Hosting a summer party can require as much or as little energy as you wish. The main ingredients of food, libation and location will determine the pace and amount of advance prep required. Whether your party is planned for the backyard or another location, there are a few details you will need to plan in order to pull off a successful outdoor party.
Set the Date
Check the date with the important guests and also local event calendars before you announce the party date.
Summertime means extra obligations and you want to be sure that your party does not conflict with other parties and that your guests will in town and available.
Events are often stacked on top of each other in July and August. We all try to have as much fun as possible when the weather is good so make sure to check out local events calendars before you announce your date. It would be terrible to try to compete with a local game or concert in the park!
Arrange for a backup location, just in case!
Summer showers or an overcrowded park can foil the best laid plans.
Make sure you have a backup plan in case you are unable to hold your party in the ideal setting.
Options might include:
Purchasing a pop-up tent
This will cover you (literally!) in the event of an unexpected summer shower. It is also nice for the guests who need to get out of direct sunlight.
Including a second location and /or marker descriptions on your invite.
This works well if you plan on hosting your event in a park. Sometimes you might not be able to secure the ideal shelter because an earlier bird took your spot! If this happens, it works well to let people know to look for balloons, signs or whatever you decide to use as party location markers.
Create a soundtrack
Make sure to include enough songs to last for the duration of your party. Use peppy, happy songs at the beginning, preferably without lyrics so guests can mix and mingle. Increase the pace and energy as the party progresses and end the soundtrack with more mellow and subdued tunes.
A groovy blend of music will help to create a party atmosphere and fill in the potentially quieter moments when guests first arrive.
Purchase all food items the week before the event
Prep as much as you can at least one day in advance.
If you plan to marinate meat or veggies, you can do this up to three days prior. Usually the more time it marinates, the tastier it becomes!
Make your desserts a few days in advance if the recipes permit.
Go ahead and prep all prepared dishes the same day you marinate your meat or veggies. Doing this a few days before your party will help you accelerate through the final party prep.
On the day before your event, assemble the remaining salads, desserts and beverages.
If you plan on serving a signature alcoholic beverage, be sure to also brew up a non-alcoholic version. Make 2 signs to designate which is alcohol vs non-alcohol.
Containerize all of your plates, utensils, cups and tablecloths
Containers will help you quickly and easily move and set up the serving area.
Create cooking, serving, eating, beverage and trash/recycle zones within your party area by placing relevant items in each area. This will keep food, drink and fun flowing and avoid a potential traffic jam around the grill master.
Make sure to have extra trash bags on hand and create a garbage drop and recycle zone so guests can help clean up after themselves.
Use your storage containers to store and move soiled dishes away after the party.
Final step: Relax and have fun!