Your No-Sweat, No-Nerves Schedule for Summer Gatherings

Apartment Therapy's Guide to the Perfect Summer

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Whatever kind of gathering you've decided to throw this summer — there's no need to be nervous or sweat before the big day (or night). With a clear schedule, some careful planning and remembering that folks are mostly here to see you, you should not only have a successful party, you'll also have fun!

Two weeks before the party: Send out invites
We suggest using paper invitations, but however you decide to tell your guests when and where to come for your party, do it sooner than later: Send Out Paper Invitations for Your Next Party: 4 Reasons Why

The week before the party: Pick your food and drink recipes
Choose some cool drink and food dishes that you'd like to serve your guests: Satisfied Summer: Food Ideas for Fun & Friendly Gatherings or Chill Drinks for Hot Nights: Drink Ideas for Summer Gatherings

Three days before the party: Shop for decor and activity supplies, decorate and prepare
You don't have to go all-out, but if you chose some DIY decor ideas from this list: 13 Fun, Favorite DIY Party Decor Ideas for a Summer Gathering, shop for the supplies you need and get started. If you have plans for activities, get and put together those supplies, as well: How to Entertain Guests All Summer Long: Activities, Games & More for Lively Gatherings

One to two days before the party: Shop for food and drink supplies

The day before the party: Make your Master Prep List
Taken straight from The Kitchn: "Sit down with your recipes and a clean sheet of paper. Work backwards from the time when your guests will arrive. Read through every recipe and break each one down into the specific tasks that need to be done at specific times. Don't forget to make note of prep time, cooking time, and resting time. Check on baking temperatures; you don't want to get caught with two dishes going into the oven that cook at different temperatures. Ditto with the number of stovetop burners being occupied at any particular moment. But most importantly, give yourself some wiggle room. Just in case. Also, if you're like me, don't forget to schedule in time to shower and put on your fancy clothes before guests arrive."

Even if you don't have a lot of food planned, make a master list of what needs to be done, hour by hour, so you can be your most stress-free!

The day of the party: Enjoy yourself!
Trust all your prep. Move smoothly through your master list. Don't rush. Don't fret. If things veer off course, remember that your friends are here to see you! Enjoy it!

Visit the Guide to the Perfect Summer main page for links to all of the posts published so far or sign up to have them delivered directly to you each weekend.

(Image credits: Gabriela Herman for Day 10: Plan a Dinner Party; Janel Laban)

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