Who doesn’t love a good party? One of my favorite things about summer is being able to entertain large groups of people in my outdoor space – no excuses necessary to gather my military family! Here are some of my favorite tips for hosting an epic summer bash:
- Plan ahead. If you are going to have a party during a major holiday, you will need to give people plenty of advance notice. I host an annual “Fourth of July Extravaganza!” at our place. Most people know I will be doing it, but I still send out the invites at least a month ahead of time.
- Be thrifty. I use free online invitations or create an event on Facebook to invite my guests. I will usually supply the food and drinks, but this can get expensive, so I let people know that if they want to (and it’s not mandatory) they can bring their favorite side dish or cocktail to share. Usually about 75% of the guests do this, so I plan accordingly. If they ask for a specific need, I assign things like soda, ice, chips and salads.
- Cook what you love. I love to grill. It’s my favorite method of cooking and I place it near the action. This allows me to interact with people but still get stuff done. If you aren’t confident in your grill skills, then assign this task to someone who likes to do it. Easy foods like hotdogs, hamburgers and brats are the most manageable. I also love to throw something on the smoker and let it cook all day. Bonus: if your guests are bringing side dishes, there is even less for you to do.
- Plan accordingly. If you’re hosting an all-day event, you’ll want to have food ready at different times throughout the day. If it’s a party for a specific time of day, have an idea of when the apex of your party is going to be, which usually coincides with the time you want to serve the food. If my meat takes 12 hours to smoke and we want to eat at 6 pm, it will be an early start to my day. If I am just whipping up some hotdogs and burgers, I can start cooking 30 minutes before guests start arriving. I also love to match my summer parties with the sunset, so we can set off fireworks after we eat!
- Arrange activities. The key to any successful party is having a variety of activities for different types of personalities. Some people might want to sit and talk, so make sure you have plenty of chairs. Others may be up for a game of horseshoes or a corn hole tournament. I usually have a few yard games set up (ladder ball is my absolute favorite). Kid-friendly activities like water guns or a slip-and-slide are also usually a big win. Because I live on a ranch, I have 4-wheelers, go carts and pony rides too, but go with what you’ve got to make it fun.
- Play hostess. Make sure that at intervals throughout the party you are talking with your guests, offering drinks or introducing people. Nothing is more awkward than going to a party and not knowing anyone. Introduce people with commonalities and let them get to know each other through mutual interests.
Now that you are armed with a battle plan, go out there and host one amazing summer party. One last thing, please don’t let your friends drink and drive. There’s always a ride-share, cab or a spot on your couch if needed. Have a great and safe summer!