People have many reasons for wanting to throw a party, including:

  • Your cousin and your best friend would make the cutest little couple but you don't know how to set them up without making it seem like a set-up.

  • You recently purchased a Grill Master 2000, a red-checkered tablecloth, and five different types of salad dressing.

  • You need to get drunk. And soon.

  • You want to see what all of your friends look like in their swimsuits.

  • All of your friends are too lazy to throw a party, so if you don't do it, no one will.

  • Reason? Why does there have to be a reason?

You only have one option: you must throw a summer party. We promise not to crash it.


Party Countdown: Three to four weeks before the party

You're probably picture your summer party looking like this: your guests lounging around on folding chairs set up in the grassy backyard, an assortment of tasty foods on the picnic table, you flipping burgers at the grill, floppy chef's hat strategically perched at a rakish angle on your head. While this is a fine (albeit Norman Rockwell-ian) way to throw a summer party, it is by no means the only way. The only requirement for throwing a summer party is that it be summertime; the rest is completely up to you.

The first thing to decide upon is where to hold your shindig. This obviously depends on where you live, but most people can choose from at least one of three options:

  1. A backyard (for people in the suburbs or with big houses)
  2. A local park or beach (if you happen to live near one of these areas)
  3. A rooftop or fire escape (especially good for city-dwellers)


If you do own a backyard, it is probably the most convenient place to throw your party. It's private, it's easy for people to find, and if you run out of iced tea you can simply run inside the house and whip up some more. If you have a pool, that's an obvious bonus. Nothing like seeing your friends in their swim trunks and tankinis.

  1. Remember to set the rules of your house early on. If you're aiming to invite lots of people and their friends (some of whom you may not know well), it's a good idea to have signs on the doors (politely) asking people to stay out unless they need to use the bathroom, in which case you or someone you trust can escort them in. If your guest list is small and consists of intimate friends, you might even want to consider planning a portion of the party to take place indoors (for instance, inviting your guests to come inside for coffee and ice cream after it gets dark out).

  2. Clean up your backyard thoroughly… especially if you have a dog that likes to fertilize your grass au naturale. Your friends will have a false sense of security when walking around your backyard, so they probably won't wear shoes. As such, you should make a sweep for glass, pointy rocks, or other nasty surprises.

  3. If you have a pool and people are going to use it, remind your friends to bring a change of clothes so that they don't have to sit in wet swimsuits all day (and they won't drip all through your house). Also have plenty of spare towels and plastic bags handy (for them to bring their wet suits home in).

Local park or beach

If the thought of dozens of people traipsing all over your neatly manicured lawn causes you to clench your fists in horror (or, more likely, if you don't have any kind of lawn to speak of), you should think about moving the party to a nearby park or beach. Most large parks come equipped with several barbecuing areas, which also saves you the hassle of purchasing a grill if you don't already own one.

There are a couple of things to keep in mind about a park party:

  1. Make sure there's room for you and all your guests at the park. You might want to stake out a barbecue area early in the morning before all the other summer party planners beat you to them.

  2. Although most public parks don't require them, you should find out if it's necessary to get a permit for your fête.

  3. You need to provide your guests with directions to your exact location in the park. In case you haven't noticed, parks are big places with many "perfect" areas to hold a party. Pick a location that is close to a landmark in the park and, if possible, provide your guests with a cell phone number to call, just in case. Post signs with bold lettering at all the entrances to the park, directing guests to your location (but don't rely solely on these signs, just in case they get removed by evil squirrels).

Rooftop or fire escape

Urban dweller, eh? There's hope. If your apartment building has a roof that's not slanted at an angle (or completely grimy and hazardous), you could consider holding your party up there. Likewise, if you have a rather large terrace or fire escape, another option is to throw an indoor party that sort of spills outside from time to time. Just because you don't own any grass doesn't mean that you should be restricted to partying indoors.

Here are some city-esque summer party tips:

  1. Make sure you get permission from your landlord first, or your party might be cut short by someone who's not as gullible or forgiving as Mr. Roper.

  2. Make it a potluck feast where everyone brings some food. That way, you won't be stuck inside a hot steamy kitchen the whole time.

  3. If you're holding the party on a rooftop, buy a little wading pool or some water guns. That way, people can cool off in a way other than hiding out in your apartment and secretly trying on your underwear.