Host the Best Summer Party of the Year

summer party

Summertime’s the season for backyard barbecues and parties. It’s all family fun in the sun, but the planning process can also get stressful. You can still pull off a fabulous event without sacrificing your sanity (or budget!). Here’s how.

1. Think of an unusual theme.
People often head out of town on July 4 and Memorial Day, which can drag down attendance. Instead, consider a lesser-known occasion, such as summer solstice (June 21) or the annual Perseids meteor shower (August 12, but the skies should be active on August 10 and 11 too), suggests Melissa Daly, author of 87 Ways to Throw a Killer Party. “Long-lasting twilight and shooting stars do the decorating for you.”

2. Dress up your drinks.
Jazz up pitchers of water with fresh lemon slices and lots of mint. For a fun twist on the classic beer, whip up beer cocktails. “For a great summery drink, start with any light-colored beer and add vodka and pink lemonade,” suggests Daly. Bonus: You’ll save, because you don’t need to buy a number of different mixers.

3. Decorate with color. 
You don’t have to shell out big bucks for festive party décor. Seri Kertzner and Michelle Bachman of Little Miss Party Planner recommend using colorful paper lanterns, which cost $2 to $4 a pop. “String them up, or weigh them down with a rock inside,” suggests Kertzner. She also advises placing fresh basil in jars on your food table. Not only will it look pretty, but the fragrant smell will help to repel bugs.

4. Set out supplies. 
Keep your guests entertained and happy at your soiree by having a few games, like Bocce ball or corn hole, available to play. Also keep buckets of must-haves, like bug spray, sunscreen, napkins and Puffs tissues for makeup touchups.

5. Have your food ready to go. 
All too often, the hostess (you!) winds up in the kitchen all evening long. To enjoy your own festivities, make sure that all of your eats are prepped by the start of the party. “If you’re having a barbecue, have all of your sides set and food grilled and ready to eat when your guests arrive,” suggests Kertzner. (If it’s a hot day, remember to move it inside so that it doesn’t sit out for more than an hour.) Or whip up some gourmet sandwiches (think: grilled veggie sandwiches or smoked mozzarella with chicken on focaccia) to have as a picnic.

You may also want to consider divvying up the responsibilities. Progressive parties -- where guests move from home to home for cocktails, dinner and dessert -- are becoming increasingly popular, says Daly.

6. Do a run-through.
A few days before the actual event, jot down a list of everything that’s needed for the party and how it will run throughout the evening. That way, you’ll have time to compile a music playlist or pick up extra toilet paper in advance. “Being organized will make sure everything goes smoothly,” says Kertzner. “And that you, and all of your guests, will have a wonderful time.”

Photo by Ishan @seefromthesky on Unsplash