The sun’s out. The warm weather is back. It’s time to fire-up the grill and invite friends over and you do…but the deck is a mess, guests are getting eaten alive by mosquitos, and you didn’t make enough food! Not being prepared is every hosts worst nightmare. Well never fear, we created a Summer Party Checklist to take away the guesswork so your next summer party is a success!
I’ve broken our TIA Summer Party Checklist into a few main categories…
How to Prepare for a Summer Party Checklist
Alright, let’s get party planning!
Summer Party Cleaning & Setup Checklist
All great summer parties start with a clean and inviting space for everyone to gather. This will look different depending on where you live. However, a few basic maintenance steps will ensure your party space is inviting, guests are comfortable despite weather, and even minimize pests.
1. Get Your Yard “Party Ready”
In my opinion, basic lawn and yard maintenance is the bare minimum you need to do before hosting a party. Even a sloppy mowing job can instantly boost the appearance of your yard, and it can also cut down on pests like mosquitos.
Basic “pre-party” cleaning checklist
- Mow and trim your lawn.
- Clean up grass clippings, leaves, and debris.
- Trim any overgrown brush (once at the beginning of spring/summer can be enough).
- Water plants.
Doing this just makes me feel more confident before having people over.
If you’re interested in new outdoor power equipment (OPE), you can read TIA OPE Reviews for product recommendations.
2. Clean Your Outdoor Party Space
Now that your yard no longer looks like a jungle, you can turn your attention to your patio, deck, or whatever outdoor living space your friends and family will gather in.
Outdoor living space cleaning checklist
- Clean up any garbage and items that don’t belong.
- Clean surfaces, such as patio tables, chairs, etc.
- Sweep or use a leaf blower to remove yard debris. We also love this RIDGID NXT Shop Vacuum.
In addition to those cleaning steps, at the start of each season, I like to deep clean my outdoor living area. Here are two products I recommend depending on your situation.
Tools for annual outdoor living space deep clean
- RYOBI Patio Cleaner for deep-cleaning patios (watch TIA video).
- Power washer for decks and siding. You can rent one or purchase a Power Washer Hose Attachment.
Cleaning your deck, patio, or siding is an optional step. I do recommend doing these at least every couple of years and before any painting projects.
3. Prevent Mosquito/Bug Bites and Stings
Nothing can kill your party’s vibe faster than pests like flies buzzing around your food, or getting eaten alive by mosquitos. Here are a few options for eliminating yard pests.
How to get rid of bugs, bees/wasps, mosquitos and more
- Mosquito Sniper System (MSS): already have a leaf blower for steps 1 and 2? Convert it into a professional-grade mosquito sprayer for a fraction of the price. Fill your MSS with a store-bought formula or your own DIY natural bug and mosquito spray. MSS offers both a Full Tank System with a tank sprayer, or a Universal Adaptor Kit for those who already have a tank sprayer.
- Prevent wasps by hanging a faux wasp nest.
- Repel bugs and mosquitos with citronella candles and garden torches.
- Plant a garden that repels bugs and mosquitos, and/or attracts their predators, such as dragonflies. Check out our TIA Pest Control Pins.
- Try the mosquito dryer sheet hack. Let a dryer sheet hangout of your pocket to repel mosquitos and set out a box of sheets for your guests to use.
- When in doubt, use personal bug and mosquito spray and share with your guests.
4. Protect Guests (and food!) from bad weather
Sometimes the rain sneaks up on us (or you “forgot” to check the forecast). A Pop-up Canopy provides your guests and food protection from rain and wind. A model with mesh, zipper walls is also a great way to keep bugs away from food.
TIA recommendation: COBIZI 10 ft. x 10 ft. Pop-Up Canopy
Amazon Review: “This side wall is an excellent wind blocker. We recently had a party and used 4 pop-ups to create a large covered area. It was chilly and windy so we added side walls around the perimeter. This worked well to block the wind and provide a nice party space. It attached easily to the pop-up canopy and it was nice to have the window to let the light in. Definitely recommend.”
5. Have a Party Trash Station
No, this doesn’t have to be fancy, but guests appreciate an obvious, designated area for trash. I do suggest keeping a roll of trash bags nearby for convenience.
Check out our Outdoor Storage Board on Pinterest.
Summer Party Food & Drink Checklist
Alright, onto my favorite part: food and drink planning. Here we give you a few tips to help you calculate how much food and drinks to make or buy, grilling tips, recipe suggestions for a crowd, creating a food prep and buffet area, and some grill and smoker recommendations.
6. Plan your summer party food menu
When it comes to cooking for a crowd, I suggest going simple. You can’t go wrong with classic cookout items like hamburgers and hotdogs. Cooking one large protein, like a pork shoulder, tenderloin, skirt steak, or brisket, and cutting it up to serve a crowd is another great plan.
How much food do I make to feed a crowd?
This great food calculator suggests estimating 1 lb. of meat for an adult, and a 1/2 lb. for a child, with 6-8 oz. of that being protein (about one burger patty). So, first get a headcount, then I like to round up by a few pounds. In a worse-case scenario you end up with some leftovers.
You also need some side dishes. You can estimate around 1 cup of food per person. I suggest going with something simple, like salad and/or pasta dish. You can also save time, money, and stress by asking guests to bring a dish to pass.
