Life in your early twenties is not always glamorous, and the same can be said for your living situation. Modern sitcoms like How I Met Your Mother, New Girl, and Big Bang Theory only perpetuate unrealistic expectations—few can afford a 3,000 square-foot brick loft, let alone a tiny apartment that can barely fit your bed.

I know I’m not alone when I admit that in the early stages of my adult life I struggled to stretch my dismal monthly income to afford that impressive “TV worthy” living space. But it didn't take long before I learned that it wasn't worth having to give up my creature comforts and basic necessities like food (and coffee) to pay my apartment's monthly rent. 

While scaling back on housing expenses may seem like an obvious move in the right direction, putting this into motion is not nearly as easy as it is in theory. I'm convinced that one of the most challenging growing experiences that has come with learning how to "adult" has been understanding how to act my financial age.

After finally downsizing to a 450 square-foot apartment, I was convinced that one of the things I would be forced to forgo was entertaining—that was until I realized that entertaining doesn’t always require a huge space. Here’s my favorite way to host a fun and cozy (aka “cramped”) movie night in a tiny apartment. 

Prep Your Place

tea, cake
Hollie Conger

For a small space like mine that isn’t exactly being begged to be entertained in, it’s important to be creative with what you do have rather than focusing on what you don’t. Regardless of what your space looks like, here are some guidelines that have helped me.

Cut the Clutter 

fish, water
Hollie Conger

The more decluttered the space, the better—even if this means stashing that pile of textbooks in the closet for the evening. When done right, it's possible to make a small space look significantly bigger simply by clearing floor space. 

Even the cutest décor contributes to a cramped appearance. Nicknacks, loose paper, shoes, and piles of any kind will close in small quarters and should be kept out of sight.

Freshen Up

pasta, rice
Hollie Conger

Since my bed takes up a big portion of my studio, I always like to clean my sheets, pillowcases, and comforter cover. Bedding always looks better when it’s freshly washed, plus newly cleaned laundry makes your space smell fresher than ever. 

I'm also a huge believer in vacuum lines which can transform even the smallest of spaces. Plus, it’ll make your guests feel more comfortable to take a seat on the floor.

Let Your Space Work for You

vegetable, corn
Hollie Conger

Since seating is limited, the floor is the next best thing so it’s a good idea to make it as inviting and comfortable as possible. Bring out the fuzzy blankets and throw pillows, and good chances are that your guests will even prefer it to the futon.

Don't have a place for snacks? No problem. I don’t have a kitchen table, but I do have a perfectly good IKEA coffee table, so I moved it out of the way and put all of the goodies on it.

Cozy Things Up

Hollie Conger

There is a fine line between cozy and cluttered, however, one component that always adds to the ambiance is fun lighting. I have a string of Edison lights that I drape over a book shelf and it pulls everything together. It's an inexpensive way to contribute to the cozy effect and the pictures always turn out great too.  

Refine Your Shopping List

Since there's probably a good chance that you're on a tight budget like me, you don’t want to break the bank after an evening of entertaining. To keep things simple (and to refrain myself from overdoing things), I stick to three categories: sweet, salty, and bubbly, and follow the 2 x 2 x 2 guideline—2 sweet options, 2 salty snacks, and 2 bubbly drinks. 


Hollie Conger

Pick your two favorite (and prettiest) candies to have on the snack table when guests arrive. I chose gummy bears and Sour Patch Watermelons. (Did you know you can buy candy in bulk on Amazon?!) I like to serve sweets in glass bowls since refreshments always taste better when they're displayed in a pretty way. 


rice, cereal, corn
Hollie Conger

Popcorn is obviously a must. Make the popcorn right before your guests arrive which has the added benefit of making your place smell amazing. For the second salty option, chips and dip are always a good choice. And if you don't already have some on hand, get a couple inexpensive bright plastic bowls for your snacks.


juice, beer
Hollie Conger

Choose your top two favorite drinks to share whether it’s pop, pink champagne, or sparkling wine. I'm convinced that having a little bubbly is essential to any get together. My personal favorite: orange cream soda in old-fashioned glasses. And if you're feeling fancy, you can even do Orange Cream Floats! 

Focus on the Theme

rice, ramen, pasta
Hollie Conger

By now, your grocery bill is starting to add up, but you still need a few more essentials. This is where your friends come in. The helpful thing about having friends in the same stage of life as you is that they understand the challenge of footing the whole bill.

Give Instructions

cereal, rice, corn, popcorn
Hollie Conger

The best way to make this work to everyone’s advantage is to work your theme around it. For my theme, I did “Cozy Food-Movie Night”. I asked everyone to bring their favorite candy and drink to share, as well as their coziest blanket. I also encouraged everyone to wear their pajamas because what's a cozy movie night without your p.j.’s?

Get Input

coffee, pizza, beer
Hollie Conger

In the invitation, I gave my friends the choice of three movies to watch and the deciding factor would be the film that the majority hadn’t seen before. The options I gave were “Julie and Julia”, “Burnt”, and “Chef." We ended up going with “Burnt” (which I'm sure had nothing to do with Bradley Cooper starring in it).

Hollie Conger

As you can see, it is not only doable to entertain in a tiny apartment, but some could say that it's even more fun. Maybe that's why the tiny house movement is growing so rapidly. More people are beginning to realize the value in having less, because the less money to spend on housing, the more you have for everything else.