With summer upon us, entertaining is most likely on the uptake with a flood of outdoor barbecues, July 4th festivities, and general warm-weather celebration. As someone who loves a good party (and throws a pretty solid one if I do say so myself,) I have compiled a versatile checklist which applies to everything from big birthdays to a small al fresco dinner party. These are no-brainers, but in the hubbub of whipping together something quickly, it can't hurt to have a guide for a foolproof party environment.
1. I've said it before and I'll say it again: lighting is everything. Be kind, flatter your guests. If your flow extends outside, charming string lights or pretty candles can really make a difference. No one wants a flood light in their eyes, plus the latter can keep pesky mosquitos away.
2. Make a playlist that's at least three hours of music. Most likely your guests won't be staying any longer than six hours. If they do, just use my grandfather's line "Honey, let's go to bed so these fine people can go home." This way any song played is only repeated once and probably for different 'shifts' of the party (parents vs. not parents.) Of course longer is better, but three hours should carry you through.
3. Increase the maximum flow and openness in your home. Most people don't typically have more than a few bodies in a house at once, so it's easy to forget the impact and need for greater ease in a space. If you typically have chairs that float in a room, move them to create a seating area on the perimeter wall and so on. This allows conversational seating and more standing room.
4. Provide easy to eat foods. What's worse than having a mini chili dog running down your face when you just applied some fab red lipstick? Keep it simple and delicious. Leave out small plates so people don't get tempted to double dip. Have different stations of food if you'd like to keep the flow rolling.
5. I love a good signature cocktail. The goal, in my opinion, is to have someone say a year later, 'however did you make the Terrible Mistake?' Or 'tell me again what's in a Holy Toledo?!' A great cocktail can outlive a great party. Even if it's simply a disguised watermelon marg, people love saying the name. The more absurd the better.
Lastly, have a great time and relax. If something goes wrong, just roll with it. Happy entertaining!