Many people love to go to parties but hate to give them, and that’s too bad — there’s something that’s satisfying about feeding your friends and hearing them laugh in your own backyard.
Maybe the reluctant hosts think throwing a party is too much work or their grilling skills are lacking. Whatever the reason, don’t let it hold you back from hosting this summer.
Check out the following five tips, which should convince you that throwing a party can be stress-free and fun!
1. Do as much ahead as you can
Much of the stress from hosting has to do with having many tasks to do all at once. That’s why getting organized is so important. “With any party planning, you want to set yourself up in the most organized way,” says Jason Mitchell Kahn, who owns an event planning company that bears his name in New York City. He suggests making a chronological checklist of everything you need to do — buy groceries, prep food and bar, set-up tables. You can even figure out which serving bowls and platters to use. Get specific where needed. “List cooking times,” he says, “so if you know the burgers have to cook for three minutes on each side, you’ll allot enough time for that to happen.”
2. Plan a manageable guest list
Invite just a few friends over rather than a big crowd. As you gain confidence and feel comfortable in your role as host, you can gradually increase the number of guests you invite — or continue to keep it small and cozy. Remember you’re not aiming to be a restaurateur — just a great party host.
3. Simplify the menu
When it’s hot outside, serve foods that are uncomplicated, easy to eat, and quick to prepare like grilled burgers (which cook in six to 10 minutes), corn on the cob (10 minutes), potato salad (25 minutes), garden salad (15 minutes), watermelon slices (five minutes), and ice cream pops (store-bought). Another reason to aim for simplicity: “People start to get overwhelmed by too many menu options,” says Kahn.
4. Stop thinking you need the skill set of Bobby Flay
Few can grill a burger or make chicken tacos like the Food Network star and that’s OK. You’re not competing with him. If you’re making burgers, for example, ensure they come out perfectly by timing them. “You don’t have to rely on your natural instincts,” says Kahn. For medium-rare cheeseburgers, set a timer for three minutes, flip the burgers, and reset the timer for another three minutes. That way, you won’t be worried about overcooking or undercooking them. But if you want to skip cooking altogether, go for it, and purchase all or most of the food items at stores. “Buy precooked items and just reheat them,” says Kahn.
5. Ask friends for help
“If you’re having a lot of people coming over and you don’t have hired help, ask friends for assistance,” says Kahn. “They can cut garnishes, ice the drinks’ bucket, open bottles.” If any live nearby, they could pop over earlier to help. “If you’re setting up additional tables and chairs, do it the night before,” says Kahn, “to get the heavy lifting out of the way.” That way, they’ll be more time to enjoy the party!