Getting a Large Family into a Small House

Written by Marilyn B., Sprout Contributor

Entertaining in the summer is great at our house as we have two large porches and a large yard with lots of things for kids to do. So what do you do when you have a crowd in the winter months and no space? My husband’s side of the family has thirteen adults and ten children and tthere are teens plus others that we have invited. Yes it is tight for a house that only has one bathroom. I am grateful for a good sized kitchen and living room.

Here are a few ideas that we have had for having a crowd. Last year for Christmas I divided the family into two groups those with children at home and those with grown children. I had a huge kids party with a snack food buffet set up in the kitchen and a bingo game for the whole family with tons of prizes. We had it on Christmas Eve day from 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM all had a great time. Then on Christmas day we had a smaller party. The families with children were welcome to drop by and say hi (which they did).

Here are some tips.

  1. Stick to your time limit with a crowd more than 3 hours is room for disaster.
  2. Don’t try for a sit down menu. Serve munchies allowing people to sit wherever is a good option.
  3. Set up lawn chairs out side ( although we are not smokers some in our family are ) so smokers have a place to sit and relax. I have never asked the smokers to go outside they just do. So I return the favor by giving them a nice area to sit.
  4. Have a family game set up giving children structure. We played bingo with tons of prizes.
  5. Lock up items that you don’t want touched. Have one room no one is to go into. We say our bedroom.
  6. If someone in your family does not want to come don’t pressure them to come. For example last year my son was released from the hospital right before Christmas. He asked if he could go to my mom”s, he did and he felt much less stress. Our family understood and he came to the smaller party on Christmas Day.
  7. Serve prepared food the little bit of extra money spent is well worth it. I had a fruit bowl set in a corner not expecting it to be touched and this was the most popular item.
  8. For serving use as much disposable as possible. When you have to wash by hand you have a lot of dishes.
  9. Ask people to bring food and give them a specific item. So you don’t have 10 pies and no potatoes. Don’t go overboard and stick to the item that you were asked to bring. When the host is having both turkey and ham don’t bring a pork roast when the host asked you to bring stuffing.
  10. This is the most important DO NOT SWEAT THE SMALL STUFF. I decided before everyone came I would only get upset if anyone was endangering another person. Other than that being upset was not a option. This was great when the pork roast came in, I said a simple “thank-you” and passed it a long with the rest of the food. When it was time to leave I packed up the pork roast and sent it back with the person who sent it in. I also let it go when one of my guests decided to clean the cats litter box. (even though I had a fresh one out for him). When one child was hitting another that is when I stepped in.