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Every year, my family looks forward to spending the leisurely days of summer together and with friends. We especially love going to summer backyard parties and barbecues, and usually host a couple of our own. But I know from experience that — between the planning, cooking, and cleaning — hosting a party can mean work.
So when a new friend invited us to her house for a backyard BBQ, I could feel my jaw drop when she casually said, “Yeah, we pretty much do this every weekend during the summer.” I figured she must be the Martha Stewart type, a meticulous party planner. I soon found out she’s the exact opposite. It turns out, her key to easily hosting weekly backyard parties is fully embracing the KISS (Keep It Sweet and Simple) principle.
I tend to unnecessarily overcomplicate things, especially when it comes to hosting. But my friend is the KISS queen! Here are her five brilliantly simple secrets to hosting a weekly backyard get-together.
Serve the same thing every time.
When I’m hosting, I try to keep things simple by finding easy dishes to make. But even searching for the perfect recipes can take a long time. And no matter how easy they are, by the time I’ve finished cooking and baking, I’m exhausted, I’ve always taken a much longer time than expected, and the kitchen is a mess!
In contrast, my friend spends no time looking up recipes or dirtying her kitchen making them. Instead, she buys all her food pre-made, and it’s nothing fancy or very expensive. And most importantly, she serves the same thing every week. For dinner she puts out hamburgers, hot dogs, salad, chips, and dip, and for dessert she opts either for ice cream or s’mores that guests can make around her backyard fire pit. The great thing about serving the same thing every week is that she saves money buying the food in bulk, and cuts out any waste because she can use up leftovers the next week.
When you give guests the option to hang out inside and outside the home, you’ll usually spend extra time and energy cleaning up the house. I’ve done this countless times. But my friend’s hack is to keep all the festivities outside, thus eliminating the need for extra cleaning. No need for dusting, vacuuming, and cleaning up the kitchen. No pressure to pass a white glove test. She only makes sure her bathroom is clean enough for guests to use, and only a few people ever do.
Use disposable dinnerware.
As fun as any party is, there’s always the dreaded cleanup after it’s over. But my friend minimizes that as well by using disposable everything: pans, plates, napkins, and utensils. She makes entertaining so easy by being easy on herself.
For anyone looking to do the same while staying sustainable, you can use compostable dinnerware and silverware and ask friends to bring water bottles or cups. Another idea is to plan a menu that doesn’t require utensils. So, instead of a salad, opt for baby carrots and celery sticks with dip; instead of serving ice cream in bowls with a spoon, scoop it into ice cream cones.
My friend never hesitates to ask others to bring drinks, ice, or other things she might need. She has even saved herself the financial burden of having to provide enough seating by asking everyone to bring their own lawn chairs! Don’t be shy about asking guests to help. Most friends are more than happy to help clean up or bring something — especially if it’s a weekly event.
Do the same activities every week.
At my friend’s summer parties, the adults like to hang out and chat around the fire pit while the teens play basketball, and the younger kids jump on the trampoline or play in the yard. And everyone enjoys singing around the fire accompanied by a couple of acoustic guitars. Whatever your group likes, the key is to find out which outdoor activities everyone enjoys and do the same thing every week so there’s no pressure to plan something new.
I am so inspired by my friend’s low-effort hacks to host weekly summer backyard barbecues. But the most valuable lesson I’ve learned from her is to give myself permission to keep everything as simple as possible so that hosting can be enjoyable for everyone — myself included!