Small-Space Outdoor Entertaining Tips

Maximize small spaces for an outdoor party with our tips for small-space outdoor entertaining. Whether you have a small deck, patio, or enclosed backyard, we give you ideas for making the most of your space while entertaining outdoors.

By Holly D'Anna


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Small outdoor deck
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Arrange Outdoor Furniture Effectively

    The best way to maximize the space of a small porch or deck for outdoor entertaining is to keep furniture around the perimeter. Outdoor party guests will have more standing room in a smaller rectangular space instead of having to navigate around a large patio table.

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Use Large Pillows for Seating

    Add seating without taking up a lot of space by arranging large floor pillows in addition to or in place of deck chairs around a table. Using pillows for seating on small decks creates a more intimate and comfortable space for outdoor entertaining, and they're super easy to rearrange or remove if you decide you need more room.

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Use a Nontraditional Patio Table

    Patio tables can take up valuable space, especially if you need to entertain a lot of guests in a small backyard area. Instead, set up an all-purpose counter island in the middle of your space and add barstools. This creates an area for food prep, eating, and outdoor entertaining -- all rolled into one piece of furniture.

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Create a Cozy Small Space

    It's easy to make a small space feel cozy -- and still have enough room to entertain outdoor party guests -- with the right amount of patio furniture. Here, two chairs and a couch are arranged in a half-circle around a small table, giving guests a place to sit or stand on a small deck.

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Use Multiple Small Spaces

    Set up different areas for party guests to mingle in a small, divided outdoor patio to maximize outdoor entertaining space. Place a small table with refreshments just outside a gate, and serve a larger meal on a round patio table in a different area of the backyard. Using a round table will seat more outdoor party guests in a smaller space; rectangular or square patio tables break up an enclosed patio and take away from outdoor entertaining space.

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Use Narrow Outdoor Furniture

    Outdoor entertaining on apartment decks can be tricky because you don't have a lot of space. Make the most of it -- and still provide seating for a handful of outdoor party guests -- by opting for narrow outdoor couches and arranging them across from each other. This creates an intimate outdoor space for entertaining while keeping part of the deck for walking or standing room.

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Elongate an Outdoor Space

    Narrow outdoor spaces like this one can seem bigger if you use small outdoor furniture, such as the red chairs on the right. The table, which is a repurposed metal cart covered in a festive tablecloth, can be easily moved to create more space with little hassle. The white rug leading to the table elongates the small space and makes it look like there is more standing room.

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Decorate a Small Courtyard

    When entertaining in a small apartment courtyard, maximize the space by keeping everything off to the side. Here, the grill and small chairs are along the perimeter of the courtyard, and colorful rugs cover stone steps to provide extra seating for outdoor party guests.

    Editor's Tip: If you share your apartment courtyard with other tenants, check with both your landlord and your neighbors before taking over the public space -- and don't forget to invite them to the party!

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Use Small Tables

    When entertaining in a small outdoor space, such as this deck, a large table for food can take up more than half of your space. Instead, set up a tray of appetizers on a small, fold-out table (like the ones used for TV dinners) and you'll have more room for deck chairs, couches, or other decorations that will enhance your outdoor space.

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