7 Steps To Elevate Your Next Party (and Enjoy It, Too)

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Now that we can finally get together with friends and family again — and with summer in full swing — cookouts and pool parties are all the rage. If you are gathering your favorite people together for some much-needed socializing, here are some tips for creating a fun atmosphere that everyone will talk about long after the party ends. 

1Choose a Theme To Match Your Mood

Everyone likes a theme — it gives them direction regarding what to expect, what to wear, and what to bring. Plus, themes kick up the party flare a notch. They show thought and effort. Your theme can be holiday-based, seasonal, or just for fun. This summer, consider the pool, the barbecue, or sports as jumping-off points for themes. The theme can center on a color, an activity, or just about anything, but once you’ve chosen one, it will give you direction for all the next steps.

2Serve a Signature Cocktail or Non-alcoholic Drink That Goes With Your Theme

A fruity concoction for a pool party and craft beers for a barbecue enforce your theme and add a festive touch to your party. 

3Give Your Drink a Cute Name and Write It on a Small Chalkboard Ease

Place it next to your serving station and watch the smiles as people read the board as you hand them a special drink. Think Pool Party Paloma or Beachy Booze.

4Have Your Table or Countertop Planned Out in Advance

Intersperse plates and dishes with anything decorative that supports your theme and where food can served efficiently. Remember the rule of presentation: Create a display of varying heights and shapes. Put utensils in a vase or glass, use serving plates that elevate some dishes, and incorporate boards, bowls, and plates for visual interest. 

5Play Music

Music is a natural icebreaker that immediately sets the tone and puts people at ease. Choose a playlist that matches your theme and creates the vibe you’d like for your group. Your music should sound different for a formal dinner party than for a pool party. Keep it at a volume that allows people to speak freely without needing to raise their voices.

6Let Lighting Set Your Mood

Avoid too many lights, as they tend to make people uncomfortable. Better to dim the lights where people are socializing and reserve brighter lights for where they are needed, perhaps over the food or lighting the way to the restroom. Candles are exquisite, and tiki torches or twinkle lights are perfect for outdoor parties. 

7Plan Dishes That Can Be Prepared Ahead of Time

Put refrigerated dishes out first when people are hungriest, then move on to snack foods, cheeses, and the like that are safe to leave out for several hours. The key is to keep your workload minimal once the party begins. 

Tags: entertaining, Friends

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Written By

Rebecca Deurlein

Rebecca is a freelance writer, author of the book Teenagers 101 (Harper Collins), and a former Girl Scout. Her home is Houston, TX. See Full Bio

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