When it comes to party planning, a lack of square footage can quite literally cramp your style. But your small apartment doesn’t necessarily mean you’re off the hook for hosting duties. Celebrity caterer and Lenox home entertaining expert Andrea Correale is here to prove that with the right setup and seasonal elements, hosting a fall dinner soiree is totally possible.
Map out your space
“To me, it’s really about logistics; it’s really creating a space within your space,” Correale, president of Elegant Affairs catering, says. “So many of the apartments are so small; how do you invite 10 to 20 people to this space?”
The key is to consider where people congregate. “The bottom line is, wherever you put the bar, that’s where people are going to go first to mix and mingle. So wherever your biggest space is, that’s where you should set up the bar,” Correale says. She also emphasizes either making use of what you have, or getting it out of the way. “If you have a TV unit, or a bookshelf, clear off what’s normally there and use those shelves for glasses,” she says. “Or maybe you want to remove a piece of furniture to open up the space to create a flow.”
Set the tone
Ultimately, you want guests to feel warm and welcome at any fall party. “If you don’t have a fireplace, light lots of candles,” Correale says. “Tantalize the senses with a pot of fresh apple cider on the stove. Let that permeate through the house. As soon as guests come in, greet them with a little sake cup soup sip that warms them up and sets the tone for the fall party.”
Focus on the theme
Turn your attention to autumn. “It’s all about nature,” Correale says. “I love using things that come from a wooded area. It could be acorns, chestnuts, artichokes, herbals or pears. I use any kind of pumpkin or gourd or eggplant. Anything that represents harvest.”
Correale suggests filling bowls with your nature knickknacks for centerpieces, or investing in a tablecloth reminiscent of the season. "On the dining room or the kitchen table, you want one focal piece that screams the season," she says.
It’s really all about the food
Of course, guests will be attracted to that table if it’s fully stocked with good eats. Correale suggests making a singular flavor the theme. “Sometimes [for the fall], I’ll make pumpkin the theme,” she says. “First I’ll pass out a pumpkin soup in little sake cups. Then we’ll pass out bowls of pumpkin gnocchi or pumpkin ravioli. You can do roasted pumpkin fries, which are baked in the oven with maple and curry and cumin.”
To fully utilize space and get guests involved, set up a soup bar right on the stove. “Have two really graceful soups on the stove,” Correale says. “One can be a pumpkin bisque, another can be a corn potato leak soup. Put out a tray of either carved-up pumpkins or bread bowls, and let people help themselves.”