9 Hacks for Stress-Free Outdoor Parties

Whether you host every weekend or once a season, upping your game with these hot tips promises an endless summer of fun.

Photo by Marcus Nilsson

1. Pretty Bug Banishers
Skip the noisy zappers and smelly sprays. Instead, ward off mosquitoes by scattering softly scented citronella votives ($7 for twelve, pier1.com) in pretty glasses or candle-holders that you already own.

2. Spray Delay
Are your sprinklers on a timer? Power them down the day before the party. If you leave this for the day of, there's a good chance you'll forget. Plus, you don't want a soaked lawn.

3. Two Bins, Not One
Chill drinks for two hours in the refrigerator, then transfer to a tub filled with ice. Place an empty tub next to the drink-filled one so that guests can easily drop in cans and bottles for recycling.

4. Double Dishes
Serving buffet-style means you'll need extra plates. Guests often take a fresh one for seconds or dessert, so plan on two or three plates per person. Unbreakable is best. If you prefer disposable to melamine, consider compostable plates. (Try SustyParty.com.)

5. RSVP Guarantee
With a free scheduling site like Doodle.com, you can pick a party date that most of your friends can make. You offer options, guests check off when they're free, and the site shows the results. Genius!