on it!"

Chantelle Hartman Malarkey
Chantelle Hartman Malarkey

Chantelle Hartman Malarkey, a.k.a. the Lifestyle Alchemist, is an interior designer, photographer, home chef, and hosting expert, who shares clever ideas in her homes niche with her followers. 

6. Use an air fryer

A white air fryer on a wooden countertop in a blue kitchen

(Image credit: Getty Images/Hazal Ak)

Even if you divvy up the dinner responsibilities, you'll probably still have, literally and figuratively, quite a lot on your plate. Although we lean on our ovens for many of our hosting needs, don't forget about your air fryer. If it can do the work during the week, it can also handle holiday side dishes, too. 

7. Try a grab bag

We all love seeing presents underneath the Christmas tree — speaking of which, learn how to make a Christmas tree last longer — but that can make things a bit crowded. With a gift bag, you'll eliminate overcrowding your space, but everyone will still get a present to take home. 


How do you serve Christmas dinner in a small space?

You don't have to go the traditional route if you're planning on hosting Christmas dinner in a small space. Spread out the serving areas and allow your guests to do the same; this prevents people from gathering in one spot and overcrowding the area. If you do have your heart set on a sit-down meal, place furniture around the perimeter of the room and situate the table diagonally to create more space. 

How do you throw a Christmas party in a small house?

First things first: clean up and declutter to make more room for the decor, which should be kept to a minimum, regardless. Rearrange the furniture to create more space or seating areas, depending on what you need, and divvy up the serving areas so that there's not a lot of crowding in one space. Don't overwhelm your kitchen and allow others to help with meal prep. 

Having guests can lead to a mess — in big and small spaces. It's an inevitability of spending time with many of your loved ones at once. That's why we asked cleaning experts about how to remove holiday food stains, from cocoa to red wine and everything else so if there are spills when you're hosting Christmas in a small space, you'll be covered.

Danielle Valente
Content Editor

Pleasure to meet you! I'm Danielle, a content editor at Real Homes who loves scoping out interior trends. I've specialized in lifestyle writing and editing for 10 years with a focus on events, food, and books, among other areas. When I'm not working, I'm usually cooking, reading, or searching for a new project for my apartment.