It felt like it would never arrive, and now it’s finally here. We’re talking about summer, of course. The time of year when we want to fling open the doors and head outside. Great weather and even better cocktails are best enjoyed with friends, though. So invite them over when the moment hits. You might be surprised at just how quickly you can pull a last-minute party together with panache. Just use our helpful party guide and timeline!
What to Have on Hand
First, there are a few key essentials you should keep on hand, so your get-togethers are as low-maintenance as possible.
Pantry & Fridge Essentials
Crackers or pita chips
Oils & vinegars for throwing together a quick marinade or dressing
Summer bar cart liquors and mixers (we like to keep a bottle or two of champagne in the fridge, too!)
Simple fruits and vegetables like cherry tomatoes, lemons, limes, and salad greens
Bar cart or card table for setting up an outdoor bar
Melamine dinnerware & tumblers
Flatware place settings already assembled in silverware bags
Trays and baskets
Sunscreen, bug spray and towels (if you have a pool)
Installed string lights and flameless candles
Timeline to Party Time
Picture this scenario: It’s Friday afternoon and you’re ready to start your weekend. You send a quick email to a few friends inviting them over after work to eat, drink and take a dip in the pool to cool off. What now? Follow our handy timeline to the perfect low-key party.
2 1/2 Hours Before Guests Arrive
Stop by the grocery store on your way home from work and pick up a few items:
2 bags of ice
Non-alcoholic and alcoholic beverages
Ice cream sandwiches for dessert
1 1/2 Hours Before Guests Arrive
Marinate steak and slice green onions
Toss together a simple salad and side dish
Slice garnishes for the bar
Throw cocktail ingredients in a beverage tub and chill — See our Limoncello Spritzer recipe
1 Hour Before Guests Arrive
Put all of your entertaining ware in baskets to take outside and minimize trips (barware, dinnerware, silverware, and glasses)
Set up a folding table and cover in table cloth
Put out snacks
Set the table
Use a container herb garden or a few pots as a centerpiece
Grab pre-stuffed baskets of towels and sunscreen to put next to the pool
30 Minutes Before Guests Arrive
Light the grill
Fill ice chest or bucket with drinks, and arrange your bar
Turn on string lights & candles
Put on your favorite internet radio station — so you don’t have to compile a playlist!
15 Minutes Before Guests Arrive
Pour yourself a beverage and relax — if you aren’t relaxed and enjoying yourself, your guests certainly won’t!
30 Minutes Into the Party
Throw the steak on the grill
For more entertaining ideas, browse our Pinterest boards.