How to Have a Stress Free Summer Party

summer partyIt’s June and that means it’s party planning season.  If you are having a summer party, follow our tips below for a stress free summer party.

Before the Party

sunshineMake a menu and a shopping list

Buy bagged ice or start emptying your ice maker a few days before – storing it resealable bags.

Take inventory of your serving dishes and decide which food will go in each dish.  Label the serving pieces with sticky notes.

Prep food that can be refrigerated a day or two to cut back on prep work the day of the party.  Some items can also be prepared, baked and put in the freezer ahead of time.  Heat them in the oven the day of the party!

Line broiling or roasting pans with foil before using, so baked-on bits, grease, and drippings are easily tossed away.

Be sure you have plenty of bottle openers, trash receptacles, and seating (folding chairs/camp chairs).

Empty your dishwasher and clean up all the pre-party prep work before the festivities begin.

Double- or triple-line the trash can, so you already have a clean bag in place when a full bag is removed.

During the Party

sunshinePrepare side dishes that you can make ahead of time that can be served at room temperature, like roasted vegetables, so you won’t have to constantly man the stove/grill mid party.

Have plenty of ice.  Never underestimate how quickly the ice will be used during a summer party.  Even if the party is inside, guests are still feeling the heat of the summer day and requiring lots of cooling ice.

Make a playlist from your own music collection or tune into an Internet radio service such as Pandora or iTunes Radio. Choose a few stations to suit the occasion and appeal to everyone’s taste.

Assign duties such as re-filling the chip bowl or gathering stray plates, cups and napkins to kids and others who can help out.

Make a play corner for the kids to enjoy so that adults can enjoy conversation. You could include coloring supplies, a sandbox, or even water games—just make sure guests have a change of clothes!

Appoint someone to take lots of pictures.  As hostess, you won’t have time to capture all the memories being made at your party.

Have on hand stain removers for your guests should there be a spill.

After the Party

sunshineIt’s okay to do quick cleanups in the 30 minutes or so before you anticipate the party being over.  If some of your guests (especially closer friends or family) offer to help, take them up on it.

Make a quick run through each room of the house with a garbage bag (for disposable items) or tray (for washable items) and grab empty cups and plates or stray utensils.

Scan each room and make a quick mental note of any messes you’ll need to attend to after the guests leave. Prioritize, putting stains or food spills first.

When dealing with left overs, toss any food that you would normally refrigerate if it’s sat out for more than 2 hours.  Transfer leftovers you plan to keep to different, smaller containers.  Offer left overs to your guests and have on hand disposable plastic containers or quart-size plastic bags to hand out leftovers.

After the guests leave, survey the rooms again for things that need immediate attention, like watermarks on furniture and spills. Take care of these bigger to-dos first and then move on to the dishes.

If there’s room in the kitchen trash can, scrape dishes as well as cooled grease or unwanted gravy from pans into it — it’s faster than emptying the sink to get at your garbage disposal, and better for your pipes, too.

Vacuum any crumbs from open areas to avoid bugs (you can do a more thorough vacuuming the next day).

Blow out any candles, run the dishwasher, and empty all tubs and coolers outside or into a drain.

Have a seat, relax and reflect on the memories of a successful stress free party.

What are some of your strategies for throwing a stress free summer party?

– S.O.

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