Entertaining in a Tiny House

xmas in the islands-1

The cruising life often takes us to far off places away from our families and our closest friends. We sail off into the sunset with our compass pointed toward paradise. We enjoy the sunsets and sip on tropical drinks with brightly colored straws and little umbrellas. We travel to places only accessible by boat or where air travel can be costly. We take a lot of pretty pictures and make magical memories, though there are also many moments where boat life isn’t easy.

We don’t get to see our families as often as we’d like. Out on the water we are fittingly “all in the same boat” and as cruisers, we all understand the importance of sticking together. Close friendships form quickly and we bind together a new kind of family where everyone is welcome.

This year, we were lucky enough to have my Dad fly into the Virgin Islands and spend the holidays with us on the boat. He got to experience first-hand the different kind of life we’ve been living this past year and he celebrated a very merry Cruiser Christmas with us too!


On Christmas Eve we hosted a lobster feast on our 42′ sailboat for 9 adults, 2 kids and 2 big dogs. We have a spacious center-cockpit style boat where we all ate dinner and spent most of the evening. The dogs and kids stayed down below where there was more room to play and go to sleep early.

Parking is never an issue on a boat. Everyone travels by dinghy and can tie up to any point on our boat. There were 5 dinghies tied up to the back of our boat – the most we’ve ever had before. The most accessible place to climb on and off is at the stern where we have a heavy-duty ladder. Up and over can be a challenge for some, but this crowd had no problem.


Here are a few tips I’d like to pass on for entertaining in a tiny (floating) house:

  1. Take It Outside – Weather permitting of course, there is better ventilation and stretching room if there is enough seating for everyone outside. The design of our boat makes this a breeze.
  2. Where’s The Restroom? – Keep a clear path to the restroom and make sure everyone knows where it is. On a boat it’s important to know how to operate the toilets too. In a small space, you probably don’t want to announce your business to everyone so include this in the tour upon arrival.
  3. Stow Your Breakables – Tiny spaces make it hard to not bump into things or brush up against everything near you. Play it safe and stow away any breakable items that might accidentally get bumped or broken. On our boat, most everything is always stowed away at all times.
  4. Decorations – Keep it simple. We normally like to go crazy with holiday decorations but on the boat we try to keep it simple. Instead of spending hours hanging and displaying decorations, we used ‘warm’ LED outdoor lights to add a little festive feeling. They don’t clutter up the space and add just a little bit of cheer. We actually keep one string up inside our enclosed cockpit 24/7 just because we like the warm glow in the evenings!
  5. High Five For Finger Food – Go heavy on the appetizers if you don’t have enough seating for everyone. All that’s required is standing room, fingers and a napkin. This also saves on the amount of dirty dishes created too!
  6. Keep A Tune – A little bit of background music can lighten up any space, even tiny ones. It raises spirits and keeps the focus off of the physical surroundings. Play something appropriate for your guests and keep it on a low volume. This time of year we had a good internet access and we were able to play Christmas music on Pandora through our cockpit speakers.
  7. Finish The Food Prep – If possible, have almost all food prepared before your guests arrive. There’s probably not room for helping hands in the kitchen and no one wants to see the craziness of food prep with less than desirable counter space 😉 I know my galley doesn’t fit anyone else but me!
  8. Dinner is Served – Skip the buffet style dinner and have one person dish up the plates and pass them out to the guests. There’s always room for seconds but it’s much easier to keep everyone seated instead of creating a line with nowhere to go.
  9. Drinks Are On Me – Keep all the ice, pop, juice, beer and booze in one place. Designate one person to play bartender to mix and refill drinks. Same with the food, it’s easier to have one person within reach of the drinks instead of having each person climb around just to get a refill.
  10. Do The Dishes – Take dirty dishes away from your guests as soon as possible. When there is barely enough room for people in a tiny space, there is even less room for dirty dishes to set down. Instead of letting them pile up in the *tiny* sink, wash dishes and silverware as they are brought in. I keep a mix of large and small plates and a full set of silverware. This is enough for one meal for a big crowd but everything needs to be washed and reused for serving dessert. Staying on top of the dishwashing before it piles up is well worth the effort.

What are your favorite tips for entertaining in a Tiny House?

