I posted about planning a dinner party back in May. I love to host and the act of bringing friends and family together, around a great spread of delicious food, is something that brings me joy. Summertime calls for backyard barbecues, unless you live in Miami like I do where we can do it year round. What better way to spend a Saturday afternoon? Here are some of the tips I’ve learned over my years of throwing summer parties.

Invitations for summer barbecues do not need to be formal. In fact, they can be as easy as picking up the phone and calling your friends to share the details. Provide your guests with the following three details: what time they will be eating, what attire they should wear, and whether or not it will be rain or shine. It’s important to let your guests know what time to arrive should they want food or else you’ll be firing up the grill all night long. Letting them know what attire to wear will allow them to be dress appropriately for any activities you plan for that day. And letting them know if it’s rain or shine will save you the hassle of reaching out the day of the party.

Set up the yard
There are a few things you need to pay attention to if you wish to have your party outdoors. The first and foremost, do you have enough seating for everyone? Make sure everyone has a place to sit and enjoy the delicious food. Next, you’ll want to make sure that your backyard will be well lit if the party extends into the night time. Luckily, the sun takes care of this task for most of the day, but should your guests stay past 8pm, hang some string lights or light some tiki torches to avoid anyone falling and hurting themselves. I like to set up outdoor games like cornhole, giant Jenga, and KanJam. Bonus: Your tiki torches can also be a bug repellant if your use the right tiki torch fuel!

Play music
Everyone loves a good playlist at a party. Stack yours with some of the classics that everyone will enjoy – Michael Jackson, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, etc. – and mix in a few newer tunes people will recognize from the radio. You’ll want to keep the playlist upbeat to keep the party going and last a minimum of five hours. If you’re playing from a stereo, face it toward the house to allow the sound to bounce off the walls and spread out more evenly. It’s also best to place speakers above head-level so it doesn’t drown out conversation amongst guests.