Ah, summer. The time of backyard BBQs, lemonade, and making memories around the bonfire. It’s the perfect time to throw a party, but summer parties can be a little temperamental. What if it rains? What if bugs begin to pester your guests? What if (heaven forbid!) you run out of ice? Make sure your party doesn’t get derailed by following these simple tips:
Dilemma #1: Backyard bugs
Solution: Combat those pesky flies and mosquitoes by stoking a bonfire, placing citronella candles on your tables, and providing a bug spray station (look for DEET-free alternatives). Try using a few drops of lavender oil on your skin or keeping potted lavender plants or citronella grass around your patio to ward off mosquitoes. Also, try to keep your food covered and away from your sitting area (it’s a smart idea to keep at least part of your buffet inside and the activities outside). Keep your trash covered as well and away from the main party area.
If you’re looking for a great bug-banishing DIY tutorial, here’s a good one for making citronella candles.
Dilemma #2: Storms!
Solution: There’s nothing that can end a backyard bash quicker than a good rainstorm. Keep that in mind when you’re planning your party and make sure you have an indoor alternative. If your party is in a public place, check to see if there is a pavilion you can rent for the afternoon. If your party is at home, make sure you have enough indoor space to comfortably host all your guests. Plan your menu so that it isn’t completely dependent on the grill or fire pit, and offer some forms of indoor entertainment (think group party games or a makeshift photo booth).
Dilemma #3: Big eaters
Solution: If you’ve forgotten how much food your brother-in-law can pack away and you’re running low on a few items, call in the reserves! It’s a good idea to have some easy back-up dishes on hand just in case your crew is extra-hungry that day. Chips and salsa or pita chips and hummus are fast solutions, as are pizza rolls, cheese and crackers, or bruschetta. If you’d like to do something a little more homemade, try some delectable grilled cheese bites, spiced almonds, or any of these “fast apps.”
Dilemma #4: Crabby kids and Bored Adults
Solution: No one wants glazed over eyes or pouty children at their party! Set up some party games that will run themselves (meaning, you don’t have to facilitate game time. You have better things to do!). Simple lawn games are usually the way to go. Think croquet, bags, or bocce ball. You can also set up a stack of board games on a table with a tabletop sign that encourages your guests to dive in and play. Make sure you’ve set aside enough room for your guests to play their games without bumping into those who are dining and chatting. If you’re hosting your party in a public place, like a park, see if you can set up a volleyball net or reserve a basketball court. Ultimately, you know your guests best. Are they the active type? Or would they prefer trivia or board games? Plan accordingly.
Dilemma #5: Picky Eaters
Solution: Whether you have friends with food allergies or special diets, or children with a picky palate, it’s a good idea to be prepared for all tastes. One simple way to make sure everyone has something they enjoy is to make your get-together a potluck. That way, everyone will at least have something they like. Otherwise, try your best to provide a variety of different options. A great way to accommodate all diets is to have a DIY food bar. That way, your guests can add whatever they’d like to their sandwiches or tacos (This Website lists 40 different ideas for food and drink bars!). Whether you’re doing formal paper invites or electronic invites, advise your guests to let you know about any special dietary needs. That way, you don’t have to guess at their needs and stress yourself out by providing gluten-free/vegan/dairy-free/nut-free options when only a few vegetarian options will do.
Go forth and have the best summer party imaginable, free from stress and full of fun!
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Samantha Grose is both Associate AIA and Allied ASID. She is the lead designer for Optima Homes and JP&CO. She takes a unique approach to design creating spaces that are casually sophisticated and timeless in design, where you and your family can live comfortably. She has worked extensively throughout the TWIN CITIES area having completed many new homes and large scale whole house remodels.
Samantha received her BS from the University of Minnesota majoring in both ARCHITECTURE and ART. She is deeply committed to a creative approach giving you highly functional spaces with an aesthetic appeal for everyday living.