Summertime is the best time for an al fresco gathering. We’ve collected some suggestions to make sure that everyone, including you, has a great time and is clamoring for you to host another party. Live in an apartment or condo? Not a problem; reserve the common area party room.
If you realize that you don’t know many (or any) of your neighbors, a party might be a great way to break the ice. Provide a reason for the party, such as Labor Day or Christmas in July. Maybe your neighborhood has been undergoing street repairs; a celebration is definitely in order when the work is complete. Make sure all are welcome; you may be pleasantly surprised to discover that the neighbors you suspected of being grumpy are fun.
Don’t rely on verbal invitations or even casual e-mails; mail written invitations several weeks prior to the event. Receiving a “real” invitation will make the event stand out before it even starts. Follow up on the invitations in a week to allow you to know how much food and beverages you’ll need. Not everyone will reply, but that doesn’t mean they won’t show up, so add a fudge factor when ordering supplies and buying food.
Be aware of any allergies or food restrictions that your guests may have (ask them to let you know in the invitation). Let the guests know if you can provide a smoking area or if the entire party will be a no-smoking zone. Set up an area for children with appropriate snacks and games to allow the grown-ups to enjoy each other’s company while being able to keep a watchful eye on the youngsters.
Be the Best Host
Plan ahead to provide fun for all attending. A Slip ‘N Slide will be a hit for both the kids and the more adventurous adults, while a seating area off to the side, away from the wet and loud activity, lures the adults in and encourages conversations. Break out a box of cigars for the guys and wine coolers for the ladies. Take a lot of photos and videos, sending everyone a link to them afterward.
Be the Best Guest
If you’re on the guest list and want to be on it for the next event, ask your host/hostess if they need a hand serving food or beverages. If you see an opportunity where assistance might be appreciated, offer to help. As the party winds down and guests head home, offer to help clean up or take out the trash. Send a handwritten thank-you note—not an e-mail or text—within two days.