Summer is here and that means it’s time for sun, sand, and …outdoor parties! From Memorial Day to the Fourth of July, there are tons of opportunities to throw an amazing get-together with your loved ones. But throwing a good party is a challenge – even at the best of times.
Hosting the perfect summer party can prove difficult. You’ll have to contend with the sun, heat, insects, and melting drinks. But don’t worry — these challenges don’t mean you can’t throw an amazing party, no matter what the conditions.
Every great gathering has a few things. First, you want food and drinks that your guests will enjoy – Perhaps that means burgers, hot dogs, and soda. Or it might entail creating a taco bar and custom cocktails. The choice is totally yours!
You probably have a specific vision for your party. Maybe you want a nicer setting with music and a sit-down meal. Or you’re looking for a classic barbecue with burgers on the grill and beers in the cooler.
Whatever your vision is, with these party hacks, you’ll host a day to remember. Use them to make your guests more comfortable, decorate the space, and of course, keep the party rolling.
1. Make an “ice table” out of a kiddie pool.
When you’re outdoors, the drinks aren’t the only things you need to keep cool. You want to make sure that everything stays at a good temperature. To ensure the food is tasty and safe to eat, use a children’s pool and fill it with ice for a special “ice table.”
2. Burn an egg carton to repel mosquitoes.
To keep mosquitoes away from your party, grab a cardboard egg carton and lay it on the grill. It’ll burn slowly, releasing enough smoke to drive the bugs off but not enough to make your guests feel smothered.
3. Set up a hand wash station for your guests.
If you don’t want people going in and out of your house every time that they need to wash their hands, make a handy-dandy washing station complete with hand sanitizer or an outdoor sink complete with towels.
4. Keep tablecloths from blowing away with a twin sheet.
Having tablecloths blow in the wind can cause a disaster at your barbecue. Instead of a tablecloth, use a regular fitted twin sheet. Secured by the elastic, it’ll fit snugly – no lost drinks!
5. Cook corn in a cooler.
Corn is a vital part of any summer barbecue but it takes a long time to cook. For perfect, hands-off steaming, toss corn cobs into a cooler with a lid. Pour boiling water over them, then close the lid. Enjoy when ready.
6. Provide sunscreen and bug spray.
Let’s face it — people don’t always remember to grab what they need when rushing out the door. But you want your guests to have a good time. Provide some sunscreen and bug spray so they feel comfortable.
7. Save time by cooking hot dogs in a slow cooker.
Hot dogs are another item that can take a long time to cook. To free yourself up for other tasks, throw them in the slow cooker. Of course, if you’re a traditionalist, you’ll want to cook them on the grill.
8. Scoop ice cream beforehand and save in the freezer.
Ice cream is a great end to a summer party. But you’re faced with either trying to battle a rock-hard gallon when it’s time for dessert or having the ice cream melt. The happy medium is scooping it beforehand and sliding it back into the freezer.
9. Use a wine glass for chips and dip.
Want a nice way to set out chips and dip for everyone? Nestle a large wine glass in a bowl. Put chips in the bowl and fill the glass with dip or salsa. Then enjoy!
10. Plug an ice cream cone with a marshmallow.
Ice cream cones tend to get leaky when you’re eating them outside on the lawn. Avoid having it run down your arm by plopping a single marshmallow in the bottom of the cone, plugging the hole.
11. Make cocktails ahead of time.
Free up your bartender by making cocktails ahead of time and storing them in mason jars. You can pop them right into the cooler along with your other drinks and let people serve themselves.
12. Spray Twister dots on the grass.
Some people love having yard games at their parties. It’s a great way to keep your guests occupied while they’re waiting for dinner. For an outdoor version of Twister, spray paint dots on the grass and enjoy the hilarity.
13. Make cocktail popsicles.
Another way to make mixed drinks ahead of time is to make cocktail popsicles. There are dozens of recipes online for different kinds. They’re a refreshing way to get a boozy kick on a summer day.
14. Don’t scoop ice cream — slice it instead.
Scooping ice cream can be difficult and time-consuming. One classic party hack is to simply slice it instead. You can either insert the knife into the carton or slice the whole carton.
15. Turn a watermelon into a keg.
Don’t want to rent or buy a keg? Use a watermelon. It also gives you the chance to make a fun watermelon cocktail.
16. Write burger preferences in condiments.
Make a note for the person in charge of the grill by writing how people want their burgers done in condiments on the burger buns. W is for well-done, M for medium, and R for rare.
17. Use an ice block for punch.
Instead of using individual ice cubes, which melt quickly and water down punch, use an ice ring or block. It’ll keep the bowl cold without thinning the beverage.
18. Make easy to grill veggie skewers.
Grilling a bunch of little vegetables can be a pain. To make it super easy, put them on skewers and grill them five or six (or more) at a time.
19. Tie a bottle opener to a drink cooler.
To make sure that all your guests have access to a bottle opener, tie one to your drink cooler or bucket. This will ensure it stays in one place!
20. Provide clear, labeled trash cans.
The best way to make sure trash goes in the trash (instead of on the ground or left on tables) is to provide several clearly-labeled trash cans. Place them strategically around the party area so guests always have easy access.
You don’t have to spend a bundle of money on decorations or buy special lighting for your party. Just grab some old glass jars used for pickles, olives, or jam and then remove the labels. Give them a thorough rinse and drop tea lights inside.
22. Make wine bottle tiki torches.
Tiki torches are a good way to keep bugs away while also providing festive lighting. You can make your own by using candles in wine bottles.
23. Keep your salad bug-free in a jar.
If you’re going to have food sitting out on a table for a couple of hours, you want to make sure it’s not vulnerable to bugs. Serve salad in a big jar with a cover. That way, guests don’t have to fight the flies for their dinner.
24. Put condiments in muffin tins.
Most people put condiments like relish, salsa, guacamole, and shredded cheese in a dozen little bowls that need to be washed later. Instead, use a muffin tin for super easy serving and cleanup.
25. Use a beer case as a cooler.
If you don’t want to drop money on a new cooler, you can make your own. Just use a beer case and fill it with ice. It might not have the same holding capacity, but you know it’ll hold at least — well, a case of beer.
26. Make or buy bug repellent-candles.
Bugs are a big problem when it comes to outdoor parties. Make sure they don’t ruin yours by using bug-repellent candles. Citronella and other candles can be pretty effective at getting rid of unwanted visitors.
27. Cover drinks with cupcake liners.
To keep insects out of drinks — especially sugary cocktails, which they’re attracted to — offer your guests colorful cupcake liners. This will prevent anyone from getting a surprise fly in their throat.
28. Freeze fruit to keep drinks cool.
Cold drinks are a must for a party on a hot summer day. The problem is that melting ice waters them down. For cocktails and wine, offer guests frozen fruit to keep their drinks chilly.
29. Light up an evening party with — Christmas lights!
Holiday lights aren’t just for the winter. Break them out of storage and use them to light up your summer party as it continues into the night.
30. Set up an outdoor movie theater with a sheet.
Showing an outdoor movie can be a great way to end a party, especially if you have young guests. All you need is a clean bedroom sheet and a projector.
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