Shep and I love to throw parties. Before we had Nola, we always hosted Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas get togethers at our condo. I don't have the energy for that level of entertaining any longer but during the summer, we definitely love to get our friends together in a more informal setting and have a good time. This year we threw an amazing Cinco De Mayo fiesta and a more intimate Memorial Day barbecue. We had a great time at both.
Hosting folks at our home has taught me a few things that I think really help make our parties successful. Now, you don't have to do everything I do obviously, but here are some Do's and Don't that might help you out.
+Send The Invitations
Unless you're celebrating something really special (an engagement party, housewarming or baby shower), a text message or email works perfectly. Be specific about the time you want everyone to arrive, what (if anything) anyone needs to bring and what the attire is. For example, if you're throwing a pool party, make sure people know to bring swim suits. Oh, and please let folks know if this is a family friendly event or not. If it's inappropriate to bring children, let your friends know well in advance so they can find childcare if they want to come.
+Set The Vibes
Having a great summer playlist can cover your ass if other things go wrong. Music helps to set the tone for the experience you want your guests to have. I personally love to use Spotify and either curate a playlist ahead of time or pick an artist/song that I love and play a radio station based off of that. If you have portable speakers, make sure they're charged and ready to go. You don't want your music to go out in the middle of Tevin Campbell's Can We Talk. Also, great music can buy you some time in case things don't go as planned. Did you accidentally burn the hot dogs? Play a great series of songs and you've easily bought yourself another 30 minutes to fix it.
Speaking of burnt hot dogs, creating a menu that sets you up for success is really everything. You can keep it super lowkey and grill burgers and hot dogs and folks would be just fine. But, if you want to throw an amazing party, a little wow factor is necessary. If this is the first time you're hosting friends, keep the menu simple but elevated. Something you can execute easily but will still have people talking. I created this round up menu for Memorial Day but it totally works for summer grilling in general.
My advice would be to mix high and low. Grill hot dogs but then also make a delicious cocktail, crunchy salad and/or an incredible dessert. You could also have a potluck and have folks bring things as well.
A word of advice that my mother gave me though, never have a guest bring your main dish...if they're running late, you're screwed.
+Something For Everyone
Even though we're grown, we still love to play! To that end, if you're able, spring for a few toys that will keep your friends entertained. Throwing pool party? Get a few floaties that people can lounge in. No pool on site but it's still hot AF out? Who said we're too old to enjoy a slip and slide or an inflatable pool?
Also almost nothing is as funny as watching tipsy adults play a game of Jenga, please do yourself a favor, get this set and record your friends laughing and having the time of their lives.