15 Easy Ways to Plan Ahead for a Summer Party Slideshow
Make a to-do list
Make a checklist of what you need to do. This way, you won’t be caught scrambling for cocktail napkins or party music ten minutes before your guests arrive.
Have a couple of guests bring a bag of ice or favorite playlist. It might not seem like much to them, but they’ll be invaluable contributions—these are often the things the party’s host forgets or runs out of.
Choose foods you can make ahead
Better yet, choose foods that you can make ahead of time and serve lukewarm or even cold, like frittatas or roasted vegetables.
Empty your dishwasher (or sink) the night before the party so that it will be ready and waiting for your dirty dishes the next day.
Have a Friend Help Out
Have one guest arrive a little early to help with the cooking. You’ll have an assistant and a friend with you in the kitchen, and will have much more fun than you would were you to make the whole meal by yourself. Bonus: the tension of the first guest’s arrival will be gone!
Make a batch
If you plan on serving a summery drink, make a punch or a pitcher-version of a favorite cocktail so that you’re not stuck with the cocktail shaker all evening. Set out bottles of wine and a corkscrew so that guests can pour their own drinks.
Serve simple appetizers
Serve appetizers that require little or no prep, like bowls of nuts, sliced crusty bread with a bowl of olive oil, or bright carrots with their elegant, fringy greens left on. Don’t bother with appetizer plates; set out the snacks on a big platter right on your counter or kitchen table next to a stack of napkins. They’ll take hardly any time to set up or clean up—fewer dishes!—and they’ll be easy for guests to eat with their fingers.
Say yes when guests offer to help! Your guests will feel useful and you’ll have an extra set of hands. Give them small tasks, like plucking herbs from their stems or slicing bread.