Throwing A Party On The Fly

As a last minute type person, my favorite parties to host are the ones thrown with little excess time to worry too much about perfection. The best parties, at least in my experience, are the ones with the basics: good booze, good music, and good company! However, these basics can be brought to the next level with a few easy details...Plus the laid back spirit of summer lends itself to whimsy and simplicity, and that translates to less work for us harried hosts and hostesses! Here are a few of my last minute summer party staples...

• picture 2.String lights. No need to tuck away these Christmas staples until chilly season arrives. Simple string lights make a strong impact on summer nights, without the strong dose of holiday kitsch.
• picture 3., 4. Candles. Candles in jelly jars are hard to beat when it comes to lighting up a festive summer party on the fly. I like to wash and save a few jars a month just for this purpose. For instructions on creating your own, check out crafty nest's how-to. One caution: not all jars can withstand high heat without shattering, so to be on the safe side stick to tea lights rather than pillar candles. Easier yet, set out soup bowls or shallow vases with an array of floating candles— instant ambiance!
• pictures 5. , 6.Simple paper decorations. The talented Brittany Watson, previously featured on Apartment Therapy for her creative work at the Danish Ambassador's Christmas party, recently threw a launch party for her thesis project, complete with thousands of airplanes crafted out of maps. Simple idea, beautiful result! You can check out more details here. And when in doubt buntings do the trick too.
• picture 7. Fresh flowers. Easy arrangments in recycled jars and bottles are impossible to get wrong. The more the merrier! For more easy flower inspiration, check out this post on simple sprigs in recycled vases.
• picture 8. Self-serve drink station. This is not only practical, it's also fun. Let your guests get creative with their drinks while you get to mingle with other guests.
• picture 9., 10. Utensil station and easily identifiable drinking glasses. Like the drink station, a little smart prep work beforehand goes a long way saving you many trips to the kitchen during the party. Let guests help themselves to forks and knives, and avoid a million orphaned drinks with a labeling marker or something similar. For laid back parties we use a variety of colored rubber bands that guests can slip around their glasses.

And now it's your turn, what are your favorite last minute party staples?

Images: 1: Atlanta Bartlett, 2: Danny Seo via Apartment Therapy: LA, 3: craftynest, Sunday Suppers, 4, 10: Martha Stewart, 5: Brittany Watson of Baker Street, 6, 9: Country Living, 7, 8: Karen Mordechai of Sunday Suppers

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