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Picture yourself, toes in the sand, glass of rosé in hand, sitting by a bonfire surrounded by friends and family. Sounds like the backyard party of your dreams, right? Make it a reality this summer by throwing the ultimate bash. 

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poeple cheersing around table outside sunset
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SET THE SCENE

Set the right mood from the moment your first guest arrives. Whether it’s an afternoon gathering or evening cocktail party, decide how chill or fancy you want the event to be and then plan accordingly.

“An outdoor cooler filled with ice, rosé and local beer always sets the right tone for the afternoon,” says Matt Daimler, general manager of Out East. “Consider a special cocktail for ‘sundowners’ that can be the signature drink to cap off an amazing day and transition into the evening.”

morning pink flwoers eyemask
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OUTSOURCE, OUTSOURCE, OUTSOURCE

Sure, you could run around for days ahead of your party trying to do everything yourself, or you could swallow your perfect-hostess pride and get some help. If any of your guests offer to bring something, say yes—and have some ideas on hand so everyone doesn’t show up with a salad. You can get basically anything delivered with a little advance planning, so you don’t have to waste time on the parts you’re less excited about.

”A good party always has delicious and seasonal foods for guests to enjoy, but that doesn’t mean the host needs to cook,” says Jon Feldman, general manager of Uber Eats New York. “With Uber Eats out east this summer, it’s easy to have those special items delivered.”

hands wine cheers
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FOOD and DRINKS

Three words: Keep it simple. Stock up on some local wine and beer, fill pitchers with ice water and plan a menu based on things you can find at the farmers’ market. 

“Keep it fresh, light and quickly cooked,” says Red Catering executive chef Todd Jacobs. “Always serve a salad and some great cheeses, too. For me, keeping it all local makes it more special.”

photo booth two girls laughing
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Make it Instagrammable

What’s a party without photos? Set up a photo “booth” in one corner of your party space—all it takes is a couple of streamers or balloons and maybe a few props (like that oversize straw hat you can’t bring yourself to wear in real life).

hand smores fire
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Get hands on

A few optional activities can add to the overall vibe of the party and also help any guests who don’t know each other get acquainted. Set up cornhole or croquet for an outdoor party in the afternoon. Or add some childhood nostalgia by setting up a station for s’mores by the fire pit if the party will go into the night.

yellow tent party flas
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HAVE A BACKUP PLAN

Stuff happens: Mother Nature decides to invite herself; the grill runs out of gas; your guests get stuck in traffic. Have a contingency plan. If your party will be outdoors, set a rain date or make sure you can accommodate people indoors. (And there’s no shame in ordering pizza.)

girl trees drink headband
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HAVE FUN

At some point, you have to stop worrying whether there’s enough ice or if your work friends are hitting it off with your neighbors. Your guests will have a better time if they see that the hostess isn’t stressing out every second. It’s no easy task to throw the ultimate party, but you aced it. Now enjoy.

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