How to Host Thanksgiving in a Small Space

Dinner Parties, Entertain, Holidays, How-To, Thanksgiving


Unexpected Guests at Thanksgiving

Hosting Thanksgiving in a tiny space is no small feat: Cozy quarters inevitably come with modest oven space, an undersized fridge and limited areas for dining. All of those elements, particularly when combined together, make it challenging to get everything out on the Thanksgiving table together. Still, if you’re willing to take planning seriously and even get a little creative, hosting in a small space is more than doable—it can be enjoyable, too.


Below are our best tips for throwing a successful Thanksgiving dinner in a pocket-sized space. Armed with our advice (and a can-do attitude), trust us: You can make it work!

First Things First: Work with What You’ve Got

Don’t tackle the food just yet—start by thinking outside your (tiny little) box.

  • Look at your home through fresh eyes. An office can be rearranged to be a dining room; same goes with your living room. Move extraneous furniture into the bedroom.Can’t see it on your own? Ask a pal to swing by and help you assess what can be moved around. 
  • Declutter. Lots of stuff makes small spaces seem smaller; while it’s always a good idea to do a deep clean before hosting, it can make an especially large impact in a small space.
  • Repurpose your furniture… A side table, desk, coffee table, or kitchen cart can be used as a buffet staging area or pushed next to the dinner table for extra seating. Chairs can be pulled from other rooms. In a pinch, consider purchasing a few inexpensive folding chairs. 
  • …And your housewares, too. Small homes rarely have space to store formal china, silverware, or linens. Mix and match what you have—a variety of glassware, plates, and napkins can be quite charming. Repurpose mason jars (for wine glasses) and dishcloths (for napkins) if need be. While Thanksgiving can be a great excuse to invest in a new platter or a matching set of napkins, figure out where you’ll store them after the holiday before you make the purchase.
  • Think small with table decor. Work with what you already own as much as possible. Tea lights, pint-size decorative gourds, bud vases, and mini succulents make a larger impact than their small footprint would suggest.

Hosting Thanksgiving in a Small Space

Next, Meal Plan Like You Mean It

Trust us: Meal prep in tight quarters is all about detailed planning. A few things to consider:

  • Streamline your menu. Do you need to serve two types of stuffing, turkey and ham, mashed potatoes and sweet potato casserole? Probably not.
  • Halve recipes. Since smaller casserole dishes take up less space in your fridge, in your oven, and on your table, cut recipes in half where you can.  Instead of a large whole turkey, consider a smaller bird or even a turkey breast.
  • Take advantage of room-temperature dishes. Let’s be honest: It’s going to be impossible for everything to come out hot at the same time. Knowing this, plan for sides that don’t have to be served hot, such as salads, rolls, or roasted squash.
  • Sketch it out. Make a detailed timeline for any prep that can be done in the days leading up to Thanksgiving as well as the day of. (Be realistic with how long each task will take, budgeting generously.) Having an oven plan might seem fussy, but it’ll save you a headache the day of.
  • Rely on make-ahead dishes whenever possible. Most pies can be made at least a day early. Stuffing and sweet potato casserole can be prepped up to the point of baking (reheat them as the turkey rests). Cranberry sauce freezes well. Don’t be afraid to think small: if a components of a dish can be made in the days leading up (like caramelized onions, cornbread, salad dressing, or toasted nuts) do it then.
  • Get creative. If you have a toaster oven or slow cooker, put it to good use. Use your slow cooker to keep mashed potatoes warm, or a toaster oven to accommodate casserole dishes like stuffing.


The table may be a tight fit and the stuffing might not be piping hot, but these things matter little when the wine is flowing and you’re celebrating with loved ones. And let’s face it: Most Thanksgiving fare is pretty darn tasty at room temperature anyway.

Find Thanksgiving table ideas, essential tools and dozens of recipes at the Williams Sonoma Thanksgiving Headquarters

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