By Jody Pountain for the [Tiny House Blog]

Baking on a Boat


Last week Andrew Odom did a great post on Baking in a Tiny House. There are many similarities between the kitchen of a tiny house and the galley on a boat. It was quite an adjustment to get used to but over the last year I have learned how to make it work pretty well.

The holiday season usually presents more of a challenge than regular every day cooking simply due to the volume of food being prepared. I love to go crazy during the holidays with pies, cookies and chocolate covered pretzels.

Andrew’s post gives some great tips for overcoming the space limitations and use of propane. We too have a tiny oven. It’s only 15″x15″ and there aren’t very many dishes and trays that will fit inside. There are two racks but the height is not very forgiving. Baking in batches is pretty much done one batch at a time where in a full size oven you could probably do up to four cookie sheets of treats! It’s been so long since I’ve had a full size oven I really don’t even remember.

On our boat I had to limit the supply of all kitchen equipment. I have a large pan and a small pan, a large pot and a small pot. I have a large bowl and a small bowl. When using lots of different ingredients and when a recipe calls for several different steps of mixing, I have to get creative with what I put everything in.

When baking a pie, I usually use the pie plate itself for mixing the dough because both of my bowls are already in use. All the ingredients are placed on top of my three-burner stove on a wooden board cut to fit. My pastry cloth fits on top of my top-load refrigerator leaving barely enough room to roll out the dough. When the pie is done, I don’t have room to store a cooling rack so I repurpose my upside-down cupcake tray as a place to set the hot pie until it cools.

Baking cookies has to wait until all pie-making supplies are cleaned and put away, since I use all the same counter space, bowls, spoons and measuring cups. The Nav Station turns into a cookie frosting station (navigation station is where our VHF radio is and where we chart our courses).

Even though I’m short on space and baking takes longer with propane, I still love to bake on my boat!

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Do you bake in a tiny space? What tricks to you use?

By Jody Pountain for the [Tiny House Blog]

Happiest of Holidays from the Homes of the Tiny House Community

Just because you live in a tiny house does not mean you have to downsize your holiday expectations too! In fact, some of your favorite tiny housers have decorated their homes with BIG style preparing from Hanukkah, solstice, Christmas, and just the winter holidays in general. With an open mind and the right amount of creativity the merriment of the season can be showcased in even the tiniest of corners, the tops of tables, loft railings, and front porches, with simple decorations like vinyl adhesives, miniature Christmas trees, strings of lights, homemade garlands, paper snowflakes, and the like.

Below are a few of tiny house dwellers you may know and their inspired tiny house holiday looks.

Homes included in the virtual tour above:

Tiny House Blog on Vacation

My family and I are taking a vacation during the holidays and I will be away from a computer and the internet most of this time. I have pre-published a few posts and they will show up at different times. Christina will continue with the usual Monday posts so be sure and check in on those.

I will not be answering emails, but want to encourage you to continue to send in your stories and photographs like you usually do. I will also not be posting on the Facebook fan page or Google+ during this time. Please, feel free to dig back through the archives for inspiration and visit some of the other tiny house blogs during this brief vacation.

I want to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. I will return on January 5th and will get back into the normal routine shortly there after.

on vacation

Tonita’s Tiny House Christmas Decor 2011

I featured Tonita’s Tiny House on Friday and you can see more of the interior before she put her finishing touches and decorated it for Christmas here.

I love to decorate for the Holidays and had a lot of fun creating a “White Christmas,” inside my tiny home. To draw the eye upwards in my tiny retreat, I lined the upper shelf with faux candles for fire safety and live holly that grows wild on my land. I also used many vintage garage sale and thrift store finds to pull together a vintage Christmas style this year. I added lots of white candles and a few silver vintage Christmas trees and bulbs. Adding Epsom salts and shredded white plastic along the window sills and fireplace mantle, gives the effect of glistening snow. Fresh baked goodies and fresh Organic milk sit on the old farm table waiting for Santa and as they fill the tiny home with a wonderful aroma.

Happy Holidays & Many Blessings from Tonita’s tiny house.

Visit Tonita’s blog to see more pictures. http://shabbychictinyretreat.blogspot.com/

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