7. Grill vs Smoker for your Summer Party
How you plan to cook your food can be equally as fun as planning what to cook – or the reason you invited people over in the first place.
Generally, grill items are quicker, but higher stakes. You need to pay more attention while you’re actually cooking and can’t step away as easily. A smoker on the other hand, smoking or slow-roast bbq can be very hands-off, but your cook time starts much earlier.
For grilling tips, read our TIA article How To Grill the Perfect Hotdog.
Want to know the difference between a cookout vs a bbq? This TikTok video gives a fun distinction between the two.
Grill/Smoker Hybrid Recommendation
For more grill and smoker recommendations you can read our TIA Grill/Smoker Reviews.
We also saw a lot of great grill and smoker products at our recent trip to Weber. You can read about it in our TIA article A Look at the History of Grilling: Our Trip to Weber.
Stock-up on fuel!
Whichever you choose, don’t forget to stock-up on fuel, pellets, charcoal, or whatever your outdoor kitchen requires!
- You can order charcoal, lighters and a charcoal starter from Amazon.
- Grill Pellets.
- Large Grilling Propane Tanks and Small Camping Propane Tanks.
8. Prep Your Food Ahead of Time
Alright, your menu is decided, the food is purchased, now save yourself some stress by prepping as much as you can beforehand. We love this Bamboo Cutting Board. It comes with multiple prep containers for staying organized, and has a built-in mandolin slicer.
Sometimes you can also season your proteins ahead of time. This can actually help draw out moisture and make food crispier. We like Blue Hog Seasonings and use them often when we’re testing grills and smokers.
9. Plan Your Summer Party Drink Menu
Planning your drink menu should be a little easier. It mostly comes down to headcount and whether or not you’re serving alcohol.
First of all, you should always have a non-alcoholic option plus water. This drink calculator suggests estimating two non-alcoholic drinks per person for the first hour, and one drink per person for each hour after that. If serving alcohol, estimate about one drink per person drinking per hour.
How to serve alcohol to a crowd
You can very easily be hands-off and just serve bottled beverages. This is nice and easy and makes cleanup a breeze. However, you can have a designated bar section, or make a large batch of cocktails for easy serving.
For large batch cocktail ideas, check out this article 19 Big Batch Cocktails for a Stress-Free Party.
How to keep drinks cold all party long
I know you know to put bottled drinks on ice. However, we included a few great tips for making ice last and how to keep your drinks cold longer in our TIA Cooler Challenge article.
Now, for drinks that aren’t bottled you have a few options…
- Store pitchers in a fridge.
- Keep cold with either large ice cubes or reusable ice cubes to prevent watered-down drinks.
- Store pitchers and cold beverages on a bed of ice with a splash of water.
- Store drinks in an open container like a clean barrel or metal water trough for easy access (great option for non-alcoholic and kids drinks).
10. Prepare Your Outdoor Kitchen
Alright, this part is easy but essential. Make sure you have a clean and open area to cook in, a place to set food that’s waiting to go on the grill and a place to put it once it comes off.
If you don’t have a nice outdoor kitchen, then invest in 1-2 folding tables available on Amazon. Not only are they great for food prep, but they can double as an outdoor buffet table once the food is ready.
Not necessary, but I also like to use disposable tablecloths for easy cleanup. You can find them at your local dollar store, or buy this pack of 12 tablecloths for $23 on Amazon.
Summer Party Backyard Entertainment Checklist
Alright, your yard is clean and ready, your menu is picked, now you just need guests to feel welcome and enjoy themselves. Here are a few tips and items to help guests feel relaxed and enjoy themselves at your summer party.
Use a Bluetooth Speaker to Get Your Summer Party Started
It’s amazing how a little background music can help guests loosen up and feel more at ease. And don’t worry, you don’t have to spend hours crafting the “perfect playlist”. Choose from a variety of summer playlists available on music platforms like Spotify.
Make It Fun with Summer Party Games & Activities
Depending on how long people will be over, it’s nice to have a game or activity to pass the time. Kids especially appreciate a game to play.
Summer party games for teens and adults
Summer party games and toys for kids
- Reusable Water Balloons
- 30 Piece Water Gun set
- Twist & Splash Water Mat
- Toss & Catch Velcro Adhesive Ball Set
- Saucer Swing
More fun outdoor summer activities
Just Give Guests Your Wi-Fi Password
I know, I know. Summer parties are about spending time together and hanging out outside. However, sometimes guests want downtime to play on their phone, check emails, or check social media.
Just make your Wi-Fi password easy to find, you can even incorporate it into your home decor. While you’re at it, create a summer party hashtag so friends can post about the #BestPartyEver!
MORE Summer Party Essentials
You’re pretty much all set to have a great summer party. Here are just a few extra items to go the extra mile on your Summer Party Checklist.
- Keep guests cool with the EGO Misting Fan.
- Keep the party going after the sun goes down with this EGO Panel Light.
- Stock-up on extra sunglasses for only $25.
- Sunscreen basket.
- Bug spray basket, with those dryer sheets too!
Summer Party Checklist Wrap-up
That’s all we got. Is there anything else you do to make sure guests have a good time? If so, let us know. Aside from that…time to party!