Entertaining in a Tiny House

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!

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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.

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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]

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Swabbie Robbie - January 2, 2015 Reply

At least the boat has the decks and cabin top to hang out on as well as the cockpit. The harder thing is if it is raining. then a boom tent and the bimini become important. Hard to have everyone crammed into the cabin on an inclement day.

Wish I were on that boat in the VIs 🙂
Thanks and Happy New Year.

    Jody Pountain - January 4, 2015 Reply

    Swabbie Robbie! Thanks for the comment 🙂 Rain does make everything a bit more difficult. Atleast “it comes on ya quick and leaves ya quick!”

    Happy New Year!

alice h - January 2, 2015 Reply

Looks like a good time was had by all. Lots of good advice. I find that people who aren’t used to small spaces often bump into things a lot in tiny houses, even furniture and walls. Especially when gesturing with their hands which tends to happen a lot when people are getting sociable.

No need to be limited by a tiny sink, you can use a larger basin or tub and it can be kept somewhere more convenient than the kitchen if you set up a dishwashing station. I have a folding camp kitchen that gets used for all sorts of outdoor functions and takes up very little space when not needed. Folding tables and chairs come in handy too, as well as popup canopies.

Once everybody has had a good look at the house the activity usually moves outdoors. Lots of things can be used for extra seating, just make sure they’re sturdy and clean before the event and things that look OK to sit on but aren’t are hidden away. If you have a lot of quirky things that need special treatment make sure everybody knows about them if you can’t put them out of reach. Might want to hide the chain saw if there are going to be a lot of “city” guests!

    Jody Pountain - January 4, 2015 Reply

    Alice, I’m with you! Large gestures in a tiny space don’t mix well 😉

    I love your ideas about the portable sink, folding tables and extra seating.

    We don’t have a chain saw but we would definitely need to hide the gaff! 🙂

    Thanks for sharing your ideas. Happy New Year!

Jeanne Frostad - January 3, 2015 Reply

Looks very fun! What a handsome group.

Monique - s/v Paragon - January 3, 2015 Reply

It’s always delightful to see another woman who sails in an unexpected place!

Lovely article and a very happy new year to you!

Cheers,
Monique
s/v Paragon

Becca - January 4, 2015 Reply

That group looks so happy 🙂

Pamela - January 5, 2015 Reply

Great tips that I’ve relied on in my comparatively spacious, small house. I find that as long as everyone has a clean surface to prop a drink onto, they’re pretty happy.

My other favorite tip is to remember that everyone has a great time when the party’s host isn’t stressing about how little room there is. 🙂

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