Food and Drink

How To Entertain This Summer When You Don’t Have Outdoor Space


tropical tablescape for indoors summer party

What says summer more than barbecuing? (Hint: pretty much nothing.) Unfortunately, not all of us are lucky enough to have expansive and Pinterest-worthy backyards to host our nearest and dearest for some grilling and cocktails. For those of us unlucky enough to have to sweat through the warmer months in tiny studio apartments, entertaining between Memorial Day and Labor Day can be tough.

So what exactly do you do when you want to entertain and your only “outdoor” space is your fire escape or the hallway outside your apartment? Here’s how to host a festive summer party even if you don’t have a backyard.

Declutter, Declutter, Declutter

The first thing you need to do if you’re throwing a bash in a cramped space is to temporarily get rid of any furniture or decor that makes the space feel untidy. “First, declutter your inside space,” says Anticipation Events owner Elizabeth Tulipana. “You will be surprised how much room you have if you shift around some key furniture pieces.” Stash unneeded furniture in a bedroom or spare closet and use some folding chairs to make sure there’s enough seating for your guests, without crowding your space with bulky furniture.

Bring Summer Indoors

Don’t have access to outdoor space of your own? Bring the outside into your home, recommends Andrea Correale of Elegant Affairs. “Bring in the palms!” Correale says. “Bring in extra plants and place around your space. Maybe add a bit of string lighting around the windows or in the space. Use a summer gingham tablecloth or something that screams summer.” Throw together a tropics inspired playlist or pull up Spotify and queue up some island-y music.

Keep decor on theme as well, says entertaining expert Jennifer Porter of Satsuma Designs LLC. “Light a beachy scented candle in the powder room to keep every room welcoming,” Porter says. You can also use stir sticks, festive drink umbrellas, and serve up apps on skewers to “turn up the summer celebrating,” she says.

Skip The Fridge And Stove

Tiny fridges and lack of counter space can make prepping for a party a real pain, experts say. Instead, come up with a menu that requires minimal prep. “Platters for finger foods that don’t need refrigeration are sure to be a crowd-pleaser,” Tulipana says.

Correale suggest sticking to grilled or cooked proteins like beef, chicken, or fish kebabs and room temperature sides that don’t require refrigeration or heating up, like a grilled corn salad, heirloom tomato salad, grilled asparagus, or farro or lentil salad.

Don’t have access to a full size grill? Get a tabletop one or fake grill marks with a versatile panini press.

Rethink The Bar

When you don’t have a large refrigerator or bar area, you have to work with what you have. Don’t have much surface area to keep drinks chilled? “Use the bathtub as a giant cooler,” says  Correale. “Fill with ice and fill with champagne, wine, vintage sodas [and] artisanal water bottles.”

Limited counter space means it’s probably best to avoid an elaborate bar or drinks set up. Instead, make one or two special drinks, says Tulipana. “This will eliminate bottles and cans from event mess,” she says.

Borrow Outdoor Space

It might seem obvious, but keep in mind that just because you don’t have outdoor space doesn’t mean you don’t have access to it. If you can’t quite convince your suburb-dwelling friends to host a soiree, you can plan a meetup with friends at a local park. Make it a potluck so all the cooking duties don’t fall on you and tote along a Frisbee, horseshoes, or a bocce ball set. You can search here to find a park near you where you can host your get-together (and make sure to read up on any grilling and food and drink regulations for your meeting spot). Happy picnicking!

Related Video: How to Grill Indoors

Header image courtesy of Emily Henderson.



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