This post was sponsored by P&G as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central. I received complimentary products to facilitate my review and tips for planning summer parties.
It’s the season of backyard barbecues, church socials, neighborhood picnics and family reunions. Fun, fun, fun that keeps us busy all summer long! Unless you happen to be the one having to put everything together and do all the planning, right? Actually, organizing these fun events doesn’t have to be a chore. These Tips for Planning Summer Parties will help you out by showing you how to choose food and activities where a lot of the prep can be done ahead. I also recommend choosing quality products that can effectively handle the jobs you need them for, so you aren’t retracing steps and re-doing projects. Plan your menu and supplies in a way that doesn’t stress your budget, too. You won’t enjoy your party if money worries are hanging over your head. Finally, delegate! Especially with large get-togethers, everyone expects to pitch in, so, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Check out this whole list of tips for planning summer parties. I hope you’ll find ideas that help with all your sunny celebrations!
Tips for Planning Summer Parties
- Know your audience! Create the guest list before any other planning. The menu and activities you choose will be dependent on who you are entertaining. You’ll want the food and fun to fit all the guests, so decide if this is a party just for adults, just for kids, or a mix of both. Then, plan dishes and activities that will make them all feel welcome and included. This simple recipe for Homemade Bubble Soap is a fun and inexpensive way to entertain kids (of all ages). Even grown-ups love bubbles!
- 6 cups water
- 1 cup Dawn Platinum Advanced Power Dish Soap
- ¼ cup corn syrup
- Pour all three ingredients into a large pitcher.
- Stir very gently, to combine the liquids without creating a lot of lather and foam. You want them combined, but don't want a thick layer of suds to form on top. So take your time and stir gently.
- When everything is thoroughly combined, divide the mixture into smaller containers.
- Choose containers that are tall and thin over wide and flat, so bubble wands can easily be swished in the solution. Plastic drink cups or empty plastic bottles are good choices.
- Dip bubble wands into the solution and gently blow air into the soapy solution that clings to the wand.
- If budget is an issue, plan your menu to stretch expensive ingredients, like meat. Try pulled pork, beef or chicken rather than burgers. It usually requires less meat, per sandwich, to make those types of sandwiches. Even sloppy joes can have ingredients, (like lentils, diced onions, diced peppers and other veggies) added that will enhance flavor and make the meat go further. For potlucks, easy casseroles or hearty salads are other good options for making smaller amounts of meat go a long way. Having a wide selection of inexpensive cold salads, like my Cucumber Jicama Salad recipe and filling side-dishes, like baked beans, will also help guests to “fill up” and enjoy less meat.
- If you DO plan to be grilling, be sure your grill is prepped and ready ahead of time. No one wants to wait for the grill to be cleaned before cooking can start. Dawn Platinum Advanced Power Dish Soap is my best friend for tackling this messy job. The racks in our gas grill are enameled stainless steel, so I need to be sure that I clean them with products that are powerful for cutting through the grease, grime and cooked-on food, but gentle on the enamel coating. I mix Dawn dish soap into a bowl of warm water and carry it all to the grill along with a non-abrasive scrub pad. Five minutes later, Dawn Platinum Advanced has powered through the mess. Once I have the grill scrubbed, I like to rinse it with a pitcher or two of cool water and then run the burners for about five minutes to be sure everything is nice and dry. Thoroughly cleaning and drying your grill will help to prevent rust formation.
- Choose menu options that can be done ahead or that will be “hands-off” for you the day of the party. Pasta salads, potato salad and bean salads are actually better after marinating at least overnight, so fixing them the day before makes perfect sense and saves time the day of your party. Creamy gelatin salads will need a day to set up, too. Crock-Pot options like sloppy joes, baked beans, hot dogs (did you know you can make them in the Crock-Pot?) are more great time-savers. My Crock-Pot Meatballs and Loaded Baked Potato Casserole recipes are two of our favorites that can be prepped ahead and then left to bubble away in the slow cooker. Prep-ahead dishes are more time-saving tools that get you out with your guests, instead of tying you to your kitchen.
