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Three Summer Party Disasters and How to Avoid Them




Everyone loves to go to a great party, but throwing a great party is quickly becoming a lost art. We've all been to those parties that are just magical - great food, good conversation, the kind of atmosphere that makes you want to just chat, nibble, and linger.


And then...there are the other parties. Those disasters that make time seem to drag, where you can't wait to get away and look back on it as a distant memory. Or those events that seem simple to throw and then just turn into hosting nightmares which leave you toiling away in the kitchen contemplating loads of dishes while the guests enjoy.


Believe it or not, there are a few surefire ways to avoid those failed festivities and create that special party magic in your own living room, patio, or backyard that will make you (and your guests) beg for more. Summertime is the perfect time to throw a great party - an afternoon bbq that eases into the twilight, a garden party with glasses of iced tea, or an evening of drinks and desserts on the patio.


But before we can get to what memories you want to make, let's first look at the disasters you definitely want to avoid.


#1 The Wasteland



One of the most essential (and often overlooked) aspects of party planning is designing your space for the comfort of your guests. It's something so basic that it's often forgotten. The simple truth is that guests who feel welcomed and comfortable have a good time.


The Disaster: Picture it - you've got the food ordered, the music ready, the drinks ready to pour. You've bought beautiful decor and it seems like every detail has been planned. But, when the day of the party comes, you soon realize disaster awaits. You've invited 40 friends, but like most people, you don't have 40 chairs, or table space. It's a sunny day, but that means your guests are going to be sitting in the ground in 85 degree weather, balancing their plates or trying to fend off ants, with no shelter from the sun. In no time, your party has turned from a memorable summer afternoon picnic into a disaster the guests can't wait to escape!





The Solution: The good news is that this is easily fixed with just a little pre-planning. Consider renting or buying a tent for outdoor events. or finding a shady area of the yard or deck that can provide some shelter from the elements. Make sure to borrow or buy enough seating to accomodate at least 70% of the guests - this will allow for those who want to stand and mingle while still giving a space for everyone to sit and relax. Look around your home to see which items from other rooms of the home can be repurposed or reinvented to give extra seating or table space - use crates or boxes to serve as cocktail tables, or if the weather is good, bring out some indoor furniture to add to the elegance. Of course, it's always a great idea to buy some versatile pieces to add to your home's outdoor entertaining space.


Some great ideas!






#2: The Snooze Fest


An essential part of the perfect party is great conversation. When you see that perfect gathering on the big screen, it always features lively banter and (ideally) the opportunity to meet new people. Whether it's a block party to introduce people who might be strangers, or a family reunion barbecue, everyone likes to have someone to talk to.



The Disaster: The barbecue is fired up, the guests are are arriving, and things are looking good. You've made sure that there's plenty to eat and ample seating but then you notice that things aren't going the way you expected. Each family that came together seems to be hanging out in their own space, and the singles that came on their own....well, they're just standing around awkwardly. In fact, the whole party is just...well...boring. No one's talking (except in low tones with the people they came with), no one's mingling, and everyone's just looking at their watches.






The Solution: Believe it or not, this is a completely avoidable disaster, with a little help from the host and Disaster Solution #1! First, a great party starts with the right guest list. Sometimes, it's great to invite everybody in the neighborhood, but when you are hosting an event with a curated guest list, it's important to think of which guests will interact well together and make the perfect mix. Inviting groups of friends or families with a few random strangers mixed in is a recipe for disaster unless the host is ready to seriously work to make sure everyone's included. It's a much better idea to have a mix of people with some common interests that can have common ground to get to know each other. And, it's crucial that the host keeps an eye on the rhythm of the conversation at the party, watching for people that might be left out and bringing them into things. At the best parties, everyone is included! Also, using the furniture to create conversation nooks and places to linger is a great way to make sure that people relax together.






Some great ideas!






#3 The Frazzled Host


OK, we've all heard of that seemingly unachievable ideal: being a guest at your own party. It often seems like the only way to really enjoy a party is to be invited to one.


The Disaster: The party is planned, the guests are invited, the day is perfect. The food looks delicious and the guests seem to be having the time of their lives....as far as you can see from your peeks onto the patio, that is. Intent on being the perfect host, you're serving out salads and putting together profiteroles as your guests laugh it up and live it up. By the time you have a chance to join them, the food is mostly gone and you're trying to find a few leftover bites in the kitchen. And, as the guest say their goodbyes, you're looking at piles of dishes and a plateload of exhaustion. The party was great...sorry you missed it!




The Solution: This time, it's all about making the right choices. If you want to enjoy your own party, plan on serving items that look beautiful but are less labor intensive for the host. If hiring a caterer isn't for you, setting up beautiful charcuterie and dessert boards can be the next best thing (we have a complete tutorial on how to create the perfect one here). With only a little prep, you can make a gorgeous, curated buffet that can be set up ahead to allow you to spend time with your guests instead of in the kitchen. Look for items that can easily be served cold or at room temperature to avoid having to heat, plate and serve during your function. And consider using high-quality disposables to reduce clean-up - they're perfect for summer!


Some Great Ideas!





With the proper planning, it's easy to make every summer gathering an affair to remember. Whether it's an elegant soiree or a casual barbecue, these tips will make sure that your event is being talked about for all the right reasons!

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