The Only 7 Things You Really Need to Host a Dinner Party in a Tiny Space


When Brian and I got engaged, people were constantly asking us about our wedding registry. We had to make one, they said. But we didn’t really need anything. We already had plates, cups, utensils, pots, pans, a BBQ and ice trays. What more could we possibly want?

We ended up registering for our honeymoon in Bora Bora, along with a few other household items. And our friends and family couldn’t have been more generous. But, looking back, this experience was one of our first baby steps toward minimalism.

Society is really good at telling us how to live our lives. And most of the time, we don’t even realize how strong (and constant!) those societal influences are. But this whole idea of having the “right” wine glass for every bottle of wine or nice china for special occasions just doesn’t make much sense to me (no judgement if you’re a sommelier or absolutely LOVE your fine china – just using personal examples here). Since we’ve moved onto the boat, all of the entertaining “must haves” have gone overboard. We just don’t have the space!


So, here’s what we’ve found you actually need to host a respectable dinner party – plus a couple of “nice to haves” because, décor is fun too!

A Menu

Kind of a no-brainer, I know. But you do need one!

Our go-to dinner menu is grilled tofu marinated in Soybe (Brian will also cook chicken or fish sometimes, depending on our guests’ preferences), grilled veggies drizzled with olive oil, salt and pepper, a simple green salad, and dairy-free garlic bread. We can prep everything in advance so when our friends arrive, all we have to do is fire up the grill. The best part? Everything can be cooked on the BBQ!

Cooking Supplies & Utensils

Assuming you’ll be cooking for your guests (which you don’t have to – pot luck dinners or takeout are both great options, too). This will vary depending on your menu, but in general, you’ll want to have:

-          A pot that’s large enough to boil water and cook pasta

-          A skillet

-          Tongs

-          A wooden or silicone spoon

-          A large salad bowl

-          Aluminum foil

-          One or two serving platters and corresponding utensils

Cups, Plates, Utensils & Napkins

When it comes time to eat, all you really need is a plate, a cup, a napkin, a fork, and a knife for you and each of your guests. No need to over complicate things.

We try to avoid using disposable plates and cups, but sometimes it just makes life so much easier. So, we’ll spring for the biodegradable stuff. Typically, we’ll use our tempered glass plates, custom Catalina Wine Mixer cups and metal utensils. And we always make sure to have plenty napkins (or if I’m honest, just a roll of paper towels) handy.

An Oven, Cooktop, or BBQ

We tend to use the BBQ the most, but it just depends on what you have available and what you’re cooking.


A great playlist can make even the most bare-bones dinner party feel special. Brian and I have curated a few go-to Pandora stations over the years, and our favorite are Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats, Jack Johnson, Jimmy Buffet (we live on a boat, it’s the law), and Van Morrison (I love oldies).


We were lucky enough to find a versatile dining table that doubles as Brian’s desk. But, if you don’t have a ton of space, pillows on the floor or stools around a bar work great too. As long as everyone has a comfy place to set their plate and they’re booty, you’re good to go.

Good Friends & Family

Because that’s what it’s all about anyway. The people who love you most don’t care if you have the right kind of forks. They just want to hang with you!


If you’re feeling fancy…

You can incorporate some simple décor into your table setting (or makeshift picnic on the floor, if that’s more your speed). Here’s what we keep onboard:

·       A fun table runner

·       Cloth napkins & nautical napkin rings

·       Plants or fresh flowers

·       A pretty lantern

·       Market lights

Sometimes, I’ll shop the rest of the boat to complete our tablescape. We have a handful of decorative items laying around, like candles (which we don’t light because fires and boats don’t mix), mason jars, or Brian’s dinosaur planter, Bronchy.

The point is, dinner parties (and the rest of your life) can look however you want them to look. It’s OK to borrow from societal ideals, as long as you aren’t forcing yourself to meet a standard that you don’t really even believe in. In other words, don’t let the man tell you know to throw a party 😉