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Entertaining and Holidays – Minimalist Style

Entertaining Minimalist StyleImage: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

This post is based of a readers question ‘What about entertaining and holidays?’

A common reason for getting a bigger house or for having extra household items is for guests and holidays.  I am all about having people over and holidays, but I don’t think it needs to conflict with minimalism.  Like most things I think that minimalism makes entertaining and holidays easier :)

Here are three things to consider.

How easy is it be ready for people to come over

So often, when we had our full house, we wanted to have people over but either the house wasn’t clean enough at the time, or we didn’t have the energy to clean to get ready for people to come over.  It wasn’t like the house was a disaster, but you know the usual clutter that collects.  I was pretty good at keep the living room, dinning room and kitchen area clean but the main bathroom was upstairs by the bedrooms and it always felt like if we had people over the whole house needed to be clean.

We are spontaneous people and love to throw social things together at the last minute, but this slowed us down.

Now, with our small apartment it is never an excuse.  Sure, it isn’t ready for people to ‘drop by’ at any time but it can be ready for company with a few minutes of pick up and 2 minutes of the vacuum.   Minimalism has made entertaining easier.

How much space to you really need

This is a very personal thing.  We love people over, but very rarely have large parties.  We have very few out of town guests and do our holidays at Bryon’s folks home with more extended family.

I think if I had a formal dinning room I would use it.  We are still going with our everyday parties and Lily made quite a spread last Friday (homemade pasta, alfredo sauce, and an amazing carrot/orange/chocolate beautifully frosted cake).  We ate the meal on our china dishes with fancy glasses and cloth napkins.  The kids had a blast.  It would have been great to do it in a formal dinning room with a full table to site around.    However, as far as the kids are concerned it would only have been slightly more fun.  What they really wanted was the cooking and the fancy dishes :)

We have the space and seating to do a sit down meal for 14 people if we needed to (we have a few folding tables for schooling or larger projects and if we count the side of the couch and camping chairs we could do it.  :)  The kids would also gladly share their futon/bed and sleep on their camping mats if someone from out of town wanted to come for a visit.

If you used the money spent on the space for other entertaining ideas, what could you do?

I think of the difference in cost from our minimalist apartment vs our full house.  Because we purchased our house in pretty rough condition and did lots of remodeling it cost us less.  However, comparing the amount we rent it out for plus utilities vs what we pay for rent and utilities in our small apartment we save $800+ per month.  Is it worth almost $10,000 a year to have more space to entertain or have holiday parties?  For that we could throw a pretty fancy Thanksgiving party or Christmas party in a rented room if we needed the extra space, put visitors up in a nice hotel if they come by, or do a vacation with family or friends instead of hanging out at home.

This is totally a  personal thing.  I think it comes down to focusing on the priorities, what do you love and what do you need for entertaining and holidays and what is all the extra clutter that takes time and money?  What are things others think you should have for holidays or entertaining but you never really use?

We are pretty social people.  We hang out with people several times a week and we have found minimalism makes it easier.

The one thing we have had to do differently is when we get together with other families with kids it is often easier to do it somewhere else – the pool, the park, the zoo, etc.  It is possible to have kids come over to play but often it gets too loud to visit as adults.  Actually, since simplifying and moving we find we get together or do things with people more often than we did before.

What do you think?  (if you are reading RSS or on currents join us in the comments)

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13 Comments

  1. I think entertaining in a small space is definitely possible. My mom would always have a huge Christmas Eve party every year. We grew up in a 1000sf cape, so the downstairs was maybe 600 sf if you include the entryway and bathroom :-) She would have probably 50-60 people there every year. We were totally packed in, but it was a wonderful time and some of my fondest memories growing up. I do have to say that I like having a larger space for entertaining. It seems whenever we have people over, we have A LOT of people over…I blame my mother :-)

    • that is a party :) Wow!

  2. Jennifer Ott

    We are pursuing minimalism, but we have a LONG ways to go. That said, we bought our current house for church work in a downtown area. It’s about 1200 square feet, but about 600 of that is the living/dining/kitchen that are fairly open to each other on the main floor. We’ve regularly had up to 50 people over. Yes, it’s tight, but it’s fun! Having less clutter/decor. makes it so much easier to get ready and have space.

    • Wow, that is a lot of people :)

  3. I think it really depends on the amount of family you have over/live close to. The Hubs comes from HUGE families (his mom is 1 of 7 and dad 1 of 8), so if we wanted to have a social gathering and invite all of the local relatives, having a bigger space is definitely a necessity. Right now we have a 1200 sq. ft. house, which often feels small when we host birthday parties as we often have 20+ guests. I think some could get by with less indoor space if they had more outdoor space. We have a decent sized backyard that would be great for entertaining (for the like 3 months a year we can be outside lol). We’ve been considering this topic a lot since we’ll be moving 1k miles away. Now our consideration is less about entertaining space, but more about housing space for out of town guests. Our hope is to have a spare bed for out of town guests. However, we could get by with just 3 bedrooms and have our boys share a room when relatives come. I’m interested to see how others deal with this situation!

    • I think there is lots of different ways to deal with it. That sounds like quite a move… good luck :)

  4. Kris

    This was a question I had originally asked about – thanks for posting. We downsized from a 2,300 sq.ft home to a 1,700 sq.ft. home. Don’t regret it a bit, and from reading your blog, sounds like I could even go smaller. But for now, we are adjusting to this. I enjoy your blog very much. Thanks!

    • your welcome :) Thanks for the post idea!

  5. Our approach to minimalism means that we don’t have any “specialty” decorations, dishes, etc. All gifts are wrapped in brown paper (because it is more flexible than having a roll for every occasion), entertaining dishes are simple and even our living room has really small and light furniture with casters underneath so we can reconfigure for whatever type of party we are throwing…move everything out and put up two folded tables (which are usually stashed under a bed) with a big cloth over it for a massive dining table, set the tables up separately for a game night, or slide everything up against the walls for open floor space for an impromptu yoga class or dancing.

    • awesome ideas :) Thanks for sharing! I love folding tables. …been trying to get back into yoga, I did it last weekend a few time and I am still hurting (and it was only wimpy beginner yoga)

  6. I haven’t had a dining room table in two years (I gave it away when I was trying to sell the house) and frankly I haven’t noticed the difference!

    • Thanks for your comment! I bet that makes a big difference when it comes to space :)

    • Kathy

      We have a huge weathered oak kitchen table that seats 8, and when we get ready to move our first question is will our table fit in the house we’re looking at, but that table is the hub of our family (we eat every meal there, family game nights, kids art & play space, etc) so that table isn’t going any where soon. No way I would have a fancy table that’s rarely used, but this one is well loved.

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