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Summer Party Checklist :
Planning a warm weather get together

summer party to-do listSure, the living is easy. But summer parties still require a little planning! To help make your next patio or backyard party enjoyable for guests and (stress free for you!) follow this helpful checklist to print out for planning for your next summer bash:

check box Send out invitations at least a few weeks in advance so guests can mark their calendars. Purchase invitations, or create your own with a word processing program and summer clipart. Keep interest high with clever wording such as "We're having a summer BBQ! The only thing missing ... is YOU!" Or, how about "Summer is here and the theme is set. We're having a luau you'll never forget!"

Include date, time, and RSVP information so that you may know how many guests are available, especially during the summer season when many families might be away on vacation on party day.

check box Prep the backyard by inspecting the condition of outdoor furniture and seating. Backyard party spaces especially require a careful inspection to make sure that rakes, water hoses, and other garden tools are properly stored to keep the party area hazard-free. If you're having a barbecue, check the condition of your outdoor barbecue to see if it's in good working order. Also be sure you have enough charcoal for the barbecue or fuel for the grill.

check boxHaving a pool party? Safety first. Especially if young children have been invited be sure there will be enough adults around to supervise.

check box For serving party food, keep it casual by providing plastic forks, spoons, knives, and paper cups. (NOTE: it's always a good idea to splurge on higher quality paper plates that sturdily hold up to sauces or salad dressings.) Purchase bags of ice and styrofoam coolers to keep drinks cold, then mark each one so that guests can help themselves!

check box The day before the party, prepare any make ahead meals and foods that have steps that can be prepared the day before - such as making appetizers, marinating the meat and preparing any pre-made sauces and dressings.

check box On party day, decorate the patio or backyard according to the summer party theme you've chosen, and set up tables and chairs so party traffic can flow smoothly. Also think about having citronella candles ready to keep garden pests at bay. When guests finally arrive put everybody in a party mood by having cold drinks and plenty of appetizers ready for them.

check box Of course, no summer gathering would be complete without party games, so plan ahead for materials or equipment for fun activities -- such as a water balloon toss, an ice cream eating contest, a summer theme backyard scavenger hunt, or a free-throw basketball hoops contest.

check box When the party's over, send guests home happy with goody bags filled with party favors. These might include a small bottle of sunblock, an inflatable beach ball, Swedish fish gummy candy for the kids or other treats that match the party theme.

Have fun!

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