The stylishstar shares his budget-friendly tips for hosting a warm-weather bash.

By Samantha Peters
Updated May 30, 2018
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We’ve all fantasized about being the perfect host or hostess—creating an effortless ambiance and offering wow-worthy treats that leave guests with happy hearts and full tummies. But according to Queer Eye’s Jonathan Van Ness, it’s not all that hard—or expensive—to make this dream a reality. The beloved beauty guru and celebrity hair stylist is also a born host, who serves up more than just style advice at his salons in New York and Los Angeles—clients are made to “feel welcome and have exactly what they need,” whether that’s an updo, a blow out, a glass of bubbly, or a little something to snack on. So, we turned to him to get the lowdown on throwing the ultimate indoor or outdoor fete, without breaking the bank.

1. Don't invite more people than your space can handle. Nobody wants to battle crowds while they're trying to have fun.

2. Serve seasonal drinks that suit the occasion. If you’re hosting a breakfast or brunch, choose food that’s on the lighter side and cocktails that aren't too strong. "I’m a huge fan of Strongbow Rosé Apple Hard Cider, says Van Ness. "It’s light and refreshing without being too strong, and can be made into a gorgeous frosé. You can also garnish it with mint or a bit of rosemary to really dress it up.”

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3. Keep it casual. “I love a serve-yourself buffet and standing-height tables, so people don’t feel confined to one area," says Van Ness. "If you want to bring everyone together for the dining experience, though, a large communal table allows you to do just that without it feeling too formal.”

4. Play games. Games are a great way to gather all your friends and also break the ice for guests who don’t already know each other, he says. "A huge Jenga set is always a crowd pleaser, while games that connect from your phone to the TV (like Wheel of Fortune or Cast-A-Draw) are fun if your soirée has an indoor component.”

5. Don’t be afraid to ask for favors. Whether it's asking a friend to use his or her backyard or borrowing serving dishes, plenty of party guests will be happy to pitch in and help.

6. Good lighting is worth a little extra money. “For the ultimate Instagram-worthy party that will have people saying, 'OMG these selfies are amazing; why does everyone look so cute?' invest in a ring light and get that lighting popping," says Van Ness. "They’re only about $100, and many of them come with a gold or clear filter, so you can switch up your setting depending on the time of day.”

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7. Plan ahead to save money. "When you wait until the last minute, you end up spending those extra dollars out of convenience, but setting aside enough time to plan allows you to make better decisions and ultimately pinch pennies," says Van Ness. "Also, you can buy decorations and any supplies you’ll need in bulk to save money—especially if you think you’re going to have more get-togethers throughout the rest of the year.”

8. Give people plenty of notice. Van Ness recommends sending invitations at least six to eight weeks before your party.

9. Offer guests favors at the end of the party. Everyone likes to get a little gift. “It doesn’t have to cost you a fortune either—even just a small thank you note or Starbucks gift card makes an adorable touch," says Van Ness. "You can also set up a bracelet making station for your guests, and they can take home their creations.”