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there’s an old adage: the best party is the one you’re already at. OK, that’s not technically true. But it should be.

People may rave over food.

“Did you taste the prosciutto-wrapped asparagus with béchamel?”

Or decorations.

“Did you see those Ralph Lauren tablecloths?”

Or guests.

“Did you talk with (insert designer, Microsoft executive, professional athlete)?”

But really, the best parties are the ones where people feel comfortable. The ones where guests can let loose and laugh.

If you’re looking for perfect matching napkins and themed goodie bags, stop reading now. Seriously, impressing people is so 2007.

This summer is all about gathering and gathering often.


If ever in doubt about what to do for an evening gathering, simply ask yourself, “What would I do if I were European?”

Here’s what you’d do: Uncork a couple of bottles of wine and set out some artisan bread, a couple of hunks of cheese, some meat, olives and a couple knives. Then you’d stay up late talking about life. You might even drink espresso after 5 p.m. Gasp.

If that sounds too pretentious, replace all of the above with pizza and salad. Same theory applies.


Those barn-raising settlers were onto something. There’s something really fun about making things together. While OSHA may have a problem with you putting your party guests to work on your new addition, there are plenty of other projects that can bring out the creativity in your friends.

Make-your-own pizza parties are always popular and simple. Buy toppings and dough, heat up the oven and voilà. Plus, there’s always the bonus of an impromptu flour fight.

Another idea is to try home-brewing a batch of beer or wine as a group, and then throwing a follow-up tasting party several months later when the fermentation process is complete.

It’s a win-win because you’ll either be toasting your success or laughing at how bad it tastes.


Live art, that is. Try asking a local artist whether he or she would be interested in creating a piece at your party. You supply the canvas, space and silent auction bidders. They bring the creativity.

Perfect for background ambience and a great conversation starter, live art adds a unique dynamic to small benefits, open houses or graduation parties. Don’t forget a silent auction bid sheet so guests have the option of taking the piece home.


Everyone watches TV. Why not do it together? While the royal wedding is long gone, there’s always something on the tube worth throwing a party over.

It doesn’t have to be high-brow. Sports are the obvious choice here, but don’t forget about reality television. The genre just begs to be watched with a group of friends. Too embarrassed to admit that you watch “Jersey Shore”? Too bad. You might be missing out on a great excuse for a party.


Channel a Norman Rockwell painting and set up croquet, badminton and bocce ball in the backyard. Ask guests to wear all white if possible. Serve sandwiches. Or, you could go the other direction and organize a coed touch-football game with barbecue. Either way, the party is outside, which means less cleanup for you.


Celebrate the abundance of amazing local produce by visiting a farmers market en masse. Have everyone picks out something fresh and edible with minimal preparation. Host supplies olive oil, salt and pepper, wine and a hot grill. Everyone pitches in on the preparation and, of course, the eating.

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