Summertime, and the hosting is easy. I promise! What I love about a summer soiree is that they are relaxed by nature and don’t need to be fancy. It’s all about yummy bites, warm weather, and when all else fails, just keep the drinks flowing and your guests’ wont even notice if you missed a course! Check out my #SummerSoireeJustHaves Checklist below and I promise you’ll not only come through as the hostess with the most-est – you’ll have a great time at the party too!


2-3 Weeks Out:

  • Decide on party venue and size – Will this be inside your home or out on a rooftop or backyard deck?Think about how many can fit and mingle comfortably at the spot of your choosing.
  • Create your invite list – Since it usually pans out that only 3 out of every 4 invitees can actually attend, pad your list accordingly.
  • Choose a theme – Let this theme inform everything – from the dress code on the invite to favors and even music. The theme can be as simple as “patriotic summer BBQ” to an extravagant “Great Gatsby” gilded age cocktail party.
  • Plan the food & drink menu – The theme can be strung through here quite easily as well – whether it’s red meat, white corn and blue cheese in your 4th of July spread or grilled spam & pineapple with blue Hawaiian cocktails at a luau.

1 Week Out:

  • Clean all the things! – Clean the bathrooms and kitchen thoroughly NOW so that all that’s needed is a quick wipe down right before guests arrive. Set aside your dishes and china and make sure they’re spotless and unused in the intervening time as well. (This is a good moment to make sure you have enough cookware and serving dishes too – and if not, to go buy more.)
  • Move all the things!- Do you really want to be moving furniture and cooking at the same time? Nope. So get thee to decorating and rearranging to accommodate the onslaught of guests.
  • Buy all the things! – (Except food.) Stock the bar. Buy any decorations you don’t already have. If you’re like me, you have a big crate of random party favors. If you’re also like me, you really enjoy any excuse to purchase more. Have at it!

3 Days Out

  • Tell/Invite Your Neighbors – Best to send up a warning flare to your neighbors that a party is afoot – it’s the neighborly thing to do. Depending on the size of your bash, the cars can pile up on the street and cause both alarm and annoyance. You could also consider inviting them over for a drink and a burger – depending on the neighbor!
  • Decorate – String up the lights and set out the citronella candles and torches! Just remember not to set outside anything that is vulnerable to the elements until the day of the party.
  • Grocery Shop – No doubt your grocery list has been slowly taking shape ever since you sent out the invites and started the menu. Get to it, girl!

Night Before:

  • Set Up Tables/Buffet – Get the place-settings and/or buffet table staged with a spot for each food and beverage – I do this with post-its. You know why? Because there are always guests to want to be of service. “Why, yes, my dear. You CAN help! This potato salad goes on the table – just look for the post-it! Thank you.”
  • Make Ahead – Your menu is guaranteed to be choc-ful of things you can make/prep now as opposed to day-of. Even dicing/chopping/arranging the mise en plas for day-of items can (and should) be done now. Shuck the corn. Make the pasta and potato salad. Prep the burger meat into patties. Chop up the green salad components to toss together at the last minute tomorrow.
  • Do A Quick Clean – Now is a great time to dry dust the floors, wipe down the bathrooms and kitchen and tend to any outdoor maintenance issues – bird doo on the grill, dog doo on the lawn, that sort of thing.

Party Day:

  • Cook – Besides grilling and any last-minute baking/re-heating, there shouldn’t be much left to do now!
  • Buy Bagged Ice – If you’ll be setting out anything that needs to be kept cold – from salads and deviled eggs to beer – you need bowls and/or tubs of ice to accommodate them. Buy more than you think you’ll need!
  • Beware The Party Foul – Put these in strategic spots – like the end of the buffet and in the bathroom. Consider adding a stain stick to your bathroom accoutrement– especially if there is any menu item of the finger food/BBQ variety! And, if you’re serving ribs, each guest should have a wet wipe packet of their own.
  • Set Out Food – About 30-60 minutes prior, set out apps and bites that won’t go bad. At the 15-minute mark, put cold items out atop their respective ice baths. Extra tip: be a foodborne illness prevention pro! Set your phone’s timer to go off every 40 minutes so that you can tend to any food that requires refrigeration – from mayo based salads to meats – and either get them to the fridge or refresh their cooling stations.
  • Be YOUR Guest – If you’ve done all of this AHEAD of the party, there’s no reason why you can’t be present to greet your guests when they arrive and to mix and mingle throughout. Let your hard work pay off and enjoy!


I hope this will help you pull off the most talked-about event of the summer! Do you have any party checklist items to add? Tell me NOW via the #SummerSoireeJustHaves tag on, @JustineSantaniello on Instagram and @JNSantaniello on Twitter.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

8 + 10 =