Ah, sweet summertime, aka, my favorite time to host get-togethers! Yes, it’s a little humid in Kentucky, but I love gathering on my covered porch next to the pool with friends anyway. We started out the summer hosting a family reunion at our vacation rentals at Kentucky Lake. Then we dove into hosting some middle school boys, some high school girls, and some of my friends. I’ve always wanted our house to be where people of all ages gather, so mission accomplished.
I think about hosting the best get-together as helping others make memories. There are many elements that come into play when hosting a party, regardless of whether it is a casual gathering or something more formal – and, if you’re like me, casual parties are the way to go!
And now the summer is rolling around, more people will be hosting soirees and getting their nearest and dearest together for some good old-fashioned fun. Here’s how to make your new party go with a bang and ensure everyone has the best time.
You can drive yourself crazy, running around in circles trying to please everyone. Even the date you choose won’t work for everyone, and that’s okay! Plus I’ve learned nobody really cares if your house is completely spotless. Yes, I tidy up, but I don’t aim for perfection with the floors, windows, and countertops anymore. Like anything in life, there are bound to be interruptions and unexpected moments, regardless of how well everything is planned.
Food & drinks
A good party needs food and drinks. Of course, you can provide everything or plan a potluck where others contribute to the menu. I do both kinds of parties regularly and appreciate both ways. I do keep our extra fridge in the laundry room stocked with drinks, and regulars at my house know they can help themselves to a Coca-Cola, Dr Pepper Zero, Capri Sun, or bottled water.
Whether you’re hosting a BBQ or taco bar, try this taco dip recipe that everyone will love as a side dish. I’ve become known for “cowboy caviar,” French toast bake, chicken spaghetti, and jalapeno ranch dip – all of which come from recipes I’ve gathered from other places!
Because I usually have informal parties, kids have been known to eat their dinner on the trampoline or beside the pool. I did recently buy some additional chairs from Lowe’s to accommodate more people on our porch. Inside, we have a big dining room table, another table for six in the kitchen, and four bar stools to go at our kitchen counter. Options! Of course, there are some lounge chairs by the pool as well as two tables and lots of chairs on our porch.
One of the most frustrating things about hosting outdoor parties is that they attract all manner of pests. You don’t want pests, from ants to flies, mosquitoes, and more, on your guest list. We brought out some bug spray the other night because a couple of our guests were getting bitten by mosquitoes. Nobody wants that. I need to break out the citronella candles next time too. Of course, we depend on our cats to deter other pests!
Parties are supposed to be fun for the host and all the guests, and focusing on bringing joy to your gathering can serve you better than concentrating on the small details and overthinking what is going on. Ensure everyone has something to eat, drink, and somewhere to be comfortable – and everything will work out.
I write more about hospitality in my book, “Bringing Home More Than Groceries: Stories About Gathering & Nourishing People.” (Learn more about that here.)