Fire up the BBQ and send out the invites — it’s party time. Warm weather is here at last, which is the perfect excuse to have your friends and family for a fun summer bash. Whether you’re planning an intimate gathering or a wild party, you want your guests to have a memorable experience. Unfortunately, get-togethers don’t just magically prepare themselves.
However, pulling off the perfect summer party may be easier than you expect. The most important thing is to have fun with the planning and prep. You set the tone for the entire event — so take a breath, count to ten and follow these easy steps for hosting a great summer party.
- Write Everything Down
Party planning involves a lot of moving parts. Save your sanity by writing every little detail down, such as decoration ideas, guests, necessary supplies and your master to-do list. Keep track of everything you’ve accomplished and what needs to be done. This will be especially helpful if you’re forgetful, easily stressed or getting help with the party.
- Pick the Right Mix
If you want your party to have the right vibe, you need to consider your guest list carefully. You may be tempted to invite all of your friends and family to one big get-together, but these people may not necessarily have enough in common to feel comfortable with one another.
Mixing your few more introverted friends, your overbearing aunt and your sorority sisters from college might not be the best idea. Sometimes your social circles blend well, and sometimes they won’t —- the balance is up to you.
- Give Guests Enough Notice
The amount of notice you give your guests will probably depend on the formality of the party. For example, a laid-back BBQ wouldn’t need as much heads up as a birthday party. In general, though, you should give your loved ones plenty of time to make room on their calendars. The summer months book up quickly, so if you want most of your desired guests to make it, send those invites out ASAP.
- Account for the Weather
The weather doesn’t always cooperate the way we want it to, so you should always have an indoor location ready to go in case of rain or extreme heat. Also, if you’re throwing a party at the height of summer temperatures, consider having your friends over in the evening. Once the sun starts to set, the air will feel more bearable.
- Prep Your Home
Before you can begin to set up the decorations and get the food ready, you need to prep your space. Mow the lawn, eliminate weeds and hose down the porch to make the outside of your home ready for guests. You should also tidy and do a basic clean inside your home since guests will likely need to come through to use the bathroom.
- Plan Some Entertainment
Perhaps you plan to just chat for the whole party, but even the most laid-back event needs some form of entertainment. Try setting out some basic backyard games like horseshoes, cornhole, badminton or bocce. If there’ll be kids at the party, maybe plan some water games like a sprinkler or water balloons.
- Add Water and Shade
When planning a summer bash, many people often forget essentials for beating the heat like water and shade. If your outdoor area is large enough, set up a small tent for people to escape under or place a few umbrellas around. You’ll also want to stock your cooler with plenty of water to keep everyone hydrated.
- Balance Decor
Themed parties can be a lot of fun when done right. However, it’s easy to go overboard with decorations and cutesy additions. For most summer get-togethers, the best option is to establish the primary focus like a wine and cheese pairing or backyard BBQ instead of an all-out theme.
- Prepare the Food Ahead of Time
The last thing you want to do is spend the entire time stuck in the kitchen instead of visiting with your friends and family. Do as much cooking as possible before your guests arrive, or plan the gathering around the food. If you want to avoid food prep altogether, you could hire a food truck or caterer.
- Establish the Tone
Spend some time putting together a playlist or find one online to match the mood you want for your party. Provide plenty of comfortable seating and add in soft lighting if you’ll be outside at night. Your choices in lights, decor and music will set the tone for your whole get-together. For meals setting the table before guests arrive will save you time and help to establish a particular ambiance. Paper plates and cups will feel very different from china and wine glasses.
- Keep Pests Away
Many hosts forget about pest control until it’s too late. Don’t wait until your loved ones are getting eaten alive by mosquitos to remember tiki torches or bug spray. Also, your trash cans will probably be quite full of scraps after you finish cleaning up. Tightly secure your garbage to discourage foragers like raccoons, possums, deer and bears.
- Offer a Variety of Drinks
Alcohol and summer parties tend to go hand in hand, so you’ll want to supply a decent variety for your guests based on their preferences. Water is also a great idea to keep everyone hydrated and cool. For anyone who prefers not to have alcohol, have a few other beverages they can enjoy like juice, seltzer or soda.
- Prioritize Health
Nowadays, health is a primary concern for any large gathering. Take extra precautions by providing enough space for everyone to spread out if they wish. You can also designate hand washing stations where your guests can freshen up once in a while.
Also, in case your guests forget something, set out baskets with some basics. For an outdoor summer party, you might want to include bug spray, sunscreen and sunglasses.
- Put Someone on Picture Duty
Have you ever reached the end of a great party only to realize no one took any pictures? Ask some of your guests to snap photos and share them with you afterward. Then you’ll have plenty of souvenirs to remember your great time. Send guests pictures they show up in, so they can share in the memories too.
- Leave the Dishes
Just like you don’t want to be stuck cooking the whole time, leave the dishes till later and get out of the kitchen. There’ll be plenty of time for cleaning up after. Spend this time with your loved ones, soaking up every moment. Dishes will keep.