- Start making and bagging extra ice, weeks before your party, or plan on purchasing extra ice. Take my word for it, the icemaker in your refrigerator will NOT be able to keep up with the demand. We are blessed to have our whole family (16 or 17 people) here for lunch every Sunday and even with just us, I have to buy extra ice for super hot days. We have an awesome ice maker, but it can’t keep up with what we need.
- Borrow! Rather than renting or buying things like chairs, tables, outdoor games, etc., think of who you know that might be able to loan you a few items. Think outdoor furniture, volleyball nets, croquet sets, lawn darts and picnic tables. Plan ahead to pick things up in plenty of time for the party. You can also ask guests to bring their own lawn chairs.
- Repurpose what you already have. A kids splash pool will probably be too small for providing a splash area for a huge group, but filled with ice, it can be a perfect way to keep canned and bottled beverages cool. Set it on a table and fill it with ice and it becomes a perfect chilled salad bar. Think outside the box and instead of spending money, come up with genius ways to use what you already own!
- Strategically place rolls of paper towels on guest and serving tables, instead of napkins. Especially outdoors, a stack of napkins will end up blowing across the yard or park and they can’t hold up to messes and spills that often happen in large gatherings. Quality paper towels will end up being multi-purpose and stay right where you put them. I love Bounty Advanced Select-a-Size Paper Towels for our summer parties. We can tear off a small section or a bigger piece, whichever the mess might warrant. Plus, Bounty Advanced paper towels are super absorbent and just plain tough. No napkin can hold up to the scrubbing I can actually do with Bounty Advanced paper towels. I can use them to sop a large spill, wring them out and go back to finish scrubbing the spot without them shredding and tearing. They’re the perfect solution for any size job and durable enough to handle all kinds of situations (even spilled Homemade Bubble Soap!) lol
- Plan the meal to be potluck. When large crowds are involved, almost everyone expects to be asked to contribute. If you prep the main dish or meat and ask guests to bring sides, salads or desserts, you’ll have a much greater variety of food to offer and you won’t be left to prepare everything on your own. It will save time AND expense.
- Plug in a power strip with surge protection, somewhere on your kitchen counter or near the serving table. A few guests always bring a Crock-Pot to potlucks and gatherings. The power strip will ensure you have enough outlets to accomodate each of them.
- Don’t let dirty dishes become an overwhelming chore. Try to start the party with all of them clean. Prepping food ahead of time, makes that easier to accomplish. Before and after your party, opt for dishwasher detergent that doesn’t leave you standing at the sink, rinsing and scrubbing, before loading the dishwasher. Use quality soap like Cascade Complete ActionPacs. It combines the grease-cutting and cleaning power of Dawn AND Cascade to eliminate the need for prewashing your dishes. Remember, time saved, is time you get to spend with your guests! Another perk is that the ActionPacs are pre-measured, meaning I don’t waste soap and there’s no spilling or messes. That saves me money. Time saved… money saved…that makes Cascade Complete ActionPacs a common sense, good buy for my kitchen!
- Once you have your guest list and menu planned, save time and money by creating a shopping list. You don’t want to be making multiple runs to the store or running out of an ingredient, mid-recipe. For me, finding everything I need in one place is a huge bonus! I’m able to get great buys on groceries and party supplies at Costco, plus they have all my favorite Procter & Gamble household needs products, too.
I hope some of these ideas have inspired you to jump in, get creative and have a blast getting together with friends and family, this summer. Whether you’re planning a HUGE family reunion or a simple backyard barbecue you can create a wonderful, welcoming and fun celebration in simple and affordable ways. Get out of the kitchen and join in the activities. Enjoy your guests! Using these tips for planning summer parties, you’ll have plenty of time for fun!